Send In the Clowns: 3 Stooges, Gingrich, Sharpton & Duncan Hit the Road For Corporate “School Reform”

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Bruce Dixon

Quite separately from each other, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Rev. Al Sharpton and Newt Gingrich have long ago forfeited whatever credibility they may once have had. Taken together, they are simply a bad joke: three grown men publicly eye-poking and slap fighting each other while they all come together to sell us high-stakes testing, charter schools, educational privatization and the whole package of corporate “school reform.”

Send In the Clowns: 3 Stooges, Gingrich, Sharpton & Duncan Hit the Road For Corporate “School Reform”

by BAR managing editor Bruce Dixon

Back in the late 19th and early 20th century heydays of vaudeville, when the singers bombed, when the jokes fell flat and audience attention started wandering, management knew what to do. They would send in the clowns. Some things haven't changed.

Despite a decade of hard sell by right wing think tanks, foundations, and big media, the American people have not bought the corporate version of school reform. Most people just don't believe public schools should be privatized or militarized, or operated by business people like businesses instead of by educators, parents and communities in the interests of children, parents and communities, like the best schools always have been run. And most educators doubt that high stakes testing improves educational outcomes in any meaningful way.

Since the public debates on charter schools and privatizing education are ones that our elite cannot win, they have decreed there will be no debate. Instead of an honest public examination of the disastrous impact of No Child Left Behind, and its attendant decade of creeping educational privatization, corporate media, the Obama administration and its bipartisan allies are sending in the clowns with a 21st century three stooges remake starring the Rev. Al Sharpton, along with Republican former Speaker Newt Gingrich and Obama Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, elbowing and slapping at each other, yukking it up about their supposed political differences while they all come together around the corporate elite's version of “school reform.”

Stooge number one is Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, a former basketball player and friend of the president who, without a single hour of teaching experience was named by Chicago's Mayor Daley to head the nation's third largest school system. Duncan now pledges to extend the Chicago model of high stakes testing and massive school closings to create opportunities for what he calls “innovative” charter schools. Thanks to Duncan, Chicago's public schools are now being sued by black teachers for racial discrimination in the wholesale dismissal of hundreds of qualified, dedicated black teachers and their replacement with younger, cheaper, less experienced and mostly whiter ones. Even now, the Obama administration is withholding federal education funds from states and school districts to force nationwide implementation of these so-called “reforms.”

Stooge number two is the Rev. Al Sharpton, whose presence allows the stooges to claim they are a “civil rights” act. Rev. Sharpton jumped aboard the corporate education reform bandwagon with both feet after receiving a half million dollar bribe last year for his National Action Network, reportedly brokered by New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein through a right wing not for profit agency that promotes charter schools.

Stooge number three is the same Newt Gingrich who once advocated removal of underachieving children from their parents' homes to boarding schools and military academies, and whose 1994 Contract For America, demanded the dissolution of the US Department of Education.

Mass media ought to be where the studies, the facts, the experience and the voices of parents, educators, students and communities across the country wrestling with the problems of education are held up for all to examine and understand. But that would be too much like public service for our America's privatized media. What we'll get instead is entertainment. They're sending in the clowns. And here they come!

Privatization Pictures presents a No Child Left Behind Production starring the New Three Stooges, Arne Duncan, Al Sharpton and Newt Gingrich in Corporate School Reform directed by Barack Obama and produced by the Bradley, Heritage and Walton Family Foundations, featuring fake statistics, dubious studies, crackpot merit pay schemes, charter schools including military charter schools, cronyism, patronage, corruption, worse educational outcomes, thousands of school closings, mass firings of qualified teachers, community destabilization, loss of public and community control, and the privatization of education.

For Black Agenda Report, I'm Bruce Dixon apologizing to the ghosts of the original three stooges. They'd understand. On the web, we are at




Humorous picture!

I agree

The picture is hilarious!  But it is frustrating that these are the people for School Reform.
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Los Payasos Together!

What a very righteous graphic and commentary. This is great. I liked the apology to the origiinal stooges also. Marvelous work again Mr. Bruce Dixon!

Al Sharpton has become our

Al Sharpton has become our nightmare. Given his past 'informer' history, you'd think we'd be more suspicious of this guy. We are being led to hell.

Whores R Us

"Given his past "informer" history.  SShhhhh.  Be Quiet!  Don't want to upset his "Civil Rights" bona fides.  LOL I read about that shit in GQ over 20 years ago.  My, oh my, how we love our con artists.  How do u like that for "transformative" politics.  A former FBI snitch the Leader of Black Activists.  Boy the media is a m*** f****r. "Only in Amerikka."

Special Ed Road Show

Thanks Bruce for the truth in comic relief.  I would like to call it the Special Ed Road Show.  They will be traveling around the country in the big yellow school bus (you know the one that would carry all the SPECIAL Ed kids).  Or you could call it the Whole Fools Show on Wheels (take your pick).  The Obama administration has sunk to the Bush level of depravity if they are going to send these characters out to front their version of school privatization via charter/military school cult.
Lets look at these category five MORONS individually.  There is CEO (Chief Educational Overseer) Arne Duncan who has not taught one day in one classroom anywhere.  How does one get to be the Secretary of Education and does not have ANY experience in education???  His claim to fame is his friendship with Obama (nice if you got it like that).  Just ask the folks in Chicago about his tenure there as CEO of Chicago schools.  If you don’t get pimp slapped just for mentioning Arne Duncan’s name and they can stop cursing long enough you might get some answers.  Say What!!!
Then there is the Rev Al Sharpton.  The Rev as Mr. Dixon pointed out is bought and paid for and has been reduced to nothing more that a babbling sock puppet.  And we should all know about his past life as an FBI informant.  His presence is to add some color to this rolling Clown Circus.  Ah come on now I thought you knew!!!
Last but not least there is Newt Gingrich the high priest of hypocrisy.  This guy brought us the contract for (more like on) America is now is trying to bring us a contract On our children via the education reform that him and his Special Ed crew are going to push.  This is the same Newt that preached Family Values but could not keep his own wee wee in his pants.  Seems like a lot of those family values guys have a problem with that aka David (Put me in Diapers) Vitter and Mark (Gone to Argentina to get My Swerve On) Sanford.  Oh Yes they did!!!
The Obama administration must be stuck on S-T-U-P-I-D!!!  Firstly, to push the privatization via charter/military school cult angle that nobody is buying in the first place.  Secondly, for sending the Special Ed trifecta out to try to sell this bus load of horse h*t to the public.  It is a absolute insult to everyone with a brain wave and a pulse.  I would not want to try to listen to any of these bozos.  If you are in the same room where they would be yammering you will probably get a migraine and if you hang around long enough you would be in danger of suffering an aneurism.  LOL in the words of James Brown Please Please Please Lord help us all cause we really really need some help right now!!!
S Murph

Bravo! To the Special Ed Road Show

When u look at this shit and reflect, yall will stop questioning me why Enlightened and Cynic go hand in hand.  LOL
You forget to mention that Gingrich divorced his wife while she was hospitalized with breast cancer.  What a lineup.  Is there any more proof needed to substantiate that "The United States has Gone to Hell in a Handbasket?"
The only (highly probable) saving grace in this is, don't be surprised if something erupts on the horizon that pits Gingrich and Rev. Al on opposite ends of the spectrum.  You know, one of those "Civil Rights Moments" when Al has to prove his bona fides and Newt has to counter with his red neck bona fides.  That shit would be truly slap stick were in not such a sad indictment of the disintegration of leadership, critical thinking, polity, and policy in the (former) United States of Amerikka.
As a matter of fact the media will turn it around and say, "See it's proof that Al and Newt are correct, that they can put aside their differences, blah blah blah."  You know, the Civil Rights Pimp's version of "bi-partisanship."  LOL


Man this picture is fantastic, i almost died when i saw it for the first time...Onlive

strong action must follow strong writing

 my people we are all so enlightened and educated.  that said,  please brothers take that fire and passion and bring a SOLUTION after the comic relief. every black publication and radio host must begin today promoting the concept of ACTION not just sharing your thoughts via talk radio. the civil rights movement began under these exact circumstances; a people fed up. 
so after writing or broadcasting your opinion the next productive step is a call to action to advocate what you write. learn to be an activist in your community, church, school, and yes, the j-o-b.
i say to every black man that rides my taxi.  this next decade is on you. all our solutions will come when you come to the  table minus ego filled with purpose.  you have to want to save us. it has to be you black man because the last 30 years without you have brought us to where we are today. remember who we were? 
you are the miracle. so brothers,  appreciate you so much, but,  the clock is running.

Good points!

Your post makes good sense.  Folks need to quit that waiting on govt or the next punchline and get to working.

Absolutely right - Direct Action

I agree totally with your assessment direct action is needed now.  No matter what community, what city, what state, what part of the country working people must begin to radically mobilize and confront neo-liberalism and racism with direct action.  If these consent generating 'town hall meetings' think they can have an impact on this country, what about the mobilization of workers and the disenfranchised in the hundreds of thousands or millions? 
In Chicago mobilized groups of working people stopped the closing of 20 schools.  In LA the Mayor and his cronies just gave away 250 to the 'outside providers'.  Will LA workers and community members organize and stop the smash and grab policies?  If not, all public workers will be targeted for experimentation -- the Wal Mart model of educational retail outlets.  New Orleans was the first hamlet and now it is spreading like a cancer throughout the Empire.

Very interesting video on

Very interesting video on about the fight Haitians have put up for hundreds of years, which is the precise reason we and previous empires are so determined to exterminate them. Can't have them set another bad example, like Cuba. Hydraulic Jacks Hydraulic Jack

You nailed it with humor

This was great!!!
Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!!


Reform has been always the meaning of change. School reform is good if it results to good academic standing of the students. Talking about reform, health care reform relates to it.Killing health care reform has always been easier than creating consensus (especially if you're willing to demagogue the issue with "death panels").  But amid all the screaming, here's a point that adds important contextual ballast: Americans don't really think their health care is so hot. For the first time in history, a conservative talk show host is going to allowed to broadcast directly from the White House, as President Obama has invited Michael Smerconish to do exactly that. Michael Smerconish is not a centrist who happens to lean Republican, he is a dyed in the wool conservative, and he has voted Republican all his life.  He voted for Barack Obama in 2008.  The President will hold the broadcast in the Diplomatic Reception Room, where the Fireside Chats are held, and will field questions largely about health care reform.  It's hard to believe Michael Smerconish is going to the White House – Limbaugh couldn't get in, no matter how much fast cash he offered.

Talking Loud and Saying Nothing

That's about all I'm hearing in my community here in Pittsburgh,Pa.,speaking of getting the word out to the community here in the Steel City we don't even have a radio station that is own by Blacks to get the word out.Black people here know more about what's happening in the front office of the Steel er Football team then in their own community.

Obama=Caramel Colored GWB

Neoliberalism, Charter Schools and the Chicago Model
Obama and Duncan's Education Policy:
Like Bush's, Only Worse


Go get 'em!

When writing about public school issues (my personal passion) you guys are great! May I suggest that you really need to go after the DFER, and their two main maneuverers: Joe Williams and Mr. Behind-the-Scenes-schmoozer, Whitney Tilson. Tilson keeps a blog here. You can read more about him here.

Good ol Newt

I swear that guy just keeps coming back. You know what he reminds me of? A cockroach! When will this country wake up and start educating itself. This stuff really drives me full tilt up the wall.

Duncan, Sharpton and Gingrich: Tri-Courtesanship

Great picture!  Really captures the sardonic theme of the times!
Here is the plan:
Take a look at the set-up and how it is supposed to work according to the conservative Hudson Institute.
       In their Winter 2008 issue of Education Next, the publication laid out in no uncertain terms the ‘game plan’ charter advocates are employing to takeover public education nationwide:
Here, in short, is one roadmap for chartering’s way forward:  First, commit to drastically increasing the charter market share in a few select communities until it is the dominant system and the district is reduced to a secondary provider.  The target should be 75%.  Second, choose the target communities wisely.  Each should begin with a solid charter base (at least 5 percent market share), a policy environment that will enable growth (fair funding, non-district authorizers, and no legislated caps), and a favorable political climate (friendly elected officials and editorial boards, a positive experience with charters to date, and unorganized opposition)… The solution is not an improved traditional district; it’s an entirely different delivery system… Charter advocates should strive to have every urban public school be a charter (Smarick, 2008).
Danny Weil

Arne Duncan looks different

Arne Duncan looks different every time at photos. Here is his photo. As different person