Yes, Bill Ayers is a “School Destroyer” – Social Justice Ain’t All It’s Cracked Up to Be

William Ayers, Scholar

[ 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.

Stern says:

“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.

I’d like to see Fordham be a bit more aggressive on Ayers. Fewer highfalutin denunciations, a bit more honest populism. Maybe a little more like this – you’ve heard of this guy, yes?

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.

20 Responses to “Yes, Bill Ayers is a “School Destroyer” – Social Justice Ain’t All It’s Cracked Up to Be”

  1. Focus, Matthew, focus. The issues are the economy and the war. Maybe even five minutes for <

    Sorry if that makes your candidate look bad, but that’s not what’s important right now. And neither is Ayers.

  2. Stephen,

    This has nothing to do with the election, as I’ve said many, many times – and will have to continue to say, thanks to intellectually dishonest folks like you.

    It’s one reason why I made it a point to reference Sen. Obama in the debate. He said quite clearly that Prof. Ayers won’t be involved in his government. I believe him.

    Unfortunately, there won’t be any sort of referendum on Ayers et al. That’s precisely why some of address the issue and take it more seriously than others.

  3. Dr. Slogan says:

    Of all the Obama’s shady associates Bill Ayers probably matters the most, because he is the key to understanding the agenda of the camp Obama represents and the the means they are going to use to achieve their goals. Once Obama gives education to Ayers and his followers, the next generation of American kids will be conditioned to believe in the same ideas that drove Ayers to bomb the Pentagon. And then American parents will start hearing questions like this one.

    Socialism in its ugliest shape is coming to us if Obama gets elected, but people who vote for him will realize this only when it’s too late.

    - Jeff Tyler (Dr. Slogan)

  4. Colin says:

    he’s gonna bomb happppinesssssss
    he’s gonna bomb freedom

  5. Maybe the economy and not Ayers is “what’s important right now.” As Mac says: he’s just a washed-up old 60s radical (maybe a little bit more intelligent than Ward Churchill) but what is important is Obama’s lies about the depth of their association and the implications of that.

  6. Jeff,

    Obama may or may not embrace more of Ayers’ education agenda than he already has, but he won’t be the one to give them education. Ayers et al have already taken much of it from the sympathetic, undereducated education school professoriate.

  7. Patrick,

    I agree that the economy and foreign affairs are far more important right now than education. I don’t have a problem admitting that, though I’ve gotten some gasps from edu-weenies who rail on about how nothing is more important than education. I guess I’m a realist.

    The influence of Freire, Ayers, Greene, and many, many others is broad and strong within education. We desperately need to recognize that. Letting them fly under the radar for decades – and we’ve let them – caused many of the problems we’ve got right now in teacher education programs.

    I’ve tried to stick to Ayers on this site because I don’t find the issue to relate to this election [for me, it doesn't] and I generally don’t talk politics here [though others seem to think I'm a wildly partisan idealogue who sacrifices babies at the altar of all things right-wing]. But if I were treat the politics of it all… I’d agree that the dishonesty and obfuscation re: Ayers/Obama is troubling. Everyone at that level of politics or business knows of or associates with scoundrels – it’s almost impossible to avoid. I expect it and recognize it as reality.

    But Obama could have played this situation differently. He could have been forthcoming, open and honest not only about his relationship, but also with his views on Ayers’ value to the communities [education and Chicago]. If I were Ayers, that’s certainly what I would have liked to have seen.

    And I understand why the Obama camp didn’t. Nothing to gain, everything to lose.

  8. Matthew, education is THE issue of all time (which is why I read your blog) but sadly not in this election cycle. Besides no one is talking about Ayers’ pernicious influence on education only his past terrorism as if the baloney he propagates isn’t intellectual terrorism.

  9. Patrick,

    I’m with you there. What disheartens me so much on the Ayers debate is exactly what you’ve said – that they aren’t talking about Ayers’ scholarship and work re: education. That’s the real story and that’s the important story.

    Perhaps when some of us are still talking about it after November 4, others will admit that these ed. philosophies need attention. Those in education who treat Ayers as some desperate measure by the McCain campaign to make up group in these last weeks are not only missing the point., but deliberately and dishonestly attempting to deflect and delegitimize criticism.

    I’d rather they just got it all out in the open and discussed it.

  10. Cristi says:

    It is sad that most of these OBAMABOTS don’t get why Ayers is important. Obama is an unknown, and most of that is because he has been pretty deceptive about his past, only fessing up to what he HAS to but not in enough detail to paint a picture of who he is or what he represents. He is a MASTER at telling a person just enough not to incriminate himself. So why hasn’t he been more forthcoming?

    When we look at who he has been working with and politically active with for his ENTIRE CAREER, we see groups like ACORN, professors like William Ayers, and politically charged community leaders like Jeremiah Wright (and there are other troubling Obama comrades if one bothers to look) He has been immersed in far left Chigago politics for decades.

    Obama shows a consistent pattern and a career made working with these people to enact social CHANGE (changes that embody the world view of these characters). Sadly, no one has really bothered to find out who Obama really is to determine what kinds of changes he is talking about! Stanley Kurtz has done some incredible investigative journalism regarding these subjects. Just google his name and pull up his articles for the National Review. Change for the sake of change is stupid! I don’t think McCain/Palin will SAVE US either, but their smaller government mentality is a better bet than Barak “don’t worry I’ll take care of you” Obama!

    The fact is, WE have to take care of ourselves, and quit looking for our leaders to do it while we remain asleep. If people don’t like Washington, they only need to look at themselves, because no leader can do what we don’t LET them do. And people want to give MORE power to Washington? Incredible….and sad.

  11. Cristi,

    My hope for public education is that we use some of the knowledge we’re gaining during this election cycle to take a hard look at schools and school movements after November 4th. There’s plenty of information there and it’s new to most people – I desperately hope that it doesn’t fade away after we choose our President.

  12. Cristi says:


    It is true, that for years I had been asleep. I thought just because I watched the news and listened to talk radio that I had a handle on the issues and considered myself politically well informed. As I began to hear more gossip about Obama and Ayers, I began to dig a little deeper. When I stumbled across a few articles about William Ayers, and discovered that an ex-terrorist was so active in the field of Education, I began to really be concerned. I also realized how much I don’t know! (which I think is the first step in education!!)

    Sure, for a long time I have realized our universities were full of people like Ward Churchill and his ilk…and I had a few professors myself who liked to throw in their political comments from time to time. I even knew that the public schools included these types. My mother is a high school teacher, and my father just retired from the Louisiana State Vocational System (he was an administrator for years). Because of their “stories” when it was time to enroll my own child in school, I felt most comfortable enrolling him in a small local private christian school (they teach ABEKA)…he has gone there for the past 8 years. But I realize now, that merely opting out may not be enough, and that I should care about these poor kids who have no other choices! I thought that merely giving them my kids’ tax dollars while I spent my own money on my child was enough. I though being politically informed and voting was enough. But it’s not, is it?

    I am not sure if you saw the You Tube Video that shows the teen aged african american kids being marched into a room military style chanting these political things and Obama’s name etc. I still don’t understand quite what it is referencing or who exactly was involved. I had wondered if it wasn’t part of what Ayers was doing in Chigaco with his small schools project or something similar. It made me so sad to see how these young kids were being manipulated and indoctrinated….not educated at all!! It angered me to the nth degree to see that, and to know that people like William Ayers and Barak Obama were involved in performing “experiments” with children from low-income school districts….the most helpless in this country, made me burn with hatred for people like them….and I am not a hater!

    But I know I need to channel that into something positive. I have a renewed interest in combating people like these, who have relied so long on the fact that we are asleep, and go unchallenged in their deeds. I am only beginning to seek my role, and as I still have two small children at home, don’t have much time to be active yet. But I want to prepare, and am starting now. I will do something. I am asleep no more.

  13. Cristi,

    The best thing we can do is familiarize ourselves with the work that they’ve done. As far as education goes, that Ayers was a terrorist is less relevant than the work he’s doing right now. Check out some of his books:

    “Race Course in White Supremacy” will be out shortly:

    “White supremacy and its troubling endurance in American life is debated in these personal essays by two veteran political activists. Arguing that white supremacy has been the dominant political system in the United States since its earliest days—and that it is still very much with us—the discussion points to unexamined bigotry in the criminal justice system, election processes, war policy, and education. The book draws upon the authors’ own confrontations with authorities during the Vietnam era, reasserts their belief that racism and war are interwoven issues, and offers personal stories about their lives today as parents, teachers, and reformers.”

    This is Ayers’ education reform, and we should all be examining it.

  14. Al Czervic says:

    If you want to reform the education process, you have to remove the thugs at the AFT and UUP from the equation. They’re just as corrupt as the Teamsters and extort union dues and send it straight to Obama.

    In fact, lawn signs in the area for Obama (the beige ones) have a large AFT at the top of them, and have been planted by teachers who were told they had to plant them.

    Until the education system is freed from thug tyranny, nothing will change.

  15. Al,

    I wish I had the link to back this up, but I’ve forgotten it… a tiny study was done of the locations of lobbyists’ offices in proximity to the capitol building in Albany. The more money/power in the lobby, the closer their office seemed to be.

    Any guess whose office was the closest? ;)

  16. Cable Guy,

    I won’t comment much because that’s not an education issue – I try to stick to the ed on this site – but I’m surprised at how the Democrats and Sen. Obama’s camp have dealt with this challenge. I truly don’t understand why a full release of documentation that could potentially nip the issue in the bud is such a hardship.

    If Berg is right, oh boy. The resulting controversy will make the Florida election case look like a jaywalking charge.

  17. Colin says:

    The Obama wasn’t born in America is really stupid. Occam’s razor, people. Even Rethuglirrific site Hot Air says it’s garbage:


    Stephen Downes will EAT you if you keep mentioning National Review like that.

  18. Cristi says:

    In your post, it is not exactly clear what you are talking about. I don’t think I referenced anything about Barak Obama’s birthplace. I am not one to believe anything I read, but always remain slightly skeptical and I do take note of the source. I always try to gather information from as many sources as possible and compare notes from all of them. I also deeply consider one’s motivation when I gather information, as well as a person’s attitude. If a person is filled with idealism, hate, bigotry, or arrogance, for example, there is no way they are not blinded by it. It always comes out in what they say or write. Whatever is said or printed with a spirit of mockery is not seriously considered, but I do take note of the tone and attitude of the post…even when reading The National Review!

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