It’s true that busing didn’t really work very well. It was a clunky approach to a horrible problem of school inequality. It was an incredibly brave plan, particularly in the face of the extraordinary racism in Boston during the 1970s. I’m not sure how it could have really worked in a functional way though.
Meanwhile, for all our patting our own backs about racism not being as bad as it was forty years ago, school segregation and inequality remain intractable problems.
In case anyone thinks that companies aren’t very excited about the evisceration of unions and labor regulations so that they can go back to pre-1935 ways of dealing with workers, let’s take a quick look at Chrysler. The recently bailed out auto company has instituted a 10-hour day that includes Saturday work and the switching of workers from day to evening shift and back. This cuts back on lunch breaks and eliminates overtime pay on Saturdays. This is a pretty awful way to work. UAW Local 869 has fought back. Alex Wassell has led the fight against this, including writing articles publicizing it and leading a picking line.
The company claimed Wassell had violated one of its “standards of conduct”: “engaging in, participating in, aiding or approving conduct constituting or appearing to constitute a conflict with the interests of the Company.”
In other words, we fire you because we can and who’s going to stop us?
It’s possible of course that the National Labor Relations Board could step in. But with the recess appointments declared unconstitutional by a conservative hack judge, who knows if the NLRB will remain functional long enough to decide this. Even if it does decide in Wassell’s favor, we are looking at months if not over a year. What is he to do during that time?
As you may remember, last summer, the Board of Visitors at the University of Virginia attempted to push out UVA President Teresa Sullivan, basically because the corporate hacks on the Board didn’t think Sullivan was committed enough to leveraging synergies and proactive leaderocracy and such. It was a gigantic disaster that was beaten back because of widespread protests. The American Association of University Professors (my union which provided me with outstanding representation when URI attempted to disown me last fall. Let me tell you people, there is nothing as great as union representation. Which is why employers want to destroy unions) has issued a report after an investigation. The report doesn’t present a lot that’s new exactly, not surprising since the Board was so blatant and open about why they wanted Sullivan gone. But it does get at what it portends:
The breakdown in governance at the University of Virginia documented here was only partly a result of structural failure; indeed, the board ignored its own recently adopted guidelines on presidential evaluation. In much greater measure it was a failure by those charged with institutional oversight to understand the institution over which they presided and to engage with the administration and the faculty in an effort to be well informed. It was a failure of judgment and, alas, of common sense.
You should definitely read the whole thing if you are interested in these issues.
This is all part of the corporate strategy to turn universities into corporations, with all the meaningless lingo, profit-hoarding at the top, and lack of respect for employees that entails. Boards don’t just not understand what universities do and how they are run, they don’t want to know. They are attempting to transform them into the same institutions that brought you The Great Recession, The Housing Bubble, Unsustainable Debt, and all your other favorite economic entertainments.
I have no illusion that I will retire as a professor. Not because I am going to leave voluntarily. And not because I won’t get tenure. Because the job won’t exist. Just yesterday we were talking about MOOCs and how corporations and states are applying the shock doctrine to higher education. This is the end of academic employment, with no benefits to anyone but highly-paid administrators and corporate investors. When Sullivan was reinstated, that was a small victory is a longer battle that we are losing–the battle to retain the world’s greatest higher education system. In the 9 months since the UVA debacle, I’ve seen no evidence that suggests I’m wrong.
The guestworker program continued but in recent years abuses have gotten nastier. When growers demanded a bigger and less regulated program in 1986, the Labor Department waived Wirtz-era rules restricting the program. Now agricultural guestworkers work all over the United States and come from as far away as Peru and Thailand, though most are Mexicans.
Growers have turned to for-profit recruiting agencies to handle the paperwork, which has led to some of the ugliest human trafficking cases in post-emancipation U.S. history: workers never paid, fraudulently charged thousands of dollars for low-wage, temporary jobs, housed in storage sheds or in flooded post-Katrina hotels.
Most shocking of all: The regulatory system that agricultural employers complain so bitterly about did not function at all (until the current administration). Despite gross violations of H-2A rules in the 1990s, for example, the Labor Department cited only one company (for failing to pay minimum and overtime wages), and did not deny that company’s requests for more guestworkers. Indeed, the GAO reported in 1997 that “the Department of Labor had never failed to approve an application to import H-2A workers because an employer had violated the legal rights of workers.”
Farm labor is something we rarely think about. If we do, it’s usually in context of the United Farm Workers with the assumption that things are somehow better now for farmworkers than 40 years ago. That’s not by and large true. Abuses are rampant, regulation is lax. Particularly as many of our big farming zones are in places we don’t usually see (naturally enough since they are thinly settled regions far from cities. Though is can also be true, say, in the Willamette Valley 30 miles south of Portland), the conditions of agricultural labor remain far from our consciousness. It’s not that a guestworker program theoretically couldn’t work. But given our underfunded regulatory agencies that are usually captured by corporate interests, there just isn’t much precedent that such programs can protect worker rights.
Working-class communities have fought against government-approved monopolization of natural resource economies going back to at least the 1930s, but rarely with much success. That so many resources are depleted suggests many problems with this system, but it continues given the ability of corporations to engage in regulatory capture.
Among the many problems with decentralized charter school systems is that students end up being taught anything that the crazy people who often run them want. Such is the case in Louisiana with its loony state voucher system (presently under court review). The 8th grade history book for some of these schools is teaching an, um, controversial view of history. Take this passage about hippies:
They went to Canada or European countries to escape being drafted into military service.
They went without bathing, wore dirty, ragged, unconventional clothing, and deliberately broke all codes of politeness or manners. Rock music played an important part in the hippie movement and had great influence over the hippies. Many of the rock musicians they followed belonged to Eastern religious cults or practiced Satan worship.
Other textbooks used in this system have taught such great things as that most slaveowners were real kind to their human property, the KKK was a totally reasonable organization, and lots of other special things that will leave the young people of Louisiana hopelessly clueless about the world.
Of course, it’s not like direct state control is always a wonderful solution so long as non-professional ideologues can take over the system. See Texas with its crazy history textbook ideas. But at least there solving the problem is reasonably straightforward, if difficult. With hundreds of charter school/voucher school systems, these fires can’t be put out.
Why actually pay conservative hacks to write propaganda for your anti-democratic government. All you have to do is ask and they are evidently happy to do so for free. As Ben Shapiro and others did in a series of fluff pieces for Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. Shapiro and his ilk claim no money changed hands. Maybe not, but it should have for this level of propaganda.
George P. Bush, the eldest son of former Florida governor Jeb Bush and nephew of former president George W. Bush, is running for Texas land commissioner in 2014.
Bush had already announced that he intended to run for statewide office. The 36-year-old lawyer and Naval Reserve lawyer has been raising money across the state. But there was some speculation that he would challenge Gov. Rick Perry in the Republican primary.
The co-founder of the political action committee Hispanic Republicans of Texas, Bush is among those arguing that the GOP can reach out to Latino voters with new faces, not a new party doctrine.
This is one of the most powerful offices in the state and has long been seen as a stepping stone to a greater political career. I can’t tell you how excited I am about the inevitable George P. Bush 2028 presidential run.