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Serial School Privatizer "Chainsaw Paul" Vallas Gets Ready For His Next Job

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    by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

    Neoliberalism holds that all human interactions should to be disciplined and mediated by the market. Paul Vallas is the nation's neoliberal chainsaw man on public education. After savaging public education in Chicago, Philly, New Orleans and Bridgeport, he has been summoned home to Illinois by the Democrat governor as his running mate.

    Serial School Privatizer "Chainsaw Paul" Vallas Gets Ready For His Next Job

    by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

    There are many things upon which elite corporate Democrats are in complete agreement with elite corporate Republicans. Often enough they are far more important to the way we live our lives than the cultural rhetoric and stylistic fluff that separates the two parties. Both Republicans and Democrats agree on empire and the wars needed to preserve it. They both agree gentrification, stadiums, and tax breaks for the wealthy are the only way to economically develop cities. They both know that poor and working people ought to subsidize a new round of predatory accumulation with lowered wages, plundered pensions, fiscal austerity and the privatization of public education.

    Democrat Paul Vallas has spent the last two decades dismembering and dismantling public schools, lying about deficits, unjustly blaming and firing public school teachers across the country. In 1995 Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, began the reversal of the bottom-up school reform of his predecessor Harold Washington, by assuming direct mayoral control over the city's public schools. Chicago fired its school superintendent, a professional educator, and sent in the mayor's chief of staff, an accountant unqualified to teach half an hour in any classroom to run the nation's third largest school system “more like a business” with the business title of “CEO. That man was Paul Vallas.

    If neoliberalism is the economic and social doctrine that all human interactions ought to be disciplined and mediated by the market, then Paul Vallas is the neoliberal chainsaw man on public education. He eagerly set about undermining bottom-up reforms in Chicago that empowered neighborhood councils of parents and rank and file teachers. A 1988 law had given these local school councils veto power over principals' contracts and title one funds in each and every one of Chicago's public schools.

    Paul Vallas hit upon the expedient of disbanding and dissolving whole schools and reconstituting them as private entities, charter schools. He closed one south side Chicago high school across the street from an old National Guard armory, and gave public funding to a military academy in the armory building. With no nearby public school to attend, many parents and children felt compelled to enroll in the new military charter school. Paul Vallas terminated dozens of black administrative staff without cause and hundreds of black teachers before leaving the Chicago Public Schools and staging unsuccessful campaigns for Cook County Board President (Cook County includes Chicago and has a population of 5.5 million) and Illinois governor. He was succeeded by Arne Duncan, now US Secretary of Education, who took Vallas's “innovations” in running schools like businesses to new heights first locally, and then nationally.

    Vallas next landed in Philadelphia, where, surrounded himself with the usual dubious cloud of yes-men and consultants engineered the privatization of a significant chunk of that city's public schools, selling off public buildings to charter operators and well-connected developers and firing hundreds more mostly black teachers. Though a Democrat, Vallas's “blame the teachers, blame the deficits, blame the parents” rhetoric and practice exactly matched those of Republican Michelle Rhee. He left Philly schools in a shambles, just in time to make New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

    Although Democrats are more than willing to take campaign donations from teachers unions, they take a back seat to no Republicans when it comes to blaming teachers and firing them, especially black teachers by the thousands. Long term teachers are likely to live in and near the schools they teach in, and are anchors of their churches and all kinds of local community organizations. That makes them inviting targets for the politicians of either party. Democrat Arne Duncan called Katrina “the best thing that ever happened to public education in New Orleans.” It was Paul Vallas who as head of the new school district closed each and every one of more than one hundred New Orleans public schools and fired everybody from principals to janitors and lunch ladies. The justifications, trumpeted by elite media in each city Vallas stopped in were the same – schools were failing, low test scores, teachers paid too much and were too lazy, and so on, and the solutions were always the same – diverting public monies to charter schools, merit pay schemes based on standardized test scores, testing and more testing, and ultimately privatization. And in the spirit of never letting a good disaster go to waste, when the earthquake hit Haiti, the Vallas chainsaw was needed to “reform” public education there as well.

    Vallas's next gig after Haiti was schools CEO in Bridgeport, CN, where his attempts at mass firings were questioned by a public outcry and by local school officials, who reminded everybody that in 15 years of “CEO-ing” the nation's largest public systems he'd never bothered to qualify as a classroom teacher in any subject anywhere. Connecticut, as it happened, had a statute on the books that required schools chiefs to do just that. Added to the massive amounts of blood and gore on the man's chainsaw, and the unseemly cloud of graft corruption that accompanied Vallas everywhere, Bridgeport was more than ready to be rid of him.

    So where did Paul Vallas land next? Where is he now? Illinois governor Patrick Quinn, a Democrat, summoned Vallas back to Illinois to run for Lieutenant Governor on his 2014 ticket. Lieutenant Governor is often the stepping stone to the governor's office, so the clear intention is to make Chainsaw Paul governor in 2020, the capstone to his devastating career.

    Illinois is hardly unique here. California has a Democrat governor too. In the last election Governor Brown agreed with his Republican challenger that no state employees except judges, high level administrators, politicians and cops merited defined-benefit pensions. New York governor Andrew Cuomo, also the son of a previous Democrat governor has locked horns with the new mayor of New York City's timid and limited efforts to cut back on the extreme favoritism the city shows in allocating resources to charter schools while starving traditional public schools.

    We should never forget that the idea that all children in a society deserve quality education is historically a new and revolutionary idea. Even more revolutionary is the notion that students, parents, communities and teachers ought to design and control every aspect of those educational processes. There is a struggle of historic proportions going on over the question of education, and ultimately all of us will have to take a side. Jerry Brown, Andrew Cuomo, Michelle Rhee, Barack Obama, Rahm Emanuel and Chainsaw Paul Vallas are on one side. What side are we on?

    Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and a member of the state committee of the Georgia Green Party. Contact him via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

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    Michelle Rhee is a Democrat

    Excellent summary of Vallas' sorry career.

    One correction: Michelle Rhee is just another neoliberal Democrat. http://tinyurl.com/98vuzpw

    Her husband, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, is a Democrat.

    She is one of many neoliberal Democrats associated with the corporate education reform Broad Foundation. See "Who is Eli Broad and why is he trying to destroy public education?" http://www.defendpubliceducation.net/

    If you need proof, look at this slide show (five pictures): http://tinyurl.com/omrafjt

    Vallas and friends

    Kudos! Kudos!

    I'm especially glad that you show readers that this isn't just about Chicago and that Republicans and Democrats pursue the same greedy agenda.

    Go Green!

    Error....

    I referred to a south side high school, Wendell Phillips HS as being "across the street" from the old armory, now a military academy.  My bad.  The armory is on 35th st. a half mile north of the old Phillips HS, on Pershing Rd.  

    Democrats - the greatest

    Democrats - the greatest evil.  Notice in the past couple of decades how black folks, labor, the poor, public sector - all key components of the Democratic voting base get the shittiest end of the stick under Democratic administrations.  The giant sucking sound (GSS) of jobs leaving US shores began in the mid-late 70s under Carter.  Clinton comes along and the GSS gets louder with NAFTA.  While giving with one hand, i.e., an improved economy, "honorary black president" brotha Bill sets wheels in motion for today's clusterfuck financial straits by ditching Glass-Stegall and signing the Telecommunications Act.  BTW, with all the money flowing in the go-go 90s, Bill and "I invented the Internet" Al did NOT use said go-go bucks to bring inexpensive broadband Internet service to everyone - including rural citizens who have to pay exorbiant fees just to have so-so Internet service.  Cut to the 2000s and under Jesus II, aka, Barry O the Democratic party base is worse off than they've been since the days of Reagan who, btw, Barry O admires for his "cleanup of the excesses of the 60s/70s."  If Arne Duncan had been part of a Republican adminstration, his Katrina comment would have gotten his sorry ass fired.  Instead, he probably got a raise (which is more than other federal rank and file workers got since Barry O froze their pay).

    See a pattern here?  Perhaps it's time to stop voting against your interests.  Perhaps it's time to hold BOTH Demowits and Republithugs accountable for their actions and inactions instead of giving Dems (including the black ones) a pass on every goddamn thing.  Perhaps it's time for rank and file teachers and other union members to withhold their dues in protest of management giving their money to a party that fucks them royally more every year.  But no.  You can safely bet next month's rent that the black vote and union vote in Illinois will turn out in droves for this Vallas POS and the governor come election time.  I'd safely wager Zionist devil Rahm Emmanuel will get re-elected thanks to the black fool/labor tool vote too.

    RE Mr 'Inconvenient Truth / Green Jeans' Al Gore's Recent Piece

    @ Rolling Stone: www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-turning-point-new-hope-for-the-climate-20140618 - Which got good reviews from EcoWatch.com [along w Obama's wise-crack speech were he takes easy pot-shots at Repug so-called 'climate-deniers'].

    My Response: What Al Gore says in his Rolling-Stone piece is fine & good- BUT- What can Gore really say or do now to make up for him & Slick-Willy shilling for that Environmentally BAD / job killing / exploitive NAFTA- that ruined so much of Mexico's & Haiti's agricultural sector, while shipping so many good working-class jobs over-seas??? And let's not forget the GMO crops also got approved on Gore's & Slick Willy's watch in the mid 1990s!

    And what did Gore do as Clinton's VP point-man for 'Re-inventing Govt', RE: making Govt bldg's & offices, vehicles & travel more energy efficient??? Did he even re-install those solar panels on the White-House roof that Pres Carter put-up, but then was taken down by Ronnie Ray-Gun???

    And I can't seem to remember Gore running on a 'green' platform during the 2000 POTUS race vs Bush Jr. In his Rolling-Stone article Gore lays out a pretty good-sounding 'green' plan, but I can't seem to recall him saying any of this while as VP he was supposedly on a mission to 'Re-Invent Govt', NOR during his 2000 POTUS race!

    Further in his Rolling-Stone article, Al Gore shows that he’s really all for the current global corporate capitalist system, but only recommends that it needs some 'green' tweak type 'reforms'. One such tweak he apparently seems to favor is that dubious 'Cap & Trade' scheme [or scam].

     

    FYI: Apparently Gore [taking a cue from Billary] is now a strict vegan. Yet no-where in his 6 page Rolling stone article does he talk about both the health & environmental benefits of transitioning to a more plant centered diet & away from the meat-centered SAD diet- which even his co-Nobel Peace Prize winner IPCC head Parchuari has recommended. 

    ____________________________________________________

    Obama's [who unlike Gore definitely made appeals to the 'green' as well as anti-war movements] recent swipe at Repug 'climate-deniers' IMO ain't nothing but poly-trickal games-manship in an election yr! Cause what has Obama's 'green' track-record really been:

    Threw his 'green' jobs 'czar', Van Jones, under FOX-Noise's Glen [what the heck] Beck's bus based on hyped-up BS.

    Refused to use his leverage re: the GM-Chrystler bail-out to get GM & Chrystler to increase CAFE mileage standards [beyond just 35 mpg by 2025]- nor did he get them to convert their under-used / closed auto-plants to make wind-turbines &/or up-grade public transport [IE: hi-speed rail]. 

    Even after the BP Gulf Oil spill- he's still allowing BP to return  to the Gulf for even more deep-sea oil drilling.

    Refuses to commit to nixing the KXL tar-sands oil pipeline

    Hypes gas-fracking & nuke power as 'green'  [even in the wake of the on-going Fukushima nuke disaster]. Clearly intends to use TAFTA [& the TPP] to lock the EU into cutting ties w Russian methane-gas in favor of US exported fracked-gas & oil.

    And apparently Obama's EPA & tandem w Cali's liberal 'green' Gov Jerry Brown, is allowing the fracking industry to dump up to 9 BILLION Gals of toxic fracking-fluid off Cali's coast ea YR!

    ______________________________________________________________

    Seems it don't matter if it's Blacks, Hispanics, the working class [IE: labor unions], the anti-war &/or 'green' movements, etc- They all seem to have a chronic case of battered wife syndrome re: Corp DLC Billary / Gore / Obama / Brown / Cuomo / et-al type Dims!!! Don't seem to matter how much the Corp DLC Dims either ignore or stab these key Dim constituencies in the back, they refuse to cut the Dims loose- & even look to praise & make excuses for them.   

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    Like Slick Willie and even

    Like Slick Willie and even slicker Barry O, Al Gore has the pipes to wow and mesmerize the liberal sheeple but nothing gets done.  Well, actually what gets done is the exact opposite of what they propose and instead they enact the fascist agenda the extreme right always wanted but could never pull off.  Alleged counterculture, bullshit detector media tool Rolling Stone gets worse with every issue as it has become nothing more than a propaganda pusher for the Democratic wing of the empire.  The issues you raised about Clinton/Gore/Obama putting not ONE green project in motion you won't see any reporter in RS addressing.

    Even More So than RS is the Accolades EcoWatch Gave Obama & Gore

    Heck one Eco-Watch piece seemed to even extend a bit of 'green-washing' to Billary / Killary. So it seems lame-stream environmentalism has trapped itself on the Dim's plantation as much as lame-stream Labor unions have. One would think that after Billary & Gore used their positions as POTUS & VP to be top front-men for NAFTA & GMOs - the labor & green movements would have cut them & most other Dims loose & looked to back &/or to build 3rd party alternatives. 

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