Monday, September 07, 2009

No Child Left Behind, Memphis Style

The right wing uproar over the upcoming presidential speech to Dick and Jane has New York Daily News sportswriter Mike Lupica all fired up. His column, entitled "Loons should shut up and listen: Obama not out to brainwash schoolkids", takes parents to task for saying they'll hold their kids out of class that day. Here's an excerpt:
This is no longer about dissent, or disagreement with Obama's policies. This is something deeper and meaner, something that seems to come from a foreign country, not this one. How else do you explain a speech about education and hard work being seen as a threat?

Another idiot, Florida Republican Party Chairman Jim Greer, has suggested that Obama is trying to "indoctrinate America's children to his Socialist agenda." Somebody needs to inform Greer, and fast, that Glenn Beck's time slot on Fox News hasn't opened up, at least not yet.
It's ironic he'd use Beck in a column about kneejerk reactions to Obama's perceived socialism message, as if he didn't just successfully help force the resignation of social justice environmental jobs czar Van Jones from Obama's non-vetted executive branch add-on wing. No reason for concern there. Lupica's newspaper attributed the resignation mainly to his signatory of a 9/11 truther petition but it was clearly just as much about radical associations. Oddly enough, the Daily News included a Jones comment in an August 30th editorial slamming those who want to change the meaning of Patriot's Day:
Van Jones, an Obama environmental adviser, said 9/11 would be an opportunity to "connect, to find other people in your peer group who are also passionate about repowering America but also greening up America and cleaning up America."
Meaning his own paper called out Jones as too radical a transformer. But remember, only the right can be reactionary loons in America these days!

Lupica seems to find it strange parents might be suspicious of an Obama speech to kids. Well, here in Memphis we have a bold new program designed to go against his assumed message of achievement; the city has a new policy designed to remove the potential for failing in grades K-3 through eliminating the grading system:

It's being touted as a money issue designed to stop unpopular politicians from having to levy unpopular property tax increases to support consistent failure. To others it seems like another attempt to water down standards in the name of cultural diversity.

The man running this change, as shown in the video above, is Superintendent Kriner Cash, a former associate Dean at Howard University who got his superintendent feet wet in of all places Martha's Vineyard, the liberal fantasy island where Obama just vacationed. According to his CV Cash got his Ed.D at U Mass in "Cultural Diversity and Curriculum Reform Concentration". So there you go.

But before any liberals kneejerk over the above (in an un-loony fashion of course) this is NOT to say that reform in itself is sinister. Dr. Cash is very bright and accomplished and is one of many, no doubt including Jones, who've spent years working on ways to raise achievement in the minority districts via experimental methods. It's odd he'd begin that journey in Martha's Vineyard, which suggests it was a sort of liberal test bed, but that's just wild speculation. In general people aren't against reforms, they are against bad reform based on flawed premises.

How does this relate to Obama and the speech? Well, when talking reform it's hard not to consider Bill Ayers, who worked with Obama on various reform projects in Chicago and has made reform his life's work since he officially transformed into a washed-up terrorist. Ayers focuses on minority issues and has emphatically stated that he wants to abolish capitalism, which represents a common thread among many of his peers who believe the western system rewards those who are privileged, who then rise above others based on this flawed racist system to become white men of greed in a world of need.

Therefore he's shifted his radical reform from molotovs to textbooks, although it's still just as radical as before illustrated by a stated admiration for the educational reforms of Hugo Chavez. This is the same man for which Obama once wrote a book recommendation. With all that in mind it's hardly loony to connect a few dots and have some concerns. Indeed, some of the curriculum and philosophies emerging in today's reforms--to use Lupica's description-- "...seem(s) to come from a foreign country, not this one." Personally I'd let my kids attend the speech so it could be discussed at home later, but there's nothing wrong with pointing out the obvious. It's even democratic.

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