Monday, June 26, 2006

Kozol the stooge

I've always been a little muted in my criticism of Jonathan Kozol because, while I felt he was misguided in his view that simply spending a lot more money would somehow fix our schools (all evidence to the contrary), at least he wasn't doing children any direct harm.

I take it back. In light of his email below, in which he outlines the organization he's forming to try to kill NCLB entirely, I now think he's a dangerous crackpot who will cause this country's most vulnerable children immeasurable harm. He writes about "the murderous impact of the NCLB legislation" and "our efforts with the goal of mobilizing educators to resist the testing mania and directly challenge Congress, possibly by a march on Washington, at the time when NCLB comes up for reauthorization in 2007."

Doesn't Kozol realize that, while NCLB may have some warts and need to be tweaked, it's the best thing that's ever happened to disadvantaged children?! For the first time, school systems can no longer sweep these children under the rug and are FINALLY being measured, which is the first requirement of accountability.

Kozol may well understand this, but it's now clear to me that he is a stooge for the unions, masquerading as a researcher and advocate. Yeah, he's an advocate all right -- but for the ADULTS in the system, not the children!


An Update, Bulletin, and Manifesto
?to the Education Activists who have asked me:
?Where do we go next??

June 16, 2006


This is to report that, at long last, the network of activists in education that I?ve been assembling from the thousands of teachers and advocates for children who turned out for massive rallies while I was on that grueling six-month book-tour for The Shame of the Nation?as well as the many local groups of teachers organized to fight racism and inequality and the murderous impact of the NCLB legislation?is now up and running.

We?re using the name Education Action and will soon set up a website but, for now, I hope that you?ll feel free to contact us at our e-mail, <javascript:parent.ComposeTo('');>

By the start of August, we?ll be operating out of a house we?ve purchased for this purpose (16 Lowell St, Cambridge, MA 02138) in which we hope to gather groups of teachers, activists, especially the leaders of these groups, for strategy sessions in which we can link our efforts with the goal of mobilizing educators to resist the testing mania and directly challenge Congress, possibly by a march on Washington, at the time when NCLB comes up for reauthorization in 2007.

We are already in contact with our close friends at Rethinking Schools, with dozens of local action groups like Teachers for Social Justice in San Francisco, with dynamic African-American religious groups that share our goals, with activist white denominations, and with some of the NEA and AFT affiliates?in particular, the activist caucuses within both unions?such as those in Oakland, Miami, and Los Angeles. But we want to extend these contacts rapidly in order to create what one of our friends who is the leader of a major union local calls ?a massive wave of noncompliance.?

My close co-worker, Nayad Abrahamian, who is based in Cambridge, will be the contact person for this mobilizing effort, along with Rachel Becker, Erin Osborne, and a group of other activists and educators who are determined that we turn the growing, but too often muted and frustrated discontent with NCLB?and the racist policies and privatizing forces that are threatening the very soul of public education?into a series of national actions that are explicitly political in the same tradition as the civil rights upheavals of the early 1960s.

We want to pull in youth affiliates as well and are working with high school kids and countless college groups that are burning with a sense of shame and indignation at the stupid and destructive education policies of state and federal autocrats. We want the passionate voices of these young folks to be heard. College students tell us they are tired of so many ?feel-good? conferences where everyone wrings their hands about injustice but offers them nothing more than risk-free ?service projects? that cannot affect the sources of injustice. They?ve asked us for a mobilizing focus that can unify their isolated efforts. We are writing to you now to ask for your suggestions as to how we ought to give a realistic answer to these students.

IMPORTANT: When I say we're 'up and running,' I mean that Education Action, as a framework and an organizing structure for our efforts, is in place. I do not mean that our goals and strategies are set in stone. We are still wide-open to proposals from you, and other organizational leaders we?re in touch with, to rethink our plans according to your own experience and judgment. We?d also like to broaden our initial organizing structure by asking if you?ll serve, to the degree that?s possible for you, as part of our national board of organizers and advisors. We don?t want to duplicate the efforts strong groups are already making. And the last thing on our minds is to compete with any group already in existence.? (Political struggles ever since the 1960s have been plagued with problems based on ?turf mentality.? We want to be certain to avoid this.)
Tell us how you feel about our plans and how you think they ought to be expanded or improved. How closely can we link our efforts with your own? Do you believe that NCLB can be stopped, or at least dramatically contested, by the methods we propose?

Let us hear from you! We want to be in touch.

In the struggle,

Jonathan Kozol
for Education Action

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