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Why the U.S. Can’t Compete Educationally

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    A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

    The United States cannot follow the Finnish model to emerge from second class world educational status, because the Finnish system is based on social equality and esteem for the teaching profession. Here, “teachers are relentless hounded and degraded, made the scapegoats of society’s inequalities by sharing low scores with their students, whose families and communities are cut off from America’s wealth.” To compete, America must be radically transformed.

     

    Why the U.S. Can’t Compete Educationally

    A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

    The United States, with the most striking social inequalities among the rich countries of the world, is simply not equipped to benefit from the Finnish model.”

    President Obama this week told a White House audience honoring teachers of the year that elected leaders have “a particular responsibility…instead of bashing teachers, to support them.” By his side stood Education Secretary Arne Duncan who, as chief of Chicago’s schools waged holy corporate war on public school teachers, and now, with the enthusiastic backing of his boss, seeks to crush them as union members and as educational professionals, nationwide.

    Obama is constantly holding forth about the need for America to achieve educational excellence – like Finland, which is top-ranked in the world. But a recent article in the Washington Post by Finnish educational leader Pasi Sahlberg makes clear that his country’s success is rooted in a comprehensive national system that strives for equity – for equality of access to resources for all Finland's people. The United States, with the most striking social inequalities among the rich countries of the world, is simply not equipped to benefit from the Finnish model, and will never be until the U.S. is transformed as a society.

    Even the baby steps towards equity that Mr. Sahlberg says the U.S. must take to advance educationally, are anathema to the corporate powers-that-be. Finland guarantees equal allocation of educational resources to all communities, rich or poor; requires, by law, that all kids have “access to child care, comprehensive health care, and pre-school”; and it provides free education from pre-school through university. These are prerequisites for general, quality education – and are non-existent in the United States.

    Finnish teachers are the “sole authority in monitoring the progress of students. There are no standardized tests in Finland.”

    Teachers in Finland are respected professionals, with the prestige of doctors and lawyers, and a masters degree as a minimum. It is because they are so esteemed by society that Finnish teachers are the “sole authority in monitoring the progress of students.” There are no standardized tests in Finland.

    Yet, here in the United States teachers are relentless hounded and degraded, made the scapegoats of society’s inequalities by sharing low scores with their students, whose families and communities are cut off from America’s wealth. Obama’s corporate privatization campaign relentlessly seeks to de-professionalize teachers, to replace them with young, essentially temporary employees who have no intention of making teaching their life’s work. With that kind of self-destruct mechanism, the U.S. will be lucky to remain in the global second tier of education also-rans.

    Mr. Sahlberg keeps returning to the principle of social equity as an educational necessity. You can’t just keep shouting “Excel! Excel!” when the resources and support systems that would allow all children to reach their potential are hoarded by the rich and largely segregated by race.

    The Finnish educator did not mention Finland’s ethnic homogeneity – that its population is 93 percent Finnish and the next largest group is Swedes. Sahlberg is a kind of diplomat as well as a teacher. But, here is the truth: the lack of a social compact in the United States has crippled the society in myriad ways, including its inability to take even the first steps towards educational equity. That absence of a social compact is rooted in white supremacy. Racism is why Deshawn can’t read and why Chip isn’t doing very well on a world scale, either.

    For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com.

    BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

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    Great points Glen re:US racism at the root

    The Finnish people do not demonstrate the ideology of "Our country is not all like us so they don't all deserve education, social programs, etc." What they would do if they became less homogenous is unknown.

    Our country, I realized once i read this piece, absolutely has that ideology. We whites, as the dominant majority, are still treating our fellow citizens of color as subhumans, not deserving of the same treatment as us or the same benefits we receive. The ideology of "they should have a bathroom, but a different, crappier bathroom than we have," is clearly still pervasive. Anyone who looks can see the principle at work in America's schools, which are segregated, in America's prisons, which are disproportionately black, and in our communities, where minorities are segregated to the poorest areas.

    Will the dominant majority in the US ever see its fellow citizens as humans deserving equal human rights and EQUAL "PRIVILEGES?"

    Perhaps this is the crux of the issue, as Ford points out. Our failure or success here may well determine our failure or success as a nation, and so far we are failing miserably. Thank God for the youth of America. They are not nearly as  indoctrinated as previous generations. 

    Glenn Greenwald: "I want to

    Glenn Greenwald:
    "I want to focus on one narrow but vital question: who are generally the victims of these civil liberties assaults? The answer is the same as the one for this related question: who are the prime victims of America’s posture of Endless War? Overwhelmingly, the victims are racial, ethnic and religious minorities: specifically, Muslims (both American Muslims and foreign nationals). And that is a major factor in why these abuses flourish: because those who dominate American political debates perceive, more or less accurately, that they are not directly endangered (at least for now) by this assault on core freedoms and Endless War (all civil liberties abuses in fact endanger all citizens, as they inevitably spread beyond their original targets, but they generally become institutionalized precisely because those outside the originally targeted minority groups react with indifference).

    To see how central a role this sort of selfish provincialism plays in shaping political priorities, just compare (a) the general indifference to Endless War and the massive civil liberties assaults described by Turley (ones largely confined to Muslims)  to (b) the intense outrage and media orgy generated when a much milder form of invasiveness — TSA searches — affected Americans of all backgrounds. The success of Endless War and civil liberties attacks depends on ensuring that the prime victims, at least in the first instance, are marginalized and easily demonizable minorities.

    The fundamental interconnectedness between war and civil liberties abuses on the one hand, and the targeting of minorities as part of those policies on the other, is, of course, nothing new. It was most eloquently emphasized in the largely forgotten, deliberately whitewashed 1967 speech about the Vietnam War by Martin Luther King, Jr. (who himself was targeted for years with abusive domestic surveillance by the FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover). Dr. King devoted that extraordinary speech generally to the way in which the war in Vietnam was savaging not only the people of that country but also America’s national character. He specifically sought to answer his critics who were objecting that his increasingly strident opposition to the Vietnam War was a distraction from his civil rights work; instead, he insisted, his war opposition and advocacy of civil rights are, in fact, causes that are inextricably linked:

    Over the past two years, as I have moved to break the betrayal of my own silences and to speak from the burnings of my own heart, as I have called for radical departures from the destruction of Vietnam, many persons have questioned me about the wisdom of my path. At the heart of their concerns this query has often loomed large and loud: Why are you speaking about war, Dr. King? Why are you joining the voices of dissent? Peace and civil rights don’t mix, they say. Aren’t you hurting the cause of your people, they ask? And when I hear them, though I often understand the source of their concern, I am nevertheless greatly saddened, for such questions mean that the inquirers have not really known me, my commitment or my calling. Indeed, their questions suggest that they do not know the world in which they live. . . .

    It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor — both black and white — through [Lyndon Johnson's] poverty program. There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings. Then came the buildup in Vietnam and I watched the program broken and eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war, and I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such . . . .

    As I have walked among the desperate, rejected and angry young men I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But they asked — and rightly so — what about Vietnam? They asked if our own nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent. . . .

    Now, it should be incandescently clear that no one who has any concern for the integrity and life of America today can ignore the present war. If America’s soul becomes totally poisoned, part of the autopsy must read Vietnam. It can never be saved so long as it destroys the deepest hopes of men the world over. So it is that those of us who are yet determined that America will be led down the path of protest and dissent, working for the health of our land. . . .

    This I believe to be the privilege and the burden of all of us who deem ourselves bound by allegiances and loyalties which are broader and deeper than nationalism and which go beyond our nation’s self-defined goals and positions. We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy, for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers.

    King notably added another reason why he felt compelled to prioritize issues of war: “another burden of responsibility was placed upon me in 1964; and I cannot forget that the Nobel Prize for Peace was also a commission.” As he put it: “ This is a calling that takes me beyond national allegiances.” If only that award were similarly understood today. His essential point was that nothing good could possibly happen in America so long as it continued on its path of warfare and bombing and invading foreign countries, and it was therefore necessary to prioritize protests against the war on at least equal footing with every other issue.

    Those who were operating from such privilege would not seek to prioritize issues of war and civil liberties; that’s because it isn’t white progressives and their families who are directly harmed by these heinous policies. The opposite is true: it’s very easy, very tempting, for those driven by this type of “privilege” — for non-Muslims in particular– to decide that these issues are not urgent, that Endless War and civil liberties abuses by a President should not be disqualifying or can be tolerated, precisely because these non-Muslim progressive accusers are not acutely affected by them. The kind of “privilege” these accusers raise would cause one to de-prioritize and accept civil liberties abuses, drone slaughter, indefinite detention and the like (i.e, do what they themselves do), not demand that significant attention be paid to them when assessing political choices.

    As I noted the other day,  it isn’t white males being indefinitely detained, rendered, and having their houses and cars exploded with drones — the victims of those policies are people likeLakhdar Boumediene, or Gulet Mohamed, or Jose Padilla, or Awal Gul, or Sami al-Haj, or Binyam Mohamed, or Murat Kurnaz, or Afghan villagers, or Pakistani families, or Yemeni teenagers. In order to get the full depth of the oppression and injustice of these ongoing War on Terror policies, one has to do things like listen to this amazing — and tragically rare — interview conducted by Chris Hayes this weekend with Boumediene, as the former GITMO detainee explained in Arabic how his life was devastated by indefinite detention. It’s easy to convince yourself that these abuses are not an urgent priority if, like those above-linked accusers, your non-Muslim privilege (to use their accusatory terminology) enables you to be shielded from their harms."http://www.salon.com/writer/glenn_greenwald/page/15/

    FYI: Rev Dr ML King's Speech Against Vietnam War Was Given On-

    April 4th 1967- exactly 1 yr to the day before he was assassinated by the US Powers That Be.

    эк Digital Versatile Disk, т.е. универсальный

    Накопители CD - R ( CD - Recordable ) разрешают вносить личные компакт - диски. Аббревиатура DVD расшифровывается эк Digital Versatile Disk, т.е. универсальный цифровой диск. На нынешний денек наиболее разболтанными представляют 52х - скоростные накопители CD - ROM ( скорость считывания 7500 Кб/с ). Более известными представляют накопители CD - RW, какие разрешают вносить и перезаписывать диски CD - RW, вносить диски CD - R, разбирать диски CD - ROM, т.е. представляют в определённом резоне универсальными. Скорость считывания информации с CD - ROM сравнивают со скоростью считывания информации с гармоничного диска ( 150 Кб/с ), какую принимают за единицу.

    THEN AND NOW

    The most disturbing thing about the speech that Dr. Martin Luther King gave on April 4, 1967 is not that, were he still alive, he could repeat most of it word for word, and that it would still be true. The most disturbing thing about it is that instead of being annoyed by, or ashamed of his accusations, most of our current "leadership" would either be dismissive of them or would even proud of their role as the biggest and most ruthless killers on the planet. 

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