Saturday, May 10, 2008

Who Should We Endorse For President?

(ICE, just like the UFT, has not formally endorsed a candidate for President. Unlike the UFT we have not been working, as a group, for a candidate without an endorsement. It appears that since Hillary is out of contention it may be time to begin the discussion of whether we should endorse someone and if so who we should endorse. Michael Fiorillo has started the discussion. We welcome further comments and blog pieces)

While it's impossible to underestimate the Clinton's compulsive will to power - which has a hint of the pathological to it - I find the idea of Hillary destroying Obama's chances of defeating McCain, so that she can be a viable candidate in 2012, a bit of a stretch. She already has a immovable bedrock core of people who intensely dislike her, for reasons valid and invalid, and a determined campaign to destroy Obama would send her negatives among Democrats and Independents off the charts. It's not that she, and certainly Bill, aren't capable of doing such a thing; it's that I think they are still sufficiently reality-based to see that it would likely forever poison the well against them. An honest cost-benefit analysis on their part would show that it would have only a remote chance of succeeding, while hampering their marketability as spokepersons for neoliberal trade policies, which seems to have been Bill's bread and butter in recent years.

As for Obama, appealing as he is on many levels, don't expect his election alone to successfully push forward a progressive, let alone radical agenda. Please keep in mind that since his election to the senate, he has:

- campaigned for Lieberman against Ned Lamont in Connecticut.
- voted for all funding for war in Iraq.
- voted to renew the Patriot Act.
- voted for the 2005 bankruptcy bill that was virtually written by the banks and credit card companies.
- voted to limit the ability to file class action lawsuits. (Hillary voted against this bill.)
- supported merit pay for teachers and the expansion of charter schools. I raise these points not to imply that we should refuse to work and vote for him.

I voted for him in the primary with - considering the political history of the past 35+ years - a fair degree of enthusiasm; I'll do so again in November if given the chance .However, don't think that a lot will happen unless he is pushed hard from, I hesitate to say it, the left.

Wall Street, and especially Hedgistan, is investing heavily in Obama's campaign, no doubt seeing it as venture capital investment to establish an equity stake in a possible Obama administration. Unless there is a surge of activism on many fronts, these people will continue to set the terms of debate.

As teachers, we've borne some of this, as Wall Street, corporate and foundation money has flooded into education, buying research and policies that undermine public education and teacher's unions in the "marketplace of ideas."

Fortunately, there's evidence that perhaps the tectonic plates are shifting somewhat. The May First ILWU strike explicitly protesting the war in Iraq on the West Coast docks was a profound event, underreported as it was. UAW members have been on strike against American Axle since February, fighting a two-tier wage system. There have been protests on Wall Street against the predatory nature of the credit system. Here in NYC, we may be seeing some cracks appearing in BloomKlein's PR fortress.By all means, let drive a stake through the Clinton's hearts - politically speaking, of course - and vote for Obama in November. Let's not just leave it up to him after that.


Michael Fiorillo
(Chapter Leader, Newcommers' High School)


What about Nader? said...

Ralph Nader on Education
Candidate for President

Abandon standardized testing; focus on teaching civic skills

Nader wants to abandon not only the standardized testing both Bush and Gore endorse, but to radically refocus schools. Students “should learn, as the core curriculum, developing civic skills, learning how to practice democracy,” he said, “and the arithmetic, reading and writing will be a byproduct.”
Source: Scot Lehigh, Boston Globe, page D1 Oct 8, 2000

Invest in K-12 education; that will reduce poverty

Education is clearly a significant factor in enhancing the future of impoverished children. Education levels bear heavily on efforts to bring families out of poverty and in providing livable wages for low and moderate and middle-income families.

We need to invest in the nation’s children. We must assure an adequate safety net, health care, higher quality and more plentiful child care and vastly better educational opportunities, particularly at Kindergarten through the 12th grade.

Source: Statement on Child Poverty Jun 26, 2000

Teach democratic principles & citizenship in schools

Our country’s schoolchildren need to be taught democratic principles in their historic context and present relevance, with practical civics experiences to develop their citizen skills and a desire to use them, and so they will be nurtured to serve as a major reservoir of future democracy.
Source: The Concord Principles, An Agenda for a New Democracy, #10 Feb 21, 2000

Kick Channel One & commercialism out of class

Would you want your children to see propaganda that glorifies reckless driving or that reinforces the poor body image of teenage girls? That’s exactly the kind of thing schoolkids are watching on Channel One, a so-called educational broadcast piped into classrooms. In essence, Channel One is run by a marketing company that uses the schools to deliver advertising to youngsters. Each school day, teachers turn on a TV show made up of two minutes of commercials and 10 minutes of “news.” Channel One’s lobbyists say that it’s “an old-fashioned newscast that often reflects traditional values.” Nice try. The “news” is just filler. What Channel One really conveys is materialism: that buying is good and will solve your problems, and that consumption and self-gratification are the goals of life. For real education reform that protects children, costs nothing, and increases productive class time, tell your school board to kick Channel One out of class.
Source: “In the Public Interest” newspaper column May 12, 1999

Focus on civic & consumer education

Q: How would you manage the Department of Education differently?
A: I would put a very high priority on getting schools to teach civic education and connecting the classroom with the community. Getting youngsters, even as young as the fifth and sixth grades, to learn how to practice democracy, to connect knowledge to action. To help people grow up civic instead of growing up corporate is an important function of the Department of Education.

Our education system is becoming very vocational and very occupation-oriented, which is OK if it is not disproportionate and if it doesn’t squeeze out the most important role of education, which is civic.

I also would emphasize consumer education. Children are spending more and more money directly -- under 12 years of age they spent $ 12 billion last year, and they caused their parents to spend $ 150 billion. They need a consumer perspective, how to become a smart shopper.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle, Sunday Interview, p. 3/Z1 Oct 13, 1996

Support choice within public schools

Nader supports the Green Party Platform, which states:
Greens support EDUCATIONAL DIVERSITY. We hold no dogma absolute, continually striving for truth in the realm of ideas. We view learning as a lifelong process to which all people have an equal right.
Education starts with CHOICE and within public education we believe in broad choices. “Magnet schools,” “Site-based Management,” “Schools within Schools,” alternative models and parental involvement are ways in which elementary education can be changed to make a real difference in the lives of our children.
We call for equitable state and national funding of school education and the creation of schools controlled by parent-teacher governing bodies.
We recognize the viable alternative of HOME-BASED EDUCATION.

We support a host of innovative and critical educational efforts, such as bi-lingual education, continuing education, and job retraining.
Source: Green Party Platform, as ratified at the National Convention Jun 25, 2000

NYC Educator said...

Nader brought us GW Bush and enabled 8 years of what we've got now. The only way to stop John McCain is to vote for a Democrat.

And if the Democrats drag a bum off the street to run against John McCain, that's the bum who'll get my vote. The GOP has got to go, or we'll all need to move to Canada, and soon.

ed notes online said...

I voted for Nader the last 2 times and would do so again - unless I lived in Florida. And might do so again. He is considered a joke but the program makes sense and maybe we should eb voting programs instead of candidates. But the Obama choice is so radical because of who he is, it is hard to resist no matter what his program. And as ususal, the alternative sucks.

ed notes online said...

From George Schmidt on ICE-mail:

I didn't say that Barack Obama was even a New Deal liberal. He's a University of Chicago neo-liberal, and part of the fan club of Richard M. Daley's version of "school reform." We've already reported that. And will continue to do so.

Obama is not a socialist, nor is he even a New Deal Democrat. If you read his policies closely, he is to the right of Richard M. Nixon on some things, and standing with Nixon's policies on others. If you want to know the environment he works in, read the blog of his colleagues Gary Becker (University of Chicago economics theologian) and Richard Posner (most prolific judge on the Seventh U.S. Circuit).

He has never distanced himself from Richard M. Daley on corporate "school reform" or the use of biased "standardized" tests for a "bottom line" on "school reform."

Fact is, his roots are closer to the working class in Chicago -- both his work and his in-laws -- than any candidate we've had since Bill Richardson or Dennis Kucinich. Michelle Obama comes from a union family, and until they slowly became millionaires, both Obamas were counting coupons every weekend.

I'll take him as President of the United States because at this point we're going to trash some white supremacy on the way to realizing all the class issues that have been covered up.

George N. Schmidt
Editor, Substance

Floraine Kay said...

Right now, I think I'll vote for whoever the Democrat is. However, I think that there are few true liberals in the party and probably almost as many on the other side. The liberals have no power in either party. Bill Clinton was basically a moderate Republican president. That's how he won -- by sounding just like the Republicans. Oh sure, there were gestures at healthcare and the military, but people voted for him the first and second time because of economics. In that sense, Obama is very similar. He's considered more fiscally tight than Hillary (even if this isn't so) in places which are conservative. She has the brand of the New York liberal outside of the state, even though that's not who she is, at all.

Part of me wants to vote for Nader to send a message to the Democrats, but I probably won't as I think McCain will drive us all to an early grave. I think Obama will not do much better -- we will have to push him and I think it is his nature to resist being pushed. I close my eyes when I listen to him, and I hear a tried-and-true Mid-westerner. A solid moderate, set in his ways. There's nothing wrong with that, except that it doesn't bode well for any real change. He's not a firebrand. Hillary sounds like a firebrand, but is just a staunch conservative in liberal drag.

I am the least excited by this election than I have been since I can vote. There's absolutely nobody really there in my view. I will do what the Democratic party wants me to do, if only because to do otherwise is to admit that things are really chaotic and that the country has no economic or educational future. In other words, I'm likely to practice denial one more time. Maybe.
Nader's policies make good sense and there is something to living without cognitive dissonance, even for a minute. But, I know that would be selfish, although I have no idea what voting for a Democrat will get me besides a guarantee of my right to choose. That's enough. I can honestly say I don't think Obama would let Roe v. Wade be overturned. Neither would Hillary. McCain would. So, that's it. I may be without a job and working alongside teenagers who cannot write a full sentence, but should I get "knocked up" I will not have to bring another person into this madness. That's good. That's civilized. Almost modern. What century is this, again? That's the sum of my freedom?
What is it that we did as a people to end up with such crummy choices? It's a naive question, but I'm asking it. How did we let ourselves be prey to such greed? Are we really this anti-intellectual? The scary thing is, I think we are. I think Americans would be happy with no public schools and if this country closed all its bookstores and everything to do with reading and thinking. Then we can watch "American Idol" undisturbed. Let some other judges tell us about aesthetics and art. Then we'll watch Reality TV. Someone should write a show in which we watch the reality of the destruction of the planet.

I know, it's a long rant. It's just I don't believe that we really haven't got a chance of voting for a candidate with courage. It's so late. It's so late...

jw said...

This might be a duplicate, since it didn't seem to take last time I sent it......

Given that ICE could only endorse WhicheverDemocrat vs WhicheverThirdParty (and I'm not sure it has to, or even can, endorse anyone, since it was founded on the really strong principal of not doing anything without consensus), I do agree with NYC Educator. Back the Dem.

But for heaven's sake: looking at Mike's list of uh-oh's (thanks, by the way), make that guy shape up and listen to the people and not to the Washington lobbyists wrecking this country.

Anonymous said...

As delegates left last month's assembly and got outside the door, many took off their Hilary buttons immediately.

White and black.

Anonymous said...

Hello George and Everyone,

Though aware of Obama's U of Chi provenance, I neglected to mention it in my post. However, if anything it validates my argument and adds new levels of paradox to the situation. In terms of economics alone, his U of Chicago connections should send a chill down the spine of anyone seeking a more just and fair world.

Your post seems to imply that vitually the only reason to vote for Obama is as an attack on white supremacy, a morally and strategically necessary thing. However, even here there are complications and reasons for critical distance:

In the chanting that "Race Doesn't Matter" at Obama events, and in the explicit and implicit messages of the campaign, there is more than little suggestion of naivete and ideological pacification. Naivete can be forgiven; the realities of class and race in the US will take care of that for those who have the intellectuall honesty to be conscious. But willful pacification of America's "original sin" cannot be excused.

In a recent posting on Doug Henwood's indispensable Left Business Observer (www., Adolph Reed is quoted, in regard to Obama's "post-racial" discourse, that with Obama there is a danger that

"...inequality could lose whatever vestigial connotation it has as a species of injustice
and be fully consolidated as the marker, on the bottom that is, of those losers who
who failed to do what the market requires of them or as a sign of their essential

Is an Obama presidency going to thrust the nation forward to new era of equality and justice, or will it be an excuse to "move on" and get "closure?"

As I said, I'm going to vote for the man; I'd sooner vote for hope than fear. But my personal hope is that his election will result in an citizenry aroused by increased democratic expectations on many fronts, and that it will force him and his handlers to respond righteously.

Michaell Fiorillo

Anonymous said...

I heard from many teachers that they are going for McCain. They just don't trust Obama--especially to defend Israel.

Anonymous said...

Then these teachers are fools. They'd screw themselves and the country because of a perception, not reality, that Obama would not support Israel with as much vehemence as McCain. How typical of voting the narrowest self-interest which is really not self-interest at all. If Obama didn't support Israel, he wouldn't last long and I mean that in the most ominous way. That's how many crazies there are out there. If you want conspiracy theories, Clinton opts for the Vice-presidency if offered for that very reason.

Anonymous said...

ICE should endorse Norman Scott or Peter Lamphere for president. Those guys would produce real change.

Anonymous said...

You wouldn't be on the union payroll anymore. That would be a real positive change.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to hear from Jeff Kaufman and James Eterno about who we should endorse. I trust them.

Anonymous said...

Michael Shulman for UFT President when Randi leaves.

Anonymous said...

Yo VIP let's kick it

Ice ice baby
Ice ice baby

All right stop collaborate and listen
Ice is back with my brand new invention
Something grabs a hold of me tightly
Flow like a harpoon daily and nightly
Will it ever stop yo I don't know
Turn off the lights and I'll glow
To the extreme I rock a mic like a vandal
Light up a stage and wax a chump like a candle
Dance go rush to the speaker that booms
I'm killing your brain like a poisonous mushroom
Deadly when I play a dope melody
Anything less than the best is a felony
Love it or leave it you better gain weight
You better hit bull's eye the kid don't play
If there was a problem yo I'll solve it
Check out the hook while my DJ revolves it

Ice ice baby
Vanilla ice ice baby
Vanilla ice ice baby
Vanilla ice ice baby

Now that the party is jumping
With the bass kicked in and the vegas are pumpin'
Quick to the point to the point no faking
I'm cooking MC's like a pound of bacon
Burning them if you ain't quick and nimble
I go crazy when I hear a cymbal
And a hi-hat with a souped up tempo
I'm on a roll and it's time to go solo
Rollin' in my 5.0
With my rag-top down so my hair can blow
The girlies on standby waving just to say hi
Did you stop no I just drove by
Kept on pursuing to the next stop
I busted a left and I'm heading to the next block
The block was dead
Yo so I continued to A1A Beachfront Avenue
Girls were hot wearing less than bikinis
Rockman lovers driving Lamborghinis
Jealous 'cause I'm out getting mine
Shay with a guage and Vanilla with a nine
Reading for the chumps on the wall
The chumps acting ill because they're so full of eight balls
Gunshots rang out like a bell
I grabbed my nine all I heard were shells
Falling on the concrete real fast
Jumped in my car slammed on the gas
Bumpet to bumper the avenue's packed
I'm trying to get away before the jackers jack
Police on the scene you know what I mean
They passed me up confronted all the dope fiends
If there was a problem yo I'll solve it
Check out the hook while my DJ revolves it

Ice ice baby
Vanilla ice ice baby
Vanilla ice ice baby
Vanilla ice ice baby

Take heed 'cause I'm a lyrical poet
Miami's on the scene just in case you didn't know it
My town that created all the bass sound
Enough to shake and kick holes in the ground
'Cause my style's like a chemical spill
Feasible rhymes that you can vision and feel
Conducted and formed
This is a hell of a concept
We make it hype and you want to step with this
Shay plays on the fade slice like a ninja
Cut like a razor blade so fast other DJs say damn
If my rhyme was a drug I'd sell it by the gram
Keep my composure when it's time to get loose
Magnetized by the mic while I kick my juice
If there was a problem yo I'll solve it
Check out the hook while Shay revolves it

Ice ice baby vanilla
Ice ice baby (oh-oh) vanilla
Ice ice baby vanilla
Ice ice baby vanilla ice
Yo man let's get out of here
Word to your mother
Ice ice baby too cold
Ice ice baby too cold too cold
Ice ice baby too cold too cold
Ice ice baby

Anonymous said...

The person who wasted time writing the previous comment is a fool. He is most probably on the UFT payroll.

Anonymous said...

Why not elect Randi as President of the United States? She would sell out to the terrorists in a heartbeat. We would lose the right to appeal court rulings. We will have an extended work week. You get the picture.

Anonymous said...

I voted for a 3rd party candidate once and after living through the horrible Republican policies, I vowed never to throw away my vote again.

So once again I will hold my nose while I vote for the candidate/major party I see as the lesser of two evils.

Anonymous said...

I'm leaning strongly toward Obama, and if he is elected I would like to see him implement his own version of the First Hundred Days of FDR. To my mind, part of that should be fairer tax system. Land should be taxed at its true, social value in order to eliminate, as much as possible, the tax burden on wage earners and employers. Also, the monetary system needs to be reformed, so that it does not just benefit those who manipulate the financial instruments. Money policies should help the real econmy grow. Obama will have to put some content in his slogans to merit the support of all those who want change they can believe in. Obama also needs to look at what is working in progressive countries as well as draw on American Progressive and Populist traditions to develop a program for economic and social justice while keeping the government within limits. I do not believe that reforming education will change the economy or end poverty. Eliminating poverty by reforming the economy will allow education to flourish.