We have been covering the nefarious workings of the school privatization lobby for the last several years here at The Progressive. Public schools are a cornerstone of our democracy, and efforts to siphon public money into private schools pose a major threat to universal, high-quality schools that are accountable to the public—a foundational ideal in this country.
When Donald Trump named Betsy DeVos, a shadowy figure who has worked to help elect anti-public-school candidates in down-ballot races around the country, including here in Wisconsin, we saw the writing on the wall. DeVos has been called the “four-star general” of the school choice movement. She makes no bones about wanting to do away with what she calls “government public schools” and replace them with tax-funded vouchers for private and religious schools.
We asked Jennifer Berkshire, one of our Progressive Education Fellows, who writes the hilarious EduShyster blog, to profile DeVos and her devastating impact on the Detroit public schools. The result is a highly readable and seriously worrying piece.
Jeff Abbott also covers the education “reform” movement in this issue—from an international perspective. In Mexico, teachers have been putting their lives on the line to defend a vision of education in which teachers serve as community organizers in rural, indigenous areas. The Mexican government has responded with a bloody crackdown. The forces the Mexican teachers are battling are familiar to public school advocates who oppose school privatization and too much standardized testing here in the United States. But the stakes are much higher. Now one of the largest charter school chains in the United States is helping open new schools in Mexico, bringing into focus the international struggle against the privatization of education.
One of our great recent editorial interns here at The Progressive, Tanner Cole, grew up in Kentucky. After a summer working at our Madison office, he returned to his home state and files a timely and thoughtful piece on the politics of climate change in coal country.
David Helvarg has been observing Trump’s devastating environmental policies take shape. He has a helpful piece on what we must do to combat the Developer-in-Chief.
Publisher Norman Stockwell interviews Andrew Bacevich, a renowned professor of international relations and history at Boston University, on U.S. Middle East policy, and Norm has a reflective piece on recovering from the repressive dictatorships in Spain and Latin America.
Mark Anthony Rolo also takes the long view this month, with a piece on how the Indian Wars from the founding of the United States of America have continued right up to the conflict at Standing Rock.
How would we get through these trying times without Jim Hightower, Kate Clinton, and Dave Zirin?
“I am a renunciate,” writes Clinton. “I do renounce Hair Trump as the white head on an angry pustule of sexism, racism, militarism, anti-environmentalism, religious fundamentalism, and totalitarian capitalism.”
Zirin invokes the late, great Muhammad Ali. Not the Ali of sepia-toned sports retrospectives, uncontroversial, and universally adored, but “the resistance icon of the late 1960s and early 1970s—the internationalist and unwavering opponent of white supremacy.” Zirin invokes the Ali who resisted the draft because, as a black man, he had no desire to kill brown people 10,000 miles away. “I have nothing to lose by standing up for my beliefs,” he said. “So I’ll go to jail, so what? We’ve been in jail for 400 years.”
And finally there’s Hightower, who reminds us that “rightwing social engineers” are “peddling a status quo agenda of corporate elitism and trickle-down ideology, which the vast majority of Americans have rebelled against.”
Long live the rebellion!
Ruth Conniff is editor-in-chief of The Progressive