Mr. President, remember me? It’s Bill Ayers

I know presidents don't force progress as much as respond to the fire from below. Still, this is one change we need

Topics: Barack Obama, Education, Elections 2012, Bill Ayers, One request for President obama,

Mr. President, remember me? It's Bill Ayers (Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster/Salon/Benjamin Wheelock)
Salon Editor in Chief Kerry Lauerman reached out to our favorite progressive thinkers and writers asking a simple question: What one thing would you ask President Obama to do in his second term? We'll be running their answers over the coming days.

I have a backpack filled to overflowing with grievance and discontent, dissent and demand, as well as wild hopes and radical aspirations: end the wars and the drone strikes, slash the pentagon, fight for universal health care, tear down these walls, recognize and stand with the poor and the working class, assail poverty, put teeth into global warming measures — the list goes on and on.

But I also know that the president is neither a sovereign nor a king, and most of us spend way too much time and energy staring dumbly at the sites of power we have no access to — the White House, for example — wringing our hands and hoping for the best, and far too little time focusing on the prospective power right in front of us: the community and the street, the school and the classroom, the shop and the workplace. Our job is to organize dissent and mobilize an independent movement. Remember: Lyndon Johnson was never part of the Black Freedom Movement, FDR was not a labor leader, and Lincoln never joined an abolitionist party — each is remembered for important actions taken in response to fire from below. Even in the last years it was women, gay, immigrant-rights and environmental activists who moved a progressive agenda forward inch by inch.

But I’ll play along and offer an action step the president could take tomorrow regarding school reform: Fire Arne Duncan and appoint Linda Darling-Hammond as Secretary of Education.



This would signal a significant break with the most destructive aspects of the failed “school reform” agenda this administration has promoted: turning public assets and spaces over to private managers, obstructing any independent, collective voice of teachers, and reducing education to a single narrow metric that claims to recognize an educated person through a standardized test score. While there’s absolutely no proof that this approach improves schooling one iota, it chugs along unfazed — fact-free, faith-based reform at its core, resting on ideology and not evidence.

A teacher and recognized scholar/researcher for decades, Dr. Darling-Hammond will not be swayed by big money or political expediency or the latest fads. She will be independent, professional and principled.

We can then return to the precious but fragile ideal that must power education in a democracy: Every human being is of incalculable value, and the fullest development of all is the condition for the full development of each.

Bill Ayers is a retired Distinguished Professor of Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 14
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Pilot"

    One of our first exposures to uncomfortable “Girls” sex comes early, in the pilot episode, when Hannah and Adam “get feisty” (a phrase Hannah hates) on the couch. The pair is about to go at it doggy-style when Adam nearly inserts his penis in “the wrong hole,” and after Hannah corrects him, she awkwardly explains her lack of desire to have anal sex in too many words. “Hey, let’s play the quiet game,” Adam says, thrusting. And so the romance begins.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Elijah, "It's About Time"

    In an act of “betrayal” that messes up each of their relationships with Hannah, Marnie and Elijah open Season 2 with some more couch sex, which is almost unbearable to watch. Elijah, who is trying to explore the “hetero side” of his bisexuality, can’t maintain his erection, and the entire affair ends in very uncomfortable silence.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Charlie, "Vagina Panic"

    Poor Charlie. While he and Marnie have their fair share of uncomfortable sex over the course of their relationship, one of the saddest moments (aside from Marnie breaking up with him during intercourse) is when Marnie encourages him to penetrate her from behind so she doesn’t have to look at him. “This feels so good,” Charlie says. “We have to go slow.” Poor sucker.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and camp friend Matt, "Hannah's Diary"

    We’d be remiss not to mention Shoshanna’s effort to lose her virginity to an old camp friend, who tells her how “weird” it is that he “loves to eat pussy” moments before she admits she’s never “done it” before. At least it paves the way for the uncomfortable sex we later get to watch her have with Ray?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Hard Being Easy"

    On the heels of trying (unsuccessfully) to determine the status of her early relationship with Adam, Hannah walks by her future boyfriend’s bedroom to find him masturbating alone, in one of the strangest scenes of the first season. As Adam jerks off and refuses to let Hannah participate beyond telling him how much she likes watching, we see some serious (and odd) character development ... which ends with Hannah taking a hundred-dollar bill from Adam’s wallet, for cab fare and pizza (as well as her services).

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Booth Jonathan, "Bad Friend"

    Oh, Booth Jonathan -- the little man who “knows how to do things.” After he turns Marnie on enough to make her masturbate in the bathroom at the gallery where she works, Booth finally seals the deal in a mortifying and nearly painful to watch sex scene that tells us pretty much everything we need to know about how much Marnie is willing to fake it.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Tad and Loreen, "The Return"

    The only sex scene in the series not to feature one of the main characters, Hannah’s parents’ showertime anniversary celebration is easily one of the most cringe-worthy moments of the show’s first season. Even Hannah’s mother, Loreen, observes how embarrassing the situation is, which ends with her husband, Tad, slipping out of the shower and falling naked and unconscious on the bathroom floor.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and the pharmacist, "The Return"

    Tad and Loreen aren’t the only ones to get some during Hannah’s first season trip home to Michigan. The show’s protagonist finds herself in bed with a former high school classmate, who doesn’t exactly enjoy it when Hannah puts one of her fingers near his anus. “I’m tight like a baby, right?” Hannah asks at one point. Time to press pause.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Role-Play"

    While it’s not quite a full-on, all-out sex scene, Hannah and Adam’s attempt at role play in Season 3 is certainly an intimate encounter to behold (or not). Hannah dons a blond wig and gets a little too into her role, giving a melodramatic performance that ends with a passerby punching Adam in the face. So there’s that.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and Ray, "Together"

    As Shoshanna and Ray near the end of their relationship, we can see their sexual chemistry getting worse and worse. It’s no more evident than when Ray is penetrating a clothed and visibly horrified Shoshanna from behind, who ends the encounter by asking if her partner will just “get out of me.”

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Frank, "Video Games"

    Hannah, Jessa’s 19-year-old stepbrother, a graveyard and too much chatting. Need we say more about how uncomfortable this sex is to watch?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Desi, "Iowa"

    Who gets her butt motorboated? Is this a real thing? Aside from the questionable logistics and reality of Marnie and Desi’s analingus scene, there’s also the awkward moment when Marnie confuses her partner’s declaration of love for licking her butthole with love for her. Oh, Marnie.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Vagina Panic"

    There is too much in this scene to dissect: fantasies of an 11-year-old girl with a Cabbage Patch lunchbox, excessive references to that little girl as a “slut” and Adam ripping off a condom to ejaculate on Hannah’s chest. No wonder it ends with Hannah saying she almost came.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>