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You've Got No Schools

While delighting in the reading of Professor Michael Niman’s “You’ve Got No Mail” (Artvoice 2/14/13) I thought: Wait a minute, soon it may be for Buffalo that we’ve got no schools, either, and what a loss for the city that created magnet schools, with open classrooms and UB’s “storefront colleges” like Tolstoy College F in the late 1960s and early 1970s. They were experiments in education at a time when urban riots and civil disorders were rife and answers came through massive federal government spending for all sorts of attempts to make equality and justice something of a reality for all of us.

But oh, how the times they are a-changin’ (Dylan). If young Michael were now a student in primary grades, his penchant for self-expression through the written word would be snuffed out with scripted lessons devised by McGraw Hill and standardized tested to death by Pearsons Co. As a high school student, Mr. Niman’s acute sense of observation, mysteriously mingled with an inner commitment to human values in the world of facts, would be doused by his teacher’s fears of not getting high enough scores on examinations whose purpose was to track those teachers with threatened job loss if student scores declined.

And where would Buffalo be without the mature journalist’s constantly exposing the fraud and corruption of leadership? A Vietnam veteran and Republican with reasonable views on foreign policy is blasted by senators and his confirmation for defense secretary is stalled, while the clone of the Great Recession’s Wall Street barons, Jack Lew, is easily accepted as treasury secretary, and we know where this train is going.

President Obama’s choice for secretary of education, Arne Duncan, is a shill for the private corporate control of public education. That Race to the Top funding ($5 billion in all—one drone costs about $4.5 million and so far about 554 have been lost!) is a competitive scramble for crumbs based on the kow-tow surrender to standards and surveillance data set to kill creative learning and curiosity innate in every child. No peace, no post office, no voices for truth—no schools to nurse the young for a future worth having.

> Ray Peterson, Buffalo

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