Racism, Poverty, Militarism, Materialism. The apocalypse reference may sound dramatic, but the current condition (and trajectory) of our society is looking pretty bad.
Cornel West reflects on Dr. Martin Luther King in his piece for the New York Times today, “Dr. King Weeps From His Grave.” Excerpts with my emphasis added:*
...[during the last years of his life] King’s dream of a more democratic America had become, in his words, “a nightmare,” owing to the persistence of “racism, poverty, militarism and materialism.” He called America a “sick society.”...
MILITARISM is an imperial catastrophe that has produced a military-industrial complex and national security state and warped the country’s priorities and stature (as with the immoral drones, dropping bombs on innocent civilians) [our war history is HERE]. MATERIALISM is a spiritual catastrophe, promoted by a corporate media multiplex and a culture industry that have hardened the hearts of hard-core consumers and coarsened the consciences of would-be citizens. Clever gimmicks of mass distraction yield a cheap soulcraft of addicted and self-medicated narcissists.[e.g. see HERE]
RACISM is a moral catastrophe, most graphically seen in the prison industrial complex and targeted police surveillance in black and brown ghettos rendered invisible in public discourse. Arbitrary uses of the law — in the name of the “war” on drugs — have produced, in the legal scholar Michelle Alexander’s apt phrase, a new Jim Crow of mass incarceration [more on Alexander HERE and HERE]. And POVERTY is an economic catastrophe, inseparable from the power of greedy oligarchs and avaricious plutocrats indifferent to the misery of poor children, elderly citizens and working people...[see HERE and HERE]
...the recent budget deal is only the latest phase of a 30-year, top-down, one-sided war against the poor and working people in the name of a morally bankrupt policy of deregulating markets, lowering taxes and cutting spending for those already socially neglected and economically abandoned. Our two main political parties, each beholden to big money, offer merely alternative versions of oligarchic rule...**
Released nearly 29 years ago, Reagan’s “A Nation at Risk” launched the war against public education. Richard Rothstein wrote this in 2008 (“A Nation at Risk” Twenty-Five Years Later):
In 1983, A Nation at Risk misidentified what is wrong with our public schools and consequently set the nation on a school reform crusade that has done more harm than good.
The diagnosis of the National Commission on Excellence in Education was flawed in three respects: First, it wrongly concluded that student achievement was declining. Second, it placed the blame on schools for national economic problems over which schools have relatively little influence. Third, it ignored the responsibility of the nation’s other social and economic institutions for learning...(READ THE REST!)
The educational “crisis” is propaganda whipped up in order to embed a specific mindset into Americans. That propaganda manipulates public concerns and supplies the justification for why our universal public education system should be dismantled and metamorphosized into one which is more restrictive and privatized. Even a report released in 1990 (Sandia Report) was suppressed to prevent the "crisis" premise from being challenged. From “Education at Risk: Fallout from a Flawed Report”(2007)
What "A Nation at Risk" claimed in 1983
- American students are never first and frequently last academically compared to students in other industrialized nations.
- American student achievement declined dramatically after Russia launched Sputnik, and hit bottom in the early 1980s.
- SAT scores fell markedly between 1960 and 1980.
- Student achievement levels in science were declining steadily.
- Business and the military were spending millions on remedial education for new hires and recruits.
What the Sandia Report revealed in 1990
- Between 1975 and 1988, average SAT scores went up or held steady for every student subgroup.
- Between 1977 and 1988, math proficiency among seventeen-year-olds improved slightly for whites, notably for minorities.
- Between 1971 and 1988, reading skills among all student subgroups held steady or improved.
- Between 1977 and 1988, in science, the number of seventeen-year-olds at or above basic competency levels stayed the same or improved slightly.
- Between 1970 and 1988, the number of twenty-two-year-old Americans with bachelor degrees increased every year; the United States led all developed nations in 1988.
In other words, there is no "educational crisis" in this country, but there is plenty of racism, poverty, militarism, and materialism. The ed reform movement is a con.
* Did the NY Times change Cornel West's original title because it was too provocative? See what's embedded in the article's link: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/26/opinion/martin-luther-king-jr-would-want-a-revolution-not-a-memorial.html?_r=1&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=thab1
** Not terribly keyed into politics until the past several years, it took observing how President Obama has functioned (Arne Duncan and school privatizing pals, the friendliness to Goldman Sachs and others, even the choice of the purebred Bo, etc.) to demonstrate this oh-so-clearly to me. This morning I got a phone call from Obama 2012 and let the caller know why I've withdrawn my support.