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The War Against Teachers

If the U.S. is to cease its slide into a violent, anti-democratic state, we must rethink the relationship between education and democracy, and the very nature of teaching.

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Public school teachers can join with parents, churches, synagogues, Mosques and other individuals and institutions to address the larger socioeconomic and ideological values and practices that legitimize a hyper-masculinity fueled by the death-dealing assumption that war and a primitive tribalism make men, irrespective of the violence they promote against women, gays, students and people with disabilities. America is obsessed with violence and death, and this fixation not only provides profits for Hollywood, the defense industries and the weapons industries, it also reproduces a culture of war and cruelty that has become central to America’s national identity - one  that is as shameful as it is deadly to its children and others. The war on public school teachers and children has reached its tragic apogee with the brutal and incomprehensible killing of the young children in Sandy Hook. What kind of country has the United States become in its willingness allow this endless barrage of symbolic and material violence to continue? Why has violence become the most powerful mediating force shaping social relations in the United States? Why do we allow a government to use drones to kill young children abroad?  Why do we allow the right-wing media and the mainstream press to constantly denigrate both teachers and young people? Why are the lives of young people one of our lowest national priorities? Why do we denigrate public servants such as teachers, who educate, nurture and safeguard young people? What kind of country betrays its teachers and denigrates public education? How does the violence against teachers and students destroy the connective tissue that makes the shared bonds of trust, compassion and justice possible not only in our schools but also in a democracy? 

[1]
Adam Bessie, "Public Teachers: America’s New ‘Welfare Queens," Truthout (March 6, 2011). For a list such humiliations, see VetGrl, “Here are your Parasites and Terrorists, M*therf*ckers,” Daily Kos (December 15, 2012). Online: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/12/15/1170268/-Here-are-your-parasites-and-terrorists-m-therf-ckers

[2] 
Manfred B. Steger and Ravi K. Roy, Neoliberalism: A Very Short Introduction, (Oxford University Press, 2010);  Henry A. Giroux, Against the Terror of Neoliberalism (Boulder: Paradigm Press, 2008); David Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberalism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005). 

[3]
Diane Ravitch, "The People Behind the Lawmakers Out to Destroy Pubic Education: a Primer What you Need to know about ALEC," CommonDreams (May 2, 2012).

[4]
See Henry A. Giroux, Education and the Struggle for Public Values (Boulder: Paradigm, 2012); Ken Saltman, The Failure of Corporate School Reform (New York: Palgrave, 2012); Diane Ravitch, The Death and Life of the Great American School System (New York: Basic Books, 2011); Alex Means, Schooling in the Age of Austerity (New York: Palgrave, 2013). 

 [5] 
In the corruption of Wall Street, see, for example,  Jeff Madrick, Age of Greed: The Triumph of Finance and the Decline of America, 1970 to the Present (New York: Vintage, 2011); Charles Ferguson, Predator Nation (New York: Crown Business, 2012); Henry A. Giroux, Zombie Politics in the Age of Casino Capitalism (New York: Peter Lang, 2010).    

[6]
I am not just talking about right-wing Republicans but also about the Obama administration policy on education, which has reproduced the worse dimensions of the former Bush administration’s policies on educational reform, which are as reactionary as they are detrimental to the quality, if not future, of public education in the United States.

[7]
Mustafha Marruchi, "The Value of Literature as a Public Institution," College Literature 33: 4 (Fall 2006), p. 176.

[8]
Sara Robinson , "How the Conservative Worldview Quashes Critical Thinking - and What That Means For Our Kids' Future," AlterNet, (May 20, 2012). Online: http://www.alternet.org/education/155469/how_the_conservative_worldview_quashes_critical_thinking_--_and_what_that_means_for_our_kids%27_future?page=entire

 
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