With guest, Louder Than a Bomb poet Nate Marshall

Friday, October 4, 2013

Stern crawls out from under his rock to attack Ravitch

I haven't heard much from ’60s ultra-radical turned far-right think-tanker Sol Stern since 2008 when he tried to paint Barack Obama as a commie symp and make Bill Ayers the focus of the presidential election debate. He used to write me letters, trying to befriend me. He says he went to the same summer camp as me as a kid but I can't believe that Kinderland would ever turn out a creep like Stern. He even offered to take me to a Yankee game (yuck, I was born with Brooklyn Dodger blue in my veins)  if I would only give him some inside dope about Ayers for a book he was working on.

Last I heard, he had fled the country and was living in Israel. Now I see he's crawled out from under his rock once again, to attack think-tank apostate Diane Ravitch whose new book, Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools, has his and other former fellows' shorts in a twist.

Back in '08, Stern worked for the right-wing Manhattan Institute (he obviously still does) and raged against progressive and social-justice education, calling it akin to "Stalinism." Stern's job at the Institute included hunting down and “exposing” social-justice teachers, whom he accused of “trashing the American system.” In another post Stern, responding to the UFT's Leo Casey, called the teachers union "a shill for Obama" and referred to me as a "good friend of the UFT" (which I think I am).

As for Ravitch, Stern attacks her as a "crude" turncoat, accusing her of "surrendering abjectly to [Deborah] Meier, champion of social-justice teaching and other progressive fads."

He calls her blog "a propaganda hub for the national anti–corporate reform coalition."
This past Labor Day, for example, Ravitch posted the words of militant union songs like “Joe Hill” and “Which Side Are You On?” and lamented that teacher unions don’t have enough power or influence in America.
Stern adds to his list of charges:
Ravitch uses her blog to publicize and organize support for antireform school board candidates from Rochester to Los Angeles. She recently wrote an impassioned endorsement of Bill de Blasio, the most radical of the Democrats running in the New York mayoral primary and the eventual winner. 
Sol Stern
He even accuses Ravitch of apparently agreeing with the progressive-ed icon [his tongue burns and he sputters as he says his name] Jean Piaget.

But as you might expect, Stern's coup de grace is exposing Ravitch's friendship with Ayers and the Klonsky's.
Thus, she has praised the former Weather Underground terrorist and radical educator William Ayers for his contributions to the anticorporate insurgency. (She concedes that Ayers made some political “mistakes” in the sixties.) Ravitch has also had kind words for leftist education activist and onetime Ayers ally Mike Klonsky. On her blog, she recounted visiting two universities in Chicago in 2010, with Klonsky as her host. “For me, the fallen-away conservative, it was a trip getting to know Mike, because he had long ago been a leader of the SDS, which was a radical group in the 1960s that I did not admire. So meeting him and discovering that he and his wife Susan were thoughtful, caring, and kind people was an experience in itself.” 
According to Stern, I "spent several years in China during the horrific Cultural Revolution, attending state dinners with the Great Helmsman." Pure bullshit. He made that part up. That's okay. The legend grows.

All I can really say in response to Stern's diatribe is, thanks for everything you do, Diane. The very things that make you big, make them small.


  1. My favorite part of the rant is where he insists that there is lots and lots of dissent in reform circles, and then cites vouchers, which "liberal" reformers supposedly oppose but have done absolutely nothing to stop and Wal Mart's opposition to Common Core.

    A real lively debate they're having! A purely rhetorical and theoretical "opposition" to vouchers and Wal Mart placating the Tea Party by pretending to oppose Common Core.

  2. Good point, anon.
    Stern and his fellow right-wing think-tankers at Manhattan, Fordham and others flip-flopped on vouchers about five years ago, splitting from the libertarian right and taking up anti-progressiv-ism in curriculum and instruction as their goût du jour. Here's Gerald Bracey's account: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gerald-bracey/sol-stern-to-vouchers-dro_b_86701.html

  3. And I am grateful to Sol for his brief attack on me--I was feeling left out--even if he hasn't quite figured out how to describe my educational ideas. Thanks, Mike, for keeping me up to date.
    : http://www.deborahmeier.com


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