Thursday, February 17, 2011


The New Mexico Democrats lining up behind Susana Martinez' scheme to give grades from A to F to public schools apparently have no idea what they're doing. The reporters who are filing stories for the Albuquerque and Santa Fe papers about this stupid, idiotic, lamebrain grading scheme seem to know even less about it.

One thing that should have occurred to them is that Susana Martinez, until recently a Democrat, who is already is being touted as Republican vice presidential material and will surely be paraded in front of the nation at the 2012 Republican convention in the hope Latinos will be fooled into thinking Republicans give a hoot about them, needs to put forth policies like this one to establish her conservative credentials.

The grading scheme is basically the same thing former Florida Republican Governor Jeb Bush did in Florida. It was one element of his massive assault on Florida's public schools. By extension, it's a piece of the ongoing Republican wet dream of doing away with the last bastion of union membership, public sector employees.

The same grading scheme everyone thinks is so startling is also being implemented in quite a few other states, where Republicans hold sway. There's nothing new or original about it. The only thing that may be new is the apparent ease with which it will sail through the Democratic controlled New Mexico legislature, if the warm welcome its received so far by unwitting Democrats is any indication. I don't even hear anything from the teachers union. The state union president told the Journal they wouldn't support it. That's all she said and that's all I've heard.

Nothing about what follows this scheme. Vouchers, state money going to for profit charter schools, closing down schools with union workforces, more scapegoating of public sector, union employees.

Nothing about pulling the rug out from under students from lower income neighborhoods, where the schools are already in severe straits.

Similar assaults on public sector unions are underway in a number of states, but I hear nothing from our Democratic state legislators about the fact that the attack on teachers, and teacher unions has long been known to be part of the Republican designs to privatize everything and  reduce American workers to slave wages, by, for one, getting rid of unions, of any thought of unions, of the memory of unions, which were responsible, by the way, because of the effect they had on overall wage levels, for the US working class achieving the highest standard of living in the history of the world in the post World War II period, up to the late 1970s.

I haven't heard it screamed from any headlines, but the IRS announced yesterday that incomes in the US dropped last year. Again. Their data show that when inflation is taken into account, American workers made less in 2008 -- an average $33,000 -- than they did in 1988 -- $33,400 -- which is about the time Neoliberalism, or Reaganomics, if you will, really began to bite. Other studies show that US wages have essentially been flat since the late 1970s.

For some reason the major media don't want us to think too long about our declining  standard of living. They'd rather stir up this fake conflict between the private sector and public sector workforces, or stoke Islamaphobia, or raise the specter of brown hordes storming the southern border.

Besides its pernicious nature, Susuana Martinez' grading scheme does nothing to help the schools. Not a thing. Zero. No new teachers. No new schools. No new books. Nothing. Some token money will be handed out, maybe.

Ah, but after the grades are issued, we will know where we stand, no?

No. We already know where we stand. As far as it telling us where we stand, the Martinez scheme is just like doing another study. Having another study done is the classic way government uses to avoid doing something. Instead of doing something to improve the schools, like support them, we're going to spend our time and effort grading the schools. Any number of people could inform Susana Martinez and her out of state education secretary exactly what the problems are in the public school system. Any teacher could tell you. I can tell you. They need more money. They need to stop churning out students who know the answers to test questions but little else. Who don't know how to think critically. Who have no appreciation for the arts, or for anything but material gain. Not their own, unfortunately.

Another thing the IRS pointed out yesterday is that the wealth gap increased again last year. It was at a criminal level already. It's now at the record high levels it was during the era of the robber barons, when, essentially capitalists just backed trucks up to the public till in broad daylight and shoveled money in.

The rich pay no taxes. They refuse to contribute a cent to the common good. Although they get rich using the infrastructure we pay for, they refuse to chip in their fair share, and since they own government, they don't have to.

Labor, as you will recall, creates all wealth. Our labor. More and more of that wealth goes into the pockets of the rich. We never see it. The greed and selfishness of the rich is the reason governments lack money, the reason private and public sector employees are taking wage and benefit cuts, the reason our public schools are in the shape they're in. Keep that thought in mind, that the rich just keep funneling larger and larger percentages of our money into their accounts while we and the country go to hell, and then think about Susana Martinez' stupid, immoral, criminal little grading scheme.

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