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

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Mitch Daniels' Red Menace: Public Education

You can tell when the Presidential political season is starting to warm up when the demagoguery contests set in, and this past weekend at CPAC, the would-be Napoleon from Indiana was strutting his stuff and wearing his poker face.  In fact, he'll see Obama a Sputnik Moment and raise him a Red Menace.  Whereas Obama exploits America's golden age of fear to direct a cram-down ed policy, Mitch Daniels uses it to stage an extermination campaign against public services and employees. 

Don't know if Little Mitch has Rove and Luntz on his payroll yet, but this use of metaphor in his CPAC speech is real political genius that goes to the heart of this Koch Brothers Era of American Corporate Politics: the real Enemy, as evil as any dirty Commie Atheist, morphs, as fast as you can say Bolshevik conspiracy, into the myriad incarnations of public spending.  The elimination of the Red Menace requires a war, cold and otherwise, on public spending and those who make their living from it--public employees.  And if we cannot entirely eliminate this class of lice that depend upon free individual citizens to pay their salaries, then we are at least obligated to make them as poor and miserable as the rest of America's workers, whose jobs have been exported along with the American Dream. 

And because public sector employees offer a tangible and, thereby, kickable manifestation of the Red Menace, Daniels declaration has officially opened the hunting season for all the hungry and hate-filled Indiana hillbillies who get lathered up daily watching Fox and listening to Clear Channel hate radio instruct them on whom to resent for their poverty and third world status.

And, thus, as a staging area for a national campaign, the Napoleon from Indiana has declared war on teachers and public schools as a way to focus the hate and to rally the white poor of his State and the Nation who would have signed up with the Klan in earlier days of the other Red Menace. 

It never ceases to amaze how fast the political landscape changes, but even more amazing is how the true political chameleons like Daniels don't miss a beat.  In 2003 when Daniels, as W's Budget Director, was overseeing a $236 billion surplus turn into a $400 billion deficit before his eyes in less than 3 years, he had other fish to fry--or gooses to cook.  This is what he said then about a problem that is now the Red Menace: "a balanced budget is a high priority for this administration; it is not the top or the only priority.”

But as chameleon or plain old political whore, Daniels is going to be hard to match for his slick, pale ferocity that is particularly popular among Yalies with a weakness for well-scrubbed Koch corporate collaborators.  If Daniels and his henchman, Tony Bennett, get their way, public education will become corporate property and teachers will become Walmart-ized like the rest of the Hoosier State.  Bennett has been assigned to keep the NEA bottled up in its spider hole, and so far he's doing a heckuva job.  As if they wanted to come out.

It is obviously going to take some of that Spirit of Cairo to remind this little dictator that there are people out here, rather than speechless pawns he can move around his political chessboard.  I'd say that Indiana parents and teachers need to get with it.

From the AP via Courier-Journal:
INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels' sweeping education agenda has spurred angry protests, hours-long legislative hearings and some of the harshest rhetoric the Statehouse has heard in years.
An Indianapolis newspaper headline proclaimed a "war" over Daniels' idea to expand charter schools. Teachers say they are "under attack" from the Republican administration. And House Minority Leader Patrick Bauer, D-South Bend, caused some jaws to drop when he said on the House floor last month that teachers are being "Mitch-slapped" by the governor's aggressive agenda.

The language surrounding the fight over Daniels' proposals — including teacher merit pay, limited collective bargaining and vouchers that send taxpayer money to private schools — reflects how passionately both sides feel about the major changes on the horizon. . . .

1 comment:

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