Monday, September 21, 2009

ACORN Does Schools too...

This is an old Sol Stern Article on ACORN from the Spring 2003 issue of City Journal.

ACORN’s Nutty Regime for Cities

Stern gives a pretty full take down of Acorn in the article. He begins with the founders and the roots of the organization. He talks about their initial intent of overwhelming the system. They shockingly even organize and unionize welfare participants.

It is no surprise that ACORN preaches a New Left–inspired gospel, since it grew out of one of the New Left’s silliest and most destructive groups, the National Welfare Rights Organization. In the mid-sixties, founder George Wiley forged an army of tens of thousands of single minority mothers, whom he sent out to disrupt welfare offices through sit-ins and demonstrations demanding an end to the “oppressive” eligibility restrictions that kept down the welfare rolls. His aim: to flood the welfare system with so many clients that it would burst, creating a crisis that, he believed, would force a radical restructuring of America’s unjust capitalist economy.

and then this:

The biggest “but” of all has been ACORN’s effort to unionize “workfare” workers—welfare recipients who, under the terms of welfare reform, must put in a certain number of hours of work at city agencies in exchange for their benefits. Though it hasn’t gotten everything it wanted, ACORN has successfully agitated for the creation of workfare grievance processes in Los Angeles and New York, and it seeks to expand rights and entitlements on all workfare jobs. All these efforts are subversive of reform: they send exactly the wrong message to welfare recipients, who aren’t really workers bargaining with their employers, after all, but recipients of charity. Encouraging them to resist and resent those who seek to help them, to file grievances against them and to feel victimized by them, undermines workfare’s purpose of teaching discipline and good work habits to people often deficient in such skills, without which it is hard to take advantage of the abundant opportunity that American society offers. There is nothing progressive about such “help.”

It really is a radical organization. He also talks about some scary stuff about Acorn schools and indoctrination going on in their name in New York City. Bertha Lewis has been in the news lately because she is running the national organization. At this point back in 93 she was running New York City...

So who did profit? ACORN. Little appreciated was the crucial detail that ACORN itself is part of the failed bureaucratic system that any successful privatization program would unsettle. For more than a decade, ACORN has used foundation grants to start up its own New York public schools, something the Board of Ed sometimes allows community-based organizations to do. With warm-sounding names like the Bread and Roses High School, ACORN’s schools are political-indoctrination centers with mediocre academic records. Their curricula abound with “social justice” themes that wouldn’t be out of place at an ACORN community organizers’ training school. Bread and Roses, for example, holds an annual “Why Unions Matter” art project to “teach students how labor unions work and what they do to support social change, economic growth and democratic principles.” The schools have even bused kids to Washington to demonstrate against “tax cuts for the rich.”

In addition to its visceral antipathy to any for-profit entity and its fear that the schools run by Edison might look better to parents than its
own schools, ACORN had another ulterior motive for opposing any privatization experiment. ACORN has political ties with teachers’ unions—and they fiercely oppose privatization and vouchers in education, because these reforms might threaten union members’ jobs. It is fitting that leading the anti-Edison campaign was Bertha Lewis, New York ACORN chief and co-chair of the Working Families Party—fast becoming the key vehicle for advancing the political agenda of several of the city’s trade unions. Though ACORN sent hundreds of cadres to demonstrate outside Edison’s headquarters, it has never uttered an unkind word about the teachers’ unions, the main culprit in New York City’s educational failure.

Every recent opinion poll of inner-city parents reveals that the poor quality of the public school system is their Number One concern and that a large majority favor a voucher program to allow their children to opt for private or parochial schools. ACORN tells organizers like Heather Appell to take the pulse of the community; considering this mandate, it’s amazing how adamant ACORN’s leaders are in excluding the options of privatization or vouchers for school improvement.

I spoke to Bertha Lewis about her approach to school improvement. Our polite conversation took a nasty turn when I proposed that ACORN families might benefit by a voucher program for kids in failing schools. She launched into a tirade. Vouchers were just “a hoax to destroy the public schools,” she charged. The voucher movement wasn’t about education, but rather about “race and class.” “This is capitalism at its worst,” she shouted. “You always do it on the backs of the poor. It’s all bullshit, and you know it. I grew up in the ghetto. These vouchers are just a life raft for a few people to get out. It’s another education urban renewal plan. It’s gentrification.”

I can only imagine why anyone would want these people taking charge of schools and indoctrinating young children.

The more people shine the light on this organization the scarier it gets. Sphere: Related Content

No comments: