Progressive Calendar 04.12.11
From: David Shove (
Date: Tue, 12 Apr 2011 14:49:14 -0700 (PDT)
             P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R    04.12.11

1. Worldview      4.12 5:30pm
2. People talking 4.12 6:30pm
3. Vs grand jury  4.12

4. Chris Hedges - Why the United States is destroying its education system

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From: Headwaters Foundation for Justice <jodi [at]>
Subject: Worldview 4.12 5:30pm

Movement Building
Tuesday, April 12th!
5:30PM - 7:00PM
Riverview Cafe and Wine Bar
3747 42nd Ave S
Minneapolis Minnesota 55406

Dan McGrath of TakeAction MN relates the importance of dreaming big with a
practical approach, posing answers to the question, "How can we
incorporate ideology into organizing without creating more divisions?"
Worldview campaigning is important as organizers atttempt to replace the
current narrative and open channels of communication previously clogged by
competing perspectives.  Help us develop a set of priorities that
incorporates the voices of all people.

Free and open to the public!
Food and drink available for purchase.

--------2 of 4--------

From: patty <pattypax [at]>
Subject: People talking 4.12 6:30pm

Conversational Salon (Open Conversation)
[Enough fingering your keyboard and staring at a screen! Meet and
talk to people face to face - if you dare! -ed]

Pax Salons ( )
are held (unless otherwise noted in advance):
Tuesdays, 6:30 to 8:30 pm.
Mad Hatter's Tea House,
943 W 7th, St Paul, MN

Salons are free but donations encouraged for program and treats.
Call 651-227-3228 or 651-227-2511 for information.

--------3 of 4--------

From: kim defranco <kimdefranco [at]>
Subject: Vs grand jury 4.12

Call Obama, Holder and Fitzgerald April 12. Stop the Grand Jury!

to Fitzgerald, Holder and Obama
Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Grand Jury is still on its witch hunt and the FBI is still harassing
activists. This must stop.
Please make these calls:

1. Call U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald at 312-353-5300. Then dial 0
(zero) for operator and ask to leave a message with the Duty Clerk.

2. Call U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder 202-353-1555

3. Call President Obama at 202-456-1111  Suggested text: "My name is
__________, I am from _______(city), in ______(state). I am calling _____
to demand he call off the Grand Jury and stop FBI repression against the
anti-war and Palestine solidarity movements. I oppose U.S. government
political repression and support the right to free speech and the right to
assembly of the 23 activists subpoenaed. We will not be criminalized. Tell
him to stop this McCarthy-type witch hunt against international solidarity

If your call doesn't go through, try again later.

Update: More than 1400 activists have signed the Pledge to resist FBI and
Grand Jury Repression (via the web or the paper version at local
protests), committing to join the national day of protest when anti-war
and international solidarity activists are ordered to appear in front of
the Chicago Grand Jury or are indicted. If you have not signed, click
here. ( By
signing, you will be on the priority contact list for the emergency

We demand:
-- Call Off the Grand Jury Witch-hunt Against International Solidarity
-- Support Free Speech!
-- Support the Right to Organize!
-- Stop FBI Repression!
-- International Solidarity Is Not a Crime!
-- Stop the Criminalization of Arab and Muslim Communities!

Background: Fitzgerald ordered FBI raids on anti-war and solidarity activists'
homes and subpoenaed fourteen activists in Chicago, Minneapolis, and Michigan on
September 24, 2010. All 14 refused to speak before the Grand Jury in October.
Then, 9 more Palestine solidarity activists, most Arab-Americans, were
subpoenaed to appear at the Grand Jury on January 25, 2011, launching renewed
protests. There are now 23 who assert their right to not participate in
Fitzgerald's witch-hunt.

The Grand Jury is a secret and closed inquisition, with no judge, and no
press. The U.S. Attorney controls the entire proceedings and hand picks
the jurors, and the solidarity activists are not allowed a lawyer. Even
the date when the Grand Jury ends is a secret.

So please make these calls to those in charge of the repression aimed
against anti-war leaders and the growing Palestine solidarity movement.

Email us to let us know your results. Send to info [at]

In Struggle,
the Committee to Stop FBI Repression

[I can't imagine Obama & Co care at all; these calls will not affect them.
They will however affect the callers - sooner or later - probably later,
maybe much later the callers will get fed up enough to do something more
radical. Viz reject the system as a whole, rather than committing the
Obama-Dem mistake again in 2012. Most of them will tell themselves they
have to, given the fact that we have no choice is this so-called
"democratic" country. Vote for Obama in 2012 and guarantee 4 more years of
hopeless calling. -ed]

--------4 of 4--------

Why the United States Is Destroying Its Education System
by Chris Hedges
Published on Monday, April 11, 2011 by

A nation that destroys its systems of education, degrades its public
information, guts its public libraries and turns its airwaves into
vehicles for cheap, mindless amusement becomes deaf, dumb and blind. It
prizes test scores above critical thinking and literacy. It celebrates
rote vocational training and the singular, amoral skill of making money.
It churns out stunted human products, lacking the capacity and vocabulary
to challenge the assumptions and structures of the corporate state. It
funnels them into a caste system of drones and systems managers. It
transforms a democratic state into a feudal system of corporate masters
and serfs.

Teachers, their unions under attack, are becoming as replaceable as
minimum-wage employees at Burger King. We spurn real teachers - those with
the capacity to inspire children to think, those who help the young
discover their gifts and potential - and replace them with instructors who
teach to narrow, standardized tests. These instructors obey. They teach
children to obey. And that is the point. The No Child Left Behind program,
modeled on the "Texas Miracle," is a fraud. It worked no better than our
deregulated financial system. But when you shut out debate these dead
ideas are self-perpetuating.

Passing bubble tests celebrates and rewards a peculiar form of analytical
intelligence. This kind of intelligence is prized by money managers and
corporations. They don't want employees to ask uncomfortable questions or
examine existing structures and assumptions. They want them to serve the
system. These tests produce men and women who are just literate and
numerate enough to perform basic functions and service jobs. The tests
elevate those with the financial means to prepare for them. They reward
those who obey the rules, memorize the formulas and pay deference to
authority. Rebels, artists, independent thinkers, eccentrics and
iconoclasts - those who march to the beat of their own drum - are weeded

"Imagine," said a public school teacher in New York City, who asked that I
not use his name, "going to work each day knowing a great deal of what you
are doing is fraudulent, knowing in no way are you preparing your students
for life in an ever more brutal world, knowing that if you don't continue
along your scripted test prep course and indeed get better at it you will
be out of a job. Up until very recently, the principal of a school was
something like the conductor of an orchestra: a person who had deep
experience and knowledge of the part and place of every member and every
instrument. In the past 10 years we've had the emergence of both [Mayor]
Mike Bloomberg's Leadership Academy and Eli Broad's Superintendents
Academy, both created exclusively to produce instant principals and
superintendents who model themselves after CEOs. How is this kind of thing
even legal? How are such "academies" accredited? What quality of leader
needs a "leadership academy"? What kind of society would allow such people
to run their children's schools? The high-stakes tests may be worthless as
pedagogy but they are a brilliant mechanism for undermining the school
systems, instilling fear and creating a rationale for corporate takeover.
There is something grotesque about the fact the education reform is being
led not by educators but by financers and speculators and billionaires".

Teachers, under assault from every direction, are fleeing the profession.
Even before the "reform" blitzkrieg we were losing half of all teachers
within five years after they started work - and these were people who
spent years in school and many thousands of dollars to become teachers.
How does the country expect to retain dignified, trained professionals
under the hostility of current conditions? I suspect that the hedge fund
managers behind our charter schools system - whose primary concern is
certainly not with education - are delighted to replace real teachers with
nonunionized, poorly trained instructors. To truly teach is to instill the
values and knowledge which promote the common good and protect a society
from the folly of historical amnesia. The utilitarian, corporate ideology
embraced by the system of standardized tests and leadership academies has
no time for the nuances and moral ambiguities inherent in a liberal arts
education. Corporatism is about the cult of the self. It is about personal
enrichment and profit as the sole aim of human existence. And those who do
not conform are pushed aside.

"It is extremely dispiriting to realize that you are in effect lying to
these kids by insinuating that this diet of corporate reading programs and
standardized tests are preparing them for anything," said this teacher,
who feared he would suffer reprisals from school administrators if they
knew he was speaking out. "It is even more dispiriting to know that your
livelihood depends increasingly on maintaining this lie. You have to ask
yourself why are hedge fund managers suddenly so interested in the
education of the urban poor? The main purpose of the testing craze is not
to grade the students but to grade the teacher".

"I cannot say for certain - not with the certainty of a Bill Gates or a
Mike Bloomberg who pontificate with utter certainty over a field in which
they know absolutely nothing - but more and more I suspect that a major
goal of the reform campaign is to make the work of a teacher so degrading
and insulting that the dignified and the truly educated teachers will
simply leave while they still retain a modicum of self-respect," he added.
"In less than a decade we been stripped of autonomy and are increasingly
micromanaged. Students have been given the power to fire us by failing
their tests. Teachers have been likened to pigs at a trough and blamed for
the economic collapse of the United States. In New York, principals have
been given every incentive, both financial and in terms of control, to
replace experienced teachers with 22-year-old untenured rookies. They cost
less. They know nothing. They are malleable and they are vulnerable to

The demonizing of teachers is another public relations feint, a way for
corporations to deflect attention from the theft of some $17 billion in
wages, savings and earnings among American workers and a landscape where
one in six workers is without employment. The speculators on Wall Street
looted the U.S. Treasury. They stymied any kind of regulation. They have
avoided criminal charges. They are stripping basic social services. And
now they are demanding to run our schools and universities.

"Not only have the reformers removed poverty as a factor, they've removed
students' aptitude and motivation as factors," said this teacher, who is
in a teachers union. "They seem to believe that students are something
like plants where you just add water and place them in the sun of your
teaching and everything blooms. This is a fantasy that insults both
student and teacher. The reformers have come up with a variety of
insidious schemes pushed as steps to professionalize the profession of
teaching. As they are all businessmen who know nothing of the field, it
goes without saying that you do not do this by giving teachers autonomy
and respect. They use merit pay in which teachers whose students do well
on bubble tests will receive more money and teachers whose students do not
do so well on bubble tests will receive less money. Of course, the only
way this could conceivably be fair is to have an identical group of
students in each class - an impossibility. The real purposes of merit pay
are to divide teachers against themselves as they scramble for the
brighter and more motivated students and to further institutionalize the
idiot notion of standardized tests. There is a certain diabolical
intelligence at work in both of these".

"If the Bloomberg administration can be said to have succeeded in
anything," he said, "they have succeeded in turning schools into stress
factories where teachers are running around wondering if it's possible to
please their principals and if their school will be open a year from now,
if their union will still be there to offer some kind of protection, if
they will still have jobs next year. This is not how you run a school
system. It's how you destroy one. The reformers and their friends in the
media have created a Manichean world of bad teachers and effective
teachers. In this alternative universe there are no other factors. Or, all
other factors - poverty, depraved parents, mental illness and
malnutrition - are all excuses of the Bad Teacher that can be overcome by
hard work and the Effective Teacher".

The truly educated become conscious. They become self-aware. They do not
lie to themselves. They do not pretend that fraud is moral or that
corporate greed is good. They do not claim that the demands of the
marketplace can morally justify the hunger of children or denial of
medical care to the sick. They do not throw 6 million families from their
homes as the cost of doing business. Thought is a dialogue with one's
inner self. Those who think ask questions, questions those in authority do
not want asked. They remember who we are, where we come from and where we
should go. They remain eternally skeptical and distrustful of power. And
they know that this moral independence is the only protection from the
radical evil that results from collective unconsciousness. The capacity to
think is the only bulwark against any centralized authority that seeks to
impose mindless obedience. There is a huge difference, as Socrates
understood, between teaching people what to think and teaching them how to
think. Those who are endowed with a moral conscience refuse to commit
crimes, even those sanctioned by the corporate state, because they do not
in the end want to live with criminals - themselves.

"It is better to be at odds with the whole world than, being one, to be at
odds with myself," Socrates said.

Those who can ask the right questions are armed with the capacity to make
a moral choice, to defend the good in the face of outside pressure. And
this is why the philosopher Immanuel Kant puts the duties we have to
ourselves before the duties we have to others. The standard for Kant is
not the biblical idea of self-love - love thy neighbor as thyself, do unto
others as you would have them do unto you - but self-respect. What brings
us meaning and worth as human beings is our ability to stand up and pit
ourselves against injustice and the vast, moral indifference of the
universe. Once justice perishes, as Kant knew, life loses all meaning.
Those who meekly obey laws and rules imposed from the outside - including
religious laws - are not moral human beings. The fulfillment of an imposed
law is morally neutral. The truly educated make their own wills serve the
higher call of justice, empathy and reason. Socrates made the same
argument when he said it is better to suffer wrong than to do wrong.

"The greatest evil perpetrated," Hannah Arendt wrote, "is the evil
committed by nobodies, that is, by human beings who refuse to be persons".

As Arendt pointed out, we must trust only those who have this
self-awareness. This self-awareness comes only through consciousness. It
comes with the ability to look at a crime being committed and say "I
can't". We must fear, Arendt warned, those whose moral system is built
around the flimsy structure of blind obedience. We must fear those who
cannot think. Unconscious civilizations become totalitarian wastelands.

"The greatest evildoers are those who don't remember because they have
never given thought to the matter, and, without remembrance, nothing can
hold them back," Arendt writes. "For human beings, thinking of past
matters means moving in the dimension of depth, striking roots and thus
stabilizing themselves, so as not to be swept away by whatever may occur -
the Zeitgeist or History or simple temptation. The greatest evil is not
radical, it has no roots, and because it has no roots it has no
limitations, it can go to unthinkable extremes and sweep over the whole

Copyright  2011 Truthdig, L.L.C.
 Chris Hedges writes a regular column for Hedges graduated
from Harvard Divinity School and was for nearly two decades a foreign
correspondent for The New York Times. He is the author of many books,
including: War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning, What Every Person Should
Know About War, and American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on
America.  His most recent book is Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy
and the Triumph of Spectacle.


   - David Shove             shove001 [at]
   rhymes with clove         Progressive Calendar
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