Obama Sec'y of Education Says Katrina "the Best Thing to Happen" to Education in New Orleans

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

If obscene utterances were a crime, education secretary Arne Duncan would be jailed for life. Like all disaster capitalists, he views poor people's catastrophes as his own golden opportunities. In Haiti and New Orleans, Black lives were a small price for (someone else) to pay for the chance to create a new order “more advantageous to the rich.”

Katrina and Haiti Quake are “Best Things That Happened” to Black People

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“Arne Duncan’s disaster capitalist classmates revel in the prospect of building a new Haiti.”
There is an old saying: A white man’s heaven is a Black man’s hell. Arne Duncan, the U.S. secretary of education and President Obama’s basketball buddy, is one of those white men – a disaster capitalist who sees a silver lining in the Katrina catastrophe that swept away much of Black New Orleans, four and a half years ago. Duncan’s ghoulish statement, that “the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans was Hurricane Katrina,” is identical to the sentiments expressed by racist Louisiana whites and the Bush Administration, when they gushed unashamedly over the opportunities Katrina created to build a new order in the city, even as bloated Black bodies still floated in the streets. Even now, as the remains of Black people still ooze from shattered concrete in Port-au-Prince, Arne Duncan’s disaster capitalist classmates revel in the prospect of building a new Haiti – one more orderly and advantageous to the rich.
When the very existence of the poor is deemed the essence of the problem, then the ultimate logic, is genocide.
To the Arne Duncan's of this world, there is no price too high to pay, in terms of Black suffering, in the quest for the Obama administration's grotesque version of education reform. The destruction of a Black city, the scattering of her population – these are not tragedies, certainly not crimes, but cause for celebration, in the larger scheme of things – that larger scheme being the privatization and charterization of the public schools and the demise of teachers unions.
“For the Obama administration, New Orleans is the future.”
One immediate effect of Katrina was the firing of all the city's public school teachers and staff, to clear the way for a hodge-podge, fractured and highly unequal system dominated by charters and where the teachers are largely non-union, whiter, younger, with far less roots in the community. Arne Duncan attempted to achieve the same results while running Chicago schools. For the Obama administration, New Orleans is the future – a model to be coerced into being by withholding federal funds to cities that fail to impose a parallel order of charter schools. The administration plans to step up its bullying on behalf of charter schools in its updated version of No Child Left Behind. The privatization of education that was conceived as a corporate project during the Reagan administration is now the official doctrine of the corporate wing of the Democratic Party, under the first Black president.
One of President Obama's great allies in charterizing the public schools is Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire mayor of New York City who is attempting to shut down 19 schools, all of them heavily Black and brown, despite fierce protests from parents. The state NAACP has joined with the teachers union in a suit to block the mass closings, warning of the establishment of a “segregated,” two-tier school system – charters for the more fortunate, traditional public schools for the poor and educationally needy. To impose this two-tier system, federal policy creates deliberate crises in the traditional public schools, in order to shut them down. That's disaster capitalism at work, in the guise of educational reform.
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 [email protected]