Bill Ayers and the Threat to Education

, Mary Grabar, Leave a comment

Imagine if, as you chat
with your child’s first-grade teacher and ask about how he decided to embark on
a career in education, he told you, “I walked out of jail and into my first
teaching job.” 


Imagine him furthermore
telling you that his days in jail and violent protesting were formative to his
teaching philosophy. 


Most parents would have
a serious discussion with the principal, at the minimum.


But the teacher who
brags about such beginnings is now a “Distinguished Professor of Education.”
Despite his specialty as “Professor of Curriculum and Instruction,” he trains
future teachers to dispense with curricula and discipline, as well as tests and


His many books appear on
syllabi in education schools. Regarding classroom management, he advises future
teachers to hold on “until the storm” of the “wildest kids in their fullest
eruptions” passes. Knowledge of the subject is unimportant; the teacher’s
willingness to “plunge into the unknown alongside their students” is. So is the
teacher’s “love.”


Yet, as he told the
World Education Forum and President Hugo Chavez during one of several trips to
Venezuela, education does have a goal: it is “the motor-force of revolution.”
This education professor also enjoys a lucrative sideline as invited speaker to
education conferences, college and high school assemblies, and civic groups, in
the United States and Europe, but has been barred from Canada on several


This, of course, is
William Ayers, Ed.D., who came into the news during the presidential campaign
for his association with Barack Obama on the Chicago Annenberg


It was in his 2001
memoir, Fugitive Days, that Ayers bragged about walking into his first
teaching job at the alternative Children’s Community school in Ann Arbor, “a
school that, we hoped, would change the world.” His leadership in the Students
for a Democratic Society offshoot, the Weather Underground, that bombed
government buildings, and the quotation about having “no regrets” for that,
appeared in the New York Times on 9/11 and was repeated in 2008. 


Ayers and wife
Bernardine Dohrn hid from the law for the better part of the 1970s, until 1979
when charges for terroristic activities were dropped, as a result of President
Carter’s justice department’s pursuit of the FBI and accusation of illegal
wiretapping. The couple is still being investigated for the 1970 police station
bombing that killed Police Sergeant Brian V. McDonnell. 


Today, Ayers and Dohrn
sit on the board of Movement for a Democratic Society, which has been guiding a
resurgent “SDS” of student activists who intimidate conservative speakers on


Ayers laid low until
after the election. But now he and Dohrn enjoy invitations on the speaking
circuit, many for their latest book, Race Course Against White Supremacy,
whose premise is that as long as the U.S. remains capitalistic it will remain


The wish to overthrow
capitalism repeats young Ayers’ fantasies of the “red army” marching in to take
over amidst the chaos of protests, as he describes in Fugitive
.  Dohrn once laughed about the Charles Manson
murders. A professor at Northwestern University School of Law, she now directs
the Children and Family Law Justice Center.  


Ayers is vice president
of the curriculum studies division in the 25,000-member American Educational
Research Association.


But declining national
test scores and widening racial disparities show a failure of Ayers’
“progressive” methods. In spite of upwards of $150 million spent on the Chicago
Annenberg Challenge achievement scores were not raised, as Stanley Kurtz has
pointed out. As education writer Diane Ravitch, citing parents’ complaints about
their children’s low achievement, notes, it is minority children who are usually
the most harmed by the education methods promoted by Ayers. 


The trajectory of inmate
to teacher to bomb thrower to fugitive to graduate student at Columbia Teachers
College, and then to “distinguished professor” at a public university that
educates future teachers might seem to be a strange one. But Ayers’ influence is
felt far and wide. That should make all parents think about the education of
their children’s teachers. 


Mary Grabar earned her
Ph.D. in English from the University of Georgia in 2002, and now teaches
part-time on two campuses in and near Atlanta. She will be discussing her
report, “The Extreme Make-Over of William Ayers: How a Communist Terrorist
Became a ‘Distinguished’ Professor of Education,” at an August 20 Washington,
D.C. conference sponsored by America’s Survival, Inc. Information is available