Sunday, December 28, 2008

Edumacation Secdatary Arne Duncan Wants Military Schools

By Bruce Gagnon
Dandelion Salad
space4peace.blogspot.com
Dec. 21, 2008

Chicago teacher Jesse Sharkey writes:
“In the past couple years, Arne Duncan [Obama's pick for Secretary of Education who hails from Chicago] has been turning public schools over to private operators–mainly in the form of charter and contract schools — at a rate of about 20 per year. Duncan has also resuscitated some of the worst ’school reform’ ideas of the 1990s, like firing all the teachers in low-performing schools (called ‘turnarounds’). At the same time, he’s eliminated many Local School Councils and made crucial decisions without public input.”

“To me, the thing that made Duncan’s role clear came after three months of organizing at Senn High School, the community school where I teach, against the Chicago Board of Education’s proposal to install a Naval Academy.”

“After an inspiring campaign that involved literally hundreds of people in the biggest education organizing effort in the area in decades, we forced Duncan to come up to our neighborhood to listen to our case for keeping the military out of our school. More than 300 of us — parents, teachers, and community supporters — held a big meeting in a local church and, at the end of the meeting, we asked Duncan to postpone the decision to put the military school at Senn.”

“Duncan’s answer was a classic. He said: ‘I come from a Quaker family, and I’ve always been against war. But I’m going to put the Naval Academy in there, because it will give people in the community more choices.’ “

Arne Duncan is an advocate of Bush’s No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and is closely associated with the Daley family political machine in Chicago. Duncan has a market view of education – the business model of schooling. Many education experts claim that he made no real progress in the last 7-8 years in Chicago leading that public school system. Real education comes when we teach kids to play with ideas, to learn to think. This Duncan corporate model on testing, “reform,” teaches kids to take tests, to memorize, and to become automatons.

Educator Jim Horn, who has written extensively about Duncan at School Matters, notes:
“If Obama is committed to moving backwards to a time when the most that public schooling could do was to ‘rake a few geniuses from the rubbish,’ as Jefferson would have it then the stupidifying corporatization of public education is just the ticket ….. Arne is entirely capable of leading the charge.”

Greg Palast, who devoted part of his instructive book Armed Madhouse to NCLB, describes its workings :
“At the heart of the program is testing. And more testing. Testing instead of teaching. When tests go badly, the solution is to push the low-test-score kids to drop out of school. If the triage isn’t enough, then attack their teachers.”“Here’s how Duncan operates this program in Chicago at Collins High in the Lawndale ghetto. Teachers there work with kids from homeless shelters from an economically devastated neighborhood. Believe it or not, the kids don’t get high test scores. So Chicago fired the teachers, every one of them. Then they brought in new teachers and fired THEM too when, surprise! test scores still didn’t rise.”

The bigger view is necessary here. I have written and spoken extensively in recent years about the Pentagon saying that America’s role under corporate globalization will be “security export.” We aren’t going to have jobs making things in our country anymore. Our job will be building weapons and waging endless war to grab declining resources around the world. In order to pull that off you need a growing cadre of young people who have no ambition, no dreams, no ability to get into college — you need a dumbed-down generation.

My friend Richard Rhames, a vegetable farmer in Biddeford, Maine writes an award winning column for his local newspaper. He wrote about education last week and had this to say:

“The US educational system has, since working class kids gained entry in the early 20th century, functioned largely as a sorting mechanism, where children were indoctrinated, trained in docility, but sometimes, through the work of motivated teachers, exposed to a world of ideas, and perhaps the subversive minefield of independent thought.”

The days of teachers having the time and the ability to motivate and inspire kids to expand their minds is under frontal attack.
Obama has made another pick that benefits the corporatization and militarization of American culture. His children have always attended, and will continue to attend, private schools where the elite ensure their kids get a stimulating education.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Final outcome of the Ghosts of Iraq War: Judge suspends fines and jail time

By Eve Tetaz


As was anticipated Judge Morin sentenced us to five days in jail(suspended as the prosecutor didn't think it was worth the expense to jail us), 6 mos. probation, and a heavy fine. He then allowed us to give our sentencing statements. After I gave mine, I told him that I would refuse probation and would not pay the fine. (Last time I refused, I was sent to jail.) Each of my codefendents gave his or her statement followed by the same refusal. After the last defendant spoke, the Judge gave a new ruling, as follows:

None of us would be required to be on probation, none of us has to pay a fine, and all of us were sentenced to one day in jail already served because we had spend the night and a day in jail waiting for arraignment.

It is apparent to me, that Judge Morin was moved to change his ruling because of the justice of our actions. I think I can speak for the others when I say, "We will not be silent." We will continue to speak truth to power.

Amen and Hallelujah.

Dixey Bosely-Smith Paul Fitch, and Ann Barnet, all from 8th Day, Bettina Del Sesto from Support Group 2, and Judith Kelley from Pacee Bene and Maria Allwine from the Baltimore Non Violence Center were present in court to support us. Thank you.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

President Obama Shut Down Guantanamo : “Yes You Can!”

Submitted by Malachy Kilbride on Thu, 12/11/2008 - 12:50pm

Next month in January the American people will joyfully celebrate the historic inauguration of President Barack Obama and the end to the criminal Bush Administration. Americans will celebrate the belief in our freedom, our vote, and the conclusion of eight years of an unaccountable regime that brought us into war and occupation on lies. We will celebrate the hope for much needed change. But how can anyone truly celebrate freedom and change when Americans know of the inhumane treatment and torture of the Guantanamo prisoners?

In one month Americans will also mark the 7th year the Guantanamo Bay camp received the first prisoners into that dark, tragic, and shameful place. By now, if Americans are unaware that hundreds of men and some boys have languished in Guantanamo for years without charge, without access to lawyers, without due process or the habeas corpus rights granted to prisoners by law-abiding civilized governments then these unaware Americans are some place much more tragic and dark than Guantanamo. But for Americans who do know what Guantanamo is and what it represents then January must be the time to commit to closing Guantanamo and places like it. We must take action because we are responsible for Guantanamo.

Keeping Guantanamo open will mean the celebrations and hope for change will be hollow and devoid of meaning. An open Guantanamo will continue to be one of America’s immoral hypocrisies. Just as in election year 2006 Americans in 2008 expressed their hope for change, an end to war, and the disgraceful undemocratic policies supporting torture, the elimination of habeas corpus, and operating places like Guantanamo. However, those elected to lead in 2006, for whatever reason, failed to lead us away from the continued criminality of the Bush Administration. This continuing type of unaccountable leadership must end starting this January under the new administration. Americans must actively pressure the Obama Administration to pursue real and meaningful peace measures, restore habeas corpus, and close the Guantanamo prison immediately.

“We’re going to close Guantanamo…We’re going to lead by example-by not just word but deed. That’s our vision for the future.” Barack Obama said on the campaign trail. What welcome words! Now let us all welcome the actions necessary to restore justice and accountability.

Electing and celebrating President Obama will not be enough to restore justice. The American people must accept their unique responsibility in restoring justice by closing Guantanamo. Americans must actively exert their influence and pressure President Obama to fulfill his promise to close Guantanamo. Guantanamo can be shut down within the first 100 days as one step in restoring accountability and justice.

But, can this really be done? “Yes, we can!” says Witness Against Torture a group of individuals and groups working to close Guantanamo and end torture. Witness Against Torture announced a 100 Days Campaign that begins on January 11, 2009. January 11 is the date the first prisoners were brought to Guantanamo in 2002. On January 11 a solemn march will process through Washington DC followed by a rally with activists, human rights lawyers, and others working to close Guantanamo and end torture. A fast will begin carried out by people of faith and conscience who will be in solidarity with the Guantanamo prisoners in an attempt to highlight the issue of their imprisonment. This will be the start of a 100 days campaign waged by Witness Against Torture in which Witness Against Torture will lobby on Capitol Hill, hold educational and cultural events, organize creative actions in Washington DC, in addition to a sustained presence in front of The White House.

Since Guantanamo first opened in January 2002 around 700 prisoners have been quietly released after years of imprisonment without any charges against them. Around 250 still remain in the prison indefinitely. Recently, 17 Uighur men from China were found not guilty by a US District court in Washington DC. They were ordered released. The Bush Administration’s Department of Justice has appealed this and effectively blocked these innocent men from being released from the Guantanamo prison. They are still there awaiting the appeal by the DOJ.. When their lawyer goes to visit them they are shackled to the floor treated by the US as guilty criminals if not caged animals. Is this what America will represent under an Obama presidency?

We cannot let the Obama Administration be unaccountable like the Bush Administration. We cannot give Obama a free pass like Bush was given for eight long years. We must actively call upon Obama to shut Guantanamo down within the first 100 days under his leadership.

Doing any less than actively calling upon the new American president to restore justice and accountability by shutting down Guantanamo as a first step is to betray the principles of our Bill of Rights and The Constitution of The United States. The Guantanamo prison eats away at America’s conscience because it is wrong. Keeping Guantanamo open makes our liberty a hypocrisy. Join Witness Against Torture’s 100 Days Campaign calling on President Obama to fulfill his promise for hope and change by shutting down Guantanamo.

Visit: WAT's 100 Days Campaign