Calling Bill Ayers a school reformer is a bit like calling Joseph Stalin an agricultural reformer. (If you find the metaphor strained, consider that Walter Duranty, the infamous New York Times reporter covering the Soviet Union in the 1930s, did, in fact, depict Stalin as a great land reformer who created happy, productive collective farms.) For instance, at a November 2006 education forum in Caracas, Venezuela, with President Hugo Chávez at his side, Ayers proclaimed his support for “the profound educational reforms under way here in Venezuela under the leadership of President Chávez. We share the belief that education is the motor-force of revolution. . . . I look forward to seeing how you continue to overcome the failings of capitalist education as you seek to create something truly new and deeply humane.” Ayers concluded his speech by declaring that “Venezuela is poised to offer the world a new model of education—a humanizing and revolutionary model whose twin missions are enlightenment and liberation,” and then, as in days of old, raised his fist and chanted: “Viva Presidente Chávez! Viva la Revolucion Bolivariana! Hasta la Victoria Siempre!”
As I have shown in previous articles in City Journal, Ayers’s school reform agenda focuses almost exclusively on the idea of teaching for “social justice” in the classroom. This has nothing to do with the social-justice ideals of the Sermon on the Mount or Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Rather, Ayers and his education school comrades are explicit about the need to indoctrinate public school children with the belief that America is a racist, militarist country and that the capitalist system is inherently unfair and oppressive. As a leader of this growing “reform” movement, Ayers was recently elected vice president for curriculum of the American Education Research Association, the nation’s largest organization of ed school professors and researchers.
If you can believe it, General Petraeus has already taken a quick read through Great Powers and sent me comments. He couldn't have gotten the book more than a week ago. The good general was also kind enough to provide some student feedback from my last time at Leavenworth. Is he a complete freak of nature or what? It's not just the volume but the breadth that impresses, along with the ability--as Steve DeAngelis likes to say--to "ride the elevator" from the top to the bottom of the organization on a daily basis. It's rare to find the person who's that good at both the details and the big picture, as most people (like me) lean one way or the other. My guess? Petraeus looms large in an Obama administration--the honest broker of civ-mil relations (like Powell aspired to be when Clinton came in). Then, just like Powell, there will be talk of Petraeus running for president come 2016 (along with premature, loose talk in 2012, because I suspect he'll still be in uniform, replacing Mullen as CJCS--even if some rules must be bent (and I may be mixing up the logical dates on this)). At that point he'll be 64 and my guess is he'll still be able to crank somewhere in the range of 6-min miles, which is frightening to consider. [Speaking of which, my son Kevin's four-year quest to get a ribbon at the big central Indiana (with teams all the way from Terre Haute and Bloomington) CYO XC championship meet was consummated yesterday with a 12:02 3k performance that netted him a champion's ribbon for 19th place. Kev now moves on to higher competition and I start with younger son Jerry next year--a change in capacity that I welcome! So clearly, we have respect for competitive runners in my family.] And no, despite the age range, Petraeus wouldn't signal the return of the Boomer presidency. Far more than McCain, in my mind, this guy constitutes his own political genus--like an Ike (to whom he will be compared if he does anything in Afghanistan that resembles his success in Iraq). And if I assume he'd be a center-right candidate (educated guess, but guess nonetheless), he'd be the GOP's perfect follow-up to an Obama presidency. Actually, it's almost sick to start hypothesizing about 2012 and 2016, but such is the nature of the beast.