Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from a black left perspective.
1 Year After Chicago Closes 50 Public Schools, Chicago Teachers Union Report Assesses Lies & Lasting Damage

1 Year After Chicago Closes 50 Public Schools, Chicago Teachers Union Report Assesses Lies & Lasting Damage

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

The privatization of public schools is a public policy whose name is almost never spoken, and which is covered in the media as little as possible, and when some coverage is unavoidable, in misleading ways.

If CNN, MSNBC, or Fox News gave the school closings and privatization story a fraction of the coverage they gave deceptive and dishonest pro-privatization movies like Waiting For Superman and Won't Back Down, the outrage against the move to privatize education would be unstoppable.”

The one year anniversary of Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel's closing of 50 Chicago public schools passed last week with only a couple stories in local media and no mention we could find anyplace outside Chicago. This too, is. Corporate media have no interest in revealing the truth, in revisiting the lies and broken promises of privatizers, and most of our black political class, from the National Action Network and NAACP to members of the Congressional Black Caucus, depend on grants, donations and campaign contributions from the privatizers.

The Chicago Teachers Union, practically the only institutional force in that city that honors its obligations to parents, students and communities as well as teachers, released a thoroughly researched report titled Twelve Months Later, The Impact of School Closings in Chicago. Assembled from operating and capital budget documents, position files, vacancy reports, interviews with teachers and a mountain of class size and other data, the report is available at the Chicago Teachers Union web site, www.ctunet.com, that's www.ctunet.com, I'll give the address again at the end. It is a damning indictment not just of Mayor Emanuel and his hand picked Chicago Board of Education, but of similar policies forced upon parents and school communities across the country by the bipartisan drive, called Race To The Top under the Obama administration, to privatize education.

The mayor and his stooges claimed 50 schools needed closing to save money because of low enrollment, and that transferred students would benefit from hundreds of millions in new money spent at the receiving schools – the schools transferred students were sent to. All that turns out to be a lie.

In the real world, the report shows, receiving schools only got a tenth of the “transition money” to spend on those new students, some $230 per pupil. By contrast, new Chicago charter schools got a dozen times as much, $2,770 per student. Only 38% of the receiving schools have librarians on staff, so the libraries in schools which have them cannot even be used for their intended purpose. Receiving schools got computer lab upgrades but only a fifth of them got a tech teacher. They got iPads but no instruction for teachers on how to integrate these into the children's learning. And of course, the shuttered schools and receiving schools are exclusively in poor communities, with a media income of $36K per year, compared to the $53K per year in the rest of the system's schools. In Chicago of course, the poor are almost entirely black and brown.

Among much else, the CTU report points out the creative, community building uses to which some schools were putting their so-called “underutilized” facilities to before the shutdowns, as well as the incredible chasm between the funds Chicago spends on its upper-tier selective enrollment schools – 3 of which got $68K per pupil in capital funds, compared to $3800 in the receiving schools.

The powers that be are not especially creative. The same lies Mayor Emanuel and the Chicago Public Schools told the world to justify these closings are being repeated in New York, Philly, Atlanta, Los Angeles and scores of other US cities. By recording, recounting and reviewing these lies, comparing them to facts on the ground, CTU, the Chicago Teachers Union is doing an important service to students, parents, teachers and communities around the country. Read their report, Twelve Months Later, The Impact of School Closings in Chicago at their site, www.ctunet.com, that's www.ctunet.com and keep it in mind when the mayor and school board in your town tell you the same lies.

For Black Agenda Report, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com.

 

 Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report and a member of the state committee of the Georgia Green Party. He can be reached via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20140528_bd_one_year_after.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:42pm EDT

Black Caucus Members Shame Themselves, as South America Warns U.S. Not to Sanction Venezuela

Black Caucus Members Shame Themselves, as South America Warns U.S. Not to Sanction Venezuela

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Even Colombia, Washington’s client state in the region, joined in rejecting U.S. sanctions.”

The U.S. House of Representatives began debating, on Wednesday, a bill to impose sanctions on Venezuela for supposed human rights violations. A similar bill has already cleared important hurdles in the Senate, and it is questionable whether the Obama administration could prevent passage in both Houses of Congress, even if wanted to. It’s all part of U.S. blustering and bullying in Latin America, a continent that refuses to be treated as Uncle Sam’s back yard. Foreign ministers from all 12 members of the Union of South American Nations last week spoke with one voice, declaring that U.S. sanctions would represent "an obstacle” for the Venezuelan people to “overcome their difficulties with independence, and in democratic peace.” Even Colombia, Washington’s client state in the region, joined in rejecting U.S. sanctions.

Unlike the Organization of American States, or OAS, the Union of South American Nations has no role for the United States or Canada, although Mexico and Panama have observer status. The late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez was a prime mover in creating the Union, to allow South Americans to forge their own economic and political ties without interference from the imperial behemoth to the North. Were it not for South American solidarity in the face of constant U.S. threats against Venezuela, the U.S. would be moving even more aggressively to turn the socialist government into a failed state, ripe of plucking.

These overtly racist elements have staged violent demonstrations since February.”

Ever since the defeat of a U.S.-backed coup in 2002, Washington has financed and trained a right-wing Venezuelan opposition centered in the mostly white upper classes of the country. Unable to win victory at the polls, these overtly racist elements have staged violent demonstrations since February, openly vowing to make the country ungovernable. President Nicolás Maduro’s government has been cautious in containing the outbreaks – more cautious than some of his comrades would like. Maduro has called on President Obama to stop destabilizing his country, to join a commission to discuss “peace and sovereignty” – and to call off those American factions that, Maduro says, are out to assassinate him. In his appeal to the U.S. president, Maduro noted that he, like Obama, has “African grandparents.” Hugo Chavez was also proud of his African ancestry.

However, the Black delegation to the U.S. Congress from Florida is nothing for any Black person to be proud off. All three Black Caucus members from the state – Corrine Brown, Frederica Wilson, and Alcee Hastings – signed on as co-sponsors of the Venezuela sanctions bill. Once again, the Black Misleadership Class shames 40 million African Americans with their slavish devotion to the imperial powers-that-be. Venezuela is overwhelmingly a black and brown country struggling to overcome centuries of racist internal rule and national subjugation to the will of the White Colossus in the North. The brown Obama is no better, nor are the sycophants of the Congressional Black Caucus, whose notions of solidarity begin and end with a checkbook.

If Venezuela’s sovereignty and dignity are to be preserved, it will be through their own efforts and the determination of South Americans to run their own affairs, to act in the spirit of Chavez, and the still-living example of Fidel.

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.

Direct download: 20140528_gf_VenezuelaSanctions.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 9:00am EDT

Molefi Asante Must Go, Say Students and Educators

Molefi Asante Must Go, Say Students and Educators

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

Asante has succeeded only in making himself a liability to Temple University.”

What began, last year, as a student and community battle to save African American Studies from a racist Dean of Liberal Arts at Temple University, in Philadelphia, is now compelled to also confront the bizarre and ugly specter of McCarthyism in Blackface. Molefi Asante, who became chairman of the African American Studies Department thanks to the student and community campaign, almost immediately betrayed them by collaborating in the firing of Dr. Anthony Monteiro, a leader of the protests, native Philadelphian and W.E.B. Dubois scholar who has taught African American Studies at Temple for a decade. Asante initially claimed he had nothing to do with Temple’s refusal to renew Monteiro’s contract, but, after university officials pointed at him as the instigator of the firing, Asante admitted that he wanted Dr. Monteiro out so that he could remake the department to more closely reflect his own narrow, cultural nationalist politics. In other words, it was a political dismissal.

Then, on May 8, Dr. Cornel West and Dr. Marc Lamont Hill joined a rally in North Philadelphia demanding Dr. Monteiro’s reinstatement and denouncing attempts to purge the radical Black tradition from Black Studies. Asante went on a witch-hunt, calling Cornel West and Marc Lamont Hill “dupes” and describing Dr. Monteiro’s student supporters, who comprise a racial and political rainbow, as “white communists.” Asante claimed the North Philadelphia community had not attended the rally, when in fact a prominent community leader had organized it. Asante slandered Dr. Monteiro as a “charlatan,” and “low-level purveyor of Marxism and anti-African ideas.”

Asante has succeeded only in making himself a liability to Temple University. The scholars who drafted a letter demanding Monteiro’s reinstatement, with tenure – which was signed by 250 prominent educators – have issued a new statement, They deplored “Dr. Asante’s brazen demonization of student protesters and his deployment of racially divisive attacks,” saying this, “together with previous, well-publicized charges of plagiarism and abuse of authority…make him unfit to make decisions about faculty or lead an academic department.”

Fear is the only card Dr. Asante has left to play.”

The students that Asante verbally abused also say he must be “held accountable.” They rejected Asante’s ludicrous and ahistorical claim that socialism is somehow anti-Black or anti-African, pointing out that W.E.B. Du Bois, Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela were socialists, as was Kwame Nkrumah, the giant of modern pan-Africanism.

The students, who gathered 2,000 signatures of support from their peers at Temple, said Asante had “firmly attached” himself to the right-wing politics of Joseph McCarthy and J. Edgar Hoover. “Having been thoroughly discredited for his betrayal of Dr. Monteiro and North Philadelphia,” the students wrote, “fear is the only card Dr. Asante has left to play.”

That, and his claim to be super-Black, the ultimate African when, in the real world, he and others like him are ready to betray the struggle at the first opportunity – as they have repeatedly, here and on the continent. Time after time, those who struggle for transformational change find that they must first fight their way through layers of Asantes before they can do righteous battle with the people who actually hold power.

In this case, ironically, it is likely that the people in power will decide that Molefi Asante and his madness are too big a burden for Temple University to bear. They, too, will conclude that Asante must go.

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.

Direct download: 20140521_gf_AsanteMustGo.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:06am EDT

Molefi Asante: Portrait of a Redbaiting Bootlicking Rat

Molefi Asante: Portrait of a Redbaiting Bootlicking Rat

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Molefi Asante’s McCarthyism sounds like a relic from another age.”

Dr. Molefi Asante last year regained the chairmanship at Temple University’s African American Studies Department on the strength of a campus/community coalition organized largely by Dr. Anthony Monteiro, a veteran activist-scholar. Monteiro and others linked the fate of African American Studies at Temple with the struggle against gentrification of the surrounding North Philadelphia neighborhood and with larger issues of social justice. No sooner had the battle been won, than Asante conspired with white university officials to terminate Dr. Monteiro’s contract.

Asante’s behavior was typical of narrow cultural nationalists, who wear Africanesque wardrobes and pose as the ultimate Race-men, but ultimately wind up as chief bootlickers, servants and agents of white corporate power.

When Temple University informed Dr. Monteiro that his contract would not be renewed, Asante pretended that he had had nothing to do with it. However, as the campus/community coalition intensified its demand for Monteiro’s reinstatement, with tenure, the administration outed Asante as the instigator of his colleague’s termination. Exposed as a back-stabber, Molefi Asante appears to have lost what’s left of his mind.

In a statement on his Facebook page, Asante lashes out at Dr. Cornel West, probably Black America’s best known public intellectual, and at Dr. Marc Lamont Hill, the Philadelphia native, Columbia University professor, and TV personality, both of whom spoke at a recent rally for Dr. Monteiro. Drs. West and Hill are “dupes,” according to Asante. So is Pam Africa, the sister at the center of so many actions in support of Mumia Abu Jamal. The local community has been “misguided” by Monteiro the Marxist and his white communist allies who, the redbaiter Asante says, are promoting “an anti-African ideological view.”

Spoken like a dashiki-wearing J. Edgar Hoover.”

Molefi Asante’s McCarthyism sounds like a relic from another age. His incredibly poorly written letter reads like a script from a 1950s Red Scare TV show. Dr. Monteiro is described as “skilled at propaganda in the vein of a leftist apparatchik.” Asante attempts to expel Black Marxists – or anybody Black that he suspects of being Marxists, or “dupes” of Marxists, or people like Drs. West and Hill, who are “doing their leftist duties” – from the Black radical tradition, which Asante claims “has always been Black Nationalist.”

This is some shrill and crazy stuff, spoken like a dashiki-wearing J. Edgar Hoover. When Asante says that “Tony Monteiro is a low level purveyor of Marxism and anti-African ideas,” all you have to do is substitute “African” with the word “American” and he sounds just like Ronald Reagan. Asante even attempts to take a swipe at Black Agenda Report, but says he’s waiting “for the ancestors” to give him the wisdom. That will be a long wait.

In reality Asante is just a rat who, as soon as a campus/community coalition got him his job back, ran straight to The Man promising to get rid of these same radicals and activists who’d been giving the university so much trouble about racism and gentrification. He is beneath contempt – and neither a scholar nor a brother.

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.

Direct download: 20140514_gf_AsanteRat.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:10am EDT

Call the FCC – If Obama's FCC Doesn't Restore Network Neutrality, Black Agenda Report Will Die

Call the FCC – If Obama's FCC Doesn't Restore Network Neutrality, Black Agenda Report Will Die

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

“...the neoliberal internet, according to proposals Barack Obama's FCC chief Tom Wheeler is expected to make today, will have fast lanes, slow lanes and dead ends, depending on how much or how little the producers of web content are willing to pay ...”

Neoliberalism is the backward, predatory notion, that every civic, social or human function ought to be governed by and through the market. If the rich can't get richer from something, it probably shouldn't be allowed to happen, or at least it needs to “reformed” so banksters and other parasites can collect their tolls.

Neoliberal education turns teachers into Wal-Mart workers and public school systems into privately owned charters with a trillion dollar marketplace for testing and other contractors. Neoliberal agriculture grants agribusiness firms intellectual property patent rights on crops so farmers can't plant without paying up, and crops that won't grow without expensive herbicides and pesticides. Neoliberal “health care reform” was about subsidizing crappy private health insurance, often with high deductibles, co-pays, co-insurance, no protections against medical bankruptcy, plenty of exemptions for employers and often skimpy actual care, all paid for with public money.

And the neoliberal internet, according to proposals Barack Obama's FCC chief Tom Wheeler is expected to make today, will have fast lanes, slow lanes and dead ends, depending on how much or how little the producers of web content are willing to pay Comcast, Verizon, AT&T and other so-called “owners” of the internet backbone, which was originally tested, designed and built by government employees on the public dime and given to them for pennies on the dollar.

In true neoliberal fashion, the regulating won't be done by big government, but by greedy corporations, pretending to be something they call “the market.”

You'll still be able to pay your mortgage and utility bills online, and reach Disney.com, HBO Go, WhiteHouse.gov, local government and CNN, even YouTube, though you might have to pay extra for that. Facebook and Twitter will still be around. But internet radio will die overnight, while blogs, online journalism and oppositional reporting and commentary like Black Agenda Report will be made inaccessible. You might even have to pay to send email, or to see sites and content outside the US.

With the internet a private toll road, those low cost phone cards, which route your phone calls over the internet could see steep price increases, unless they're issued by the same companies that own the internet backbone. Without network neutrality, internet companies could even dictate what kinds of machines or programs you connect to the net with, and refuse connections to those of which they do not approve.

“...Call the FCC today at 1-888-225-5322.... and tell them the internet should be a common carrier, not a neoliberal toll road, ...”

If Obama's FCC chief gets his way, this is what the end of network neutrality will probably look like. Back in 2007, when Barack Obama needed all the Democratic primary election votes he could get, he declared that his administration “...would take a back seat to nobody” when it came to protecting net neutrality. Neutral networks don't care where you access them from, or what you access them with. Neutral networks are common carriers, unable to discriminate for or against content based on who produced it or who wants to use it.

Apparently, President Obama lied. Both his FCC chairmen came in the revolving door from jobs lobbying for the cable and telecom industry, just like George W. Bush's FCC. Corporate media almost never cover stories about their own monopoly power, and this is no exception. And even though more than a million people have already voiced opposition on the phone and email to Congress, the White House and the FCC, all the talk around these proposed FCC rule changes is that they're unstoppable, a done deal.

But that's also what they said back in 2003, when Bush's FCC chair proposed to allow unlimited monopoly concentration of newspaper, radio & TV stations in any US market. Before it was over, members of Congress were being ambushed and cornered by their outraged neighbors in visits home, public meetings were conducted in dozens of towns and cities, and millions more had voiced their opposition. Bush's FCC caved, and Obama's FCC can be forced to do the same.

Call the FCC today at 1-888-225-5322. That's -1888-225-5322 and tell them the internet should be a common carrier, not a neoliberal toll road, and if you're seeing this on the internet forward it your entire email list. Do it now. While you still can.

For Black Agenda Radio I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and a member of the state committee of the Georgia Green Party. He lives and works in Marietta GA and can be reached via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

 

For Black -225-5322

Direct download: 20140514_bd_fcc.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:12am EDT

Segregation Rebounding: The Political Defeat of School Integration

Segregation Rebounding: The Political Defeat of School Integration

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Court orders were only effective if the judges were diligent and officials were willing to enforce them.”

Fourteen years after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled segregated education unconstitutional, the justices determined that the pace of integration, which was supposed to be proceeding “with all deliberate speed,” was far too slow. In it’s 1968 ruling on the Kent County, Virginia, schools, the High Court ordered that segregated systems must be dismantled “root and branch.” That meant classrooms, faculty, other school system staff, extracurricular activities, and the transportation that took the kids to and from school. This “root and branch” ruling put school desegregation into higher gear. Judges across the country issued orders on how school systems must go about desegregating, some of them in great detail and with close oversight from the court. At the height of judicial desegregation activity, 750 school districts were under court order.

Three hundred school districts remain under desegregation order, today, but some of those communities don’t even know the order is still in effect, many have substantially resegregated, and the Justice Department is sometimes also in the dark, according to Nikole Hannah-Jones, who spent a year researching her authoritative article “Lack of Order: The Erosion of a Once-Great Force for Integration.” The story is part of ProPublica’s series “Segregation Now,” a study of the various forms of racial segregation in the United States.

Some communities don’t even know the order is still in effect.”

The fight for school desegregation badly needed the Supreme Court’s “root and branch” mandate. In 1963, only about one percent of Black kids in the South attended integrated schools. But by the early Seventies, fully 90 percent of Blacks in the South attended desegregated schools. However, court orders were only effective if the judges were diligent and officials were willing to enforce them. When Ronald Reagan entered the White House, his Justice Department actively opposed school integration. So did both presidents Bush. Reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones found that the Obama Justice and Education Departments don’t even have an accurate list of the desegregation orders that remain legally in effect in local districts.

It appears that desegregation has been abandoned for so long in some school districts, that the locals assume the court orders are no longer in effect. No one paid the court order any attention in St. Martin Parish, Louisiana, for 30 years. In Gadsden, Alabama, a judge released the school district from a desegregation order, even though nothing had been done to dismantle segregation, one high school was 90-percent Black, and another school was still named for Ku Klux Klan founder Nathan Bedford Forrest. Nevertheless, the judge said he was satisfied that folks in Gadsden got along better than people in Kosovo or Northern Ireland.

The lesson of the ProPublica story appears to be that segregation was never eliminated “root and branch” partly due to lack of consistent enforcement of court orders over time, and in some cases for reasons that nobody seems to remember. Today, Black students are more segregated than in the Seventies, but all the Obama administration wants to talk about is testing and getting rid of teachers, and turning schools into privately-managed charters – which studies have shown tend to be more segregated than public schools.

The political defeat of school integration appears to be all but complete – except on television shows and in the movies.

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.

Direct download: 20140507_gf_SchoolIntegration.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:08am EDT