Public School Shakedown - A Project of The Progressive


A fundamental struggle for democracy is going on behind the scenes in statehouses around the country, as a handful of wealthy individuals and foundations pour money into efforts to privatize the public schools. So far, the “school choice” movement has succeeded in setting the terms of the debate.

The Progressive launched Public School Shakedown in September 2013 to show what is at stake as the rightwing begins to dismantle public education—to follow the money, expose the privatizers, and help parents, teachers, and concerned citizens understand what is going on and connect with each other to stick up for schools.

By Peter Greene on May 19, 2015
Young student looks sadly at camera from classroom

Charter fans brag about their successes. They tell the starfish story. They will occasionally own that their successes are, in fact, about selecting out the strivers, the winners, the students who are, in fact, their own children and allowing them to rise. And it is no small thing that many students have had an opportunity to rise in a charter setting.

But I worry about the ballast.

By Jonas Persson on May 13, 2015
Students at desk take test

The federal government has spent more than $3.3 billion over the past two decades creating and fueling the charter school industry, according to a new financial analysis and reporters' guide by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD).

By Peter Greene on May 11, 2015
Lemmings head toward a cliff, saying "I'd like to question the leadership on this move," and "Shut up! You're undermining the troops!"

If charters are supposed to be the laboratories of education, where is our scholastic hoverboard? After so many years of charter experimentation, where are the educational breakthroughs that are supposed to be revolutionizing the rest of us?

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).


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