[Marxism] a tale of two snips

Gary MacLennan gary.maclennan1 at gmail.com
Fri Jan 24 15:22:14 MST 2014

1. By framing the future as a stark choice between hard environmental
limits and unlimited human possibility, Ehrlich and Simon did us a
disservice. Values, trade-offs, and compromises are at the heart of
societal solutions. Polemics may excite and instruct, but collegial debate,
negotiation, and respect for a diversity of perspectives are prerequisites
for solving the perpetual problems of humans and their environment (snipped
from The Chronicle of Higher Education Review
January 20, 2014 By Erle C. Ellis)

2. You would think it possible to take ideas from both sides and put them
to work together. In order to agree that America’s schools ought to be
better (Ravitch), we don’t have to believe that they are worse than ever
(Rhee). We don’t have to think, as Rhee does, that “great” teaching is a
magic bullet in order to agree with Ravitch that the training of teachers
ought to be more rigorous and that our nation needs “a stable workforce of
experienced professional educators” who receive good compensation and
respect. Rhee is right that our schools could use some shaking up. Ravitch
is right that “the wounds caused by centuries of slavery, segregation, and
discrimination cannot be healed by testing, standards, accountability,
merit pay, and choice.”

Perhaps a starting point would be to acknowledge, as Ravitch does, that the
golden age of master teachers and model children never existed, and, as
Rhee insists, that the bureaucracy of our schools is wary of change. One
thing that certainly won’t help our children is any ideology convinced of
its exclusive possession of the truth (snipped from Andrew Delbanco’s The
Two Faces of American Education, New York Times Review of Books).

My comment: What struck me most about reading these two pieces on one the
education wars and the other on the environmental wars was the conclusion
by both authors.  Like classic petty bourgeois intellectuals they sought
compromise and were terrified of polarisation.  I was also struck by my own
rejection of the call for middle ground and the whine that polarisation was
bad for humanity.  My years as a Catholic and a Leninist no doubt stand me
in good stead here.  Although I hasten to add that it is not that I am
unwilling to compromise, far from it, but that I reject automatically the
premise that the truth must be in the middle.  Sometimes one side is just
wrong and one side is just right. In these two disputes, Ravitch for me is
100% right and so is Erlich and to suggest that they are somehow to blame
for fighting for their beliefs is also 100% wrong.




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