Thursday, October 16, 2008
On this day:

William Ayers: Education reformer?

Sol Stern, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute who is currently writing a book on Bill Ayers and "social justice" teaching, writes for the Wall Street Journal:

One of the most misleading statements during the presidential debates was when Barack Obama claimed that William Ayers was just "a guy in the neighborhood."

But that piece of spin is nothing compared to the false story now being peddled by Mr. Obama's media supporters that Mr. Ayers -- who worked with the Democratic nominee for years to disperse education grants through a group called the Chicago Annenberg Challenge -- has redeemed his terrorist past. In the New York Times, for example, Frank Rich writes that "establishment Republicans and Democrats alike have collaborated with the present-day Ayers in educational reform."

I've studied Mr. Ayers's work for years and read most of his books. His hatred of America is as virulent as when he planted a bomb at the Pentagon. And this hatred informs his educational "reform" efforts. Of course, Mr. Obama isn't going to appoint him to run the education department. But the media mainstreaming of a figure like Mr. Ayers could have terrible consequences for the country's politics and public schools.
Sadly, the education establishment has done much more than the media to bring Bill Ayers's views on education reform into the mainstream. Take a look at the curriculum of almost any college of education in the country and you'll find that the views of Ayers and his co-ideologues are taught as gospel. A commitment to promoting "social justice" is practically a prereq in most of the nation's education schools today, including at my alma mater - the University of Alabama. The UA College of Education Faculty Handbook states:
We require future practitioners in all areas to develop an informed understanding of the nature and purposes of education; to engage in the ongoing processes of reflection and dialogue that are at the heart of professional practice. These abilities, together with a respect for diversity and a commitment to social justice, empower our graduates to be leaders and agents of change for school improvement.
And so my concern about Barack Obama's long association with Bill Ayers is not because I believe that Obama endorses Ayers's terrorist acts. I know that he doesn't. My chief concern is that Obama either shares or sympathizes with Ayers's views on education, society, and "social justice."

Ayers is a radical among radicals, and when a respected public figure like Barack Obama lends his own credibility to such a person's life work, I think it's fair game to bring it to the public's attention.