"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Friday, September 17, 2010

Arne Duncan's "Rosa Parks Moment"

Having often declared segregated corporate school reform as the "civil rights issue of this generation," Arne Duncan just placed himself on a whole new circle of Orwellian doublespeak hell by declaring last evening's extended commercial for the corporate charter crusade as a "Rosa Parks moment."

From the Hollywood Reporter:
Calling it a "Rosa Parks moment," U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan put a momentous stamp on the upcoming release of Davis Guggenheim's education-reform documentary "Waiting for Superman."

The occasion was the film's Wednesday night Washington premiere, organized by distributor Paramount Vantage, with a screening at the Newseum followed by a Q&A with notables involved in the film. That it will have the impact on public policy Parks' actions ultimately had on the civil rights movement might be unlikely, but a good portion of Washington's political class attended the event to further investigate the subject matter. . . .
I can think of a couple of ways that this feature-length marketing tool for Eli Broad is not a Rosa Parks moment.  First, the person taking the big risk of defying the racist policy that would put black people at the back of the bus was a black person--Rosa Parks.  Who is risking what in this present charade crusade?  Well, some philanthro-capitalists are risking many millions of dollars, some would say, even though 33 cents on every dollar invested is given back in tax credits.  The payoffs could be astronomical, too, if the charterites prevail and end up replacing public schools in urban areas.  But Bill Gates or Eli Broad will never go to jail for their efforts or have their livelihoods or lives put in jeopardy.

Another difference between Rosa Parks and the Walton Foundation (it's too absurd a juxtaposition to even be funny) is that Rosa Parks actually had the support of the civil rights community behind her.  In the present instance that Arne thinks is a "Rosa Parks moment," the following organizations have offered withering criticism of Arne's Blueprint:

Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights under Law
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
National Council for Educating Black Children
National Urban League
Rainbow PUSH Coalition
Schott Foundation for Public Education

In fact, they have offered their own plan for high quality, diverse, and equitable education for all children, a plan that does not involve CEOs, hedge funders, venture philanthropy, EMOs, CMOs, or the ZOO that the oligarchy has put schools in at this point in our history.

Rosa Parks also had the citizens behind her to demand that the laws be changed to make such an arrest impossible in the future.  At this present historic tipping point,  the citizens and the voters have made it clear in elections in New York and Washington, DC that that they are not on the side of change led by the banksters and casino capitalists who want to gamble the lives of school children on risky ventures that have little or no evidence and  research to support them.  A Rosa Parks moment?  I think not.  Rosa Parks, at present, does not need a ride that badly.

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