Wednesday, June 11, 2014


The news that grabs me today:  Of course, there is the demolition of Eric Cantor; also, the California judge’s ruling against teacher tenure.

It’s sad that many parents who are outraged by the disastrously low quality of education think that the answer is a war to get rid of bad teachers and to weaken teacher’s unions. Not surprisingly, inadequate teachers and bad schools plague poor and minority communities especially. But things have taken a bizarre turn in the name of “education reform”. Instead of an emphasis on preparing and recruiting many more good teachers, of making teaching attractive and highly valued by society, of investing in better schools and educational support, the thrust is to make it easier to fire teachers, to demonize unions, to devalue and shrink public schools.

Sad, too, that many liberals who are solidly against the wars on women, on the unemployed and the homeless, on voting rights, and so on, nevertheless, buy into the anti-union thrust of purported “education reform”. Whatever improvements need to be made in teacher evaluation and performance through strong interaction between parents, educators, and unions, there is little question as to what outlawing tenure would mean. Further weakening unions would do nothing to make teaching more attractive. Rather it would give unlimited power over hiring, firing, conditions of work and educational process to those in authority. That would open the way to arbitrariness, acts of personal and political prejudice, such as sullied the practices of many education administrators when conformity was demanded at the expense of civil liberties.

No wonder that war against teacher and public employee unions is top priority for Scott Walker, the Koch brothers and ALEC: just leave everything up to the boss.

* * *

How can one not get a charge out of what happened to Eric Cantor? Just desserts! Still, there is a queasy feeling. One can hope that this stunning turn of events will weaken the GOP’s electoral prospects, but there’s more reason for alarm than for celebration in the Tea Party’s promotion of anti-immigrant and racist poison.

I wonder who is most pained by Cantor’s debacle. There is AIPAC and Netanyahu, for whom Cantor was foremost champion in Congress of total support for Israel’s occupation regime; he also tried his darndest to undermine any negotiations with Iran. Then there is David Brooks and others trying to save the GOP through a “new” conservative agenda, one with a more human face, one that acknowledges the concerns of ordinary folk.

The last time this “new” Republican thinking tried to makeover a harsh public image, we got “compassionate conservatism” with George W. Bush. ‘Not this time’, according to Cantor’s nemesis, David Brat, and the Tea Party cohort. The prevailing GOP winds are not going the way of the “new” (once again?) reformers.

No comments:

Post a Comment