Workers Vanguard No. 974
18 February 2011
On Obamas War on Public Education
(Letters to Young Spartacus)
January 19, 2011
Dear WV Editor,
I found the article in WV #967 “Obama’s War on Public Education” did a very good job of covering in-depth the attack that “education reform” represents both for poor and working class, mainly black, youth and the teachers that teach them. One point that I would make more strongly is that charter schools often use their special status not only to attack teachers unions and racial integration, but also as a way to increase the level of repression on students. Since these schools are not publicly run all decisions regarding code of discipline, student and teacher speech, dress code, length of school day, etc. are decided privately; as there is no publicly elected school board. Granted that the oppression of students can be done through the normal channels of the “democratic” public school system, but charter schools help to speed up this process.
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22 January 2011
I have some issues with the article “Obama’s war on public education” in WV #967 which is an otherwise exemplary piece of propaganda. The article needed to discuss the woman question and the nuclear family, the primary means of oppressing women. The woman question is especially important when discussing the black question. Also, the plight of immigrants is mentioned in the article along with the defense of bilingual education, but not the SL’s other demands defending immigrants.
This article does not mention that women are specially oppressed or explicitly call for woman’s liberation: Can you give a (working class) sister a break? The bourgeois propaganda, laws, and actual functioning institutions around schools and youth are heavily parent/family orientated. However, the only reference to woman’s oppression in the article is with regard to sexual discrimination.
Schools are race, class AND sex biased. The ruling class “answer” to struggling mostly female run households is to use the law against the male parents to pay alimony. Also, both conservatives and many moralistic black liberals blame the single parent (read female) run households for the lack of advancements of the kids in these households. This cries out for free 24-hour childcare and free abortion on demand.
The 24-hour childcare and free abortion demands should always accompany the demands for open admissions, etc. as it’s hard to go to school, especially as a teen, when you have kids. I would also add free abortion on demand and contraception to calls for free quality health care as well. Another point that could have been mentioned is that teaching abstinence, the lack or inadequacy of sex education, the lack of birth control at most schools, and lack of free abortions on demand makes teens have unplanned children.
Talking about the nuclear family as the primary means of oppressing women as well as the prime focus of capitalist education is on the nuclear family, etc. would be more effective propaganda. Doesn’t most religious obscurantism teach the subservience of women?
To illustrate the peculiarity of U.S. education and religious obscurantism, the public Ohlone Community College in Fremont (25 mi. South of Oakland), California requires students to pay a fee for health insurance. This is an extremely limited insurance which protects you if you get injured on campus only. The college will, however, waive the fee for students who use prayer to heal themselves! In revolutionary Russia militant atheism was taught in the schools.
Some other needed demands which were laws in the Soviet Union are paid leave for child rearing and getting one’s job back guaranteed. The fact that schools have a heavily woman workforce brings up the woman question which these workers face. Teaching is a job which requires a bachelors degree and special training yet is paid less than comparable male dominated jobs with similar requirements.
Given the historic sexism amongst blacks even among black militant groups, sexism needed to be in the article. Let’s not forget the “Million MAN (emphasis added) March.” There is also “machismo” among Latinos and “macho” blacks. Especially black women workers face triple oppression. This has been mentioned in other articles but not this one.
The article mentions a fight against the wretched conditions in which “families live in fear of immigration raids...,” yet does not call for full citizenship rights. I’ve seen some of the European ICL-FI sections say that immigrants are a specially oppressed group. This is true everywhere. The undocumented are super exploited with wages below minimum wage. Also, the threat of deportation is significant and only faced by these workers.
As one rapper said, most Americans believe that Central America is somewhere near Kansas. The U.S. needs a massive literacy and general education program for adults as has been done after the October, Cuban, and other anti-capitalist revolutions. A healthy workers’ state needs informed inhabitants.
Bay Area Labor Black League
for Social Defense