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Thursday, June 19

Whereupon Professor Steve Diamond encounters the Jabberwock. The short version of his latest discussion of the Obama-Ayers relationship

Pundita readers are a hardy breed but even the most dedicated have written me on occasion to ask, "Have you ever thought of chopping your longest posts into say, eight or ten?" Why no I haven't. But while Steve Diamond has nowhere near topped my record, his latest post, as he warns readers, is on the long side.

So, this being a war (from my point of view) to stop Barack Obama and The Gang of Four from taking over the White House, I will perform a public service for the multi-taskers by presenting the highlights. Of course my view of the points Professor Diamond covers on his Global Labor and the Global Economy blog should be supplemented with a reading of his post, titled That “Guy Who Lives in My Neighborhood”: Behind the Ayers-Obama Relationship

Diamond cut short his vacation to respond to an unsolicited email from Linda Darling-Hammond, a professor at the Stanford University School of Education. Darling-Hammond is also an education advisor to the Obama campaign. To summarize my understanding of her points:
Jabber, jabber, bullshit, bullshit -- jabber. Jabber; bullshit, bullshit -- jabber? Bullshit, jabber! Bullshit bullshit jabber; bullshit. (Jabber jabber jabber: bullshit.) Bullshit? Bullshit; jabber jabber:

1. Jabber jabber bullshit (bullshit jabber).
2. Bullshit jabber bullshit, jabber.
Diamond replied with patience and grace, then Darling-Hammond replied, and this went back and forth until I think it occurred to DH that it would be wiser not to continue to nail herself down in writing. To boil it down:
In her reply, Professor Darling-Hammond suggests that the two [education] blueprints are, in fact, closer than might be apparent to the naked, or untrained, eye [...]

Of course, this only seems to beg the obvious question: if the two blueprints are the same, then why are there, well, two of them? And why do they use different terms to mean, well, one and the same educational policy?

Professor Darling-Hammond says she is not sure what “reparations” idea I am referring to. If not, then perhaps there is another “educational debt” [to people of color] idea floating around out there proposed by Professor Darling-Hammond’s FED colleague, Professor Ladson-Billings, that is not rooted in the reparations argument of Randall Robinson. But if there are, in fact, two versions of what Ladson-Billings means by “educational debt” I have not been able to find the evidence for it.

Professor Darling-Hammond has generously offered to speak with me directly about these issues and I look forward to that conversation, the results of which I will be happy to share with my readers.

But for now I am left with the conclusion that the purpose of Professor Darling-Hammond’s unsolicited communications about my blog was an attempt to discourage anyone from thinking that she, Senator Obama or the Obama campaign’s views on education have anything to do with reparations or Bill Ayers.

I can certainly understand why the Obama campaign would see the tactical political advantage of doing so now – but it seems to me that should have been thought of long ago, when Senator Obama first began to work with Bill Ayers or when Professor Darling-Hammond first encountered the idea of repayment of the “educational debt.”

While I take her at her word that while she “knows” Bill Ayers she has not talked with him about the policies of the Obama campaign, I am not entirely convinced that Professor Darling-Hammond, much less the wider electorate, understands the close relationship that has existed, at least in the past, between Bill Ayers and Senator Obama when it comes to education policy.
As a bonus prize, Diamond leads the reader through the maze of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (CAC).

If you've been following this blog for weeks, you'll remember the CAC. That's the matching fund that Bill Ayers set up, and which Barack Obama chaired, and which at last count only a handful of blogs, two websites, one expert opinion report and the John Batchelor Show have been willing to tell the public about.

This raises the unsettling question: is the entire American news industry covering for Barack Obama or just brain dead?

But not to digress; what we find at the end of the CAC maze is a horror story.

After the fools at the Annenberg Foundation coughed up the largest gift to public education in history, in response to a grant proposal co-authored by a former terrorist, there is not one shred of objective evidence that the CAC made a difference toward improving public education in Chicago.

The story is so awful, I warn that if you're an American parent with children in public school you will be crying by the time you finish reading what the CAC did with all that charity -- which, it turns out, nobody exactly knows.

However, the CAC was a smashing success from the viewpoint of Bill Ayers and education theorists in his cadre:
... in 1993 the CAC grant proposal was seen by Ayers as an attempt, in part, to rescue the [Chicago Local School Councils -- LSCs.] The grant proposal states,

“We envision a process to unleash at the school site the initiative and courage of LSC’s….” Later, it states “[t]he Local Schools Councils…are important both for guiding educational improvement and as a means of strengthening America’s democratic traditions.”

As I have argued elsewhere on this blog, I do not think that the link made here between the LSC’s and “democracy” is, in fact, accurate. I think that such “councils” look eerily similar to efforts by regimes like those in Nicaragua under the Sandinistas and Venezuela under Chavez to impose control over teachers and their independent unions by an authoritarian regime.

Thus, it is not a surprise to me that Bill Ayers has traveled several times in recent years to Venezuela where he has spoken in front of Hugo Chavez and has enthusiastically applauded that regime’s efforts to link education policy to the Chavez “revolution.”

As Ayers stated in a speech there in November 2006 “La educacion es Revolucion!” He applauded “the profound educational reforms underway here in Venezuela under the leadership of President Chavez” and he said he “share[d] the belief that education is the motor-force of revolution.”

Thus, in the midst of an intense political battle in Chicago over the LSC role in the schools, securing the CAC money was very important to the LSC reform effort backed by Ayers and Obama from the late 1980s. The Ayers/Hallett proposal stated that the money would provide:

“a powerful catalyst for Chicago educators and parents to build on this base toward a sustained and serious advance….This is the critical step, that must be taken now, and the time is now.”

Indeed, the CAC proposal effort led by Ayers and Hallett was a critical part of what the Project Director of the CAC, Ken Rolling, described as the “political wars” being waged over schools in Chicago at that time. Ken Rolling was a veteran of those wars because in his previous role he had been a program officer of the Woods Fund, which supported the school reform effort through its grants, including grants to Barack Obama’s Developing Communities Project. [...]
Diamond explains the political battle. And just to make sure he ruins what's left of your week, he points up what was definitely a close working relationship between Ayers and Obama regarding the CAC.

Barf bag, anyone?

Diamond will now be returning to his well-deserved vacation. His next appearance on John Batchelor's show is tentatively scheduled for July 6.

Diamond's June 15 discussion with Batchelor about Bill Ayers's "education debt" jabber is available here.

Note: His post mentions the term "racialist," which he applies instead of "racist" to Ayers's educational debt ideas. Here is Diamond's explanation of the term.

Is he splitting hairs? Considering all he's done to ecduate us about the New Authoritarian Left and the Ayers-Obama relationship, I say let him split hairs to his heart's content.
John Batchelor has written his take on Steve Diamond's latest post, and puts the emphasis on the Ayers-Obama relationship. As usual, John ties up everything neatly.
This Pundita entry is cross-posted at RezkoWatch. Merry has found a great picture of the Jabberwock -- actually, two -- to accompany the post
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