Obama Celebrates “Common Ground” with GOP on Education

 

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

President Obama’s “admiration fest” with Republicans is in high gear, especially in the education arena. The administration’s mass charterization policies “represent an even bigger danger to public education” than George Bush’s private school vouchers. “The charter school racket is the perfect Trojan Horse for corporate domination of the classroom, at public expense.”

 

Obama Celebrates “Common Ground” with GOP on Education

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The president proudly proclaimed that he has no ‘ideological’ differences with the Bushes over education.”

If there is any arena outside of waging aggressive war where the Obama administration shows itself to be in near-perfect continuity with its Republican predecessor, it is in education. President Obama last week staged a mutual admiration fest with George Bush’s brother, Jeb, at Miami’s Central High School, where Obama celebrated the “common ground” he shares with Republicans on educational policy. The president proudly proclaimed that he has no “ideological” differences with the Bushes over education. That is an understatement. In fact, Obama has taken George Bush’s No Child Left Behind program as a starting point to launch his own so-called “Race to the Top,” an all-out assault on teachers unions and the very nature of public schooling in the United States that advances the corporatization of American classrooms in ways that Republicans never could.

Obama is counting on Republican support for reauthorization of No Child Left Behind, as well he should, since George Bush’s program opened the door to Obama’s efforts to break teachers unions and create a national system of charter schools. The differences between George Bush’s educational policies and Barack Obama’s are in emphasis, not intent. In a practical sense, Obama’s policies represent an even bigger danger to public education.

Because he is a Democrat, the leadership of the two national teachers unions pretend Obama is a friend.”

In the slick, sly way of the corporate Democrat, Obama avoids the worst rhetorical excesses of his Republican partners in the anti-public education project. You won’t hear Obama’s Education Secretary, Arne Duncan, calling the nation’s largest teachers union a “terrorist organization,” as Bush education chief Rod Paige did back in February of 2004. Instead, Arne Duncan travels around with arch-reactionary Newt Gingrich and Obama’s Black pit-bull Al Sharpton on a Three Stooges tour promoting their common agenda for non-union charter schools run by private companies. Obama fires teachers en mass, in numbers beyond George Bush’s wildest dreams, while making hypocritical noises of support for the profession. And because he is a Democrat, the leadership of the two national teachers unions pretend Obama is a friend, or at least the lesser of two evils, when in reality he is the greater threat.

Under George Bush, the Republicans were ideologically wedded to providing public money for private school vouchers. Charter schools were their second choice for weakening public education. But corporate Democrats like Obama saw that charterization was a much more politically acceptable way to privatize many more schools in a much shorter period of time, while maintaining the veneer of public education. Most importantly, charter schools are the best vehicles for handing control of education over to private corporations while the public continues to pay all the costs. Hedge funds and all kinds of speculators and hustlers have discovered that charter schools are a no-risk, potentially high-profit proposition – that is, no risk to themselves. The charter school racket is the perfect Trojan Horse for corporate domination of the classroom, at public expense, opening up a new, wholly subsidized educational “market” valued at hundreds of billions of dollars a year, in which the public pays and the private parties profit. And that's why Obama is a greater danger to public education than the Bush brothers ever were.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.