Monday, October 14, 2013

Special Interests You Say Johnny ? We Need to Talk

Back when The Arnold was running California off a cliff he made the fatal mistake of calling union nurses  "a special interest group." They retaliated with a 60 second commercial produced by a Hollywood film maker, they hired a blimp to fly over a fund raiser and taunt him as he attempted to schmooze his own special interest groupies and they took out a full page ad lambasting him in a D.C. newspaper when Arnold was in town for some governor's get together.  Maybe it's me but it seems there'd be some awareness on the part of a so called public official like John King to avoid certain terminologies. 

Ahh but I am naive. Why would someone who breathes the rarefied ether of Madame Tisch, Regentus Emeritoid Bob Bennett and Prince Andrew Cuomo trouble himself with petty trifles like loaded words? His press release states that all he really wanted to do was have a discussion. Well, here read it for your own self :

“I was looking forward to engaging in a dialogue with parents across the state. I was eagerly anticipating answering questions from parents about the Common Core and other reforms we’re moving ahead with in New York State. Unfortunately, the forums sponsored by the New York State PTA have been co-opted by special interests whose stated goal is to ‘dominate’ the questions and manipulate the forum,” King wrote.

“The disruptions caused by the special interests have deprived parents of the opportunity to listen, ask questions and offer comments. Essentially, dialogue has been denied. In light of the clear intention of these special interest groups to continue to manipulate the forum, the PTA-sponsored events scheduled have been suspended.”

Awww, poor little fella was looking forward to engaging in dialogue with parents. I guess talking for an hour and a half then interrupting the parents repeatedly during their alloted 20 minutes is Johnny's version of a dialogue. 

The forums he tells us were co-opted by special interests. Let's have a look at one of them -- Mr. Gregory McCrea, a 20 year teacher and parent of a second grade boy named Liam:

Owch. Check out the conflict of interest in the assigned readings that happen to be written by E.D. Hirsch, Founder and CEO of Core Knowledge Foundation who happens to have a $12.9 Million contract with NYSED. Really, John King? Did you want to tell us some more about the influence of special interests? Look at the bitch slapped expression on King's face after the speaker insists that his contract be terminated and he be removed from the Commissioner's post. Priceless. And if you watch his body language the crossed arms at the end of the ass kicking is generally associated with low testosterone levels and high cortisol levels which earn the nickname "Low Power Pose" from Harvard researcher Amy Cuddy. He is eating dirt. 

Of further interest on the topic of Special Interests I happened to stumble across a Pearson textbook companion online purely by accident. Regardez :

Movements of large numbers of people who are frustrated with government policies have always been with us in the United States. Blacks, women, Native Americans, and the economic underdogs have, at various times, organized themselves into movements. Elements in interest-group power include size, resources, cohesiveness, leadership, and techniques, especially the ability to contribute to candidates and political parties, as well as the ability to fund lobbyists. But the actual power of an interest group stems from the manner in which these elements relate to the political and governmental environment in which the interest group operates. For many decades interest groups have engaged in lobbying, but these efforts have become far more significant as groups become more deeply involved in the electoral process, especially through the expanded use of political action committees (PACs). Interest groups also take their messages directly to the public through mass mailings, advertising campaigns, and cooperative lobbying.

Not much in the above excerpt that would describe Mr. McCrea or the assembled bunch of frustrated and pissed off parents and teachers. But when we get to the part about the ability to contribute to candidates and political parties, as well as the ability to fund lobbyists it's pretty hard not to think about Meryl Tisch and her million dollar donations to King's minions, what are they called the Regents Fellows or some shite? And when she was questioned about their role and their bought off allegiances her response was that the public should be appreciative of the donation. Also racking up the self serving donations one normally associates with Special Interest groups are the usual suspects Bill Gates and Lil Mikey Bloomberg. New York Times handles it pretty well here. And what discussion of Special Interests would be compete without revisiting the Million dollar donation Bloomberg made to the L.A. Schools Board of Ed elections this past February in the hope of sliding in some reformy excellence on the left coast as well.  Gates, Bloomie and Meryl, in case I forgot to mention are John King's allies in the wholesale privatization of public education through the use of high stakes testing, bogus teacher evaluations and widespread child abuse via the Common Core. 

I hate to mention the special interests who invested so heavily in Hollywood flops like Waiting for Superman and Won't Flush Down which actually misrepresented the parent trigger law making it look as though teachers could vote on it too. And as long as we're discussing triggers, special interests and the ability to fund lobbyists, I would be remiss in forgetting to mention Education Reform's number one lobbying group today, one we commonly know as ALEC. The American Legislative Exchange Council has a little p.r. issue or two though that most of our sentient neo liberal ed reformers would just as soon not discuss. Hard to roll your eyes heavenward in a gesture straight outta Gethsemane prattling on about "Ed Reform as the civil rights issue of our era" when your main lobbyists are the ones who crafted the Stand Your Ground Law that enabled gun toting bully and grown ass man Mark Zimmerman to murder unarmed teen ager Trayvon Martin in cold blood then walk away with a smirk on his face. Tell us again Ed Reformists about your deep commitment to the civil rights issues of our day when your number one front group writes laws that enable cold blooded unprovoked killings often of minorities. Be sure to remind them of this every chance you get too.

It appears John King's definition of a "special interest group" is a lot like his classroom technique. He doesn't get it, can't fake it and never should have tried to pretend he had the slightest clue as to what the hell he was doing or talking about. If special interests have led to King being sacked and sent to the great data silos I may just have to register myself as a special interest. 

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