Bill Maher’s Crude but Accurate Insights into “Labs of Democracy”
While I find Bill Maher more crude and cruel with his humor than Jon Stewart, I often find him to be every bit as insightful… and with a moderate degree of trepidation I share this Youtube of his monologue on “Labs of Democracy”, which DOES include some crude language and one reference to drugs. If you want to avoid the vulgarity, cover your ears at the 2:45 and 3:25 mark and assume that Bill Maher really DOES love to grow archives in his basement:
As political junkies know, the Conservatives in the Republican party have used the “Labs of Democracy” concept to encourage the transfer of key decisions regarding the treatment of immigrants, the provision of funding for basic services, and the creation and enforcement of regulations to States. One state, California, has demonstrated the failure of “tickle down” economics and the demonization of immigrants. At least two other states, LA and KS, have reinforced the failure of cutting taxes in the name of “opening their sites for business”… but WI, MI, IL, OH, PA, NJ could easily be added to that list and only MN can show that the opposite approach— rating taxes and expanding voting rights— boosts the state coffers and well being.
As readers of this blog know, I fear that the “Labs of Democracy” argument is being used to promote ESSA’s “trickle down” theory for public schools… and the neoliberal wing of he Democratic party is happy to support that notion in the name of “bi-partisanship” (or, more cynically, in the name of increasing their donor base among the hedge funders who want to privatize “failing” public school districts that serve urban children). And though the test-and-punish method of accountability has a failure rate that mirrors that of trickle-down economics, it goes hand-in-hand with the tax cutting ideals of the conservatives because privatized schools operate “more efficiently” than public schools and thus reduce the tax burden on the private sector.
And as Bill Maher explains in his crude but direct way, we’ve run experiments on “trickle down” economics and “democracy” and the results are in: taxing the rich works; opening our doors to immigrants works; and regulating energy works. He could have run the same vignette on public education and illustrated that accountability based on standardized testing DOESN’T work… Maybe it will take another decade of ESSA to make this point. But in the meantime, another generation of children will be subjected to more teaching to the tests because adults are unfamiliar with the scientific method.