Ideologues assume that they can move society forward. They are usually attractive, charismatic, able to sell themselves and ideas they support. They are useful to politicians, and to those who want to exploit others to enhance their personal wealth and power. One of the most disturbing characteristics of ideologues is their belief that they have the right answers and know what others need. Once entrenched in their ideology, it becomes a personal issue, a ‘no-holds-barred’ belief that their insights are right. Anyone who disagrees is wrong. No facts that shed light on their incorrect or incomplete analysis of situations can change them. They set a hypothesis and discount anybody, or any of their actions that prove it wrong or incomplete. They become the True Believers that will do anything to dominate and force their ideas.
Because they are useful to those who want control and power, these charismatic, attractive sales agents become the tools of movements designed to achieve others agendas. They become the shills of powerful forces, and because they cannot admit that their original perception of things is wrong or incomplete, they end-up fronting movements that enhance other agendas – movements that might otherwise turn their stomachs (ALEC, Koch).
Let us look at two examples of these compelling and attractive people on the American stage at this time. Both have caused great turmoil and change in America’s education system. Both are so turned to their own perceptions of what they have decided is right, that even in the light of facts contradicting their conclusions, they will not accept that they are on the wrong track. Because they have blinders on, they are the perfect tools of those who want to exploit children and gain access to the education tax dollars we pay to support quality education. Financial rewards, personal attention, and glory overcome their decency. Ego-driven, they need to stay on the stage.
(XXXX names are not important, what they do is)
XXXX is an ideologue. Sometime, perhaps when she was a young girl, she decided that her insights were correct and that she had all the answers. She blocked-out information countering her “insights.” Whatever her experiences, her original conclusions about the way things work did not change. As she moved through partial experiences (for example as a TFA classroom aide) she already knew what she would learn. She used her attractiveness, her charisma, and her ‘leadership con’ to get others to support her.
As she rose to power, she failed. Her mindset proved incorrect. She believes in top-down coercion as the solution to education change. She used her power to fire, destroy, and to force change in the XXXX Schools. She punishes and humiliates those who disagree with her. It soon became obvious she was terribly wrong – that how she perceived others and social change was nightmare thinking that only made things worse. Nevertheless, as an ego-driven ideologue, she chose to ignore her lessons of failure and charge full ahead to prove herself right. At that point, she became the tool of those who want to take over the American schools for profit, not for kids. They provide her with big financial rewards and grease the wheels of her drastic, ill-conceived programs. They use her as a figurehead for their own agenda, which is to destroy public schools, teacher associations, educators and gain access to tax dollars. She cannot admit that she has failed and is hurting others.
XXXX, has much the same trajectory. As a graduate of top schools, he had the charisma and hutzpah to work his way into the upper echelons of the XXXX Schools. With a background in limited dealings with African youth, and experiences gained in a childcare center, he decided that the XXXX school system could not evolve or be fixed, and that alternatives such as Charter Schools would be the solution. He carried his incorrect perceptions of what was wrong with education, teachers, schools, and parents into his job, ignoring information that was necessary to define and solve the problems. Blinded by his ideological conclusions, he sought to become the hood ornament and savior of education.
He failed time-and-time-again to recognize the problems with XXXX schools, which were not solely problems caused by unions, bad teachers, and poor administration, but rather the results of poverty and a failed political/economic system that deprived children of hope and a future.
Because of his charisma and salesmanship, he was rescued by a presidential candidate who bought-into his “insights” and eventually made him head of the XXXX. Rather than admit that his perceptions and hypothesis were wrong, and that his ideology is fractured at best, he knelt to those who wanted to use him for their own agenda: The privatization of public education for corporate profit, and militarization to force change in a top-down coercive manner. He continues to push much of the Bush administration’s nonsense legislation and practices (for example, high-stakes testing) that his new “buds” want in place (Pearson, Murdoch). He adopted policies of cooperation with non-educators, regardless of their ignorance of education and children’s needs. These are economically powerful “experts” who imagine they have educational solutions. Think Gates, Waltons, Eli Broad, and Bloomberg. He is helping them destroy community schools, teachers, and one of the greatest educational systems the world has known.
He cannot admit that he is wrong, so he goes along and does not fight for evolution and intelligent change within the system. As a result, the Obama administration may be known as the administration that destroyed One Cohesive Nation, held together by a comprehensive educational system and standards controlled by Federal guarantees of equal education opportunities for all.
Ideologues, as in these examples, are doing great harm to the American people.