Backlash

“We have to destroy education in order to save it,” writes Zombie on PJ Media after attending a San Francisco rally in which teachers and their students demanded more funding.  (Yes, it was a school day.) Update: But the rally didn’t start till 4 pm.

He includes photos of the Los Angeles protest by Ringo of Ringo’s Pictures.

• As you can see in the many photos illustrating this essay, their demands for more money were accompanied by many ancillary leftist slogans like “Tax the Rich!” and “Workers’ Power!” and “Cutting Education Is Class War” and so on. So this wasn’t just about requesting more funding for education: The content of the rally itself revealed that increasing school funding is just a component of a larger leftist agenda — school funding is being used as a lever to penalize the rich, increase power for unions, and so forth.

Teachers aren’t supposed to be indoctrinators, Zombie writes.

United Teachers of Los Angeles carried signs with green Che Guevera stickers.

Parents get annoyed when teachers co-opt students for political campaigns, even if it’s presented as supporting education. Throw in Che Guevera and they get very annoyed.

Dressed as zombies, coincidentally, University of Wisconsin students protesting budget cuts disrupted an event for Special Olympians because Gov. Scott Walker was speaking. Bad manners and really bad PR, writes Ann Althouse.

About Joanne

Comments

  1. Hainish says:

    Neither Ringo nor Zombie seem exactly free of bias themselves.

    I’ll start taking this seriously when you link to more neutral sources.

  2. Richard Aubrey says:

    If you’re surprised, have WORD print out a “I haven’t been paying attention” bumper sticker.

  3. Richard Aubrey says:

    If you’re surprised, have WORD print out a “I haven’t been paying attention” bumper sticker.

    Hainish. Pictures not enough for you? Or is it the conclusions you don’t like?

  4. CarolineSF says:

    The May 13 San Francisco rally started at 4 p.m., Joanne. Don’t mislead people by implying that teachers left class nad encouraged kids to cut. You people.

  5. Michael E. Lopez says:

    Zombie’s blog post is a little silly, and very difficult to take seriously. Perhaps there is a more reasoned argument that can be made in the same vein, but this isn’t it.

  6. Zombie is one of the best photoessayists on the internet, and I found this particular essay to be compelling. Maybe it’s because I agree with his conclusions, maybe Michael Lopez does not.

  7. Michael: The blog post was written “tongue-in-cheek” style. It’s rather well-chosen, I think. A reasoned argument for “these people are acting like brainwashed jackasses” wouldn’t be as effective for us lowbrows.

    CarolineSF: Most people would consider teachers leaving their classes in the hands of substitutes to be teachers cutting class. However, if you tell me that the students had enough time to finish the school day and be in position by 4 p.m. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. San Fran is a small city, there’s not that much traffic, and parking is easy.

  8. CarolineSF says:

    I know that protesters didn’t all arrive at 4 on the dot (I wasn’t able to go at all due to a work commitment, but friends of mine were there). Teachers and students finish school at different times depending on the school, and showed up when they could.

    I’m just pointing out that the implication that they were cutting school was inaccurate (also unfair and irresponsible, as there was no basis for it).

    SF is a small city, but traffic is thick and parking is tough but not impossible in the Civic Center area if you know your way around. Lots of people took BART and Muni Metro, both of which have stations at the Civic Center.

  9. The protestors do have a point with saying that the education cuts primarily hurt poor-to-moderate income students. Affluent families in S.F. overwhelmingly send their children to private schools. It’s not like NYC, where the existence of the gifted programs has kept many of the folks we know in the public system.

  10. That 2nd word should be “protester” not -or, dang typo!

  11. Hainish says:

    “Hainish. Pictures not enough for you? Or is it the conclusions you don’t like?”

    The pictures don’t bother me. The conclusions he’s trying to draw from them aren’t valid.

  12. Michael E. Lopez says:

    Darren-

    His conclusion is “defund public education entirely.” That’s not really a view I can take seriously, at least not when the justification for it is “I want to purge the schools of my political opponents.” He wants people to be able to send their kids to charter schools. What, exactly, does he think a charter school is? He’s not even advocating something like a voucher system — just a full-stop to education funding.

    This isn’t because schools aren’t working, or because students aren’t getting educated, or even because most people don’t like their public school (and, frankly, most people do like their school). No — he wants to defund public education en masse simply because he doesn’t like the politics of people who are in control of the schools.

    And not even all the people who are “in control” of the schools, mind you — just the ones in places like SF, LA, Seattle, and so forth.

    Zombie’s occasionally right about some things, but he’s just off his rocker on this one. It’s so ridiculous that it’s practically satire-propoganda for the very people to whom he is opposed.

    Norm-

    It’s not the sentiment behind his argument that I find distasteful, but the argument itself. You can put all sorts of arguments in all sorts of styles — and the lighthearted, bantering quality of his writing, while not mine, isn’t offensive to the mind. It’s rather refreshing. But his arguments are so craptastic — to the extent they’re arguments at all — that, well…. it’s not a lowbrow/highbrow thing, but a reasonable/unreasonable thing.

  13. CarolineSF says:

    Crimson Wife, we have strong gifted programs in SFUSD public schools too, as well as Lowell High School, our renowned public academic magnet (and Ruth Asawa School of the Arts, our renowned public arts magnet, my kids’ high school). But we have strong non-magnet high schools too. Lincoln, Washington, Balboa and Galileo are among our successful schools that attract middle-class families.

    SF does have a high rate of private school attendance, but controlling for demographics I’ll bet you a $50 contribution to Parents Across America that NYC’s is higher among high-SES families. That tends to be the case in diverse, high-poverty urban districts. In addition, SF has a strong Catholic tradition (our city is named after St. Francis; saints’ names are all over our streets and landmarks), and many Catholics view parochial school as the optimal choice whether or not they’re in a community with highly thought of public schools.

    Zombie’s photos are fine; I think his commentary is just silly, but he has the right to it. I am only objecting to Joanne’s unfounded insinuation intended to make people think that teachers abandoned their classes and convinced kids to cut to get to the protest. That was bad behavior.

  14. smintheus says:

    Joanne, this is pathetic even by your own low standards. Are you seriously arguing that protesters don’t have a right to carry whatever signs and display whatever slogans they wish?

  15. Richard Aubrey says:

    smintheus:
    Bus Tid.
    The usual nonsense; object to a message and be accused of saying you’re trying to deny somebody a right. That wore out last century. Consider this a memo to cover for the one you didn’t get.

  16. but controlling for demographics I’ll bet you a $50 contribution to Parents Across America that NYC’s is higher among high-SES families.

    Oh, absolutely. There aren’t that many posh public schools in the City, are there? Most parents leave.

    Regardless of anyone’s political view, I think everyone should be troubled by the degree to which teacher demonstrations and teachers unions support one political party.

  17. Richard Aubrey says:

    Some years ago, the local EA had a state rep talk to them. He was from a union household and had worked for GM for a bit.
    His pitch was, depending on how you look at it, reasonable. It didn’t matter how big the pie was, or whether it was growing or shrinking or whether it was going to evaporate in five years. One could presume that was his implication, we being in a state something like second from the bottom in things like public debt, unemployment, new business start-ups and all that good stuff. Organize and get as much of it as you can was his advice.
    The needs and concerns of other groups were irrelevant. Presumably, the contest would shake out about fair for everybody, as long as everybody organized and fought for what they want.
    This is all very well until the shaky state of the pie becomes manifest and the various groups aren’t competing against The Man (state, county, etc.), as union propaganda would make it, but against each other.
    And, of course, until the money runs out. But it wouldn’t be good union practice to worry about money running out. There’s always somebody you can demonize or blame. So far, it’s worked. So far.
    One way or another, a lot of us are going to be getting a haircut. It doesn’t matter–this is tough for dedicated union folks to get–whose fault it is or who they blame. It doesn’t matter. It won’t matter. Railing against the rich won’t make money appear. Calling the employer a greedy bastard for shutting down the company isn’t as good as having a job. Really.
    In the above, for “union”, substitute “liberal” or “democrat” as desired.

  18. It’s incredible how advocating a return to Clinton levels of taxation is now considered Marxist/socialist/communist/Maoist/Leninist. Not to mention that tax rates were even significantly higher under Reagan.

  19. Allison says:

    Why do you all assume Zombie is a man?

  20. Was this today?

    Many Bay Area school districts had their last days of class today. Many kids and teachers got out around noon.

    Just so you know.

  21. Did you read the link?

    It says the demonstration was May 13th. Which is also mentioned several times in the above conversation.

    So now everyone thinks you’re a tendentious buffoon.

    Just so you know.

  22. Oh, Cal. You have such a way with words.

    I just checked the link and was going to post a correction. Thanks for the feedback, anyway. 🙂

  23. Cal,

    Did you see what CarolineSF said… the rally was AFTER school hours.Which is also mentioned in the above conversation.

    So now everyone thinks you’re a tendentious buffoon.

    Just so you know.

  24. CarolineSF says:

    And by the way — there may be rare outlier moments, but in general I’d also say it’s an attempt to inflame hostility to teachers to insinuate that teachers are instigating kids’ participation in an event like this without their parents’ consent. I’ve forgotten more San Francisco public school parents than people like Joanne will ever meet, and I’ve never known that to happen.

  25. Richard Aubrey says:

    Caroline

    On this blog, as elsewhere, we occasionally see stories of schools “forgetting” to use the mandatory opt-out or parental notification for dodgy activities. Maybe a GLSEN presentation or something.
    It would not do to presume the parents in this case were supportive without positive evidence. There may be such evidence, but presuming it is a mistake.

  26. Michael E. Lopez says:

    To be fair, Richard, the fact that it’s in San Francisco (or even Los Angeles) is evidence.

  27. CarolineSF says:

    I’m sure you do see them on this blog, Richard Aubrey. We see a lot of distorted and misleading stuff on this blog (and elsewhere) intended to tear down public schools and teachers.

    Go read the threads about Downtown College Prep and American Indian Public Charter School, which presented false stories that were decisively refuted in the comments.

    And of course we already saw the effort in this post to insinuate that teachers missed work and kids cut schools.

    It’s not sound or valid to stick in a gratuitous line implying that teachers probably incited students to go to a protest without their parents’ approval.

    You’re wrong. It would not do to presume that the parents were NOT supportive without evidence.

  28. The school I worked at last year (2009-10) devoted the entire day of March 4th to “education” about the budget. Teachers were “encouraged” to teach a specific curriculum–first block Prop 13, second block CSU/UC funding cuts, third block write or call your state legislator. Every teacher but one (yes, that would be me) taught the curriculum–several did it because they were new teachers and knew they wouldn’t be asked back if they didn’t.

    But we had a short day–the first two hours of the day were devoted to activism. Students were down at the shopping center handing out leaflets encouraging voting for specific propositions. The freshman class was at the beach, forming a huge SOS for save our schools.

    The freshmen had to get permission slips to go to the beach. Three humanities teachers were expected to get those permission slips. Two humanities teachers told their classes that the demonstration was required. If they didn’t bring a permission slip, they had to write a letter explaining why they didn’t want to support the schools. One teacher told the kids it was optional. Yes, that was me, too. It was mildly amusing to watch them struggle not to show disapproval, and they did refrain from showing it, for the most part. There were a few dead silences when I had to mention it–like when they were doing a head count to plan the SOS and I had to say that only one of my 22 kids was going. And the AVP wandered into my geometry class with one of my brand new freshman humanities students asking why I hadn’t given her a permission letter two weeks after the original distribution. I told her I was busy, and I’m sure she had copies at the office.

    One of my students was furious about it and wrote a letter to the principal. I told him it was a great letter and he sent it in to Deb Saunders at the Chronicle. She wrote an article about it (and other things).

    This was a public school–a rather pretentiously progressive one, but a public school nonetheless. While it was on the far end of the spectrum, don’t kid yourselves–teachers and schools do their best to indoctrinate kids every day. They don’t see it as indoctrination; they see it as an inculcation of the only logical value system.

    Jab–you seem to think you have a point. As usual, you and thinking don’t go well together.

  29. Incidentally, I don’t think it matters in the least whether the parents approved or not. In many cases, they do. When the effort is as widespread as this one, however, I think the parents sign off because they need teacher approval for other things (letters of recommendation, grades, and so on).

    But who cares if the parents approve or not? The schools are spending taxpayer dollars, and they should not be advocating one political viewpoint.

  30. CarolineSF- the private school enrollment rate in 2008 was 27% of all schoolchildren residing within the district in San Francisco vs. 13.8% in New York City. And I’m not aware of any elementary schools for the gifted in SF similar to the Hunter, Anderson, and NEST schools in Manhattan (if there are, please enlighten me).

  31. She said “controlling for demographics”, Crimson.

  32. CarolineSF says:

    Crimson Wife, I said CONTROLLING FOR DEMOGRAPHICS. That’s an entirely different picture. I don’t know the figures; I do know the cultures, thought.

    It’s true, there aren’t separate elementary schools for the gifted in SF. That would be a can of worms for a number of reasons — well, the one I’ll point out is that SFUSD was under court order to diversify the schools for many years, which would by court order lead to racially bean-counting the students at the different schools and you get the picture. Remember, I said that this was by court order, before you all go off on SF and the land of fruits and nuts.

    Cal, since the issue is funding for the schools, is it really radical to make funding for the schools a “teachable moment” part of the curriculum in those very schools? I don’t see that it is. I guess that in our bizarre anti-tax culture, where the people “sucking at the public tit” the most can simultaneously claim to be fiercely independent and anti-tax and everyone thinks all programs except the one that benefit THEM are wasteful, by some twisted interpretation it could be seen as politicized.

  33. Roger Sweeny says:

    CarolineSF,

    Yes, funding for the schools would make a great teachable moment. In fact, lots of things about how schools are organized would make great teachable moments. But you know and I know that the “teaching” here was all in one direction. There was absolutely no “critical thinking.” It was all “I am right and this is why.”

    That does not belong in public schools.

  34. CarolineSF says:

    You mean they should have to teach about why some people think public schools should get less funding, or be eliminated entirely?

    I’m not sure I find it necessary to be that open-minded. “Support our school” is a frequent message in school communities, starting with the “join the PTA” pitch. Do they then have to present the opposing opinion: No, don’t support our school, don’t volunteer, don’t contribute and don’t join the PTA?

  35. It *would* be a great teachable moment about things like limited resources, return on investment, etc. Unfortunately, the people running these things are just as immature as the students they drag to them.

    “Tax the rich!” “Repeal Prop 13!” “Stop the corporations!” Yada, yada, yada. You want to stop the corporations? OK, no cell phones, no restaurant dinners, no supermarkets, no baseball games, no MTV, no iTunes, the list goes on. You want to repeal Prop 13? Fine. Get ready to pay for plane tickets to fly to Florida to see grandma. No, wait, you just killed the corporations. No more airlines. Also, give up any dream of owning an affordable home because the state government is so greedy the taxes alone would price you out.

    As for taxing the rich, it is so amazingly easy to talk about taking other people’s money. It’s a childlike sentiment. I guess you really hate your family doctor, your dentist, independent plumbers and electricians, and mom and pop grocery stores. They’re all “rich”. Between stopping the corporations and this, who exactly is going to be left to do productive economic work?

    Most offensive of all, these people are throwing around the image of a sociopathic mass murderer as an idol. Those stickers with Che’s pictures saying “socialismo”? They should turn any real humanitarian’s stomach. Guevara’s brand of socialism was drenched with blood. Do the people carrying those know that, or is it just more ignorance?

    Returning to adult concepts like return on investment, can any of the teachers answer why it is not perfectly reasonable to curtail spending increases for a state school system that is four times more expensive per student than 1970 without any documented increase in effectiveness? In the real world, not the fantasy land of public bureaucracy, a four-fold increase in spending would have to increase effectiveness of the organization at least that much, if not more. If that didn’t happen, the increase would be pulled and heads would roll.

    So, what should students learn from this protest? I don’t know, but I would challenge them to take everything they saw on those signs and think about how those things would affect the real world. If nothing else, it would mean they gave the slogans more thought than the adults who organized the protest.

  36. “The school I worked at last year (2009-10) devoted the entire day of March 4th to “education” about the budget. Teachers were “encouraged” to teach a specific curriculum–first block Prop 13, second block CSU/UC funding cuts, third block write or call your state legislator. Every teacher but one (yes, that would be me) taught the curriculum–several did it because they were new teachers and knew they wouldn’t be asked back if they didn’t.”

    This is an example of why Zombie posted what he (she) did. This type of thing is outrageous, unacceptable ,and an egregious abuse of education, taxpayer dollars, and,yes, children. Zombie may go too far in saying “defund schools.” What should have been said is what I have said countless times: My tax money follows my child to the school of my choice. Any school, anywhere. More than anything, this action would start the slow process of improving education. (Oh, yes, and getting rid of education schools and the nonsense that goes on in them.)

  37. You mean they should have to teach about why some people think public schools should get less funding, or be eliminated entirely?

    Yes, indeed they should. Why on earth should schools be allowed to indoctrinate kids with only one political view?

    Anon, your tax dollars are paid because you’re a taxpayer, not a parent. Why should you get more say about your tax dollars just because you’re a parent?

  38. What real-world company or industry would ever tolerate the dismal level of performance demonstrated by public schools? End it. It CANNOT be reformed as is. Let the private sector have a go at it. What is the absolute worst-case scenario? That some kids will not get educated? How does this differ from what we have now? At least it would have the charm of costing a hell of a lot less!

    Get the government out, let great teachers loose in schools that parents actually CHOOSE and the results will astonish even the mot jaded skeptics!

  39. What real-world company or industry would ever tolerate the dismal level of performance demonstrated by public schools?

    You’re delusional. Public schools do very well. It’s just very hard to educate low ability, low incentive kids. Other countries don’t even try.

    Most parents are perfectly happy with their local public schools. Don’t like yours? Don’t send your kids to it. You’ll spend much more at a private school, or in your wife’s lost income.

  40. Richard Aubrey says:

    Cal. No doubt there are kids who are tough to educate. That’s a given.
    Problem is, without multiple AP courses, the maximum the kids learn isn’t satisfactory, and the kids in between are needing remediation at college. Those are separate issues.

  41. Problem is, without multiple AP courses, the maximum the kids learn isn’t satisfactory,

    This is completely untrue. Taking AP courses is only roughly correlated with academic ability; many charter schools shove all their kids into it, while in excellent schools many students don’t get into AP classes.

    I taught SAT/ACT test prep for years, and these scores are a near-perfect correlation with with remediation. There are many students who aren’t rich, aren’t super smart, aren’t killing themselves academically, and are completely ready for college. There’s a huge number of white and Asian kids getting from 530 to 600 per test.

    Most people are astonishingly ignorant about the state of our schools, because they confuse what is happening with blacks and Hispanics with what is happening with whites and Asians. There’s no overlap to speak of.

  42. Richard Aubrey says:

    cal.
    Just for background here: I went to high school. So did my kids. They got better grades than I did (both NHS) and knew less history, were not as good in writing, and their science was not as good. I think their math was pretty good. I’ve talked to them and their college buddies as the years pass. We were all white mid-middle class. Our local HS was considered second-best in our tri-county area. My own HS was just so-so in that tri-county area.
    So. Unless you have kids doing multiple AP, their education is not satisfactory, presuming that previous educational achievements are or were satisfactory. Kids not doing multiple AP are not as well educated as their SES peers were fifty years ago, about my HS grad year.
    I have read that, in the old days of the glass ceiling, extremely sharp Jews and women couldn’t do better than teaching. Now they can….

  43. I taught for 17 years in secondary ed as well as college, and my wife still teaches 2nd grade. I have 2 boys who have done extremely well academically IN SPITE OF their public schooling, but if they had not had parents who were able to guide them to the best teachers and most orderly, rigorous classes, I doubt they would have achieved nearly as much.

    Now? Our district decided that our AP classes must be more ‘inclusive’ (stupid, unmotivated children should take AP, too!), but, of course, failure rates could not rise…only someone with a degree in education could fail to see the inevitable result of THAT policy.

    Education is WAY TOO IMPORTANT to leave in the hands of the unprofessional, ‘politically correct’ hacks highlited in the article under discussion, no matter how much they say they ‘care’ or how many useless advanced ‘degrees’ in education they have managed to score.

  44. Richard, your little bit of anecdata is worth exactly nothing. You made a claim: kids who are “in between” need remediation. This is a false statement.

  45. Richard Aubrey says:

    Okay, Cal. The complaints are about nothing. Not my problem. People can leave, with their kids, if they want and there’s nothing you can do about it. Even if you insist there’s no problem.
    You can stand in the schoolhouse door waving at the departing, insisting there’s no reason for them to leave if you want. If I had the time, I’d stop by to watch.
    Meantime, they’re leaving.

  46. I was at the rally –a beautiful example of Americans using their freedom to assemble and weigh-in on policy debates. I left my school at 3 and arrived around 4:30. I sympathized with the demands for higher taxes on the wealthy. However, I never advocate for such views in my classroom –I stick to teaching medieval and early modern world history (from which one can get an idea of the delightful feudal order to which we seem to be returning).

  47. Richard Aubrey says:

    Ben F. If we are, our seigneurs are within the Beltway.