With Friends Like These . . .

Just another installment in that long-running series "The Mystery of the Self-Loathing Liberal."

Ruy Teixeira has a new post up on Donkey Rising where he takes liberals to task for being boring on education:

Democrats have not benefitted more from education issues because they have had little new and exciting to say to voters about these issues. Instead, they have repeated the same old tired refrain ("more money!"), which has just reinforced voter stereotypes about Democrats and certainly hasn't made make them look like the party of reform and change.
He then excerpts a New Republic piece from the Center for American Progress' resident education expert, who piles on:

In the only exchange on education during the 2004 presidential debates, John Kerry made one argument: "The president who talks about No Child Left Behind refused to fully fund [it] by 28 billion dollars . . . That sums up the education debate in last year's campaign. . . . While Bush and the Republicans moved to the middle, Kerry and the Democrats retreated from it....The party's top three education demands were money, money, and money.

Then, we learn that what is needed is not just money, but money plus reform:

Progressives should tackle a challenge all but ignored by Bush: strengthening the quality of teachers. . . . Strengthening teaching requires changes to the pay system and school culture that abet mediocrity. . . . High-poverty schools need to attract more teachers with bonuses, and all schools need to attract better teachers with the promise of higher earnings for better results. . . . [Schools] also need better systems to remove bad [teachers]. . . . A sound national plan would put big money on the table for school districts that adopt real reforms in pay, tenure, and licensing for teachers.

Sounds good to me (but go here for an alternative perspective from an actual high school teacher). Anyway, one last gratuitous slap at those silly liberals:

Standing alone, the usual liberal solution--across-the-board pay hikes--perpetuates the maldistribution of good teachers and reinforces the irrelevance of achievement.

And then we learn:

....Al Gore and John Kerry both offered agendas along these lines [i.e. the "money plus reform" agenda] for teacher quality.

Here's what the DLC's Progressive Policy Institute (you heard me right) said about Kerry's teacher quality proposals at the time:

Kerry's teacher plan is gutsy, full of important policy ideas, and easily the most interesting education proposal so far during the 2004 campaign. It includes proposals for differential pay, performance-based pay, mentoring for new teachers, more attention to low-performing schools, higher standards for new teachers, more accountability for schools of education, and faster dismissal for low-performing teachers. It sets a high bar for President Bush and hopefully portends an interesting debate to come. Although, if their reaction to the proposal today is any indication, this one may have caught the Bush-Cheney team flat-footed.

So let me get this straight: Democrats need to offer "new ideas" on education . . . by rehashing proposals made by both of our last two Presidential nominees?

There are plenty of other liberal ideas out there for improving teacher quality along these lines:

I mean, it's one thing when the RWNM pushes anti-liberal propaganda like "liberals just want to spend, spend, spend," or, "liberals don't have any new ideas," but why do our own people have to aid and abet this journalistic dope-pushing which is not only factually inaccurate, but refuted in the very piece of crap they just wrote?

PS: For an alternative perspective on the teacher quality issue, take a look at teacherken's diary over at Daily Kos:

PPS: I wonder if incidents like this have anything to do with the fact that liberals and Democrats never seem to be able to get their message out there.

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Liberals have plenty of ideas
Self loathing Democrats like Joe Lieberman and Zell Miller and John Kerry would rather pander to the right wingnuts. The Democratic party has a simple choice. Do they want to continue representing corporate scumbags or do they want to return to their FDR roots and represent the American people?

The coalition in California of teachers, firefighters, police officers and nurses is the future of the Democratic party. Kitchen table economic issues instead of bankruptcy restrictions. It's as simple as that.

Does the Democratic party want to represent the American people or accept campaign contributions from corporate America?

by Gary Boatwright 2005-05-29 08:42AM | 0 recs
Re: Liberals have plenty of ideas
Sorry I have to disagree on this one Gary. I am sure there are some liberals with good ideas. But none of the prominent liberals have voiced any strong alternatives. I really don't think public education should be given so much of a monopoly.

Democrats have done nothing to help school districts reduce the amount of legal liability they are exposed to. The amount of suiing that goes on by parents is flat out ridiculous. If comapnies in the wall street area can live with arbitration, why not allow schools to arbitrate with parents?

I am a strong believer in a certain amount of free market for schools. Force schools to take in a certain percentage of poor students and they will probably be better off than being subjected to terrible ghetto schools.

I just think a way of life where a family has to choose a neighborhood for the school is so ridiculous. It does nothing to promote integration. You could actually promote integration by giving charter schools incentives to keep ratios at desired levels. You can set some racial and geographic diversity options for charter schools to maintain their charter eligibility for public school funds. Our undergraduate and graduate colleges have shown how private and public schools can coexist pushing each other to higher levels. Private colleges have supported many poor students by giving them generous grants and are subsidized partially by the richer students. That's where my democratic side kicks in.

by Pravin 2005-05-29 05:55PM | 0 recs
Re: Liberals have plenty of ideas
I am not aware of a liberal position on school district law suits. There are plenty of flaws with our legal system, but hanging the "liberal lable" on this one is a non sequitur.

I agree with your critique of the neighborhood school funding system based on property taxes. Charter schools are one solution if done correctly, but they are not a panacea. I don't know about your state, but here in California there have been a number of Charter schools that have underperformed public schools.

Charter schools are more of a supplemental reform than a substitute for public education. I would favor a different funding method, but fixing the property tax formula for school funding faces monumental resistance. To a large degree this is a political problem as much as an educational problem. Wealthy school districts tend to have more political influence than poor school districts.

Education reform is not an area I have any expertise in, but I would hazard a guess that there are numerous liberal education reform ideas and organizations. I would also suggest that they are academically sounder and more effective than the conservative ideas represented by No Child Left Behind and Vouchers.

I am not aware of any "liberal" resistance to a private/public partnership in education. I would definitely stack a "liberal" curriculum up against a "conservative" curriculum that these days would include Creationism.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-05-29 07:53PM | 0 recs
Re: Liberals have plenty of ideas
That's why I limited my criticism to prominent liberals. As far as I know, I haven't see any creative solutions in the public. Don't get me wrong. I am not on the conservatives side either. The whole thing about creationism is a freaking embarassment to our educational system. We are reducing ourselves to the level of the Taliban when we use religious texts to skew our science books.
by Pravin 2005-05-30 10:55AM | 0 recs
Joe Bageant piles on
From the King of Zembla, How to stop losing:

Just to Hear Them Bark
by Joe Bageant

"Why do you rope-belted redneck mouthbreathers assume that if a liberal drinks a glass of wine they are going to attack people like you? You know, it is just possible that someone can eat a piece of cheese for some other reason than hating rednecks."
-- Posted on Smirking Chimp website by Wile E. Chimp, Supergenius

Joe has a slightly different take:

Many American liberals believe working class conservatives see them as the enemy---that they stereotype liberals as a bunch of over-educated quasi-queers sucking down cappuccinos at Starbucks or spreading brie at a self-help book signing ... or something like that. We can thank television for such ignorance.

Yet it is no small liberal hubris that assumes working class conservative voters are as obsessed with liberals as liberals are with themselves. Not to pop progressive bubbles, but the working class people I know seldom ever think about liberals. Or conservatives. Hell, they seldom even think about politics. True, most people born working class experience some class resentment when they see the college educated middle class liberals on television. But that is about all.

Liberals are understandably touchy these days. Having recently had their noses broken in a rigged election by the Bushista brownshirts, well, that would make anyone hysterical and paranoid. Or depressed. But it helps to remember this: It is not the blue collars, but the business and professional class neo-conservatives who do all the damned yapping about evil liberal values. Put your political ear to the ground and you will notice that the noise is coming from the religious nutjobs and the neocon professional and semi-professional classes. Urban liberals never believe me, but I'm gonna say again it anyway: Ordinary working class people do not care about abortion, gay marriage, stem cell research, or any of the other happy horse shit the pundits sling around (except gun control.) They really don't. If you ask them about it they will reflexively puke up what they heard on talk radio. But they truly don't care because they are too busy making a living and trying to have a little fun along the way. Not to mention evading the same unpleasant truths as liberals, such as peak oil, or the fact that all Americans are part of the world's worst problems because we consume way too much of everything (The only difference is that working class conservatives express their denial by calling global warming eco-freak horseshit, and liberals pretend that buying a hybrid car is going to make a difference. Ever see how batteries are made? Ever hear of cadmium?)

But he reaches the same conclusion:

Just once I would like to see some liberal icon, say Ted Kennedy, stand up with an sawed-off 12-guage and say, "You can pry this gun from my cold dead hands after I have taken out Sean Hannity and Grover Norquist!" Seriously, liberals gotta heavy up, or they are going to be just another substance to be scraped off Republican shoes. They already are.

What are the Democrats offering working class folks? Do they dare say: "Your health care is non-existent so we're gonna fix it by completely socializing all health care, period. Fuck the upper middle class medical racketeers." Do they stand up and say, "We are going to completely stop the outsourcing of American jobs?" Or that those goddamned fraud elections are over and will never happen again? Are they out there door to door educating the people, connecting the dots for them? Hell no. Instead they field, as one of my readers put it, " ... cheerleaders for exactly the kind of global corporate suck down that is leaving the working class shattered and more vulnerable every day. In the wake of the Kerry disaster, who is now the front-runner for 2008? Hillary."

by Gary Boatwright 2005-05-29 09:51AM | 0 recs
They are just
gearing up to push for the GOP voucher scheme. Remember, LIEberman was consantly boo'd during the primary debates everytime he touted school vouchers.

The DLC and these other idiots are Republicans mascarading inside the Democratic party. The GOP wants to end public education now so  does the DLC. They will keep eroding it until it no longer exists like Roe v Wade.

by Parker 2005-05-29 09:24PM | 0 recs
Your "incidents like this" link
I checked it after I wrote a diary about Reid's speech. Oh well.
by Gary Boatwright 2005-05-30 04:42AM | 0 recs


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