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Then Kent State happened four days later.  He said his words were just a figure of speech, and he said that anyone who was upset by them was neurotic.  

The Educational Legacy of Ronald Reagan

And he certainly did not let up on the criticisms of campus protestors that had aided his election. Mr. Reagan's denunciations of student protesters were both frequent and particularly venomous. He called protesting students "brats," "freaks," and "cowardly fascists." And when it came to "restoring order" on unruly campuses he observed, "If it takes a bloodbath, let's get it over with. No more appeasement!"

Several days later four Kent State students were shot to death. In the aftermath of this tragedy Mr. Reagan declared his remark was only a "figure of speech." He added that anyone who was upset by it was "neurotic

It was not just students who caught his wrath.  He started showing the same contempt of public education helped along by his Secretary of Education, William Bennett.

In California Mr. Reagan had made political hay by heaping scorn on college students and their professors. As President his administration's repeatedly issued or encouraged uncommonly bitter denunciations of public education. William Bennett, the President's demagogic Secretary of Education, took the lead in this. He toured the nation making unprecedented and unprincipled attacks on most aspects of public education including teacher certification, teacher's unions and the "multi-layered, self-perpetuating, bureaucracy of administrators that weighs down most school systems." "The Blob" was what Bennett dismissively called them.

President Reagan put forth a report called The Nation at Risk.   It slammed public education.  It was taken up by the media and spread widely with little questioning.   This is from an article at Edutopia in 2010.  It is an interesting comment on Reagan's purpose.

Education at Risk: Fallout from a Flawed Report

Once launched, the report, which warned of "a rising level of mediocrity," took off like wildfire. During the next month, the Washington Post alone ran some two dozen stories about it, and the buzz kept spreading. Although Reagan counselor (and, later, attorney general) Edwin Meese III urged him to reject the report because it undermined the president's basic education agenda -- to get government out of education -- White House advisers Jim Baker and Michael Deaver argued that "A Nation at Risk" provided good campaign fodder.

Reagan agreed, and, in his second run for the presidency, he gave fifty-one speeches calling for tough school reform. The "high political payoff," Bell wrote in his memoir, "stole the education issue from Walter Mondale -- and it cost us nothing."

What made "A Nation at Risk" so useful to Reagan? For one thing, its language echoed the get-tough rhetoric of the growing conservative movement. For another, its diagnosis lent color to the charge that, under liberals, American education had dissolved into a mush of self-esteem classes.

Sounds to me like the start of the harsh zero tolerance movement.

My own thoughts from 2009 on this time in education history and the goal.

There was a reason he was so critical of public education, pushing his rhetoric to the limits. His goal was to privatize government, and education was no exception.

He did not get what he wanted, but he started the ball rolling for those who came after him....Republicans and Democrats alike. We got steamrolled by the Republican Propaganda Machine and never really knew what hit us.

Many do not remember Ronald Reagan and his push to privatize government. It is noticeable that so many people honestly do not understand the value of the traditional public education in our country. A little about Reagan's terrible influence on public schools and their teachers, his influence in harming the union movement, and the secretive way he turned government over to corporations.

Reagan appointed a privatization commission in 1987.  

Reagan appoints Privatization Unit

President Reagan today appointed a commission to study ways Government functions can be turned over to private business.

Prof. David F. Linowes, a political economist at the University of Illinois, was named chairman of the President's Commission on Privatization, and said the 12-member panel's mandate ''is very broad.'' It will ''probe the entire dimension of Government operations'' and offer recommendations in six months, he said.

Mr. Reagan, vacationing at his ranch near here, issued a statement saying the commission would help him ''end unfair Government competition and return Government programs and assets to the American people.''

I was teaching in a successful school system when the Nation at Risk report came out.  I remember we all looked at each other and wondered what was going on?  It was very hard to comprehend that such a report was true.

From a chart at the bottom of the Edutopia article, a comparison of the media-embraced Nation at Risk....and the sadly neglected and ignored Sandia report of 1990.

"A Nation at Risk" (1983)

What the report claimed:

    American students are never first and frequently last academically compared to students in other industrialized nations.
    American student achievement declined dramatically after Russia launched Sputnik, and hit bottom in the early 1980s.
    SAT scores fell markedly between 1960 and 1980.
    Student achievement levels in science were declining steadily.
    Business and the military were spending millions on remedial education for new hires and recruits.

The Sandia Report (1990)

What was actually happening:

    Between 1975 and 1988, average SAT scores went up or held steady for every student subgroup.
    Between 1977 and 1988, math proficiency among seventeen-year-olds improved slightly for whites, notably for minorities.
    Between 1971 and 1988, reading skills among all student subgroups held steady or improved.
    Between 1977 and 1988, in science, the number of seventeen-year-olds at or above basic competency levels stayed the same or improved slightly.
    Between 1970 and 1988, the number of twenty-two-year-old Americans with bachelor degrees increased every year; the United States led all developed nations in 1988.

The attacks on public education continue today.   It warms me to see a major newspaper take up the topic now and then.  They are starting to notice.  However it has been mainly the bloggers and online forums that have covered what is happening and that have told of the dangers inherent in this movement to dismantle public schools.  

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Comment Preferences

  •  I'm certainly no admirer of Ronald Reagan (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    notrouble, VClib, kurt

    In fact, he was directly responsible for me changing my registration from Republican to Democrat.  But it should be pointed out that he was Governor of California when he made these remarks, not President of the United States, that they weren't widely reported at the time, and that it seems highly doubtful that the Ohio National Guardsmen who were responsible for the Kent State massacre knew anything about them.

    PROUD to be a Democrat!

    by leevank on Thu Dec 22, 2011 at 08:54:10 PM PST

    •  The article made that clear. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mother Mags, Empower Ink, kurt

      Right after it told how he referred to "a small minority of hippies, radicals and filthy speech advocates" and claimed they should be taken by the scruff of the neck and thrown off campus.

      From the link:

      "While running for the governorship, Mr. Reagan shrewdly made the most of disorder on University of California campuses. For instance, he demanded a legislative investigation of alleged Communism and sexual misconduct at the University of California at Berkeley. He insisted on public hearings, claiming "a small minority of hippies, radicals and filthy speech advocates" had caused disorder and that they should "be taken by the scruff of the neck and thrown off campus -- permanently"

    •  I Will Never Forget That Bloodbath Remark (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      floridagal, ichibon, kurt, DarkLadyNyara

      I was at MSU at the time.  There were many in my dorm who knew one of the slain at Kent State (Jeffrey Miller) because he'd transferred from MSU to Kent State the year before.

      The Ohio National Guard may or may not have heard of Reagan's remarks, but there were hundreds of thousands of us who did.  And remembered those words in 1980.  

      My brother, who just recently passed away, gave me a Reagan punching bag in 1984 so I had something handy to punch during Reagan's second administration.  It served its purpose well.    

    •  So? (0+ / 0-)

      The comment was still a window into the man's mind.

    •  Reagan was a national figure in 1970 (0+ / 0-)

      because he had run for President in 1968, and because his actions against UC student protestors made national news.


      Reagan was involved in high-profile conflicts with the protest movements of the era. On May 15, 1969, during the People's Park protests at UC Berkeley, Reagan sent the California Highway Patrol and other officers to quell the protests, in an incident that became known as "Bloody Thursday", resulting in the death of student James Rector and the blinding of carpenter Alan Blanchard. Reagan then called out 2,200 state National Guard troops to occupy the city of Berkeley for two weeks in order to crack down on the protesters. A year after "Bloody Thursday", Reagan responded to questions about campus protest movements saying, "If it takes a bloodbath, let's get it over with. No more appeasement."
  •  Very interesting diary! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    floridagal, Empower Ink, GeeBee, kurt

    I had not been aware of this. All the more reason to be disgusted at the cult of personality around that vicious charlatan, with all too many Dem pols bowing at the altar themselves.

    Regarding pointing out that Reagan was Gov, not Prez, the Kent State context should have made that clear enough. Whether or not the Guardsmen directly were aware of Reagan's comments is not essential to his having a role.. Leaders set much of the tone of the national discussion, and their words and deeds cascade down and permeate through society. The fact that a genuine bloodbath did occur a short while after a high profile gov called for one would seem to highlight this..

  •  Reagan's "bloodbath" comment followed a (6+ / 0-)

    particularly violent period leading up to Kent State. In Feb. one student was shot and killed by police and two were wounded in Santa Barbara, in March 12 students were shot in Buffalo during demonstrations, in April 20 students were wounded at Ohio State, then Berkeley erupted after police banned peaceful protests, which led to riots that left one student dead and 200 injured. Enter Gov. Reagan's tactful response...

    stay together / learn the flowers / go light - Gary Snyder

    by Mother Mags on Thu Dec 22, 2011 at 09:39:44 PM PST

    •  Wrong Date for Ohio State I'm Pretty Sure. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      floridagal, Mother Mags, GeeBee

      I was there. Ohio State blew up 2 days before the rest of the nation because of pre-planned demonstrations organized mainly by Afro-Am, before anybody would learn of the Cambodia bombing campaign.

      Shit hit the fan Wednesday April 29 when 2 city police undercover provocateurs rallied a small demonstration and shut road gates to campus in front of a hoard of waiting police.

      April 20 was a week earlier which is around or just before the first Earth Day, and there wasn't any major activity on campus at that time.

      But Ohio State may have been headwaters of what culminated at Kent State. Gov Rhodes faced a primary election May 5th --the day after what would become Kent State-- and there are reports that some of the OSU activists went up to Kent a very few days before everything blew up there.

      Reagan's first accomplishment was to set higher education for all into its death spiral in California, before he did the same to the entire American Experiment.

      He should not only be carved onto Mount Rushmore, the present 5 figures should be blown off the mountain first so he can be alone, because Reagan is the sole true father of the United States that posterity will know.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Thu Dec 22, 2011 at 10:05:40 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  he reversed those priorities (0+ / 0-)

    Legacy of Reaganomics  
    For half a century, from the depths of the Great Depression until the rise of Ronald Reagan, the U.S. government invested in building the nation and funding key research. And the country flourished. But Reagan reversed those priorities. The results are in.

    In Iowa: "I don't object to being outspent. I object to lies. I object to negative smear campaigns." ~ Newt Gingrich

    by anyname on Fri Dec 23, 2011 at 12:06:27 AM PST

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