Re: Ideology distorts reality, and absolutist ideology distorts reality absolute
- Subject: Re: Ideology distorts reality, and absolutist ideology distorts reality absolute
- From: "Dr. Leo Casey" <LeoCasey@AOL.COM>
- Date: Thu, 25 Jan 2001 12:40:40 EST
- Reply-to: Assessment Reform Network Mailing List <ARN-L@LISTS.CUA.EDU>
- Sender: Assessment Reform Network Mailing List <ARN-L@LISTS.CUA.EDU>
Any narrative tale, replayed again and again, becomes very uninformative and
tiresome. A simplistic, self-serving narrative tale, replayed again and
again, becomes not simply tediously predictable, but also transparently
devoid of virtue and merit. That is where we now are in this thread.
George S. took up a comment of mine -- a comment which was neither a response
to him nor directed to him -- on the nature of the Bush's actions after less
than one week in office, actions which quite clearly demonstrate the falsity
of the premise that it does not matter, between Republican and Democrat, who
sits in the Oval Office. After the usual long excursion through the world of
Chicago and the Chicago of the world according to George, he concludes that
my comments were a piece of "self-serving historical revisionism, selective
memory, and outright hypocrisy." And not surprisingly, I responded in the
original post of this thread, entitled "Ideology distorts reality, and
absolutist ideology distorts reality absolutely."
Now, we get into the full swing of things. After proclaiming his rhetorical
innocence ["I don't believe I've posted anything personal about Leo here" --
after all, why would anyone take personally a characterization of himself as
a "historical revisionist," with all of the rhetorical connections of
Holocaust denial, who has a "selective memory" and is a "hypocrite" too
boot?], we enter into the grand trope of George as martyr, here the "victim"
of my "invective." It is not invective, of course, to characterize someone as
a "self-serving historical revisionist" with a "selective memory" and a
"hypocrite," but it is invective to respond to such characterization. So I
join the ranks of everyone in educational circles in Chicago, from Vallas and
the administration of Chicago's public schools to the Chicago Teachers Union,
from small schools advocates to the journal _Catalyst_, from Bill Ayers to
Mike Klonsky, who victimizes poor George. In this play which has been running
longer on ARN than _Cats_ was on Broadway, George always casts himself as the
heroic martyr, and anyone who disagrees with him, as the villainous
executioner. Madame LaFarge and Leo Casey, knitting while George goes under
This narrative, the staple of daily postings to ARN, is an excuse, a
substitute, for a substantive argument. It is used to respond to anyone and
everyone who does not whistle the tune, "George Schmidt's body lies a
smoldering in the grave... His truth goes marching on." It is so ironic,
therefore, that George would end this post with the suggestion that someone
might be afraid to debate with him, as if there was something substantive,
something real, aside from this ubiquitous, self-serving tale of George as
martyr and debating adversary as executioner, to debate with.
George Schmidt writes:
<< The logic of Leo's recent diatribe against my posting on Chicago (and
against me, which doesn't surprise me, but seems irrelevant since I don't
believe I've posted anything personal about Leo here) seems to be that if I
point out that Bush's education plan is basically the Chicago plan (and most
of the AFT plan), I'm also supporting the termination of abortion rights for
the Third World and the other recent Bush atrocities.
No doubt the Bush administration will provide much grist for many mills.
My points about the Chicago Plan and its national scope (which is being
touted here locally, both at the press briefing Tuesday and at Wednesday's
school board meeting) remains.
My questions regarding the virtues of small schools for large wealthy suburbs
My questions about the racial demographics of the New York City teaching
force -- and the place "standards and accountability" played in that sordid
history -- remain.
But let's talk about the Bush presidency and its relationship to education.
There will be time for all these other things, and Leo Casey has a lot more
research muscle at his disposal than I have, just as those who sued me for
$1.3 million and fired me from my job have a lot more lawyers to deploy.
As of today, education is on the top of the White House agenda.
Anyone who wishes to take the time can download "No Child Left Behind" (www.
whitehouse. gov) and compare it with the positions of the American Federation
of Teachers on "standards and accountability".
Anyone who wants to know how debate is conducted in some of the locals of the
American Federation of Teachers can reread Leo's recent tirades. As I pointed
out earlier in these threads, this stuff (right down to the surfacely clever
invectives, the personal attacks, and the bizarre arguments -- e.g., abortion
rights in Africa versus education reforms in the USA) is rehearsed daily in
some quarters, but it has rarely served the members of the teachers' unions
Chicago has already weighed in praising itself for being in the forefront of
the "reforms" that George W. Bush now proposes in "No Child Left Behind."
Shouldn't the American Federation of Teachers take credit as well, since
those ideas (and even some of the catch phrases) did not conjure out of the
As of this moment, there are only two documents available at www. whitehouse.
gov. The first is the Inaugural Address. The other is "No Child Left Behind."
Let's look forward to hearing what distinctions there are to be made between
the Bush positions in "No Child..." and the positions of Leo's employers.
Let's leave the irrelevancies about planned parenthood and drug prices to
others to debate. One of the reasons why the Testocracy has gotten this far
is that the leaders of the teachers' unions have betrayed the intellectual
freedom of their members in the interest of a political deal.
Chicago was just the most dramatic example available. Thanks in part to our
work here (and the work of the parent and student organizers who challenged
our local Testocracy), Chicago is also the one where the most specific
examples of the vicious failures of these programs could be brought to light.
Despite Leo's invective, those facts still stand on the record. Similar facts
need be deployed regarding the other questions he raises pertaining to
education, but I'm left with nothing but a diatribe that somehow links birth
control policy to high stakes "accountability" plans.
There is one other thing worth noting about this type of discourse -- it's
incredible self-righteousness. It had a familiar ring.
When the Chicago Board of Education sued me and Substance for $1.3 million
two years ago (January 1999), the leaders of the Chicago Teachers Union spoke
gleefully in support of Paul Vallas on the subject. They talked as if our
criticisms in Substance were far worse than the destruction of the lives of
working people (through privatization), teachers (through school
reconstitution), and children (through "ending social promotion) that we
When the Chicago Board of Education voted to fire me in August 2000, Paul
Vallas spoke for five minutes before the vote about the need to "stand up to
pressure" and to "show courage." You'd think he was the one being fired, sued
for a million dollars, and slandered in newspapers with local circulations of
a half million or weeklies with national circulations in the hundred
You'd think that Chicago Teachers Union President Tom Reece was the one being
assaulted by the government and fired from his job. You'd think that Paul
Vallas was the one against whom the slime squad had leaked every nasty rumor
and libel available. You'd think Substance (a newspaper that barely pays its
bills each month) had the resources of the government of America's third
largest city to deploy against Vallas and Reece.
This is typical of the logic those in power have been using. Only Alice in
Wonderland can equal it.
Now Leo's pleading on behalf of his employers rank in the same place on my
own irrational hypocrisy scale.
Why do a few simple questions and some uncontested factual observations cause
such chagrin and produce such creative attack metaphors?
The truth hurts.
Anyone who wants to can deconstruct "No Child Left Behind" alongside the past
five years of American Federation of Teachers "Standards and Accountability"
stuff. Aside from vouchers, I'm not sure what's the difference between the
Bush push and the AFT's stuff, but it will be fun to hear.
As to Chicago, that record is already in.
Paul Vallas and Gery Chico have already told the press and public that they
are proud that Chicago's already doing the things President Bush suggests.
Paul Vallas and Gery Chico could not be doing those things without the
support of the 34,000-member Chicago Teachers Union. President Bush now calls
for a bipartisan commitment to his education plan. Will the 1,000,000-member
American Federation of Teachers join his national activities just as its
Chicago local has joined in their Chicago version?
The details we'll be publishing in Substance (circulation a few thousand).
I'm sure that Leo and his colleagues will be publishing their versions of
reality in magazines (American Educator) and newspapers of much larger
Why are some people afraid of these debates? Is control that important? >>
United Federation of Teachers
260 Park Avenue South
New York, New York 10010-7272 (212-598-6869)
Power concedes nothing without a demand.
It never has, and it never will.
If there is no struggle, there is no progress.
Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet deprecate agitation are men who
want crops without plowing the ground. They want rain without thunder and
lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its waters.
-- Frederick Douglass --
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