[ Photo: William Ayers, Distinguished Professor of Education and Senior University Scholar at the University of Illinois at Chicago, compares tattoos with a developing revolutionary. When asked the location of Ayers' tattoo[s], our young comrade replied, “lemmie [sic] just tell you this, we both wear red underwear.” ]
Sol Stern has a typically-clear piece on Bill Ayers and education reform. Ayers is a man with a simple past and simple present [deep and high-volume, but simple] made unnecessarily complex by media, misunderstanding and intellectual dishonesty. Stern has been one a tireless critic of Ayers, and his opposition is independent of this election cycle – as is mine.
The tendentious, ill-informed dolts at Education Week refuse to recognize this, but I’ll tackle that another time.
“I’ve studied Mr. Ayers’s work for years and read most of his books. His hatred of America is as virulent as when he planted a bomb at the Pentagon. And this hatred informs his educational “reform” efforts. Of course, Mr. Obama isn’t going to appoint him to run the education department. But the media mainstreaming of a figure like Mr. Ayers could have terrible consequences for the country’s politics and public schools.
The education career of William Ayers began when he enrolled at Columbia University’s Teachers College at the age of 40. He planned to stay long enough to get a teaching credential. But he experienced an epiphany in a course offered by Maxine Greene, who urged future teachers to tell children about the evils of the existing, oppressive capitalist social order. In her essay “In Search of a Critical Pedagogy,” for example, Ms. Greene wrote of an education that would portray “homelessness as a consequence of the private dealings of landlords, an arms buildup as a consequence of corporate decisions, racial exclusion as a consequence of a private property-holder’s choice.”
That was music to the ears of the ex-Weatherman. Mr. Ayers acquired a doctorate in education and landed an Ed school appointment at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC).”
Few – very few – know of Maxine Greene. For her Foundation’s own take on Maxine, pop over and read “Philosopher. Imaginer. Inquirer…” Good spin, kids.
I’m stunned at how much has been made of Ayers in recent months relative to how little his scholarship has been examined. If this excerpt is any indication, Stern’s book will explain it all quite clearly:
“He [Ayers] still hopes for a revolutionary upheaval that will finally bring down American capitalism and imperialism, but this time around Mr. Ayers sows the seeds of resistance and rebellion in America’s future teachers. Thus, education students signing up for a course Mr. Ayers teaches at UIC, “On Urban Education,” can read these exhortations from the course description: “Homelessness, crime, racism, oppression — we have the resources and knowledge to fight and overcome these things. We need to look beyond our isolated situations, to define our problems globally. We cannot be child advocates . . . in Chicago or New York and ignore the web that links us with the children of India or Palestine.”
The readings Mr. Ayers assigns to his university students are as intellectually diverse as a political commissar’s indoctrination session in one of his favorite communist tyrannies. The list for his urban education course includes the bible of the critical pedagogy movement, Brazilian Marxist Paolo Freire’s “Pedagogy of the Oppressed”; two books by Mr. Ayers himself; and “Teaching to Transgress” by bell hooks (lower case), the radical black feminist writer.”
It isn’t exaggeration, it isn’t hyperbole, it isn’t fiction.
Stern’s closing is sober and realistic:
“If Barack Obama wins on Nov. 4, the “guy in the neighborhood” is not likely to get an invitation to the Lincoln bedroom. But with the Democrats controlling all three branches of government, there’s a real danger that Mr. Ayers’s social-justice movement in the schools will get even more room to maneuver and grow.”
Sen. Obama said the other night that Bill Ayers would have no place in an Obama government if that’s our fate. Oddly enough, Ayers is more destructive under the radar than being a central blip.
UPDATE: Just heard Stern interviewed by Dennis Prager. It’s worth a listen – go to iTunes Store, search for Dennis Prager and download the 10.16.2008 episode called “Prager H2: Round Three, Two.” It’s free.