Bill Ayers on Bill Ayers, oh, and education Posted by: McQ
on Monday, January 05, 2009
The resurrection of Bill Ayers continues. His most recent attempt is at Huffington Post where he ostensibly uses the opportunity to tell Barack Obama how he screwed up choosing the Education Secretary he did.
I mean, this guy is an education 'expert' didn't you know? His self-written HuffPo CV proves it:
Author and Distinguished Professor of Education and Senior University Scholar at the University of Illinois at Chicago and domestic terrorist.
Yeah, I added the bold part, but I hate things which are incomplete.
Ayers claims Obama's pick, Arne Duncan, has little to show to qualify him as the best pick for Ed Sec. Had he had the choice, he'd have picked Linda Darling-Hammond because, you know, she's:
... smart, honest, compassionate and courageous, and perhaps most striking, she actually knows schools and classrooms, curriculum and teaching, kids and child development.
Of course, unable to help himself, Ayers provides what I assume he figured would be a humorous aside. It actually is quite telling:
So I would have picked Darling-Hammond, but then again I would have picked Noam Chomsky for state, Naomi Klein for defense, Bernardine Dohrn for Attorney General, Bill Fletcher for commerce, James Thindwa for labor, Barbara Ransby for human services, Paul Krugman for treasury, and Amy Goodman for press secretary. So what do I know?
What indeed? That list itself (and one on which I'd bet Paul Krugman sincerely wishes he wasn't included) tells you all you need to know about why Darling-Hammond would be a poor choice.
Of course Ayers writes that all off to politics:
Darling-Hammond would not have been a smart pick for Obama. She was steadily demonized in a concerted campaign to undermine her effectiveness, and she would surely have had great difficulty getting any traction whatsoever for progressive policy change in this environment.
Of course, the LA Times succintly sums up the politics of why Ayers and his ilk would find Linda Darling-Hammond their "most qualified" for the position:
Stanford University professor Linda Darling-Hammond, who was named to Obama's education transition team, is one of the most-mentioned candidates. As a severe critic of the No Child Left Behind Act and an opponent of merit pay for teachers, she is favored by teachers unions.
The more I see of Ayer's thinking (and writing) the more I understand the lessons he's learned about subversion since his bomb throwing days. Join the system, use the system and subvert the system. And learn to use the language of freedom to sooth the dupes while you implement your anti-freedom agenda.
The proof of his success is how "mainstream" some of his radical ideas are becoming. Oh, I don't begrudge him his ability to throw them out there freely and often. That's part of the contract. I simply sit in wonder that they're taken as seriously as they are and he is considered one of the guiding lights in education. Of course he hasn't done it alone. There are a whole coterie of "educators" just like him who've been working for decades to subvert the education system.
And now, ironically, as a creature inside the system and successfully subverting it, he and his ilk become the system. Hopefully, somewhere out there, an anti-Ayers is learning the same lessons and preparing to implement them in the same way.
Your choice to cite an LA Times *opinion* piece to back your claims about Darling-Hammond is a mistake. That piece was wrong on many points. Among them, the two you cite here:
NCLB: Sure, she has criticized NCLB — who hasn’t?? But she also is on record through testimony before Congress in September 2007 as endorsing the act and its goal of closing the achievement gap and ensuring quality teachers. There’s a 30-page document of that testimony on the internet for anyone willing to do the research.
Merit pay: She has been a vocal advocate or rewarding teacher effectiveness. What she opposes is measuring teacher effectiveness by relying exclusively on the results of multiple-choice tests.
This is all a matter of public record and actual facts — as opposed to uncited opinions — are all accessible on the web.
Off topic, but merit pay for teachers is never going to work well if schools are local monopolies. Rather than endless arguing about correct merit pay systems, schools should be free to make their own choices about how to do it, compete, and let the best systems rise to the top.