Sunday, March 6, 2011

If you're not reading E.D. Kain at Forbes...

Then you are missing some of the best writing anywhere on workers, unions, Wisconsin and economics. E.D. is not some militant leftist (like yours truly?) either, his knee-jerk reaction is not pro-union (like yours truly?). And he self-identifies as a conservative - though that may have changed recently.He writes in a wonderfully lucid fashion and he has the intellectual ability (and patience) to expose the fabulists and their propaganda.

Here is E.D. today highlighting a speech from Michael Moore in Wisconsin,
“America is not broke,” he says. It’s just terribly unequal. Four hundred of the very wealthiest Americans have more wealth than 155 million Americans on the other end of the scale combined. And yet it’s the teachers who need to sacrifice. This is the new class war.
My only quibble is that I don't believe that this is the new class-war. Rather it's been the status quo for close to 40 years.

And here is E.D. calling Matt Yglesias out for being... well... Matt Yglesias and branding those opposed to his particular brand of school "reform" as edu-nighlists,
Nihilism is essentially a philosophy of meaninglessness. If you’re a nihilist, you don’t believe that life has meaning. Graft that into Matt’s ‘edu-nihilism’. He’s basically saying that anyone not on the reform side of the table thinks that nothing at all can be done to fix our education system. Reform is meaningless.

Granted, I think we’ve taken reform way too far, and I think rumors of the appalling state of our nations’ schools are very exaggerated, but nobody in the edu-nihilist crowd that I know of is suggesting that we do nothing at all to make schools better. We just don’t think school-choice, the corporatizing of public schools, and a system of deeply flawed testing and accountability measures are the best way to go about it – and we certainly don’t think blaming teachers is the right approach.

But we edu-nihilists actually do have a lot of ideas. I suggested universal pre-K education in my last post. If that’s too pie-in-the-sky then there are plenty of others. Some critics of the choice and accountability movement have suggested national voluntary curriculum and standards so that kids in Arizona and kids in Connecticut are learning at the same level, or at least have the same basic set of guidelines. The point is, there are really tons of ideas being floated. And none of them fuel the sort of reforms we’re seeing with Scott Walker in Wisconsin.

I don’t think Matt Yglesias wants to see massive teacher layoffs or the sort of heavy-handed tactics Scott Walker is taking against teachers. But he and other reformers like him have praised other similarly top-down approaches in New York and elsewhere. Barack Obama and Arne Duncan have as well. When you start blaming teachers and looking for ways to constantly identify and punish bad teachers, this is the logical conclusion. Scott Walker is just an outgrowth of this movement, emboldened by a national dialogue that has placed teachers on the altar of school reform and that has labeled anyone who might choose to defend them as edu-nihilists.
Thank you E.D. And I would like to add that Matt Yglesias is a proudly ignorant and arrogant son of privilege. And he's kind of an asshole about it too.

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