You can make the case that people who are progressives are better than the rest of us.
They look beyond their own existence. They are attuned to what is happening in communities all across the state. They care about people, especially the less fortunate. They come up with ideas to improve others’ lives. And they do what they do because they believe in it. That is, they aren’t trying to get rich doing it. Nor are they in it for fame or glory. As if!
That said, there’s another side to the progressives. Every once in a while, their “bad” comes out. Every once in a while, they can really put the OGRE in progressive.
This is well established in history.
The folks that led the French revolution had a motto. It was that “some must die, so the revolution can live.”
And Lenin said: “We stand for organized terror, and that should be freely admitted. In times of revolution, terror is an absolute necessity.”
Now we’re not suggesting that our progressive friends in New York would ever advocate the use of guillotines or gulags, but they do, on occasion, resort to tactics that are excessive. This is in the course of trying to change things for the better.
A while back there was the whole “Occupy Wall Street” thing, which, at first, everyone viewed as a novel way to direct attention to corporate excess. But after a while, it became bizarre. Bank bailouts are wrong, so let’s trash this public park. Huh? What?
This past summer, the progressives staged a revolt against Cuomo. Now as we’ve written numerous times, Cuomo can be maddening, but the way the progressives were carrying on was absurd. Cuomo has achieved more for them than any governor in modern times, but they convinced themselves that he was worse than Pataki.
Then there was Bill DeBlasio stunt over the weekend, which we’ve written about. It clearly was inspired by progressives, but it was harmful, not only to Hillary Clinton, but to their own cause.
And finally, there’s this matter of student testing.
Let’s analyze this. To start, let’s give progressives their due: The educational system is becoming test crazy. Instead of educating kids, we’re “teaching to the test.”
Good point. Valid point. So our collective response should be what? Well, the progressives say the response should be to boycott the tests.
This is that thing again. This is the progressives having a point, but taking it too far and suggesting a response that isn’t either proportional or logical in long run.
Well, the tests in question are federal tests, and opting out can jeopardize federal funding. If, as progressives in the education sector always say: “It’s all about the funding,” how can they turn around now and say: “Screw the funding, boycott the tests.” How does that square?
Much more importantly, there’s something subversive here.
We don’t want to overreach with our argument, but we think it’s dangerous to have teachers encourage students to go against “authority.”
Several of us in our little group have taught. One of our members made it a career and this member gives a disturbing account of how student attitudes have deteriorated over the decades.
Toward the end of her career, her greatest frustration was an increasingly ingrained notion in children that they didn’t have to listen to her. “Toward the end, I wasn’t giving direction like I once did and having it followed eagerly. I was asking them, begging them to do the work.”
Our point here is that the erosion of authority in the classroom may be worsened by the call for a boycott. What’s being said, in effect, is that the people in charge of our education system don’t know what they are doing, and that students and parents don’t need to listen to them.
That’s a terrible message.
Eventually, this problem over testing is going to be worked out, along with the teacher evaluation controversy which is a subtext.
What will remain? A classroom dynamic in which learning will be more difficult because nobody respects the system.
Progressives don’t want that. They want to help improve education. They want to do the right thing. They always do. But their tactics are wrong here.