. . . .Frankly, I am tired of the claim that education is the civil rights issue of our generation. No, it is not. The leaders of EEP [the corporatist group fronted by Newt Gingrich and Al Sharpton] say that the civil rights revolution will be completed if only the test scores of whites and blacks converge; and that if kids take test prep endlessly and conquer the demands of standardized testing, then Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy will be fulfilled.
If the EEP “reformers” were truly concerned about civil rights and not just posturing, they would have a plan to do something about de facto segregation; they would launch a program to make sure that every child had access to good health care and started school ready to learn; they would coordinate between the schools and other government agencies to make sure that families had access to job training programs and social services and the basic necessities of life.
If the EEP “reformers” truly wanted schools to close the achievement gap, they would develop a coherent curriculum to make sure that children in every community and every school had access to the knowledge and skills that are needed to prepare for life in this society. And they would make sure that class sizes were reasonable—smaller where the children need extra attention. And they would promote their belief in the importance of education by taking steps to really improve education, not just by ratcheting up the pressure on principals and teachers to produce higher test scores (by any means necessary). . . .
From the Oligarchs' policies and their henchmen's actions, what can we tell about their "civil rights" strategies? Well, we know that Arne Duncan is not a fan of charter schools but, rather, a fan of good charter schools. Hundreds of millions from the Treasury have been passed around to seed efforts to create "good" charter schools. The good ones, of course, are good because they have the highest test scores and the best untrained teachers that Teach for America can provide on a two year rotating basis. This means KIPP, of course, the market-manipulated, mind-altering segregated madrasahs that have collected hundreds of millions of tax-sheltered dollars from corporations, corporate foundations, and the Feds, ever since George Bush gave KIPP the stage at the 2000 Republican Convention.
And then there are the KIPP knock-offs that model their rules on the harsh total compliance KIPP sects, whether or not they can deliver on the test scores. KIPPs or KIPP wannabes, they are all segregated and contained within the poverty-infested ghettos or country towns that the global economy has left behind as jobs exported to Chinese work camps where "employees" make 20 cents an hour to produce our IPhones, the same global economy that these KIPP victims are supposed to join one day when they have absorbed the total compliance demands and the happiness pills they are fed on daily basis through the psychological regimen developed by Dr. Martin Seligman. These children are systematically indoctrinated in positivity, you see, the psychological brainwashing technique that removes any responsibility for poverty from the corporatists and purchased pols who have turned their backs on the poor. Rather, childen are told that they are in charge of their own impoverished lives, and if they are unable to change their lives, then they obviously deserve to live in poverty.
Today Bob Herbert gets at part of what is needed and where it has to begin, although 30 years of Reagan, Clinton, and the Bushes have left even good heads like Herbert sounding more like Cosby than Dr. King:
. . . .The aspect of this crisis that is probably the most important and simultaneously the most difficult to recognize is that the heroic efforts needed to alleviate it will not come from the government or the wider American society. This is a job that will require a campaign on the scale of the civil rights movement, and it will have to be initiated by the black community.Whatever form this new civil rights movement takes, it will mean sweeping past the civil-rights-in-black-face that the corporationists have concocted and marketed as liberation through education. We can already see that the movement is awakened in places like Wake County, North Carolina and in the work of organizations like the Advancement Project and the Civil Rights Project. We can see a new light, too, in the most recent repudiation by all the major civil rights organizations of the Duncan-Obama education plans. Let us join together for a new era that celebrates human rights, civil rights, and democratic living. It will take organized refusal, subversiveness, civil disobedience, and non-violent resistance, and political action, just as liberation always has.
Whether this is fair or not is irrelevant. There is very little sentiment in the wider population for tackling the extensive problems faced by poor and poorly educated black Americans. What is needed is a dramatic mobilization of the black community to demand justice on a wide front — think employment, education and the criminal justice system — while establishing a new set of norms, higher standards, for struggling blacks to live by.. . ..