Valerie Strauss clearly explains who were the losers in the bruising battle between the billionaires and de Blasio: students with disabilities.
Valerie Strauss clearly explains who were the losers in the bruising battle between the billionaires and de Blasio: students with disabilities.
I am late posting this article because it appeared about the time I started dealing with health issues (a bad fall that took out the ACL in my left knee).
It deserves wide reading because it is an accurate portrait of the money and power behind the charter school movement. I commend the writers, Javier C. Hernandez and Susanne Craig for getting the story that took place behind closed doors in Albany and executive suites in Manhattan. It is the best investigative report that I have seen in the “New York Times” on the money fueling the charter movement.
it answers a few basic questions? Why did Governor Cuomo take the lead in fighting to “save” charter schools after Mayor Bill de Blasio approved 14 out of 17 new charters? How did it happen that Eva Moskowitz bused thousands of students and parents to Albany on the very same day that Mayor de Blasio had scheduled a rally to support pre-kindergarten funding? Which billionaires and millionaires put up more than $5 million to create and air attack ads on television against de Blasio? Who masterminded the deal that gave charter schools preferred status over public schools in New York City? Who arranged that they could not be charged rent, that they could expand and push public school kids out of their buildings, and that the city had to pay their rent if they opened in private space?
The deal in the legislature “gave New York City charter schools some of the most sweeping protections in the nation, including a right to space inside public buildings. And interviews with state and city officials as well as education leaders make it clear that far from being a mere cheerleader, the governor was a potent force at every turn, seizing on missteps by the mayor, a fellow Democrat, and driving legislation from start to finish.”
Money was always a potent factor in the backroom dealings:
“A lot was riding on the debate for Mr. Cuomo. A number of his largest financial backers, some of the biggest names on Wall Street, also happened to be staunch supporters of charter schools. According to campaign finance records, Mr. Cuomo’s re-election campaign has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from charter school supporters, including William A. Ackman, Carl C. Icahn, Bruce Kovner and Daniel Nir.
Kenneth G. Langone, a founder of Home Depot who sits on a prominent charter school board, gave $50,000 to Mr. Cuomo’s campaign last year. He said that when the governor asked him to lead a group of Republicans supporting his re-election, he agreed because of Mr. Cuomo’s support for charter schools.
“Every time I am with the governor, I talk to him about charter schools,” Mr. Langone said in an interview. “He gets it.”
And more is on the way, not only for Cuomo, who not only delivered for the billionaires who love charters, but for Eva Moskowitz, who will not only get a 8 new charters–not just the 5 that de Blasio originally approved–but lots of extra money, which will not be used to pay rent:
“Daniel S. Loeb, the founder of the hedge fund Third Point and the chairman of Success Academy’s board, began leaning on Wall Street executives for donations. Later this month, he will host a fund-raiser for Success Academy at Cipriani in Midtown Manhattan; tickets run as high as $100,000 a table.”
Moskowitz claims that her schools don’t spend any more than real public schools, so it remains to be seen how she pans to spend the millions that Dan Loeb will raise for her schools in a single night.
And the sweetest part of the deal for Moskowitz’s Success Academy 4 in Harlem is that her elementary school can now expand to a middle school and take more space away from PS 149, which was once considered the host school. First, she can evict the kids with severe disabilities (her own charter has none), then, thanks to Governor Cuomo, she can evict all the other students and take the entire school away, if she wishes. Sort of like a parasite that grows and grows.
Parent leaders from across Néw York City are rallying tomorrow at 4 pm to protest Governor Cuomo’s deal to give more space, more money, and free rent to the charters that enroll 6% of the children in the city’s schools. This giveaway to billionaire-funded charters occurs at the same time that many public are overcrowded, and class size is at its highest point in 15 years.
Rally at NY Public Library and March On Governor Cuomo’s Office Tomorrow to Draw Hundreds of Outraged Parents from All Over City
Elected Parent Leaders from Citywide and Community Education Councils Across five boroughs Unite Against Gov. Cuomo’s Attacks on Public Education and Demand Fair Treatment of Public School Students
In an unprecedented show of unity, elected parent leaders and public education advocates from all five boroughs will gather to say all kids matter and to protest the selling off of public school buildings by Governor Cuomo and the State Senate leaders to the charter school lobby, by giving preferential rights and funding to the 6% of New York City students in charter schools while the needs of 1.1 million public school students remain unmet.
WHEN: Thursday, April 10, at 4 PM.
WHERE: Steps of the NY Public Library, Fifth Ave. at 41st Street. Following the rally participants will march to the Governor’s Office at 633 Third Avenue at 40th Street.
VISUALS: Parents, advocates, and students holding balloons, signs and flashing fake money.
WHO: Council Education Chair Danny Dromm, State Senator Bill Perkins, NAACP Head Hazel Dukes, former Council Education Chair Robert Jackson, other Council Members, parents, advocates and students, led by Community Education Councils and Citywide Councils from all five boroughs, elected by parents to represent their 1.1 million public school children.
WHAT: Community Education Council members, parents, advocates, and students, educators and elected officials protest how Governor Cuomo and legislative leaders are creating a two-tiered education system, in which the charter school lobby will now be given veto power over New York City’s public school buildings, and any new or expanding charter will be provided free on-demand public school space or private accommodations paid for by the city. Meanwhile, public school students – a majority of whom sit in overcrowded classrooms, buildings and trailers – have no such rights, and still wait for the equitable funding from the State as promised by the state’s highest court in the Campaign for Fiscal Equity decision.
Co-sponsored by Citywide and Community Education Councils; Alliance for Quality Education (AQE); Brooklyn New School PAC; Change the Stakes; Class Size Matters; ICOPE (Independent Commission on Public Education); MORE; New York Communities for Change (NYCC); New York Lawyers for Public Interest; NYCORE; NYCpublic.org; ParentVoicesNY; Parent Leaders of Upper Eastside Schools (PLUS); Partnership for Student Advocacy; Teachers Unite; Time Out from Testing, WAGPOPS (list in formation)
Jonathan Pelto writes here that yesterday was a very bad day for public education in Connecticut.
The State Board of Education voted to hand out $80-100 million over five years to privately managed charters, most known for excluding the neediest kids.
And they voted full steam ahead on Common Core, pet project of the corporate elite, guaranteed to increase testing and costs of hardware, software, and materials with no known benefit to children.
“But whatever his reasoning, it is worth repeating again and again… Dannel “Dan” Malloy has become the most anti-teacher, anti-public education Democratic governor in the country.”
New Yorkers would disagree. We accord that title to Andrew Cuomo
EduShyster volunteers to join the mighty and the very rich at Camp Philos, where our self-anointed thought leaders will figure out how to hasten the privatization of public schools and how to get rid of those expensive veteran teachers, while encouraging more young people to spend a year or two as “teachers” before finding their real career.
Is that a real Paypal button? If it is, I am donating to send our very own thought leader.
Wouldn’t it be funny if most of those who signed up were opposed to privatization and union-busting and teacher-bashing?
I am reminded of a long story or short novel by Joseph Conrad in which the protagonist is encouraged by the authorities to join a small band of anarchists who are planning an act of violence. He joins, blends in, and—spoiler alert!–belatedly discovers that all of them are double agents, like him.
If only that were true at Camp Philos, but alas, we know the agenda of these guys: They represent the Status Quo and the 1%. In Cuomo’s case, he represents Wall Street and the 3% of children in charters. He just brokered a state budget deal to cut the tax rate on banks and to shower money on privately managed charters, at the expense of the 97%.
Carol Burris here describes how Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York legislature pulled a fast trick on the parents of the state.
Kathleen M. Cashin and Bruce S. Cooper are on the faculty of Fordham University. Dr. Cashin, an experienced educator, is also a member of the New York State Board of Regents. She is regularly in the minority on votes that increase the pressure for high-stakes testing. Dr. Cooper is a scholar who has written about school finance for many years. In this essay, they criticize the state’s pressure to raise test scores while sacrificing the social and emotional supports that students need to succeed in school. Schools across the state, restricted by Governor Cuomo’s 2% tax limit, must cut somewhere, and they are forced to cut such necessary services to students as social workers, psychologists, counselors, as well as the arts and athletics. These demands and the sacrifices they require will prove harmful to students, in the short run and the long run. A cardinal rule of medicine, derived from the Hippocratic Oath, is: “First, do no harm.” If it were the rule in education, the Regents and the State Commissioner would be judged to have done significant harm to the students in their care, whose well-being they willfully ignore in pursuit of ever higher scores on standardized tests.
Sacrificing Psychologists, Counselors,
& Social Workers—and Athletics & the Arts—to Test Preparation
Kathleen M. Cashin Bruce S. Cooper
To increase funds for the preparation of students for state tests, sadly, New York public schools and their districts have reduced the number of professionals for critical student services; these include guidance counselors, psychologists, and social workers, while removing often athletic coaches, arts and music staff. But how can we expect our children to flourish in schools socially, psychologically, and inter-personally if these students have fewer trained school professionals to turn to, should they need help, comfort, or support?
Thus, we are cutting the most important services for children, those that help them to develop as healthy, happy human beings, all because we are obsessed with spending more funds, hoping to raise test score results through test prep. As one school principal recently commented, “Just forget it if you are seeking a job as a school guidance counselor, as these jobs are few and far between!”
For example, New York State recorded a decline from 7,126 guidance counselors in local public schools in 2009, to 6,622 in school year 2011-12, a drop of 7%, even though the enrollments (and needs) had risen. Likewise, social workers in the state employed in public schools dropped by 6%, from 3,270 to 3,050 during the same time period. And nurses working in public schools in New York declined by 3%, from 3,662 to 3,544 during this time.
As another administrator recalls, when he was a student at a major N.Y.C. public high school, his guidance counselor frequently called him into her office and asked:
“How are you adjusting to school?” She would regularly check on my grades, attendance, and my adjustment to various subjects and classes. This attention and private time meant so much to me, and I remember her fondly to this day, as she helped me to become the person and professional that I became.
Even teachers of art, music, drama, and physical education – and other areas that often go “untested” by the state — are disappearing, again reducing children’s engagement, joy, expression, physical fitness, creativity, and affirmation. What have we as a society accomplished by turning schools into “test mills” where fewer kids are happy; and schools are now spending eight months each year prepping for state tests?
Funding for the music and art in schools in New York City, for example, has plummeted by 81 percent since 2006, from about $10 million for supplies, dipping down to just $2 million in 2012. Cultural partnership funding — to build bridges between N.Y.C. public schools and it important cultural institutions — likewise, has been reduced by 50 percent, from $26 million to only $13 million.
Now, attention and time devoted to the “whole child” are now much less likely because teachers working alone in their classrooms are assuming more and more responsibility. And we see less staff who are trained and hired to help students — socially and emotionally — with a reduction in social workers, guidance counselors, athletic coaches, and school psychologists.
As a consequence, what are the effects of this drop in guidance counselors, now fewer in number in many schools, on children’s growth, stability, school attendance, as well the impact on levels of bad behaviors, such as physical bullying, and cyber-bullying? Those staff, specifically trained to address these students’ needs and problems, have diminished and thus are no longer around — or have so many students to serve, that they are not able to counsel students fully for college and career readiness.
We have data on the reduction in nonteaching staff, and on the rise of bad, anti-social behavior and depression among school kids; thus, we are believe that the drop in counselors and athletic-arts-music staff relates to the rising despair of students, who may have no one to whom to turn: fewer coaches, counselors, and psychologists in their schools.
Hence, we are making demands that students now become college and career prepared, while reducing (or overburdening) the very staff members who are trained to help these students. These critical questions must be answered at the federal, state, and local levels:
1. What is the level of relationship between loss of staff and the rise in student bullying and cyber-bullying?
2. What are the effects of reductions in available psychological and guidance personnel upon the levels of: (a) student suicide, (b) self-mutilation, and (c) truancy and dropout?
3. And how has the increase in gang membership — and combat among gangs –affected students’ feelings of school safety, school climate, and productivity?
Thus, overall, why are we letting our schools become less humane, supportive, and communal. And how are some students taking steps to join or create more gangs for fellowship and a sense of safety in numbers—or trying in other ways to create their own “safety nets”? Unsafe schools may then become breeding grounds, where frightened children look for protection in neighborhood gangs.
In effect, students are creating their own victimhood by these actions:
• Looking to gangs for protection from other gangs;
• Missing coping mechanisms developed through counseling, guidance, and teacher relationships;
• Losing chances to learn life and life-coping skills in schools, along with other students and professional staff;
• Reducing available parental involvement and support in helping their own children learn to cope, practice, and succeed in school – and life; and,
• Losing real opportunities to practice social and personal skills at school and home.
We must recognize that caring for and supporting the socio-emotional needs of children are as important in the long-run as simply test-prepping our children’s way to a higher score on English, math, science, and social studies examinations.
Research and experience together show that children can learn, retain, and focus better when they are feeling and functioning as safe, happy, well-adjusted young people. Society has a real responsibility once again to make schools safe-havens for all children, physically and socially. For are we not truly our brothers and sisters’ keepers?
Kathleen M. Cashin, Ed.D., is a member of the N.Y. State Board Regents and a clinical professor at Fordham University.
Bruce S. Cooper, Ph.D., is professor at Fordham University, Graduate School of Education, N.Y.C.
Dr. Bruce S. Cooper
175 Riverside Dr. Apt. #2F
New York, NY 10024
Tel: 917 843-2281
Wow! How cool is this? You, me, and all of us are invited to join today’s thought leaders of education “reform” (aka, privatization and segregation) at a philophers” retreat.
I wish I were a thought leader in education, but apparently my thoughts don’t lead in the right direction (e.g., handing public money over to privately managed schools with no transparency or accountability, smashing unions, demoralizing teachers, eliminating pensions, making test scores the goal of education, firing teachers who can’t raise test scores higher and higher every year, stuff like that, which these days makes you a thought leader).
The meeting is billed as a three-day retreat, “a philosopher’s camp on education reform.” I wonder if the philosophers there will talk about Horace Mann or John Dewey or William James or William Torrey Harris or Sidney Hook? Somehow, I doubt they will. I kind of doubt that they ever heard of any of our eminent philosophers of education.
You too can attend for only $1,000. If you want to be a VIP, it will cost you $2,500.
Two other things: the meeting will be held at the Whiteface Lodge in Lake Placid. Is there a coded message here?
And for the benefit of the assembled philosophers, they might want to be reminded that they have a spelling error on the invitation. It is James Russell Lowell that once attended a meeting at that lodge, not James Russell Lowes. Do they know the difference? But when you are a thought leader in education, why bother with details?
Emergency meeting on Thursday on behalf of the 97% of New York State students who are not in charter schools:
Anyone who can make it tomorrow should do so. The state budget is hitting crunch time, with the Charter lobby spending millions on behalf of privatization and the 3% in charters, while firmly controlling both the Governor and the State Senate. Support must be given to Speaker Silver and the Assembly Dems to hold fast for the 97% of our kids in public schools and for public education, and to allow Mayor de Blasio to determine his own education policies.
The Senate/Cuomo proposal would force the DOE (and all local public school boards throughout the state) to provide public space for EVERY charter authorized at the state level, or else pay the charter’s rent in private space; a colocation policy that would be worse than anything Bloomberg ever sought. Additionally, the charter lobby boondoggle bill would give Charters more upfront money (aka tuition), and give Albany control of our NYC public school buildings and budget, while sending 25 cents of every new state education dollar to the 3 out of 100 kids in charters. Meanwhile, the City and State public schools are looking at 2009 funding levels which the courts said were $2 billion short – back then. Outrageous.
Please join New York Communities for Change, Public School Parents, Elected Officials, Educators, Community Members.
Thursday, March 27
Tweed Courthouse – 52 Chambers
noah eliot gotbaum
community education council district 3 (cec3)
Thirty years ago, the governor of New York addressed the Democratic National Convention, held in New York City. His name was Mario Cuomo. His theme was “A Tale of Two Cities,” ironically, the same campaign theme as Bill de Blasio in 2013. He denounced tax breaks for the rich. He spoke of caring for the family of America. This is not the same Cuomo who is now governor of New York, who wants to be known as the business-friendly Democrat who didn’t raise taxes and who puts the needs of the 3% of children in charter schools funded by his campaign contributors over the needs of the 97% of children in public schools.
This is what Mario Cuomo said. Remember when Democrats talked like this?
Mario Cuomo: “A Tale of Two Cities”
delivered 16 July 1984 to at Democratic National Convention, San Francisco
On behalf of the Empire State and the family of New York, I thank you for the great privilege of being able to address this convention. Please allow me to skip the stories and the poetry and the temptation to deal in nice but vague rhetoric. Let me instead use this valuable opportunity to deal immediately with questions that should determine this election and that we all know are vital to the American people.
Ten days ago, President Reagan admitted that although some people in this country seemed to be doing well nowadays, others were unhappy, even worried, about themselves, their families and their futures. The president said that he didn’t understand that fear. He said, “Why, this country is a shining city on a hill.” And the president is right. In many ways we are a shining city on a hill.
But the hard truth is that not everyone is sharing in this city’s splendor and glory. A shining city is perhaps all the president sees from the portico of the White House and the veranda of his ranch, where everyone seems to be doing well. But there’s another city; there’s another part to the shining the city; the part where some people can’t pay their mortgages, and most young people can’t afford one, where students can’t afford the education they need, and middle-class parents watch the dreams they hold for their children evaporate.
In this part of the city there are more poor than ever, more families in trouble, more and more people who need help but can’t find it. Even worse: There are elderly people who tremble in the basements of the houses there. And there are people who sleep in the city streets, in the gutter, where the glitter doesn’t show. There are ghettos where thousands of young people, without a job or an education, give their lives away to drug dealers every day. There is despair, Mr. President, in the faces that you don’t see, in the places that you don’t visit in your shining city.
In fact, Mr. President, this is a nation –. Mr. President you ought to know that this nation is more a “Tale of Two Cities” than it is just a “Shining City on a Hill.”
Maybe, maybe, Mr. President, if you visited some more places. Maybe if you went to Appalachia where some people still live in sheds, maybe if you went to Lackawanna where thousands of unemployed steel workers wonder why we subsidized foreign steel. Maybe, maybe, Mr. President, if you stopped in at a shelter in Chicago and spoke to the homeless there; maybe, Mr. President, if you asked a woman who had been denied the help she needed to feed her children because you said you needed the money for a tax break for a millionaire or for a missile we couldn’t afford to use.
Maybe, maybe, Mr. President. But I’m afraid not.
Because, the truth is, ladies and gentlemen, that this is how we were warned it would be. President Reagan told us from very the beginning that he believed in a kind of social Darwinism. Survival of the fittest. “Government can’t do everything,” we were told. “So it should settle for taking care of the strong and hope that economic ambition and charity will do the rest. Make the rich richer — and what falls from their table will be enough for the middle class and those who are trying desperately to work their way into the middle class.”
You know, the Republicans called it trickle-down when Hoover tried it. Now they call it supply side. But it’s the same shining city for those relative few who are lucky enough to live in its good neighborhoods. But for the people who are excluded — for the people who are locked out — all they can do is to stare from a distance at that city’s glimmering towers.
It’s an old story. It’s as old as our history. The difference between Democrats and Republicans has always been measured in courage and confidence. The Republicans believe that the wagon train will not make it to the frontier unless some of the old, some of the young, some of the weak are left behind by the side of the trail. The strong, the strong they tell us will inherit the land.
We Democrats believe in something else. We democrats believe that we can make it all the way with the whole family intact. And, we have more than once. Ever since Franklin Roosevelt lifted himself from his wheelchair to lift this nation from its knees — wagon train after wagon train — to new frontiers of education, housing, peace; the whole family aboard, constantly reaching out to extend and enlarge that family; lifting them up into the wagon on the way; blacks and Hispanics, and people of every ethnic group, and native Americans — all those struggling to build their families and claim some small share of America.
For nearly 50 years we carried them all to new levels of comfort, and security, and dignity, even affluence. And remember this, some of us in this room today are here only because this nation had that kind of confidence. And it would be wrong to forget that.
So, here we are at this convention to remind ourselves where we come from and to claim the future for ourselves and for our children. Today our great Democratic Party, which has saved this nation from depression, from fascism, from racism, from corruption, is called upon to do it again — this time to save the nation from confusion and division, from the threat of eventual fiscal disaster, and most of all from the fear of a nuclear holocaust.
That’s not going to be easy. Mo Udall is exactly right, it’s not going to be easy. In order to succeed, we must answer our opponent’s polished and appealing rhetoric with a more telling reasonableness and rationality.
We must win this case on the merits. We must get the American public to look past the glitter, beyond the showmanship – to reality, to the hard substance of things. And we will do that not so much with speeches that sound good as with speeches that are good and sound. Not so much with speeches that will bring people to their feet as with speeches that bring people to their senses. We must make the American people hear our “Tale of Two Cities.” We must convince them that we don’t have to settle for two cities, that we can have one city, indivisible, shining for all of its people.
Now we will have no chance to do that if what comes out of this convention is a babel of arguing voices. If that’s what’s heard throughout the campaign – dissident voices from all sides – we will have no chance to tell our message. To succeed we will have to surrender small parts of our individual interests, to build a platform we can all stand on, at once, comfortably – proudly singing out the truth for the nation to hear, in chorus, its logic so clear and commanding that no slick commercial, no amount of geniality, no martial music will be able to muffle the sound of the truth. We Democrats must unite.
We Democrats must unite so that the entire nation can unite because surely the Republicans won’t bring this country together. Their policies divide the nation – into the lucky and the left-out, into the royalty and the rabble. The Republicans are willing to treat that division as victory. They would cut this nation in half, into those temporarily better off and those worse off than before, and they would call that division recovery.
We should not, we should not be embarrassed or dismayed or chagrined if the process of unifying is difficult, even wrenching at times. Remember that, unlike any other party, we embrace men and women of every color, every creed, every orientation, every economic class. In our family are gathered everyone from the abject poor of Essex County in New York, to the enlightened affluent of the gold coasts at both ends of the nation. And in between is the heart of our constituency. The middle class — the people not rich enough to be worry-free, but not poor enough to be on welfare. The middle class, those people who work for a living because they have to, not because some psychiatrist told them it was a convenient way to fill the interval between birth and eternity. White collar and blue collar. Young professionals. Men and women in small business desperate for the capital and contracts that they need to prove their worth.
We speak for the minorities who have not yet entered the mainstream. We speak for ethnics who want to add their culture to the magnificent mosaic that is America. We speak, we speak for women who are indignant that this nation refuses to etch into its governmental commandments the simple rule “thou shalt not sin against equality,” a rule so simple — I was going to say, and I perhaps dare not but I will, it’s a commandment so simple it can be spelled in three letters — E.R.A.!
We speak for young people demanding an education and a future. We speak for senior citizens who are terrorized by the idea that their only security – their Social Security – is being threatened. We speak for millions of reasoning people fighting to preserve our environment from greed and from stupidity. And we speak for reasonable people who are fighting to preserve our very existence from a macho intransigence that refuses to make intelligent attempts to discuss the possibility of nuclear holocaust with our enemy. They refuse. They refuse, because they believe we can pile missiles so high that they will pierce the clouds and the sight of them will frighten our enemies into submission.
Now we’re proud of this diversity as Democrats. We’re grateful for it. We don’t have to manufacture it the way the Republicans will next month in Dallas, by propping up mannequin delegates on the convention floor. But while we’re proud of this diversity as Democrats, we pay a price for it. The different people that we represent have different points of view. And sometimes they compete and even debate, and even argue. That’s what our primaries were all about. But now the primaries are over and it is time when we pick our candidates and our platform here to lock arms and move into this campaign together. If you need any more inspiration to put some small part of your own differences aside to create this consensus, all you need to do is to reflect on what the Republican policy of divide and cajole has done to this land since 1980.
Now the president has asked us to judge him on whether or not he’s fulfilled the promise he made four years ago. I believe that as Democrats, we ought to accept that challenge. And, just for a moment let us consider what he has said and what he’s done. Inflation is down since 1980. But not because of the supply- side miracle promised to us by the president. Inflation was reduced the old-fashioned way, with a recession, the worst since 1932. We could have brought inflation down that way. How did he do it? Fifty-five thousand bankruptcies. Two years of massive unemployment. Two hundred thousand farmers and ranchers forced off the land. More homeless than at any time since the Great Depression in 1932. More hungry, in this nation of enormous affluence, the United States of America, more hungry. More poor – most of them women – and he paid one more thing, a nearly $200 billion deficit threatening our future.
Now we must make the American people understand this deficit because they don’t. The president’s deficit is a direct and dramatic repudiation of his promise to balance our budget by 1983. How large is it? The deficit is the largest in the history of this universe; President Carter’s last budget had a deficit of less than one-third of this deficit. It is a deficit that, according to the president’s own fiscal adviser, may grow as high as $300 billion a year for “as far as the eye can see.”
And, ladies and gentlemen, it is a debt so large that as much as one-half of our revenue from the income tax goes just to pay the interest. It is a mortgage on our children’s future that can be paid only in pain and that could bring this nation to its knees.
Now don’t take my word for it – I’m a Democrat.
Ask the Republican investment bankers on Wall Street what they think the chances of this recovery being permanent are. You see, if they’re not too embarrassed to tell you the truth, they’ll say that they are appalled and frightened by the president’s deficit. Ask them what they think of our economy, now that it has been driven by the distorted value of the dollar back to its colonial condition – now we’re exporting agricultural products and importing manufactured ones. Ask those Republican investment bankers what they expect the rate of interest to be a year from now. And ask them, if they dare tell you the truth you will hear from them, what they predict for the inflation rate a year from now, because of the deficit.
Now, how important is this question of the deficit.
Think about it practically: What chance would the Republican candidate have had in 1980 if he had told the American people that he intended to pay for his so-called economic recovery with bankruptcies, unemployment, more homeless, more hungry and the largest government debt known to humankind? Would American voters have signed the loan certificate for him on Election Day? Of course not! That was an election won under false pretenses. It was won with smoke and mirrors and illusions. And that’s the kind of recovery we have now as well.
And what about foreign policy? They said that they would make us and the whole world safer. They say they have. By creating the largest defense budget in history, one that even they now admit is excessive. By escalating to a frenzy the nuclear arms race. By incendiary rhetoric. By refusing to discuss peace with our enemies. By the loss of 279 young Americans in Lebanon in pursuit of a plan and a policy that no one can find or describe.
We give money to Latin American governments that murder nuns, and then we lie about it. We have been less than zealous in support of our only real friend, it seems to me, we have in the Middle East, the one democracy there, our flesh and blood ally, the state of Israel. Our foreign policy drifts with no real direction, other than an hysterical commitment to an arms race that leads nowhere – if we’re lucky. And if we’re not, it could lead us into bankruptcy or war.
Of course we must have a strong defense!
Of course Democrats are for a strong defense. Of course Democrats believe that there are times when we must stand and fight. And we have. Thousands of us have paid for freedom with our lives. But always – when this country has been at its best – our purposes were clear. Now they’re not. Now our allies are as confused as our enemies. Now we have no real commitment to our friends or to our ideals – not to human rights, not to the refuseniks, not to Sakharov, not to Bishop Tutu and the others struggling for freedom in South Africa.
We have in the last few years spent more than we can afford. We have pounded our chests and made bold speeches. But we lost 279 young Americans in Lebanon and we live behind sand bags in Washington. How can anyone say that we are stronger, safer, or better?
That is the Republican record.
That its disastrous quality is not more fully understood by the American people I can only attribute to the president’s amiability and the failure by some to separate the salesman from the product.
And, now it’s up to us. Now it’s now up to you and me to make the case to America. And to remind Americans that if they are not happy with all the president has done so far, they should consider how much worse it will be if he is left to his radical proclivities for another four years unrestrained. Unrestrained.
If July brings back Ann Gorsuch Burford – what can we expect of December? Where would another four years take us? Where would four years more take us? How much larger will the deficit be? How much deeper the cuts in programs for the struggling middle class and the poor to limit that deficit? How high will the interest rates be? How much more acid rain killing our forests and fouling our lakes? And, ladies and gentlemen, the nation must think of this: What kind of Supreme Court will we have? We must ask ourselves what kind of court and country will be fashioned by the man who believes in having government mandate people’s religion and morality?
The man who believes that trees pollute the environment, the man that believes that the laws against discrimination against people go too far. The man who threatens Social Security and Medicaid and help for the disabled. How high will we pile the missiles? How much deeper will the gulf be between us and our enemies? And, ladies and gentlemen, will four years more make meaner the spirit of the American people?
This election will measure the record of the past four years. But more than that, it will answer the question of what kind of people we want to be.
We Democrats still have a dream. We still believe in this nation’s future. And this is our answer to the question, this is our credo:
We believe in only the government we need but we insist on all the government we need. We believe in a government that is characterized by fairness and reasonableness, a reasonableness that goes beyond labels, that doesn’t distort or promise things that we know we can’t do.We believe in a government strong enough to use the words “love” and “compassion” and smart enough to convert our noblest aspirations into practical realities. We believe in encouraging the talented, but we believe that while survival of the fittest may be a good working description of the process of evolution, a government of humans should elevate itself to a higher order.
Our government should be able to rise to the level to where it can fill the gaps left by chance or a wisdom we don’t fully understand. We would rather have laws written by the patron of this great city, the man called the “world’s most sincere Democrat” – St. Francis of Assisi – than laws written by Darwin.
We believe, we believe as Democrats, that a society as blessed as ours, the most affluent democracy in the world’s history, one that can spend trillions on instruments of destruction, ought to be able to help the middle class in its struggle, ought to be able to find work for all who can do it, room at the table, shelter for the homeless, care for the elderly and infirm, and hope for the destitute. And we proclaim as loudly as we can the utter insanity of nuclear proliferation and the need for a nuclear freeze, if only to affirm the simple truth that peace is better than war because life is better than death.
We believe in firm but fair law and order. We believe proudly in the union movement. We believe in privacy for people, openness by government, we believe in civil rights, and we believe in human rights. We believe in a single fundamental idea that describes better than most textbooks and any speech that I could write what a proper government should be. The idea of family. Mutuality. The sharing of benefits and burdens for the good of all. Feeling one another’s pain. Sharing one another’s blessings. Reasonably, honestly, fairly – without respect to race, or sex, or geography or political affiliation.
We believe we must be the family of America, recognizing that at the heart of the matter we are bound one to another, that the problems of a retired school teacher in Duluth are our problems. That the future of the child in Buffalo is our future. That the struggle of a disabled man in Boston to survive, and live decently, is our struggle. That the hunger of a woman in Little Rock is our hunger. That the failure anywhere to provide what reasonably we might, to avoid pain, is our failure.
Now for 50 years, for 50 years we Democrats created a better future for our children, using traditional Democratic principles as a fixed beacon, giving us direction and purpose, but constantly innovating, adapting to new realities: Roosevelt’s alphabet programs; Truman’s NATO and the GI Bill of Rights; Kennedy’s intelligent tax incentives and the Alliance for Progress; Johnson’s civil rights; Carter’s human rights and the nearly miraculous Camp David Peace Accord.
Democrats did it, Democrats did it – and Democrats can do it again. We can build a future that deals with our deficit. Remember this, that 50 years of progress under our principles never cost us what the last four years of stagnation have. And, we can deal with the deficit intelligently, by shared sacrifice, with all parts of the nation’s family contributing, building partnerships with the private sector, providing a sound defense without depriving ourselves of what we need to feed our children and care for our people.
We can have a future that provides for all the young of the present, by marrying common sense and compassion. We know we can, because we did it for nearly 50 years before 1980.
And we can do it again. If we do not forget. If we do not forget that this entire nation has profited by these progressive principles. That they helped lift up generations to the middle class and higher: gave us a chance to work, to go to college, to raise a family, to own a house, to be secure in our old age and, before that, to reach heights that our own parents would not have dared dream of.
That struggle to live with dignity is the real story of the shining city. And it’s a story, ladies and gentlemen, that I didn’t read in a book, or learn in a classroom. I saw it, and lived it. Like many of you. I watched a small man with thick calluses on both hands work 15 and 16 hours a day. I saw him once literally bleed from the bottoms of his feet, a man who came here uneducated, alone, unable to speak the language, who taught me all I needed to know about faith and hard work by the simple eloquence of his example. I learned about our kind of democracy from my father. And, I learned about our obligation to each other from him and from my mother. They asked only for a chance to work and to make the world better for their children and they asked to be protected in those moments when they would not be able to protect themselves. This nation and this nation’s government did that for them.
And that they were able to build a family and live in dignity and see one of their children go from behind their little grocery store in South Jamaica on the other side of the tracks where he was born, to occupy the highest seat in the greatest state of the greatest nation in the only world we know, is an ineffably beautiful tribute to the democratic process.
And, ladies and gentlemen, on January 20, 1985, it will happen again. Only on a much, much grander scale. We will have a new president of the United States, a Democrat born not to the blood of kings but to the blood of pioneers and immigrants. And we will have America’s first woman vice president, the child of immigrants, and she, she, she will open with one magnificent stroke, a whole new frontier for the United States. Now, it will happen.
It will happen – if we make it happen; if you and I can make it happen.
And I ask you now – ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters – for the good of all of us – for the love of this great nation, for the family of America – for the love of God. Please, make this nation remember how futures are built.
Thank you and God bless you.