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H2O Man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-26-11 11:36 AM
Original message
A Nation at Risk
"If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war.".
President Ronald Reagan's A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform report; 1983.

This summer, I attended one of my high school class reunions. This allowed me the opportunity to talk with the fellow who had begun his job as our school's principal in my senior year. He was, at the time, a recent graduate with his Ph.D.s in education and psychiatry. Within a few years, he became our school system's superintendent, then went on to run the schools in two large cities. These days, he is semi-retired, teaching part-time at a large university. He has a passion for public education, and his focus is on teaching future school administrators.

Part of the reunion was fun. He gave the main address before dinner, and talked about how, in the second week of school, one student called a general strike that supported by the majority of the student body. He recalled asking his secretary who the ring leader was, and her saying, It's that Pat character. He's trouble. And he noted that throughout his entire career, I had given him more headaches than any other individual he ever encountered.

I, of course, reminded him that he was lucky to have only had me for one year. In fact, I had doubled-up on classes in previous years, hoping to graduate a year early, and only need half a credit that senior year. And, as I was homeless much of that school year, my attendance was minimal, to say the least (or most).

Many years later, when I was a program director then executive director of a non-profit human service agency, I had requested that my old principle serve on its board of directors which he did. He recognized that I had a more rounded education in dysfunctional family dynamics and the troubles of the teenaged years, than one could get from text books and classrooms. And, through the miracle of Facebook, earlier in the year I was able to discuss my thoughts about running for a seat on the local school board.

So, when we were first talking at the weekend event, he asked me how I liked being on the school board? I answered, in part, with a question: when had school teachers become Public Enemy #1? Because I am concerned about that iceberg of hostility, which lays large below the surface of public discussion of our nation's school systems, even though that part that is visible presents a danger to our children and youth.

He told me to read the Reagan administration's report on schools, which was primarily a vicious assault on teachers. He quoted the line that heads my essay here today, and said that people and certainly not just school board members need to appreciate the full implications of the Reaganites' claim that school teachers were engaged in acts of war against this country. Indeed, he said, this was actually a declaration of war being made by extreme right-wing of the republican party against those Americans, including the children and youth, who were not in the upper economic class.

The public school system is as important to true democracy in our nation as is the Constitution. For if the people are kept ignorant and uneducated, they do not have any more access to that Constitution, than the economic elite allow them. And that allowance, as our nation's history clearly documents, is at most a few crumbs from off the table of the wealthy.

As historian Sean Wilentz tells in his powerful book, The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln, (Norton; 2005) that economic elite views the United States as a republic. This is from res publica, or public thing, which holds that we secure the common good through the ministrations of the most worthy, enlightened men. When only the economic elite has access to education, it limits any ability of all others to exercise control over their own lives.(page xvii)

Democracy comes from demos krateo, or the rule of the people. Wilentz notes that the economic elite view this as dangerously handed power to the impassioned, unenlightened masses.(ibid) What we see today, and certainly not limited to education, is that elite capitalizing on the ignorance of the impassioned, angry tea partymembers, who are roused to fever-pitch to fight against their own self-interests.

After winning the 1968 election, but before taking office, one of the topics of discussion among members of Nixon's administration was the unrest on college campuses. This is detailed in, among other places, Theodore White's third in his series of The Making of an American President books. Among the reasons, they concluded, were that too many middle class youth were going to college. They believed that the American economy would not have enough jobs for a well-educated middle class, and that it was essential for them to reduce the number of non-rich kids attending college.

Older readers will recognize that Nixon a product of a poor family who would become wealthy and powerful as a result of going to college did not go along with this program, especially when he ended the draft. This was, in my opinion, one of the sins that Nixon committed against the economic elite, which resulted in the republicans in Congress forcing his removal from office. More, one of the myths now taught is that it was actually the Democrats who caused his resignation.

Who has actually declared war on the American public? If a foreign nation were capable of stamping out the Bill of Rights, we would hopefully recognize that as an act of war. But when the puppets and lap-dogs in Washington, DC, actually accomplished this, an ignorant public has believed it was done to protect them. No: it was an act of war.

If foreign corporations were able to send American youth, almost exclusively from the lower economic classes, to an illegal and immoral war, in order to secure their economic interests in another nation's natural resources, the American public would certainly recognize that as an act of war. Yet, thousands of American youth have been sent to kill and die in Iraq for Dick Cheney and friends. Former prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi authored a book that advocated prosecuting George W. Bush et al for this crime. In a democracy, such a prosecution would happen. Yet in our nation, Bush and Cheney were not even impeached, showing that our standards of justice had rotted since the Nixon era.

If a foreign nation sent agents to poison our environment, by contaminating the soil, water, and air with deadly toxins that caused serious illnesses and death among the population, we would consider that to be an act of war. But not only are corporations doing exactly that, each andevery day of the year, but the puppets and lap-dogs of the economic elite are proposing to shut down the very EPA that Richard Nixon created. This is absolutely an act of war.

If foreign interests were able to come to America and steal millions of jobs, and sneak them out of our country to be placed in overseas locations, we would recognize that as an act of war. Yet when the economic elite does exactly that, we are told that it's good business, and that if anyone is at fault, it's a union worker. And a surprising number of Americans are so ignorant that they are unable to see that it is an act of war being done by that economic elite.

Last week, the world was repulsed by the execution of an innocent man in America. For many thinking people, this was connected to the wild applause of republicans during their party's presidential primary debates, when the candidates discussed not only executions, but allowing an uninsured human being to die without medical care. For any time there is a passionate group of ignorant people, they must find someone to take the weight for their own collective low level of being. It can be a foreign boogie-man, a domestic minority group, or even their neighbor. But they lack the insight to recognize their real enemies.

Yes, indeed, we are a nation at risk. The actual imperative is for economic, political, and social reform. And that requires the very public education that the economic elite is attempting to deny citizens of this nation. And that really is an act of war.
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mmonk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-26-11 11:41 AM
Response to Original message
1. Recommended.
I reminded people last week on Facebook of upcoming school board elections in my area. Also, I continue to remind them of the lack of human empathy of many today.
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Carolina Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-26-11 11:46 AM
Response to Original message
2. K&R
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me b zola Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-26-11 11:53 AM
Response to Original message
3. K&R
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Frosty1 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-26-11 12:40 PM
Response to Original message
4. Wow
Without a doubt you are my favorite writer. You hit this one right out of the park! Thank you for sharing. May I quote from this? It's too good not to share!
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H2O Man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-26-11 06:07 PM
Response to Reply #4
11. Thank you!
And yes, certainly, feel free to quote/share this.
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PA Democrat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-26-11 01:06 PM
Response to Original message
5. Excellent analysis.
The corporate media is complicit with their wall-to-wall coverage of the Casey Anthony trial, or the outrage du jour that has no impact on the day-to-day lives of struggling Americans. At the same time corporate criminality goes virtually unreported, and protests against corporate greed are for the most part ignored.
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H2O Man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-26-11 08:07 PM
Response to Reply #5
13. Right!
That corporate media is one of the elite's favorite lap dogs. They have betrayed the trust of the public, as well as the role that our Constitution has both allowed and assigned them. The media should actually be a key player in public education outside of the classroom; instead, it "reports" misinformation and disinformation 24/7.
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young_at_heart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-26-11 02:09 PM
Response to Original message
6. Republicans deliberately suppressed good news--- Sandia Report in 1990
The Sec. of Education commissioned the Sandia Laboratories in New Mexico to document the decline in the Nation at Risk report with actual data. Engineers presented 78 pages of graphs and tables and 78 pages of text to explain them. It concluded that, while there were many problems in public education, there was no system-wide crisis. Education Week published an article on the Sandia report in 1991. Unlike the Nation at Risk report, the Sandia Report critique received almost no attention.
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CANDO Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-26-11 02:15 PM
Response to Original message
7. H2OMan, very impressive!
In your post, you've given a perfect manuscript for anyone willing to run for any office in the land.
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raouldukelives Donating Member (945 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-26-11 02:34 PM
Response to Original message
8. K&R
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Shireling Donating Member (222 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-26-11 03:48 PM
Response to Original message
9. Great writing
I agree 100%. Also, the media has equal impact on our lack of awareness.
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antigop Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-26-11 04:50 PM
Response to Original message
10. K&R. Great work. n/t
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hootinholler Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-26-11 07:53 PM
Response to Original message
12. The opening salvo on the education front?
I've noted 2 classes of republicans against education. One is the got mine, kids are through school, we don't need to raise property taxes to teach your kids.

The other are the less astute who are easily confused and led with simple memes.

I suppose there are others, like the talibornagain wing of the party.

Excellent essay Pat.

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sabrina 1 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-26-11 08:23 PM
Response to Original message
14. Perfectly said.
I have heard people call what has been done to this country 'treason', maybe Vincent Bugliosi said it also regarding the theft of the 2000 election. Whenever people say that, others often accuse them of hyperbole, but I do not think so. And your OP states the case very clearly, any American who contributes to what anyone can see, is the downfall of this country out of fear of losing their job in Congress, or for profit, is, imo a traitor.

Regarding your point about the educational system, Reagan, and then Nixon to his credit, not wanting to go along, I think you are right. What better way to destroy a country than to deprive its citizens of an education?

It reminds of the coup against Aristides in Haitti, right after he announced he intended to spend a lot of money on education and raise the minimum wage. Chavez's first campaign promise kept, according to friends in Venezuela, was to end the 80% illiteracy and poverty rate, most likely directly related to each other.

Chavez in an interview with John Pilger stated that he was aware he was a target for assassination but he hoped he would be around long enough to educate the entire country including the elderly, because he said, with an educated population, no matter what happened to him, no one could defeat them as easily or suppress them again.

There is a war on teachers, sad to say it is still going on. The people have to take action or lose this country altogether, but the problem is so many are blind to what is being done to them.
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H2O Man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-26-11 10:00 PM
Response to Reply #14
15. Very good post.
Thank you.
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teacher gal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-26-11 11:25 PM
Response to Original message
16. K&R nt
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GrannyK Donating Member (226 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-26-11 11:49 PM
Response to Original message
17. K & R N/T
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lunatica Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-27-11 05:12 AM
Response to Original message
18. There is method in their madness
The turnaround, if there is any will be painful. And slow.
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malaise Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-27-11 05:16 AM
Response to Original message
19. Another excellent post
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druidity33 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-27-11 06:12 AM
Response to Original message
20. K&R. nt.
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Doctor_J Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-27-11 09:55 AM
Response to Original message
21. More like a nation circling the drain
Edited on Tue Sep-27-11 09:58 AM by Doctor_J
Hate Radio has a death grip on the US, and we're turning purple. Look at how many DUers despise teachers, the NEA, AFT, public schools, etc. Cleaning up the Hate Radio menace would have been easy 15 years ago. Now there's nothing to be done.
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KoKo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-27-11 06:42 PM
Response to Original message
22. K&R!
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