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    Is Democrats For Public Education Just a Toothless, Cynical Sound Byte?

    A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

    Last month the DNC's Donna Brazile announced the formation of Democrats For Public Education. But with their own Democratic president being the chief pusher of school privatization, nobody really imagines Brazile and other top Dems will publicly oppose the White House and the Department of Education. So is DFPE just a cynical sound byte to liven up teacher union rank and file to go door to door for Democrats in the next presidential election?

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    One Year After Chicago Closes 50 Public Schools, Chicago Teachers Union Assesses the Lies and Lasting Damage

    A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

    A couple years ago, we at Black Agenda Report wondered why the closings of 40 public schools over three years in Philly and 50 schools in Chicago were not national news. The answer of course, was that corporate media and politicians from Romney and Obama down to black mayors and state legislators agree that public education ought to be handed to business groups and charter schools even though privatization is enormously unpopular.

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    Why Obama Will Walk Away Unscathed by the Current Political Scandals

    by Pascal Robert

    Don’t worry about Barack Obama. He’s far too useful to the rulers of America to be derailed by scandal, or even a combination of scandals. “Obama’s neoliberal government giveaways to private corporations and mercenary foreign policy already make him too valuable to the guardians of American empire to have his presidency threatened.”

    Listen to Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network, with Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey – Week of 4/8/13

    High Stakes Testing Makes Cheating Inevitable

    Over the last four years, standardized test cheating cases have been confirmed “in 37 states and the District of Columbia, and patterns of systemic cheating in about a dozen jurisdictions,” said Bob Schaeffer, of Fair Test. “The only solution is a comprehensive overhaul of No Child Left Behind and the over-testing system that has been mandated.” Schaeffer said evaluation of student progress should be “based on the work students do in the classroom over time.”

    Mumia on the Real Dr. King

    Political prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal, serving a life sentence in a Pennsylvania prison, sent a message to a gathering at New York’s historic Riverside Church on the anniversary of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s assassination. “ MLK, who broke with President Lyndon Johnson in a speech at Riverside on April 4, 1967, “was an adversary of the military industrial complex and the mammoth business interests that support it. This is why state power marked him, quashed his voice, and gave him up to a violent death,” said Abu Jamal.

    Free the Cuban Five

    The U.S. government categorically denies it has political prisoners in its gulags,” said Luis Rosa, a Puerto Rican activist from Chicago who spent 19 years in prison on political charges. Rosa spoke at a Columbia University event demanding freedom for the Cuban Five and all U.S. political prisoners. The U.S. “uses denial to violate our most basic human rights,” said Rosa, “to perpetuate the lie that it is the ultimate defender of freedom, justice, democracy and human rights in the world.” Imani Brown, of Columbia’s Caribbean Students Association, said “American neocolonial systems of power…is the driving force of the prison industrial complex.”

    Petition to Take Back Obama’s Peace Prize

    Norman Solomon, the former anti-war congressional candidate and co-founder of RootsAction.org, says the state of peace in the world “has gone from bad to worse” in the 40 months since President Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize. RootsAction.org is circulating a petition, asking the Nobel committee to take back the prize, which was awarded early in Obama’s first term. As one petitioner wrote: “A pre-emptive peace prize works about as well as pre-emptive war.”

    See No Evil, Hear No Evil” at EPA

    When you consider the level of assaults that the planet is under, if ever in our history we needed a strong voice at the agency for communities and people, it’s now,” said Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, noted whistleblower and a leader in the No Fear Coalition. She said Gina McCarthy, President Obama’s new choice to head the Environmental Protection Agency, is just another representative of the “envirotocracy – green paint on top of a corporate structure” – very much like former EPA chief Lisa Jackson and other predecessors who “hear no evil, see no evil.”

    Where Did Haiti Aid Money Go?

    A new report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research, in Washington, calls for more transparency and accountability in U.S. AID’s dispensing of monies to Haiti. “The Haitian people know how much money was pledged, and they know how little they’ve seen,” said the CEPR’s Jake Johnston. “There’s becoming a whole lot of resentment.”

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    Black Agenda TV – Season 1, Episode 2

    by Black Agenda Report & BW Moving Images

    In this edition of Black Agenda TV

    Black America and the Genocide in Congo; African Americans have not used their political clout to stop the killing.

    Obama’s Race to the Top Hurts Black Students, Teachers, Communities; Drives school closings and helps charter profiteers.

    Black Misleadership Class to Launch “February 30th Movement” to hold President Obama (and themselves) accountable.

    BA Radio on the Progressive Radio Network, with Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey – Week of Feb 4, 2013

    Obama's "Race to the Top" is racist;

    Ras Baraka for Mayor of Newark;

    Anniversary of Trayvon Martin's death;

    Students Against Mass Incarceration announce Conference on Criminal Justice at Howard U;

    Is the EEOC dismissing racial discrimination cases en masse?;

    The carving up of Africa has begun.

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    Obama's Race To The Top Drives Nationwide Wave of School Closings, Teacher Firings

    by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

    Among Obama supporters, the gap between popular perceptions of the president's policies and the actual content of those policies is nowhere wider than in public education. While the president pays lip service to the centrality of public education, teachers and parent input, his Race To The Top is paving the road to privatization, closing more public schools and firing more teachers than any president in US history.

    Listen to Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network, with Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey – Week of September 24, 2012

     

    Chicago Teachers First to Stand Up to Obama School Policies

    This is the first time that a teachers union stood up to the privatization of the Obama administration, stood up to the Democrats as the purveyors of these policies,” said journalist Jaisal Noor, who covered this month’s teachers strike for the Real News Network and other outlets. “The reason that the union knew it could strike and that it could maintain public support is because they had spent the last couple of years working with communities. There was massive support from parents and from students.”

    Both Parties Ignore Poverty

    Democrats are even less likely than Republicans to talk about poverty this election season, as evidenced by the near-absence of the word at both parties’ national conventions, said Paul Street, author of The Empire’s New Clothes: Barack Obama and the Real World of Power. In Black inner cities, “we’re looking at unemployment and poverty rates that harken back to the Great Depression. And, of course, that’s something that Barack Obama is instructed never to talk about.”

    Oligarchs and Plutocrats Rule

    Poverty in America is a national disgrace and a moral obscenity, which is rendered invisible by the system under which we live, run by oligarchs and plutocrats,” said Dr. Cornel West, of Union Theological Seminary, in New York. West and journalist Tavis Smiley recently completed their Poverty Tour 2.0, including stops in four so-called “battleground” states. “If we can get the Black Freedom Struggle off life support, we can really turn this country around.”

    Occupy the Debates

    Progressives will hold streaming analysis and discussion of the Obama-Romney debates, starting with the first event on October 3. “We’ll discuss the obvious crises the country faces, from housing to the environment to mass incarceration, the issues that are not being dealt with…by the corporate candidates,” said organizer Kevin Zeese. For information, go to OccupyTheDebates.org.

    Black Educator Faces Prison for Challenging Whitening of HBCUs

    Dr. Jahi Issa faces two years in prison on riot charges for supporting Black students protesting the “whitening” of historically Black Delaware State University, last March. “He was touching a very raw and sensitive nerve,” said Dr. Jeff Perry, biographer of Hubert Harrison, considered the father of Harlem radical politics. “Historically Black colleges and universities get substantial federal support,” said Perry. “Corporate interests want to take it over for both profit and social control.” To assist Dr. Issa’s legal defense, go to hbcuinstitute.org. Dr. Issa’s article “The Ethnic Cleansing of Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the Age of Obama” appeared in Black Agenda Report, September 6, 2011.

    The Mother of all Blowbacks

    In Libya and now Syria, as in Afghanistan beginning under President Jimmy Carter, “the West has once again empowered fundamentalist forces that will inevitably turn against Washington, the Greatest Infidel of all,” said BAR executive editor Glen Ford. Recent anti-U.S. protests in the Islamic world are “only a small foretaste of what is to come: a blowback of such intensity that the foundations of Empire will crack, and crumble.”

    Information as Weaponry

    Last year’s U.S.-NATO war against Libya “was not conducted just with bombing and with troops, but was an information war, and that’s the parallel with what’s going on in Syria, today,” said journalist Don Debar. “The bloodshed is conducted on behalf of, or directed by, the United States, France and Britain. Iran is public enemy number one for the West, “as it has been since 1979.”

    Jesus on Death Row

    Jesus Christ spent his last days on death row and was murdered by the government at that time,” said Pam Africa, head of International Concerned Friends and Family of Mumia Abu Jamal, speaking at Riverside Church, in New York. “We cannot forget political prisoners. These brothers and sisters are in jail because they have a love for us, and understand that we must never give in.”

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    Chicago School Strike is Against Obama “Race To The Top” Agenda of School Privatization and Corporate Education Reform

    by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

    Polls say that most Chicagoans support the striking teachers. Mitt Romney says he supports Rahm Emanuel. But why do so many who say they oppose charters, educational privatization, the drive to demonize teachers and make them temps fail to connect these policies with the Democratic president who has been their most outspoken champion the past four years?

    Listen to Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network, with Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey – Week of September 10, 2012

     

    Arne Duncan an “Absolute Disaster” for Black Children

    President Obama’s Race to the Top “has been an extension of, and even worse than,” President Bush’s public schools program, said veteran Black educator Dr. Donald Smith, an organizer of the upcoming Summit on Saving the African Child, October 11 and 12, in Chicago. “People will discuss charter schools, unions and corporations that have, in many instances, taken over the curriculum and instruction of schools of children of color and other children of poverty,” said Smith, who will keynote the conference. Education Secretary Arne Duncan “has been an absolute disaster” for Black students in public schools.

    School Discipline Bias Pushes Black Kids into Prison

    The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has filed complaints with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, charging public schools in Okaloosa, Florida, with disciplining Black students far more harshly than whites. Forty-seven percent of students suspended by the district are Black, although African Americans make up only 12 percent of the student body. There is a link between racially biased school discipline and the so-called school-to-prison pipeline, said Atty. Stephanie Langer, of the SPLC’s Florida office. “Once these kids get into the system, it’s very hard to get out of the system.”

    GOP and Dems Much Alike

    The two major corporate parties agree on much more than they disagree, said journalist Arun Gupta, co-founder of The Occupied Wall Street Journal and The Indypendent. That’s one reason why “there’s been no discussion of regulating Wall Street and almost no discussion of the continuing home foreclosure crisis,” said Gupa. “Both parties are attacking public education, and neither party has any sort of plan to create more jobs” aside from “the mysteries and magic of the ‘free market.’”

    U.S. Labor Movement Can’t Move

    Harry Kelber, the 98 year-old labor organizer and publisher of LaborEducator.org, says American trade unions “are not fighting, they’re not organizing, and they don’t have a plan to organize.” Too many union officials, said Kelber, are simply “biding their time, waiting to retire with a fat pension.” Labor spends tens of millions electing Democrats, but “What are they getting out of it?”

    Rwanda's Kagame Commits Genocide

    Opposition parties from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda have asked the International Criminal Court (ICC) to charge Rwandan strongman Paul Kagame with genocide and crimes against humanity. Kagame’s regime is responsible for many of the six million deaths in neighboring Congo since the mid-Nineties, and for killing hundreds of thousands of Hutus in Rwanda, said Sixbert Musangamfura, a spokesman for the United Democratic Front of Rwanda, one of the complainants to the ICC. Rwanda is one of Washington’s closest allies in Africa.

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    What Obama Has Wrought

     

    by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

    The meticulously scripted spectacles of the two corporate party conventions are very poor backdrops for clear thinking – but luckily, the ordeals are almost over. What remains after the tents are folded, are the crimes of this administration and its predecessor: both horrifically evil in their own ways. History will mark Obama as the more effective evil, mainly because of the lack of opposition.

    Charters Have Nothing to do With Community Control of Schools

     

    A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

    Charter school advocates are among the biggest scam artists in politics. They use the language of community control to transfer public assets into private hands. “Promoters of 'trigger laws' have only one use for parents: to pull the trigger on a school so that it can be converted to, or make room for, a charter school operated by the private sector.” Have mayors Michael Bloomberg and Rahm Emanuel, both bullies for charter schools, ever supported community control?

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    Why Isn't Closing 40 Philadelphia Public Schools National News? Where Is the Black Political Class?

    By BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

    If some racist made an inappropriate remark about the First Lady or her children our national "civil rights leaders" Obama fans all of them, would be all over that. But standing up for ordinary black children is something our leaders just don't do much any more.  When was the last time you heard Sharpton, Jealous or any of that tribe inveigh against school closings and the creeping privatization of our schools?  

    Diane Ravitch: Charters, Privatization, and How Obama's Race To The Top is Really a Race To The Bottom

    A Media Matters Interview by Dr. Robert McChesney

    Diane Ravitch, a former Clinton and Bush advisor, ex-charter school, voucher and No Child Left Behind supporter explains the evidence that changed her mind, and how the bipartisan education agenda of charters, privatization, standardized testing and turning teachers into temps ill serves children, parents and communities.

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    Occupy Education vs Gates Foundation: Policy Throwdown!

     

    by Jesse Hagopian

    The direct ancestors of today’s high stakes tests were “designed by racist pseudoscientists of the early 20th century” to “prove that whites born in the U.S. were the most intelligent of all peoples.” Today’s tests, championed by corporations and the Obama administration, are designed to “prove that some students – Black students, students of color generally and working-class kids – belong at the bottom.” Occupy movement teachers challenged the billionaires' minions to a debate.

    If ACE Was The Place

    by Raymond Nat Turner

    If those who rule really wanted kids to be Aces in life, they wouldn't rig the decks.

    Black Teachers Fired En Masse

    A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

    Educational policy in the Obama era isn't about education at all. It's about replacing skilled, experienced teachers with rootless temps better suited to serve in the privatized holding tanks they wish to turn public schools in poor neighborhoods into, for a population on its way to low wage jobs and prisons.

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    Harriet Tubman Tests?

    by Raymond Nat Turner

    The poet is talking about those who peddle “pork barrel pedagogy…selling blankets bearing smallpox— blankets smothering spirits and crushing minds of black and brown babies, like cigarette butts.”

     

    Rented Protesters in Chicago, Presidential Hypocrisy on School Reform

    A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

    What's three years of crusading against public schools and their teachers, three years of anti-democratic corporate school reform compared to a couple paragraphs in a presidential State of the Union address? It's base and blatant hypocrisy. If corporate media still practiced actual journalism, this might be an instructive comparison to lay before their readers. Should the Obama administration should follow its own advice about not demonizing teachers, and not relying on high-stakes testing? Or should we continue with the failed experiment of corporate school reform?

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    A Buffalo Story: How Mindless Application of Federal and State School Turnaround Mandates Undermine Communities

     

    by Dr. Mark Naison

    A bold effort to engage inner city Buffalo public school students in rebuilding and redesigning their own communities, is undermined by “reform” educational policies “which reduce students to test scores and graduation rates.” Their high school is doomed to change principals every three years and periodically shed half its teachers because of low scores that are absolutely predictable. “After magnet schools and charter schools picked their students, those who were left went to schools like East HS.”

    High Stakes Testing in Schools: Who’s Cheating Who?

     

    A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

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    Corporate Funding of Urban League, NAACP & Civil Rights Orgs Has Turned Into Corporate Leadership

    by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

    “Not only is Bill Gates a cousin,” gushed academic Henry Louis Gates at the Urban League convention in Boston last week, “Bill Gates a brother.” Bill Gates, of course, is the founder of Microsoft, and one of the wealthiest men on earth. Invited to deliver the keynote address at the National Urban League’s annual meeting in Boston last week, the billionaire lectured the assembled on education and poverty, although Gates is not qualified to teach an hour in any classroom in the land, and has certainly never been poor.

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    What "Our Sputnik Moment" Really Is

    A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR editor and columnist Jared A. Ball

    Having nothing much to say that will help us in the present, President Obama went back to the future in his State of the Union Address - kind of. Obama spray-painted a disconnected future while harkening back to the days of Cold War hysteria, in order to somehow explain why he won't spend any money on anything but banks and war. "Obama's Sputnik moment means less funding for schools and social programs that directly and indirectly improve a student's experience."

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    Obama and the “Superman” School Predators

    A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

    Waiting for Superman” is pure propaganda for the hedge funders that seek to “create a private market in for-profit educational services that can be traded on the stock market and bet on derivatives.” Obama has deployed his presidential bully pulpit as a booster for this “bait-and-switch” scam of a film, and for the underlying privatizing project.

     

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    Privatizing Education: The Neoliberal Project To Re-Imagine America For Them, Not Us

    In this 55 minute audio by U of Illinois scholar and activist Pauline Lippman, she explains how the bipartisan push to privatize education by starving existing public schools, introducing charter schools in the name of “choice” and destroying teacher unions is key to a radical re-fashioning of American society by our wealthy corporate elite, one that is disastrous for the rest of us, our communities and our children. Courtesy of KPFA's Against the Grain.

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