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Stanley Crouch: De Blasio, Christie and our children

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Now that Reps. Paul Ryan and John Boehner have begun to stand up to the outside financial interests that pushed the GOP into a failed shutdown of Washington, a new sun has risen for the elephants that lost their way while marching to the orders of big money.

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Those threatening bucks come from natural or naturalized American millionaires and billionaires, the rabid 1 and 5 percenters used to savagely barking Washington votes, in both the Senate and the House, into place.

Whether one agrees with them or not, Ryan and Boehner know, as Ryan pointed out, that elections have consequences. Ryan and Boehner do not have to be geniuses to see that the GOP had irrationally pouted itself beyond the pale in the eyes of women, minorities, independents and organized labor.

The far right could not find a way to compromise with any of them, so it didn’t. Instead, it mortally wounded the Republican Party. Those so-called special-interest groups rejected by the angry wing of the GOP in fact constitute the majority of voters now. And that majority does not look kindly at those better at hurling insults than proposing real solutions to pressing American problems, which are moral, financial and international. That is why Pope Francis is grating the nerves of the far right.

One of our international problems is that America is in danger of losing the reputation we’ve earned for providing premium, high-quality goods and services. That’s because doing so requires an educated workforce of leaders, supervisors and laborers.

Everyone in the business world knows this, yet neither Republicans nor Democrats can figure out how to handle the unions representing teachers. No matter what is said, our American students will someday have to be strong enough, intellectually and inventively, to do whatever heavy lifting is required in the evolving modern age.

Here in New York and New Jersey, we have a chance to see if Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio, for all his talk, can do what Chris Christie did with Randi Weingarten and the teachers union. Christie, truly the biggest of the big boys, went about achieving a compromise and putting the interest of students ahead of all else.

As the George Washington Bridge debacle shows, this elephant will never be president. He will be tripped up, a voluminous omelet devoured by attention and hateful reporters happy to stick it to a professionally dismissive person. Christie went head-on into a fight with the far right and was shunned by “real” conservatives, though no other Republican stands a bit of spittle’s chance in a windstorm of being president.

I repeat: No one is on the horizon. Not Rand Paul, not Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich. They might talk a lot of stuff outside the ring, but the better fighter will be, finally, judged by blows thrown inside it, at close quarters.

And here at home, de Blasio will prove himself if and when he can go beyond the failures of vision shared by Mike Bloomberg and Barack Obama. Neither one saw what was right in front of his nose and can be proven by indifferent facts: teacher performance and what kids do against all supposed barriers when inspired to bet on themselves by doing the work that is available to all. Learning to read, write and do arithmetic. Like elections, school failures have consequences.

Big Bill, who talks about how charter schools are a sideshow, will have to account for the superior results consistently posted by the Success Charter Network schools, in Harlem and around New York City.

And he will want to study the results produced by the Harlem Educational Activities Fund, or HEAF, a program that has achieved stunning success getting high-potential inner-city public-school kids to live up to that potential. Both programs consistently run laps around most other schools.

Since that consistently superior performance in public and charter schools evades the equally consistent numbers that are scoffed at by the teachers union, it seems that something we can figure out is afoot and would not be accepted in the big, wide world outside of school. That is a problem America needs to face because low-level performance is no longer too cool for school. It is a form of sabotage in the competitive economic ring every nation has stepped into and brought all that it has.

If he’s brave enough to appoint a chancellor who would follow and expand their programs, de Blasio has an opportunity to build a truly national reputation, and to carve a new path forward for our children. His legacy would then be immense.

We will see what he does — hopefully as much as the elephant a bridge away.

Stanley Crouch can be reached by email at crouch.stanley@gmail.com.

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