November 2, 2008

Keep educating Obama

I'm kinda digging web technology these days. Maybe we can start taking back the country from all the yahoos who feel so comfortable in saloons (Joe Sixpack), zealotry and institutionalized ignorance.

I was impressed, for example, with the network of call parties. You volunteer to have one or more of these at your house, post the directions, and poof! you have 25 like-minded people fighting
phonecall by phonecall for the American way right from your own living room.

This time round you didn't even have to speak to more than a one or two Republicans. Each person got some lists of MoveOn members in swing states, and our sole function was to get them to go down and volunteer for a shift or two at the Obama office in their town. The most hostile response was: "You meant to reach my son. He's at college. Me and him don't vote the same way. Bye, bye." Or maybe: "I'm not voting for McCain. I'm voting for Bob Barr," which I can handle because that vote's not going anywhere.

You can STILL sign up to call these swing-staters and ask them to volunteer. I've been doing it even without all those fun party people by signing up at:, and hopefully you can, too.

At least try.

And if you need something to fire you up, let me tell you about the ALL-HANDS-ON-DECK! alert posted on The Chancellor's this morning.

It made me head out straight away to find a Contact Us link on the Obama website to tell him he should under no circumstances consider Joel Klein as his Secretary of Education. The site didn't have a such a link, but it did have something spectacular: an option to create your own blog right in the Obama internet heartland.

I could kick myself that I only found out about this option so late in the game. If only I had known about it a year ago, I would have tried to convince the senator that some of his educational choices were really turning me off.

Just a couple of weeks ago at the third debate I nearly fell off my chair when towards the end he called Washington's Michelle Rhee a "wonderful young chancellor." That was nine wasted months after my January post on Obama and his connections with Renaissance 2010 in Chicago. My main point at that time was:
The kind of unchecked privatization the country has experienced at the hands of the neocon ideologues over the past decade has meant that it is harder to distinguish the boundaries between governments and corporations. The players have a foot in each camp to varying degrees, and they are frequently all too willing to profit immensely from the public purse. The revolving door, as mentioned in the Shock Doctrine, has become a lofty arch.

How far each of the presidential candidates are willing to embrace the most manipulative and anti-social practices of corporate America is something that should be pretty much at the forefront of our thinking.
but there are also some George Schmidt paragraphs that are a must-read (he's the editor of the union rag Substance).

So here's the letter I wrote to him this morning via my new blog on "Please don't choose Joel Klein for Sec'y of Education." (Don't choose Weingarten either, by the way.)

It works fine from my Mac, but in case you can't get it, I'm posting it here as well, with a link to AVoiceIn's inspirational shout-out at The Chancellor's.
Dear Sen. Obama,

I am working very hard for your campaign in ways that I can, but mostly, I am working very hard for students and teachers in New York City.

In your third debate, when you called Michelle Rhee the "wonderful young chancellor" in Washington, DC, many of us were horrified. We are equally shocked to hear that you might be considering Chancellor Joel Klein for Secretary of Education should you be elected president. Klein has no credentials in education. He had to be waivered in by the state commissioner, Richard Mills (who has just resigned), to take the job and has no understanding of how kids learn or the best environment for them to learn in. Through union-busting and some pretty heavy-handed, profoundly suspect legal techniques, he has been systematically depleting the system of senior teachers and replacing them with a stream of grad student trainees — cheap, manipulable, and often transient — who do not have the experience or all the skills to get the job done.

Children are not computer bytes, and they can't be fully defined or assessed by numbers. They must each find their way through a maze of information, social differences, and personalities, ingesting what they can under the particular circumstances they find themselves in. In New York City, politicians refuse to lower class size and do little to address the social issues of our poorest communities. The current chancellor knows this, and he doesn't much care. He's engaged in social engineering with the most powerful sector of our society, the corporations and the very rich.

Klein's original restructuring of the school system was a very expensive shake-up, and the two subsequent attempts no more than do-overs. He hasn't made schools in this city any better than they had been, because it's obvious students aren't doing so well and neither are the teachers. He excluded parents and the rank-and-file from the decision-making process, poured millions into machines to crunch data for no practical purpose, and he neither respects or defends truth. He has also hired an expensive PR machine to sell his malicious agenda to a disengaged public, and maybe even to you.

Below is an article written by a long-term educator [AVoiceIn] every bit of it is true.

Obama has got to keep hearing from us about the corporate takeover of public education in this country, about social engineering, and the complete violation of the public trust. That's our new job.


  1. Excellent letter. Thank you for taking the time to write & post it!

  2. Great letter! Let's see what happens tomorrow. We don't need Klein or Rhee.

  3. Is Mr. Obama considering chancellor Joel Klein to be the nextEducation Secretary?

    I read that Obama is considering Klein to be the Education Secretary. I am speechless. Chancellor Klein is not an educator and as a chancellor in NY. did not improve education. He created this big office that collects phony data information about the students progress. In the public schools children are not learning because education is gearing toward bubbling meaningless test papers. I hope that Mr. Obama chooses someone that has experience in education for his cabinet. Choosing Klein is a deservice to the children of America. It goes against the principles and ideas of "Social Justice" that Mr. Obama's campaing stated. I wanted to send this email to Obama but I couldn't. If someone can cut and paste it be my guest. Thanks.