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Est. April 5, 2002
February 07, 2019 - Issue 775

R. Kelly, Gov. Northam
2020 Dem Candidates
‘It Wasn’t Me’

"Despite the billions of dollars that the right-leaning
education reform Cartel has invested in decimating
K-12 public education during the past thirty years,
teachers in red and blue states are now systematically
fighting back without fear or deference."

R. Kelly, renowned Rhythm & Blues artist and winner of several Grammys and more than 100 other popular music awards and an accused sexual predator and pedophile, who has been able to retain his fan base until now, could teach Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam a lesson in denial of heinous acts. His modus operandi, like that of our alleged sexually assaulting President Donald J. Trump, is to DENY, DENY, and DENY.

Gov. Northam, in his explanation of the picture of racist blackface and KKK characters on his medical school graduation yearbook page, when it was publicly exposed, admitted last Friday, in a press release, that he was in the photograph. Less than a day later, after venomous public criticism, he recanted his confession and stated in a press conference that he was not in the snapshot and that he wanted to rebuild his voters’ and the general public’s trust in him rather than to resign his office.

In the meantime, R. Kelly was likely somewhere saying, “white boy please.” Didn’t you see how I handled my situation after being shown on videotape (which I shot for my own enjoyment) having sex with an underage girl, then went to trial, was found not guilty, and continued on my merry way as a sexual marauder and deviant. In addition, after some discussions and financial transactions, I had the girl and her parents also say under oath that she was not on the tape. In other words, she and her parents said, “it wasn’t her.”

R. Kelly was dumbfounded by Northam’s press conference, possibly articulating that, you should have called me “white boy” before you admitted to being in the yearbook picture and other blackface antics and moonwalking like Michael Jackson in a dance contest to his hit song, “Billie Jean.” Moreover, you were about to pull out a white glove and moonwalk at the press conference behind the lectern before your wife told you that “it would not be appropriate.”

Northam is also taking a page from Judge Roy Moore’s political playbook by hanging on despite almost unanimous bipartisan calls for him to leave office. He is holding on to the position that, “it wasn’t me,” despite the drumroll for his abdication. (Northam is getting some breathing room because his successor, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, is being dogged by an uncorroborated {he said, she said}, fifteen-year old #Me Too sexual assault accusation that he vociferously rejects as a smear.) Elsewhere, there are several announced 2020 Democratic presidential candidates who may use this hackneyed phrase, “it wasn’t me,” in the coming months.

First up will be Sen. Cory Booker, who has served as the Koch Bros.’; Betsy DeVos’s; Mark Zuckerberg’s; the Arnold, Bradley, Walton, and Gates Foundations; the Manhattan Institute’s; and Wall Street Bankers’ and Financiers’ wingman in aggressively promoting vouchers, corporate charter schools, the destruction of teachers’ and other public-sector unions, and the overall dismantling of K-12 public education from his election to the Newark, New Jersey City Council from1998 until 2002, through his terms as Newark’s Mayor from 2006 until 2013, and his service as a U.S. Senator from 2013 until the present.

In October 2006, after being Mayor for three months, he wrote every New Jersey Assembly person and Senator an individual letter beseeching them to pass legislation to publicly fund private school vouchers for religious and private schools and for a major increase in the number of charter schools. He later sent his then ally, African American City Councilwoman Dana Rone, chair of the Council’s Education Committee, who ran on the slate he funded, to testify before the legislature’s budget committees, where she asked members to significantly defund the majority-minority Newark Public Schools, one of the state’s poorest districts, because it was wasting the money.

Over the next decade, Booker gobbled up tens of millions of dollars in campaign contributions from conservative individuals and corporations, while preening as their public-sector privatization darling. While an Obama surrogate in the 2012 presidential campaign, he criticized Obama’s attack ads against Bain Capital, private equity, and Mitt Romney, on NBC’s Sunday Meet the Press on May 20, 2012, as being nauseating. He was eventually forgiven for carrying the water for the private equity community because it was known that it had donated millions to his political races. After Trump’s unanticipated victory in 2016, Booker was forced to do the electric slide toward progressivism after the Democrats triumphed in the 2018 midterms.

He has been forced to recalibrate as he pursues the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination and is now promoting progressive policies: backing Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, more funding for public schools, and better pay for teachers. But on February 1st, the Wall Street Journal sent a shot across his bow, reminding him of his previous rabid support for school choice policies and warning him that he will be held accountable by Democratic primary voters and teachers’ unions for his earlier attacks on public education. Booker has to find a way to say that despite his functioning as a pawn of the Cartel of corporate education reformers, “it wasn’t me” pushing public school privatization, or his campaign will quickly go up in smoke.

Meanwhile, Sen. Elizabeth Warren has to continue walking back her earlier support of charter schools. When Question 2, raising the cap on charter schools, was placed on the Massachusetts ballot in 2016, she finally joined with state teacher unions and ordinary citizens in opposition, stating that she did not support unconstrained charter school development because local districts can be harmed.

But only after local Massachusetts media called her out did she finally take a position on the Question 2 charter cap, which was defeated. Realizing that continuing to embrace her initial position on this matter would put a crimp in her presidential aspirations, she got out in front of the mounting opposition to this initiative as she prepared to campaign across the nation as a populist who was in firm support of public education and other progressive programs.

Like her fellow newly progressive colleague, Sen. Booker, she has undergone an educational transformation. Both recognize that America’s public education teachers, as well as many in charter schools, are antsy and angry about the current status of their profession. The recent successful public school teachers strike in Los Angeles and the current strike at four Chicago International Charter School campuses are clear examples of teachers’ unrest.

Despite the billions of dollars that the right-leaning education reform Cartel has invested in decimating K-12 public education during the past thirty years, teachers in red and blue states are now systematically fighting back without fear or deference. In the coming weeks, we will examine the progressive bona fides of Sens. Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, and other viable members of the expected large group of candidates who have entered or will enter the 2020 Democratic presidential race. These are interesting times, and many contenders will crash and burn as they try to moonwalk around rank and file Democrats and America’s teachers.

They will be vetted as to their goodness of fit with the current ethos among the nation’s Democratic polity. Look for a repudiation of some of their previous political stances as they are confronted by the electorate. Be prepared to hear approximations of R. Kelly’s mantra, “it wasn’t me.” It will be the preferred response to the many inquiries about their past political and policy positions, especially regarding K-12 public education.

links to all 20 parts of the opening series Columnist, Dr. Walter C. Farrell, Jr., PhD, MSPH, is a Fellow of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) at the University of Colorado-Boulder and has written widely on vouchers, charter schools, and public school privatization. He has served as Professor of Social Work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and as Professor of Educational Policy and Community Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Contact Dr. Farrell. 




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