…. Allow me to offer two recent articles that reflect the official attitude of many in the education establishment, now that it is ruled by “progressives”. First, from the Heritage Daily Signal of 2 July 2011:
NEA Convention Reminds Us: It’s About Union Power, Not Children (by Lindsey Burke)
It’s hard to forget former National Education Association (NEA) General Counsel Bob Chanin’s farewell address during the 2009 NEA national convention. “It is not because we care about children; and it is not because we have a vision of a great public school for every child,” Chanin boasted. “The NEA and its affiliates are effective advocates because we have power.”
To kick off this year’s conference, the NEA had several plenary sessions from Monday through Wednesday in advance of the main convention. The sessions were designed to “explore actions that create stress—actions that foster such a tension that the people who scorn us will have to listen and will have to negotiate.”
The very first speaker at the NEA’s plenary session “State of the Union on Our Civil Rights” was Benjamin Todd Jealous, of the NAACP (Mister Jealous: the perfect aptonym) . (That’s the group whose chapter head in New York, Hazel Dukes, recently called a concerned parent a tool of “slave masters” for supporting her daughter’s local charter school in a NEA/NAACP lawsuit against charters.)
Of course, this is absolutely right. That’s why we support parental choice in education to put those students’ needs—not the needs of a failed system—first. But one has to wonder if the session included the objective, empirical analysis of charter schools, voucher programs, and school choice options across the country that shows that educational choice is doing more to increase the academic outcomes of poor and minority children than the failed status quo has ever accomplished. We’re not holding our breath.
Conference attendees also had the opportunity to attend discussions that were less focused on education. Attendees could learn about “Overcoming the Backlash to Minority Population Growth” and “Defeating Attacks on Educators and Union Rights.” The NEA also took the opportunity to use its national convention to train members in civil disobedience in defense of “union rights” with a session called “Civil Disobedience and Direct Action in the Cause of Social Justice.”
Having trouble figuring out what all of this has to do with the education of millions of American schoolchildren? You’re not alone. That’s because the interests of teachers unions are not necessarily aligned with the needs of students. The unions are political machines whose modus operandi is maintaining the inflated benefits and lifetime job security of their members.
But that often means opposing reforms that are in the best interests of children—reforms such as ending forced unionism (which Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker recently achieved), ending lifetime job security for underperforming teachers, linking pay to performance, and, of course, school choice. These reforms are in the best interests of students because they create an education system that is accountable to parents and taxpayers, better aligning the interests of all parties involved.
Sadly, the education unions’ foremost concern is not the needs of children. As former American Federation of Teachers president Al Shanker infamously quipped: “When school children start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of school children.”
The NEA’s national convention highlights the fact that as a group, the education unions have misguided priorities. With some 3.2 million of their members in local schools as teachers and school support personnel, NEA leadership should not block reforms that are in the interests of schoolchildren.
Which is why it’s imperative that teachers are given a choice as to whether they must join the union and that parents be provided options about where they send their children to school. Until the union hold is broken, the education system—not children—will continue to work for the adults—i.e., politicians and public-sector employees who benefit from organized labor’s stranglehold. The NEA convention is a sad reminder of that.
Second, we have the thoughts of one Professor John Caputo (a very, very white male) at Syracuse University, via the NY Times (formerly known as the “paper of record”), and The Daily Caller 3 July 2015:
Professor: Reason Itself Is A White Male Construct
A philosophy and religion professor at Syracuse University gave an interview to The New York Times Thursday in which he critiqued the notion of pure reason as simply being a “white male Euro-Christian construction.”
Prof. John Caputo was being interviewed by fellow philosophy professor George Yancy for the 13th installment of an interview series Yancy conducts with philosophers regarding racial topics.
Given its emphasis on first principles and abstract thought, it may be tempting to view academic philosophy as a turf where the race of participants matters little, but Caputo says that’s entirely untrue. In fact, race is of central importance, and it’s proven by the mundane phrases philosophers use.
“‘White’ is of the utmost relevance to philosophy, and postmodern theory helps us to see why,” Caputo says in the interview. “I was once criticized for using the expression ‘true north.’It reflected my Nordo-centrism, my critic said, and my insensitivity to people who live in the Southern Hemisphere. Of course, no such thing had ever crossed my mind, but that points to the problem. We tend to say ‘we’ and to assume who ‘we’ are, which once simply meant ‘we white male Euro-Christians.’
The end result of critiquing whiteness, Caputo suggests, is the realization that the supposed “reason” underlying philosophy is just another form of white privilege … or something of that nature.
“I think that what modern philosophers call ‘pure’ reason — the Cartesian ego cogito and Kant’s transcendental consciousness — is a white male Euro-Christian construction,” he says. “White is not ‘neutral.’ ‘Pure’ reason is lily white, as if white is not a color or is closest to the purity of the sun, and everything else is ‘colored.’ Purification is a name for terror and deportation, and ‘white’ is a thick, dense, potent cultural signifier that is closely linked to rationalism and colonialism. What is not white is not rational. So white is philosophically relevant and needs to be philosophically critiqued — it affects what we mean by ‘reason’ — and ‘we’ white philosophers cannot ignore it.” (Hey – you’ve gotta have tenure, be a member of the NEA, and be paid at least $60K/year before you can say this stuff ….)
What does this all mean for regular people, such as the Times’ readers? Beneath all of the postmodern philosophical rhetoric, it’s not easy to tell, but much like the litany of recent academics hurrying to comment on “white privilege,” Caputo takes time to stick his finger in the eyes of the “Christian right” and, of all things, freedom — as if those two are the major arbiters behind all the woes America faces.
“The great scandal of the United States is that it has produced an anti-gospel, the extremes of appalling wealth and poverty,” he says. “But instead of playing the prophetic role of Amos denouncing the American Jeroboam, instead of working to close that gap, the policies of the right wing are exacerbating it … The popularity of such cruel ideas, their success in the ballot box, is terrifying to me. The trigger-happy practices of the police … on the streets of black America should alert everyone to how profoundly adrift American democracy has become — attacking the poor as freeloaders and criminals, a distorted and grotesque ideological exaggeration of freedom over equality. The scandal is that the Christian right has too often been complicit with a politics of greed and hatred of the other.”
I would argue that the tools of critical thinking, built on the foundations of deductive logic and inductive reasoning, gave us the modern world. And this world is not exclusively white: Islam, believe it or not, encouraged the art of using one’s brain for centuries …. until roughly the 18th century, when the imams decided there was more power to be had in dumbing down their populations and using them as cannon fodder for jihad, instead of bettering the living conditions of their own people. A nd black Africans designed and built cities centuries before the evil oppressive colonializing whites arrived.
I would also argue that in my own 69-year lifetime, education was once about learning how to hone and apply these critical thinking tools. But this was long ago, before teachers’ unions existed, before local schools marched to beat of the federal drum, before “common core” and “national standards” and “tolerance” and “diversity” drove local curricula.
No, it was only when “progressive” thought arrived on the scene and took center stage, that asshattery as seen in the above two articles began to drive public thought and policy. Thank you Woodrow Wilson … Joe Stalin … George Orwell … white male guilt.
— SafeSpace —