The Damage Ideologues Do

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.


8 responses to “The Damage Ideologues Do”

  1. […] In this post, he describes two people but does not identify them by name. […]

    1. EdwardBerger

      Michelle Rhee and Arne Duncan were the models I used for this blog about ideologues.

  2. I know you said names don’t matter…..but Michelle Rhee and Arne Duncan???

  3. Even without naming them, you are describing the current and the last Secretaries of USDOE. Actually they are anything but ideologues. They are both opportunistic, and instead of embracing the outcry of teachers and students and listening to those who need a voice and a motivator for change, they both take the sides of coporate education profiteers and privatizers. They both embrace one-size-fits-all testing and they both continue to disguise minimal standards with fancy names and labels, but the bottom line, is given the current state of teacher training institutions throughout the land, nothing will change to better the condition of teaching and learning in classrooms and nothing will happen concomitantly economically fast enough to relieve the pressure on the children at home. It would be one thing to acknowledge that these ideologues have actually done something as the author pointed out. They have done nothing significant, and in so doing, they will leave no legacy, just a void, where they could have made a difference.

  4. Guy Brandenburg

    It was very obvious it was Michelle & Arne.

  5. I just want to understand the “big picture” here. I don’t comprehend what the end sum game will be. Is all of this simply to put money into the hands of the privateers? Do none of these people value education, let alone the lives of millions of children? Do none of these people appreciate one public educator? Where do they come up with their observations? Why do they continue to hav so much power? Who gives them this power? I am not a fan of conspiracy theories, but I do see that in states where the governors are republicans with republican legistures, these changes are taking place rapidly. I also see that in areas where there is a desire for evangelical education to dominate the common thought, these changes towards privitization are gaining support. There are too many coincidences that seem to be happening, and day by day the motives seem to be revealed. I guess some won’t agree with me, but I see this as a two-fold operation. I think both those seeking private profit and control as well as those who deny scientific facts and wish to push religion instead are working together for their own goals, even though they may not be in this for the same reasons. They are willing to put up with the other “reformers” as long as they get their own way, achieve the purpose of breaking up public education and the department of education. They have somehow come to believe that they are in possession of “solutions”. Yet, they can’t seem to see the forest for the trees. Or, maybe they can’t see the trees for the forest. There are some good objectives and new ways of looking at things. The problem is with the implementation. Until they stop trying to fast-track their notions of change into the educational system and give people time to examine and implement effectively, there will be no improvement in education in the United States. Until they accept what is good and in place already, they will not allow growth. Most of all, until they realize the individuality of each child and each student, they will make no positive progress. Careers are being shattered. People who have dedicated their entire lives to educating children are being shoved out the door or retiring in order to avoid the stresses of trying to do the RIGHT thing in the midst of all the rapidly changing demands … with never enough time to study and implement or evaluate. Somehow this has got to stop.

    1. “Is all of this simply to put money into the hands of the privateers?” Yes, definitely. I would say the end game is to ultimately privatize education completely, consequently removing it as a public good and making it an adjunct of the corporation. , Whether that improves education or not (which it will not) does not matter to these people. They are basically setting these charter schools up to fail, since in fact these schools are not doing any better on their favorite measure, (standardized tests), than the public schools. Henry Giroux says in his book, Education and the Crisis of Public Values “There is also the broader element of a neoliberal project that views charters as an interim measure on the way to ending public education and replacing it with public funded private schooling. While there are individuals and groups who advocate for charter schools as part of an attempt to strengthen public education, they often fail to realize that once a public school is transformed into a charter school, it then becomes easy to close and replace with privatized solutions.”

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