Category Archives: Suicide

GATEECA – Part 4

Question:  Is all this talk of Eugenics limited to my paranoia or to conspiracy theorists?  Am I alone in connecting education and Eugenics in the modern era of technology? 

Answer: In a 2011 piece, Eugenic Legacies Still Influence Education by David Cohen, he writes:

“One of the most important guiding principles in education is in loco parentis – we are morally and legally obliged to act “in place of the parent” when children are in our care.  That principle is the main reason for the sharply negative and visceral reaction I had when I read about John F. Kennedy High School using color-coded identification cards based on student test scores, and then a later article describing a similar program at Cypress High School (both in Orange County, California).  According to the Orange County Register, the different cards also led to different privileges around school, discounts on various purchases, and even led an administrator to insult a group of students in an assembly.” ~ David Cohen

Jim Horn also writes recently in Schools Matter: Charles Murray, KIPP, and the Second Coming of Eugenics:

” Just over a hundred years ago the devout social Darwinist, Andrew Carnegie, exercised his philanthropic muscle to fund the creation of the eugenics research hothouse known as the Station for the Experimental Study of Evolution, in Cold Springs Harbor, New York.  He got nothing for it except the satisfaction that his Spencerian values had been expressed in a way that would have lasting effect.  In 2012, economic enablers like Bill Gates and Eli Broad can stand on a similar belief that cultural defectives can be eliminated without the costly acknowledgment of poverty, but this time around these modern day Carnegies can make sure that they are repaid in tax breaks for their classist and racist largesse.” ~ Jim Horn [NOTE: As the author of Living Behind the Gates, I apologize for an incorrect citation when originally posted.  Dr. Stephen Krashen did not write the above blog “Schools Matter: Charles Murray, KIPP, and the Second Coming of Eugenics.  This blog was authored by Jim Horn.]

 

Question:  But has the stage been set for the Department of Eugenics to go even further than it did in the 1920’s?

Fact:  One would assume that this crime against the poor and vulnerable ended long ago.  It did not.  Forced sterilization continued in the United States long after Hitler was dead, until 1974 in fact.

“The sterilization program ended in 1974, but its legacy will not go away. Many of its victims are still alive and they bear witness to a bureaucracy that trampled on the rights of the poor and the powerless. ” ~ Kevin Begos, Lifting the Curtain on a Shameful Era,  Journal Now:  Against Their Will

Considering the facts listed above, perhaps the policy and practice of Eugenics has never ended.

Answer:  Although the tool of sterilization has not been re-instituted as yet:

NDAA has been passed and signed.

Internment camps have been built and staffed.

Peaceful protestors are gunned down with rubber bullets or pepper sprayed for no just cause.

Riot police prevent civil liberties based on our nation’s constitutional rights.

Mayoral control has reduced the rights  and liberties of local communities. 

Newt Gingrich is suggesting we replace school janitors with school children, changing labor laws back to the 1920’s.

Child labor laws are being challenged across America.

Minimum wage for children is being recommended at an appalling rate of just $5.25 per hour.

More Black and Latino boys are being imprisoned each year.

The school-to-prison pipeline is designed to profit off of the poor through privatization of prisons.

Union busting laws are decreasing the rights of the working class.

The reproductive rights of women are being legislated without their voices. Virginia Lawmakers threatened to vaginally probe women without a say in their own medical care through legislation that did not allow the testimony of women at hearings.

The Supreme Court is set to rule on continuation of Affirmative Action that may tear down the wall of protection, again segregating and stratifying our people by race.   Higher Education has been held in check to integrate by race through Affirmative Action for years.

 Bill and Melinda Gates have invested in Monsanto which produces GMO corn that has been proven to cause sterility and organ disease.

Activists have protested the Gates Foundation ties with Monsanto.

Yet  Bill Gates claims Monsanto is necessary to fight starvation.

The Gates couple uses Foxconn in China to create X-Box.  Monsanto and Foxconn both enforce slave-like working conditions to maximize profit.

“The same company that we recently exposed to be running ‘slave-like’ working conditions, forcing poor workers to operate the corn fields for 14 hours per day while withholding pay.” ~ Anthony Gucciardi, Monsanto Investor Bill Gates Says GMO Crops Necessary to Fight Starvation, Info Wars

Question:  Why do we continue to listen to Bill  and Melinda Gates? Why do we allow these self-appointed elites to create policies that govern a profession they know NOTHING about?

Answer:  Paul Thomas sorts this out for us in detailing the dangerous way the oligarchs are running public education in his piece for The Daily KOS – “Do As I Say, Not As I Do – Why Authority Fails”.
Paul writes:

“The education reform debate and the current state of education policy are absent authoritative leadership, and like the century leading up to today, we will remain mired in bureaucratic insanity at the expense of students and the wider American society.

It is past time that we acknowledge some harsh facts: Without his political appointments, Arne Duncan’s claims about education would fall on deaf ears (as they should); without his billions, Bill Gates would also be largely ignored. The same can be said about presidents, governors, senators, and members of congress all across the U.S.

Credible leadership springs from “This is what I have done.”

All else is the failure of authoritarian hypocrisy. And even a child can see that.”

`
Make it. Instead of chopping yourself down to fit the world, chop the world down to fit yourself. As a matter of fact, two exceptional people make another world. You and I, we make another, separate world. You don’t want a world same as your brothers-in-law. It’s just the special quality you value. Do you want to be normal or ordinary! It’s a lie. You want to be free and extraordinary, in an extraordinary world of liberty.’ ~ D. H. Lawrence

Dead Poets Society: Contact Microsoft or the Gates Foundation for Free One-Time Membership

Truth like-like a blanket that always leaves your feet cold.

Y-Y-You push it, stretch it, it’ll never be enough.

You kick at it, beat it, it’ll never cover any of us.

From the moment we enter crying t-to the moment we leave dying,

it’ll just cover your face as you wail and cry and scream.

~ Todd Anderson, The Dead Poets Society, IMBd quotes

Melinda and Bill Gates have attempted to cover the cold hard feet of truth with their blanket of propaganda in order to maintain their status as the richest couple in the world.

However, like in the poem from The Dead Poets Society, the cold feet of truth are always left exposed at some point, in this case for the people of the working class.  This exposure falls too late for some, however in the past weeks, two incidents have been uncovered that have impacted the worlds of real people, both in China and in the United States.

Both of these true stories are connected directly to Melinda and Bill Gates,  one to Microsoft, and one to the Gates Foundation’s control over public education.  Both are related to horrible working conditions caused directly by the Gates’.

Both stories end in desperation and finally in the loss of real human lives – lives precious to the families and co-workers of real human beings not as privileged as the Gates family, but valuable nevertheless.

**Warning- like the movie, the topic and photos are dark and graphic, as the truth is sometimes, and even more often as the Gates take more control over our world.

One such story involves the desperate working conditions, a 300 person suicide threat in protest, and the deaths of 16 workers by suicide at Foxconn – Microsoft’s X-Box manufacturers in China.

The second story, closer to home, involves the deplorable working conditions in a public school – ending in the suicide of a teacher, Mary Thorson, who was a 32-year-old physical education teacher at Cottage Grove Upper Grade Center in Ford Heights, Illinois, who ended her own life on November 24, 2011, citing horrible working conditions as her reason.  These horrible public school working conditions can be traced directly to the education reform and bullying of teachers via demonization of our profession started by none other than Melinda and Bill Gates.

The Gates family has more than any human needs – when it comes to money – and they use it to control the main stream media in their attempt at blanketing the truth with pure propaganda.

Here’s the propaganda and spin created by Microsoft and Gates via the media:

“Microsoft takes working conditions in the factories that manufacture its products very seriously, and we are currently investigating this issue,” the statement said.

“The welfare of our employees is our top priority and we are committed to ensuring that all employees are treated fairly and that their rights are fully protected,” the company statement said. ~ CNN, “Microsoft Probes Mass Suicide Threat at China Plant”

And here’s more propaganda by Gates:

“Microsoft is one of many companies that contracts with Foxconn to manufacture hardware. Upon learning of the labor protest in Wuhan, we immediately conducted an independent investigation of this issue,” starts the statement that comes from a Microsoft spokesperson.

Source: The Inquirer (http://s.tt/15csh)

And more propaganda by Microsoft:

“After the incident, Microsoft gave Kotaku’s Brian Ashcraft the following statement. 

Foxconn has been an important partner of ours and remains an important partner. I trust them as a responsible company to continue to evolve their process and work relationships. That is something we remain committed to—the safe and ethical treatment of people who build our products. That’s a core value of our company.”

~ Rebecca Greenfield, “Foxconn Is Still a Hard Place to Work”, The Atlantic Wire

Workers at Foxconn morn the suicide deaths of their co-workers

due to Microsoft’s poor working conditions.

This graphic is part of the Swiss-based Public Eye campaign to elect the world’s worst corporation. Foxconn is a 2011 nominee.  ~ Greenpeace

But here are the cold hard facts, the feet of truth sticking out under the blanket of the Gates propaganda about China’s Microsoft X-Box workers:

“Last year a startling 18 Chinese migrant workers attempted suicide at Foxconn production facilities located in Guangdong, Jiangsu and Hebei Provinces. Fourteen died, while four survived with critical injuries. All were between 17 and 25 years old. Why did they, in the prime of youth, give up on their lives?

According to a woman working on the soldering line attaching speakers to MP3- and MP4-format digital audio players: ‘After work, all of us – more than 100 persons – are made to stay behind. It happens whenever workers get punished. A girl is forced to stand at attention to read aloud a statement of self-criticism. She must be loud enough to be heard. Our line leader would ask if the worker at the far end of the workshop could hear clearly the mistake she has made. Oftentimes girls feel like they are losing face. It’s very embarrassing. Her tears drop. Her voice becomes very small.’” ~ Jenny Chan, iSlave New Internationalist Magazine

‘I am just a speck of dust’…

Does that statement give you the same message as the Gates Foundation regarding the equal value [see below, straight from the Gates Foundation website] of every human life?  I think not!

Death at Foxconn: Ma Zishan mourns his son Ma Xiangqian, the tenth protest suicide against draconian management at the south China electronics firm. The suicides continue. Joe Tan / Reuters

“As American consumers ogle over shiny new gadgets at this week’s Consumer Electronic’s Show, the workers that make those products are threatening mass suicide for the horrid working conditions at Foxconn. 300 employees who worked making the Xbox 360 stood at the edge of the factory building, about to jump, after their boss reneged on promised compensation, reports English news site Want China Times. It’s not like this is the first time working conditions at Foxconn have made news outside China. But iPhone and Xbox sales surely haven’t lagged in the wake of those revelations and neither Apple nor Microsoft has done much of anything to fix things. 

Instead of the raise they requested, these workers were given the following ultimatum: quit with compensation, or keep their jobs with no pay increase. Most quit and never got the money. That’s when the mass suicide threat came in. The incident actually caused a factory wide shutdown, reports Record China. 

Sympathetic corporate statements aside, the conditions haven’t much improved. Beyond this threat — the mayor eventually talked the angry workers down — suicides persist. Apple has given similar responses, saying it ensures safe working conditions and fair employee treatment. 

That translates to making employees sign “no suicide” pacts and letting 13 year-olds work half-day long shifts, as Mike Daisey, a self-proclaimed Apple fanboy, detail in this week’s This American Life. Daisey goes to Shenzhen, China, where Foxconn employs over 400,000 workers. He talks to both factory workers and businessmen, gathering chilling information about the situation at the factory, discovering suicide nets, 36-hour shifts, 27-year-old burn outs with dismembered limbs and underage workers.”

~ Rebecca Greenfield, “Foxconn Is Still a Hard Place to Work”, The Atlantic Wire

As I write this blog, I am chilled by the last statement by Daisey and the confirmed suicides of 16 Foxconn workers.  These deaths are due to the horrible working conditions minimized by Melinda and Bill Gates, who fool Americans about their caring philanthropy by more propaganda via media spin.

“Over the last two years, at least 16 Foxconn employees have committed suicide in the company’s Shenzhen, China factory. Three other workers attempted to kill themselves at the factory. Those deaths have prompted the company to say that it will install “suicide nets” around the factory to discourage employees from jumping from buildings. Foxconn has also offered some workers a 20 percent wage increase to improve morale.” ~ Don Reisinger, “Foxconn Settles With Workers Who Threaten Mass Suicide”, C-Net

But how could Melinda and Bill Gates possibly be responsible for the suicide death of a public school teacher due to working conditions? After all, the Gates don’t “own” and “operate” public schools!  Or do they?

Let’s look at the story about Mary Thorson and the Cottage Grove Upper Grade Center in Chicago, IL., starting with the propaganda by the Gates’ own views on how their influence impacts public education.

Gates  and Gates Foundation Propaganda:

“In most workplaces, there is an implicit bargain: Employees get the support they need to excel at their jobs, and employers build a system to evaluate their performance. The evaluations yield information that employees use to improve—and that employers use to hold employees accountable for results.

At Microsoft, we believed in giving our employees the best chance to succeed, and then we insisted on success. We measured excellence, rewarded those who achieved it and were candid with those who did not. Teachers don’t work in anything like this kind of environment, and they want a new bargain.

We know this because they told us so in a recent survey that our foundation undertook with Scholastic. It turns out that teachers don’t like their no-support/low-expectations working conditions any better than we do.”Grading the Teachers” ~  Schools have a lot to learn from buisness say Melinda and Bill Gates.

How does this statement straight from the Gates Foundation settle with you

after reading a statement from a Chinese worker about being a mere speck of dust?

Truth:

One might say that ALL lives have equal value to Melinda and Bill Gates – EXCEPT for anyone not wealthy enough to be in upper management, not wealthy enough to go to private charter schools promoted by Melinda and Bill Gates,or not wealthy enough to run in their social circles.  Some of these “LESS EQUAL” lives might be public school teachers, children and families who are poor, or those who work at Foxconn.  But do I have proof or evidence of that opinion?  I think the lives and words of Mary and the Chinese workers are evidence enough, but is there other evidence?

How do the Gates manage their employees here in Washington State at Microsoft, for example?  There is evidence that Melinda and Bill Gates treat their Microsoft employees in the exact same manner as they are treating US public school children, parents, and teachers – with a few ‘carrots’ and mostly ‘sticks’!

In fact, these ‘sticks’ of cold feet – the truth sticking out from their DeForming measures – are KILLING what they SAY the Gates say they are striving for in education reform –  that big word Melinda and Bill Gates throw around as Corporate EdDeFormers all the time – INNOVATION.  Another one of their trick words is “transformation”.  And another buzz word that they use to make working conditions for students, teachers, and factory workers is “accountability”.

This method of merit-pay-carrots and punitive-decentives kill collaboration, creating a competitive market driven, glory hogging, dog-eat-dog environment where bullies thrive, collaborators despair, and INNOVATION wilts away.  The onl”transformation” that takes place is the increasing stress under bullying that leads to despair.

These methods have also seen a rise in working condition suicides as reported by the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, via Timesizing, Not Downsizing in their article entitled “Work Related Suicide, Death, and Violence”.

See how this same model Gates uses to destroy working conditions impacts employees and INNOVATION at Microsoft. as reported by Joe Wilcox on Beta News in his article, “Why Former Employees Say Microsoft Can’t Innovate”

One of the reasons – Gates doesn’t seem to even understand the concept and meaning of the word… “Innovation”… to him it means “status quo” per his employee, Rodriquez. Yet Gates makes many comments against teachers and teachers’ unions demonizing them for “protecting the status quo!”

Incentives that Discourage Risk, Innovation

“Related to gut-bulging middle management: some HR review and compensation processes discourage many employees from taking the kinds of risks necessary for Microsoft to regain its competitive edge and, quite frankly, to innovate in truly meaningful ways. Microsoft’s definition of innovation, for most of its product groups, is anything that preserves the status quo — meaning extending Office and Windows and increasingly server software like SharePoint and Windows Server. Risk is a dirty word for many employees looking to advance at Microsoft.

A former employee whom I’ll call Rodriguez said of the HR review process: “Microsoft has become too ‘scorecard’ heavy and highly litigated to the point it kills an employee’s spirit of free thinking and creativity, since everything a person does is closely judged by management.” Among the former Microsofties I communicated with over the last couple of months, Rodriguez was the harshest critic of Microsoft’s review process, which he observed is going on right now; fiscal year ends on June 30 and reviews occur midway.

Several former and existing employees tried to explain Microsoft’s seemingly complicated review and compensation process. People are hired at a certain level and can advance up levels, which have corresponding salary ranges. During reviews process, employees are graded with such designations as ‘exceed,’ ‘achieved’ and ‘underperformed’ commitment ratings. These are based on numerous criteria, which include management assessment of performance and achieving goals set during the previous review process. Other criteria include “contribution rankings.” Problem: These criteria sometimes work cross-purposes to performance. Fred explained:

Processes became more bureaucratic and individuals were less empowered to take action.  In fact, oftentimes the incentive structure encouraged individual contributors not to do the right thing, but just to do what they committed to in their review the year prior. In other words, if you committed to include Feature A in Windows, and halfway through the year you realized that was a bad thing for Windows and Microsoft customers, the incentive structure actively discouraged you from trying to kill the feature, because then you wouldn’t have achieved your commitments.

Barry also made similar complaints about the “decentives” to doing a good job. “The metrics are too complex,” he said. “We were evaluated also on a client’s satisfaction with our work.” The client could range from a reporter for Microsofties working in PR to developers for employees doing product development or for anyone to other groups within Microsoft.

Several current and former employees wanting to do better or escape from stifling management situations would request transfers. However, many managers wanted to keep their staff in part “because it would reflect badly on them,” Barry said.

“I was put in ‘performance detention’ due to wanting to expand to another part of the company and ended up in the ‘crapper’ list,” said another former employee, whom I’ll call Mickey”. ~ Joe Wilcox, Beta News, “Why Former Employees Say Microsoft Can’t Innovate”

I and many others have already blogged and written about the Gates’ control over public education reform.  The policies of our US Department of Education are controlled almost entirely by Melinda and Bill Gates.  In fact, Fareed Zakaria on CNN’s “Fixing Education” recently introduced Gates as being “more powerful” than Secretary Arne Duncan of the Department of Education.

Philanthropy vs. Billanthropy:

First and foremost, the Gates Foundation promote themselves as philanthropists.  By the Webster definition, I would highly disagree and redefine  the correct term that describes Melinda and Bill Gates as “Billanthropists”, a term coined on a title of the Economist below.

Webster’s Dictionary definition of Philanthropy: “1: goodwill to fellow members of the human race; especially: active effort to promote human welfare; 2: a: an act or gift done or made for humanitarian purposes b: an organization distributing or supported by funds set aside for humanitarian purposes.”

 A friend and I collaborated to write/edit a definition of Billanthropy:  1. Feigning goodwill, generosity and altruism in an effort to consolidate power and control; using propaganda and financial ‘incentives’ (grants, scholarships, gifts) to trick society into accepting changes in legislation and policies that promote the selfish interests and agendas of the elite billanthropists; influencing and controlling policy and legislative initiatives and attaching mechanisms to ensure profit and power for the elite. b. an organization that pretends an interest in the public good and uses indoctrination and brainwashing to encourage others to donate money.  The funds are then used to promote their own agendas, to make profits and create tax havens.   This process also creates a closed loop, whereby the elites maintain power and control over all institutions within the social-political-economic structure, locally and globally.  [see 1, term used to describe the behavior of Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation as well as many other US Billanthropists.]

Clearly, by the record of recent events, the Gates have invested in A.L.E.C. to control Ed Reform , controlling legislation. This has led to changes in laws surrounding philanthropy, allowing them to both control legislation, government, and education policy while profiting from the many arenas they claim to be ‘giving’ to, while in the meantime they also provide themselves with a fat-cat tax haven.

One of the main ways the Gates can no longer correctly use the term “philanthropy ” is because of recent legislation called PRI’s or Program Related Investments. PRI’s  [A PRI, broadly defined, is a foundation investment to support a charitable project or activity involving the potential return of capital within an established time frame., see NHI in link for more.] By legislating PRI’s for profit, the Gates have all but eliminated their claim to fame when it comes to being philanthropists and now fall into what urban dictionary may define as Billanthropy.

But what do the Gates have to do with the working conditions of public school teachers, you ask?  It all boils down to controlling the US Government and if you don’t believe me, follow the money.

How are the Gates involved in poor working conditions for teachers in public schools, you might ask?

It all started when Gates started the path to kill public schools by first demonizing and deprofessionalizing the teachers.

Here, Diane Ravitch schooled Bill Gates and talks about his demonization of public school teachers  in a response printed in the Washington Post by Valerie Strauss.

Gates:Is she [Ravitch] sticking up for decline?”

Ravitch: “Of course not! If we follow Bill Gates’ demand to judge teachers by test scores, we will see stagnation, and he will blame it on teachers. We will see stagnation because a relentless focus on test scores in reading and math will inevitably narrow the curriculum only to what is tested. This is not good education. “Last week, he said in a speech that teachers should not be paid more for experience and graduate degrees. I wonder why a man of his vast wealth spends so much time trying to figure out how to cut teachers’ pay. Does he truly believe that our nation’s schools will get better if we have teachers with less education and less experience? Who does he listen to? He needs to get himself a smarter set of advisers. “Of course, we need to make teaching a profession that attracts and retains wonderful teachers, but the current anti-teacher rhetoric emanating from him and his confreres demonizes and demoralizes even the best teachers. I have gotten letters from many teachers who tell me that they have had it, they have never felt such disrespect; and I have also met young people who tell me that the current poisonous atmosphere has persuaded them not to become teachers. Why doesn’t he make speeches thanking the people who work so hard day after day, educating our nation’s children, often in difficult working conditions, most of whom earn less than he pays his secretaries at Microsoft?”Diane Ravitch, Ravitch Answers Gates by Valerie Strauss, Washington Post

 

The crime is not Mary Thorson’s own suicide, but that of the Gates’ and all those complicit in intimidating her, and the entire public school system.  Mary is not alone in this feeling of intimidation and this will not be the last suicide caused by Melinda and Bill Gates.

But what about the working conditions for Mary Thorson? 

How could Melinda and Bill Gates possibly have influenced her choice to commit suicide? 

The real cause lies in taking away so much control over people through bullying.  This stripping of power instills fear and loss of self-respect.  Students, teachers, families, and all working class people need a sense of liberty — a sense of control over their own lives.  Just like Neil Perry in The Dead Poets Society, Bill and Melinda Gates take over our lives, telling us exactly how we must teach, how and when we have to test, and the high stakes attached blame us for ‘failures’, humiliating all of us publicly.

These draconian teaching methods were not settling well with Mary Thorson as she watched her students in high poverty respond.  These draconian teaching methods aren’t settling well with many teachers.  Draconian teaching conditions lead to horrible working conditions.  Horrible working conditions lead to horrible learning conditions for our neediest students, especially and Mary Thorson just couldn’t keep forcing these on her students.

In Mary and the people in China’s Foxconn factory, we see the results of such oppression.

Instead of helping Cottage Grove address the issues of poverty, the Chicago school system, highly influenced by Bill and Melinda Gates education policies, intimidated its teachers.  Through the nation’s policies of No Child Left Behind –  Cottage Grove was forced to become a SIG turnaround school [2010], labeling it forever as a failure and holding it up for public humiliation rather than helping it.  School Improvement Grants [SIG] are only offered to schools AFTER they are designated as “failures”.  Why can’t we give schools and children what they need WHEN they need it?  Before they fail?  Why don’t we honor true innovation and creativity like they do with such success in Finland?

The sticks of public humiliation used by Gates to brutalize Mary Thorson who gave so much to her students in poverty proved to be too much for her.

How many more teachers, students, workers do we have to lose before we stop the Gates from this bullying behavior?

Without the pressure of lobbying and earmark dollars, without the controls placed on both the Bush and Obama administrations by Melinda and Bill Gates — it is quite likely that the education reform policies would die away in their own suicidal death spiral.

But with the Gates funding used as the ultimate carrot and stick, they are truly driving the despair that Mary and millions of other teachers across America are feeling.   Students are suffering much of this despair as well. Most of this despair is due to bullying, starting at the top of our corporations, through government, down through districts, and into our schools.  Mental health experts can tell you about these direct cause and effect correlations.

Here in her article entitled, “Illinois teacher Commits Suicide Citing Working Conditions”  by Kristina Betinis, we find the very similar story line to the workers from Microsoft’s Foxconn in China – a story of being pushed and bullied by Melinda and Bill Gates to the point where life itself is not worth living – where the person feels their own life is NOT valued by the Gates at all, by their unions, districts, or schools –  much less equally.

This kind of Gates pressure -cooker of bullying teachers is taking over the country, as was written about here:

“At a December district school board meeting, it became clear Thorson was not alone in feeling threatened by the school administration. Teachers admitted that they are intimidated by school officials, afraid for their jobs and dare not speak openly about the conditions they face. More than one teacher spoke about being harassed for taking sick days. Another teacher noted the irony of having an anti-bullying campaign in the school while the teachers are being bullied.

At the meeting, school administrators pushed back, blaming teachers for not speaking up or citing specifics. School board President Joe Sherman said, “If you guys would have come and brought allegations and we didn’t address it, then you would have every right to say what you need to say.”

Intimidation is a tactic in a nationwide strategy to de-professionalize teaching, as a precondition for the dismantling of public education and the selling off or leasing of its related assets. The so-called educational reforms, begun under the Bush administration and expanded by President Obama, have largely been couched in the highly confrontational language of “accountability,” which implies that teachers are overpaid and undeserving of professional status. This has accompanied a frontal assault on the workplace gains teachers struggled to win throughout the 20th century.

The state of Illinois has led the implementation of these “reforms”, subjecting schools to extremely aggressive measures, including mass firings which force teachers and staff to re-apply for their jobs, buyouts, capricious and punitive academic testing measures, and regular school closures and consolidations, which force students to make their way to schools in other areas. These policies have inflamed the crisis in public schools and the communities they serve, contributing to higher drop-out rates, violence, overcrowding, and burn-out among teachers.

School boards routinely provide cash incentives to administrators to implement these changes on a school-by-school basis, extracting concessions from teachers in violation of their teaching contracts. Ratings and disciplinary measures are regularly used to meet pre-determined numbers of layoffs which administrators are required to carry out over a school year. Outspoken teachers identified by administrators as “troublesome,” and the better-compensated veteran teachers are typically targeted.

In the Chicago Public Schools system, recent “reforms” have included longer school days, where teachers and other staff are not compensated for an additional seven hours per week, and many have reported being threatened and intimidated by school administrators into voting in favor of the extended hours.

As these reactionary policies devastate schools, students and teachers, the state and local budget crises have intensified the negative impact of lower wages and fewer school resources.

It is deeply tragic that the miserable conditions in public schools could result in the suicide of a dedicated young teacher, but once the ruthless policies of the ruling class are seen in full light, such tragedies are all but inevitable. Last October, a longtime Los Angeles-area teacher took his own life after being labeled a “less effective teacher” by the Los Angeles Times. (See “Teacher ranked ‘less effective’ by the Los Angeles Times takes his own life”)

Mary Thorson’s parents have made a special effort to communicate their daughter’s intentions. Her mother said that the young teacher’s suicide was directly related to the pressures at Cottage Grove Upper Grade Center, emphasizing that Mary had no prior mental health issues and was never in a combat situation in the Army Reserve. Thorson’s father said, “Is the school responsible? Yes, the school is responsible.”

Is the school responsible?  Yes, the school is responsible. 

But by their actions – Melinda and Bill Gates have made themselves ‘the school’.  And they are responsible.   For by placing themselves into this position of power over our public schools – by their propaganda winning over the indoctrinated minds of the public to demonize and intimidate our nation’s children, parents, teachers, and schools until they have become even more powerful than our own Department of Education – now, Melinda and Bill Gates ARE the school and yes, they are responsible.

I grieve for the Thorson family, for Mary’s students and coworkers, and for all the family members/coworkers in China who cared deeply about the 16 workers who committed suicide there.  I know a nation of teachers grieves for the Thorson’s and as a nation of 99% working class people, America grieves with China as well.  Once we get past the most painful part of this grief, I believe something will shift.

Like in The Dead Poets Society, there is a tale of redemption. 

I believe that when enough people begin to feel their cold numbed feet of truth wake up, that indeed these lives in China and Illinois will serve a much higher purpose.

What happens under the pressure placed on us?  Do we conform to Bill and Melinda Gates’ standards?  Or do we walk to the beat of our own drummer with courage?

“I stand up here because I remind myself that I must always look at the world in a different way.”

~  John Keating, The Dead Poets Society

We as a nation need to follow the example of the teacher and students in The Dead Poets Society –  we need to stand up on our desks and dare to be our highest selves, dare to look at the world of working class people differently, dare to look at teaching and learning differently, dare to look at children of poverty differently, dare to defy the Gates dynasty and dare to defy the remainder of the Corporate EdDeFormers.  The time is now, before there are any more tragic deaths like Mary Thorson’s!

John Keating: “Boys, you must strive to find your own voice. Because the longer you wait to begin, the less likely you are to find it at all. Thoreau said, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Don’t be resigned to that. Break out!” ~ The Dead Poets Society, IMDb quotes

Carpe’ Diem, my friends!  Seize the day and reclaim our public schools back from these tyrants! 

Neil Perry’s father, wants to control his life, his destiny,  his future – like Gates wants to control ours.  These aspects of our lives do not belong to Gates or any other man or woman just because they are wealthy.  We must not give this up to anyone.  This much I know, our lives and our schools are worth taking back from the bullies.  Like the narrowed curriculum and bubble tests of the Gates edreform, the bullying and controlling — they leave out the poetry, the marrow of our own lives.

John Keating: “We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, “O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless… of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?” Answer.

That you are here –

that life exists, and identity;

that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse.

That the powerful play *goes on* and you may contribute a verse.

What will your verse be?”