Posted by madfloridian in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Sat Sep 26th 2009, 10:30 PM
First a look at Ronald Reagan's attitude toward higher learning, the students, and education in general.
The Educational Legacy of Ronald Reagan
As governor of California:
And he certainly did not let up on the criticisms of campus protestors that had aided his election. Mr. Reagan's denunciations of student protesters were both frequent and particularly venomous. He called protesting students "brats," "freaks," and "cowardly fascists." And when it came to "restoring order" on unruly campuses he observed, "If it takes a bloodbath, let's get it over with. No more appeasement!"
Several days later four Kent State students were shot to death. In the aftermath of this tragedy Mr. Reagan declared his remark was only a "figure of speech." He added that anyone who was upset by it was "neurotic." One wonders if this reveals him as a demagogue or merely unfeeling. Governor Reagan not only slashed spending on higher education. Throughout his tenure as governor Mr. Reagan consistently and effectively opposed additional funding for basic education. This led to painful increases in local taxes and the deterioration of California's public schools. Los Angeles voters got so fed up picking up the slack that on five separate occasions they refused to support any further increases in local school taxes. The consequent under-funding resulted in overcrowded classrooms, ancient worn-out textbooks, crumbling buildings and badly demoralized teachers. Ultimately half of the Los Angeles Unified School District's teachers walked off the job to protest conditions in their schools. Mr. Reagan was unmoved.
More from that article:
In California Mr. Reagan had made political hay by heaping scorn on college students and their professors. As President his administration's repeatedly issued or encouraged uncommonly bitter denunciations of public education. William Bennett, the President's demagogic Secretary of Education, took the lead in this. He toured the nation making unprecedented and unprincipled attacks on most aspects of public education including teacher certification, teacher's unions and the "multi-layered, self-perpetuating, bureaucracy of administrators that weighs down most school systems." "The Blob" was what Bennett dismissively called them.
Three years into his first term Mr. Reagan's criticism of public education reached a crescendo when he hand picked a "blue ribbon" commission that wrote a remarkably critical and far-reaching denunciation of public education. Called "A Nation At Risk," this document charged that the US risked losing the economic competition among nations due to a "... rising tide of (educational) mediocrity that threatens our very future as a Nation and a people." (The commissioners did not consider the possibility that US firms were uncompetitive because of corporate mismanagement, greed and short sightedness.)After "A Nation At Risk" the nation's public schools were fair game for every ambitious politician or self-important business boss in the country. Its publication prompted a flood of follow-up criticism of public education as "blue ribbon" and "high level" national commissions plus literally hundreds of state panels wrote a flood of reform reports. Most presupposed that the charges made by Mr. Reagan's handpicked panel were true. Oddly though, throughout this entire clamor, parental confidence in the school's their children attended remained remarkably high. Meanwhile Mr. Reagan was quietly halving federal aid to education.
That sums up Mr. Reagan's educational legacy. As governor and president he demagogically fanned discontent with public education, then made political hay of it. As governor and president he bashed educators and slashed education spending while professing to valued it. And as governor and president he left the nation's educators dispirited and demoralized.
There was a reason he was so critical of public education, pushing his rhetoric to the limits. His goal was to privatize government, and education was no exception.
He did not get what he wanted, but he started the ball rolling for those who came after him....Republicans and Democrats alike. We got steamrolled by the Republican Propaganda Machine and never really knew what hit us.
Many here do not remember Ronald Reagan and his push to privatize government. It is noticeable here that so many people honestly do not understand the value of the traditional public education in our country. A little about Reagan's terrible influence on public schools and their teachers, his influence in harming the union movement, and the secretive way he turned government over to corporations.
Not surprisingly this is from a Nader website in 1987.
Sobering Lessons on 'Privatization' Seem to Elude Reagan
This year Reagan's "privatization" dogmas will be in the news. For a long time Reagan has wanted to sell off much of the federal lands out west; he would like to see prisons owned and run by private corporations. Last month the Reaganites proposed to sell the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) to private business. None of these ideologies got very far. In fact the FHA sell-off urge was quickly dropped by Reagan after a torrent of protest from the housing and banking industries themselves.
Undaunted, a few days later the Reagan Budget Office let it be known that four public power authorities in the West, including the Bonneville Power Administration, were heading for the sales block. Millions of people and thousand of businesses receive hydro-electric power from these agencies. The Naval oil reserve in California -- established decades ago for national emergencies -- is also to be put up for sale.
..."Reagan believes that private enterprise con do the job better, more efficiently and without taxpayer subsidy. Has he (not) read of the wasteful boondoggles and practices of private utilities? Are there no sobering lessons from the Defense Departments long-time "privatization" of military contracting for weapons, ships, vehicles and planes? What are the efficiencies of huge cost over-runs, weapons that are defective, $450 for a simple claw hammer or $650 for toilet seat covers?
..."Reagan even is letting profit-making corporations operate the satellites, built by the taxpayer, that record and map the world including where minerals and underground water may he located. How accessible and how promptly public are all of these data to the people?...."The Reagan regime is pushing for privatization of public services and public investments without holding public hearings and consulting with the directly affected persons."
President Reagan appointed a Commission on Privatization.
From the New York Times in 1987.
Commission on Privatization
President Reagan today appointed a commission to study ways Government functions can be turned over to private business.
Prof. David F. Linowes, a political economist at the University of Illinois, was named chairman of the President's Commission on Privatization, and said the 12-member panel's mandate ''is very broad.'' It will ''probe the entire dimension of Government operations'' and offer recommendations in six months, he said.
Mr. Reagan, vacationing at his ranch near here, issued a statement saying the commission would help him ''end unfair Government competition and return Government programs and assets to the American people.''
..."Professor Linowes, speaking to reporters here, said he could not predict what the commission might recommend. But he indicated that likely targets of study included Federal low-income housing projects. The Government has already given some prospective tenants vouchers to pay for low-income housing of their choice, rather than building new Federal housing units. A similar Administration idea, to distribute education vouchers so parents can send children to the school of their choice, has gone nowhere.
These ideas of using public taxpayer money to send children to private schools has gone far in Florida under Jeb Bush. Reagan started the ball rolling, and the right wing has not stopped fighting to bring corporations into the schools.
Now to the humiliating ways of Reagan toward education. He truly started the demeaning of public education and public school teachers with the report The Nation at Risk.
Education at Risk: Fallout from a Flawed Report
Nearly a quarter century ago, "A Nation at Risk" hit our schools like a brick dropped from a penthouse window. One problem: The landmark document that still shapes our national debate on education was misquoted, misinterpreted, and often dead wrong.
..."In short, it's never really a choice between supporting or rejecting school reform. It is, or should be, a choice between this reform and that reform. Yet today, a movement that stretches back several decades has narrowed us down to a single set of take-'em-or-leave-'em initiatives. How did this happen? Well, it didn't "just happen." What we now call school reform isn't the product of a gradual consensus emerging among educators about how kids learn; it's a political movement that grew out of one seed planted in 1983. I became aware of this fact some years ago, when I started writing about education issues and found that every reform initiative I read about -- standards, testing, whatever -- referred me back to a seminal text entitled "A Nation at Risk." Naturally, I assumed this bible of school reform was a scientific research study full of charts and data that proved something. Yet when I finally looked it up, I found a thirty-page political document issued by the National Commission on Excellence in Education, a group convened by Ronald Reagan's secretary of education, Terrell Bell.
That report that began the degrading treatment of the public school system was the product of a committee with an agenda.
The whole nation took this report as the voice of God, and it was splashed all over the media. It became the national agenda.
Reporters fell on the report like a pack of hungry dogs. The next day, "A Nation at Risk" made the front pages.
Once launched, the report, which warned of "a rising level of mediocrity," took off like wildfire. During the next month, the Washington Post alone ran some two dozen stories about it, and the buzz kept spreading. Although Reagan counselor (and, later, attorney general) Edwin Meese III urged him to reject the report because it undermined the president's basic education agenda -- to get government out of education -- White House advisers Jim Baker and Michael Deaver argued that "A Nation at Risk" provided good campaign fodder.
I was teaching in public school when this happened. We were completely puzzled as to why teachers were suddenly being subjected to such negative publicity. Little did we understand that a massive agenda was in play.
You can not destroy something so basic and important as America's public education unless you first demean and marginalize it. Education had been one of the few areas which had not been grabbed up by corporate greed.
They had to do lessen public confidence before they could get what they wanted....the privatization of public education.
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