Class Warfare Blog

June 10, 2016

Ask and Ye Shall Receive … Sort Of

In a post yesterday I suggested that a way forward for supporters of Bernie Sanders was to create a Democratic Socialist Party. Yes, I already know there is one of that name, but it is run much like the Vegetarian Party and other fringe parties. I am talking about a real party, one that can achieve 20+% support from voters. If Bernie were to take that step and create a New Democratic Socialist Party, he might bring a sizable number of people into it, something none of the fringe parties currently have.

Well under the “ask and ye shall receive” category, I encountered Two Tyrants: The Myth of a Two Party Government and the Liberation of the American Voter by A. G. Roderick (City of Gold Publishing. Kindle Edition). This tome is focused not on bashing the two major parties we have, but in offering pragmatic solutions to resolve the tyranny imposed by two powerful private corporations who do everything in their power to stifle competition (along with democracy), so I bit on it and started reading.

Things started fairly well. here’s is a quote that seems to be in the vein being delved:Two Tyrants Cover

Both parties deal with corporate corruption in vastly different ways. Republicans sing the praises of corporations, and then turn a blind eye to corporate corruption in exchange for campaign donations. Democrats, on the other hand, publicly complain of the unfair influence and inherent evil of corporations. Only then do they turn a blind eye to corporate corruption in exchange for campaign donations.

But then I read this:

A 2012 report on 15-year-olds from 65 nations yielded the following sobering results: American students scored below the average in math. They were not quite average in science and reading. US students ranked 30th, 23rd and 20th in math, science and reading, respectively. What’s worse, the United States spends more money per student than any other country in the developed world. Our children are ill prepared for the global competition they will increasingly face. These shameful statistics have some of their roots in the absolutism of our two-party politics. The linchpin of the education policy debate in America is the role of teachers unions. Teachers unions are a wildly wealthy and powerful lobby in America. The majority of their political contributions go to Democratic candidates. As such, Democratic minds become clouded by union cash. The Democratic Party structure is built on the foundation of monetary support by unions. Therefore, for Democrats to maintain the influx of union money, the good of the unions must be paramount to the good of the students.”

Oh, boy.

This meme is totally false and emblematic of what has become of our political discourse. Disinformation is created and then echoed in “safe” media outlets for years and then proffered as a known truism. Memes can be true or false. This one is quite false.

Unions have no real power in Democratic Party politics anymore. All they can expect is lip service. Notably, President Obama pissed all over the union movement by not pursuing pro-union legislation from day one of his presidency. (Then there was the Caterpillar Tractor episode, etc.) Also, “union cash”? really? Corporations outspent unions 10 to 1 in the last presidential election. In this one, I expect that ratio to be even higher.

Now, let’s get to the core of the argument the author is making “Our children are ill prepared for the global competition they will increasingly face.” This is true but it isn’t due to any failure of the educational system. The biggest problem facing our future is poverty. Of all of the educational comparisons that can be made internationally, we rank in the middle … and have since the 1960’s! … because we have rich and poor students. The rich do very, very well. (If you just put Massachusetts’s international test scores against the rest of the world, they are near the top, for example.) The poor do, well, poorly. It has been shown over and over again that poverty trumps education as far as predicting how well “students” will do. Another false meme currently being constructed is that education cures poverty. This is a Horatio Alger supported piece of wishful thinking. You can support it only with anecdotes of people who transcended their poverty and education was involved. But if you look at the whole picture and not cherry-picked examples, poverty is a huge barrier to a better future.

And, since we have been scoring the same on these international tests since the 1960’s how is it we have remained the dominant economy in the world for the last 50 years? Might it have something to do with the fact that we don’t need all students to excel, that we only need enough? The fact that we have STEM graduates who cannot find jobs, for example, tells us that we are creating a surplus of those highly educated graduates. Is the author saying we need “more” to be competitive?

I have only scratched the surface of this book and my hope is there are viable, useful suggestions as to how to proceed with a third party movement. A full report will come later.

Oh, and the real reason “Our children are ill prepared for the global competition they will increasingly face” is that the oligarchs and the bought and paid for political parties have decided that they will use “global competition” to restrict wages and to control workers. When jobs are at a premium, especially good jobs, workers who get them will not rock the boat by making demands or, Heaven forbid, form a union. The bulk of our economy is domestic, but corporations are taking our jobs overseas and then importing the same goods back into the U.S. that could have been made here. Their profits have soared and the number of good jobs has shrunk substantially (and actual wages with them). They have transformed our children from citizens to consumers. They will have no role to play in government, other that the mummery of choosing between candidates who aren’t really any different. They will have just enough income to buy stuff the corporations want them to buy. But to inherit a better future than their parents, naw, that is gone … for now … unless we change the system.

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4 Comments »

  1. “since we have been scoring the same on these international tests since the 1960’s how is it we have remained the dominant economy in the world for the last 50 years?”

    Might be in part that the best of foreign students come here to finish their education and their results are calculated into the scoring. Some stay but many go back to improve the conditions in their country.

    Like

    Comment by lbwoodgate — June 10, 2016 @ 10:53 am | Reply

    • In part, but I suspect that it is not a huge part.

      The real problem is that we do not address problems honestly. We first must decry, Cassandra-like, the yuge problem facing us and the catastrophic results if we don’t take action! Then, and only then, can we proceed toward a solution. U.S. Citizens have become (or always were) Drama Queens.

      So, regarding these international test score comparisons it is “Look, look we are doomed!” As opposed to doing a little research and see if the “trend” is recent or not and are the consequences tied to the data … or not.

      On Fri, Jun 10, 2016 at 10:53 AM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:

      >

      Like

      Comment by Steve Ruis — June 10, 2016 @ 10:59 am | Reply

  2. Being part of the “The linchpin of the education policy debate in America is the role of teachers unions. Teachers unions are a wildly wealthy and powerful lobby in America. The majority of their political contributions go to Democratic candidates. As such, Democratic minds become clouded by union cash. The Democratic Party structure is built on the foundation of monetary support by unions. Therefore, for Democrats to maintain the influx of union money, the good of the unions must be paramount to the good of the students.” I can tell you that is a load of horse pucky! at least from my point of view. Living in FL, “A Right To Work” LOL state, we are forbidden by law to strike, go on “sick outs” etc. Without the right to strike we lost our sole real means of power. The power is all in the hands of the Administration. We also lost tenure, which, means that other than a few old dinosaurs like me, I still have tenure and therefore part of the problem, every teacher is at the beck and call of the Administration or loose their job for some reason they don’t always understand. The whole idea of tenure is not to protect “bad, lazy teachers” but to protect those who run afoul the powers that be, either parent or administration and in certain cases this can be vital. When it comes to bargaining for pay, benefits, resources etc, we have a voice, but little influence. Only when the parents really got involved since our Superintendent is elected, and that is a rarity, did the Administration grant us a few favors. The major problem with our system the way I see it, is the lack of “Common Core” in our schools. I teach 7th Grade Science (an evilutionist to boot) at our Public Middle School and when a student comes in from a different state, county or even school in our district, there is a great disconnect. Don’t let the kids come from one of the more bizarre schools, like home schoolers, virtual schools, private academies, Christian Academies. They are lost. I did have one parent tell me she was glad her kid was getting a real education now since she coming from a Christian Academy. The mother understood why the kid was making D’s. She was a smart kid, but was so unprepared for “Reality” that it took her a while to catch up. No one is held to the same real standard. Everyone in the public school is required to take the “Tests from Hell” designed to enrich Pearson or McGraw Hill and hold us accountable for the failings of our kids, but Charter Schools can be exempted, however. It is stupid beyond belief. I am a Science Teacher, but my scores depend upon the Language Arts and Math grades. There is no “Test” for the 7th Grade Science yet. It seems to me that Charters are “popping up like mushrooms in a cow pile after a good rain!” They are Union Free, usually underpaid and not properly supervised until someone gets busted racking in the cash. As to the Union Members being part of the Democratic Party? Man this is the Panhandle of FL! Some of the crap I hear. Talk about Chickens voting for Col. Sanders. Oh well, 3 to 5 more years till I can retire for the last time. It is hard being just a “dumb old retired Infantry Sergeant” I have little patience with stupidity! But at least I have time off and my Martinis! Hoooaaaah!!

    Like

    Comment by Holding The Line In Florida — June 13, 2016 @ 7:42 am | Reply

    • I am with you 100%. This is pure and simple union bashing. The plutocrats do not like unions or any other institution that can stand up to them! (The effrontery of it all, bah, humbug!)

      To be anti-union is anti-working people. They are anti-workers as the workers area drain on their profits.

      Some of the best teachers I have known started life in some other capacity (but an old infantry sergeant??). Having been successful at that, they wanted to tackle their love of teaching. These are obvious bad eggs for the plutocrats to weed out (sorry about the mixed metaphor). I had a night student who had made his pile as a lawyer and was going back to school at night to get his teaching credential. Another obvious loser.

      These people are trampling all over a noble institution and they don’t care who they hurt in the process.

      Hang in there!

      I have a new phone number (if you keep track of such things). It is 773.793.9706. The old number will continue to work for a while.

      Steve June 11-2016

      On Mon, Jun 13, 2016 at 7:42 AM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:

      >

      Like

      Comment by Steve Ruis — June 13, 2016 @ 7:49 am | Reply


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