Klonsky was CP(ML)’s chairman. He was so highly thought of by Mao’s regime that he was among the first Americans invited to visit Communist China. When he was feted there in 1977, a year after Mao’s death, the communist leadership hailed Klonsky’s party as “reflecting the aspirations of the proletariat and working people.”
Klonsky was a regular guest of the Chicoms until 1981, when the relationship soured over the post-Mao leadership’s free-market reforms. (Yes, Klonsky is apparently more committed to communism than China’s own Communist Party.) So what was a Leftist radical without platform to do? Why, what else? He became an American college professor specializing in education.
After getting his doctorate, Klonsky eventually made his way to Chicago and hooked up with his old SDS comrade (and self-professed “small ‘c’ communist”) Bill Ayers. Together, they co-founded the Small Schools Workshop in 1991. The goal — as Ayers has repeatedly made clear, most prominently in a 2006 speech before Hugo Chavez at an education forum in Caracas — is to bring the same Leftist revolution that has always galvanized them into the classroom.
The concept may be called small schools, but Klonsky and Ayers uniquely grasp the force-multiplier effect. In a small class, the teacher preaching the “social justice” gospel that American capitalism is a racist, materialist, imperialist cauldron of injustice can have greater impact on the students he seeks to mold into his conception of the “good citizen” — and on the teachers he is teaching to be preachers. Writing trenchantly about how this system of “critical pedagogy” short-changes the basic education needs of disadvantaged children, the City Journal’s Sol Stern observes that theorists like Klonsky and Ayers:
nurse a rancorous view of an America in which it is always two minutes to midnight and a knock on the door by the thought police is imminent. The education professors feel themselves anointed to use the nation’s K-12 classrooms to resist this oppressive system. Thus … teachers [are urged] not to mince words with children about the evils of the existing social order. They should portray “homelessness as a consequence of the private dealings of landlords, an arms buildup as a consequence of corporate decisions, racial exclusion as a consequence of a private property-holder’s choice.” In other words, they should turn the little ones into young socialists and critical theorists.
Klonsky himself confirms that this is precisely the goal (italics mine):
[S]uccessful social justice education ensures that teachers strike a balance between debating sociopolitical problems that affect children’s lives and teaching them academic basics on which they will be tested. A science teacher can plant an urban garden, allowing students to learn about plant biology, the imbalance in how fresh produce is distributed and how that affects the health of community residents. An English teacher can explore misogyny or materialism in American culture through the lens of hip-hop lyrics. Or as Rico Gutstein, a professor of mathematics education at the University of Illinois, Chicago, suggests, a math teacher can run probability simulations using real data to understand the dynamics behind income inequality or racial profiling. These are “examples of lessons where you can really learn the math basics,” he says, “but the purpose of learning the math actually becomes an entree into, and a deeper understanding of, the political ramifications of the issue.”
When Obama and Ayers collaborated together on the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (CAC) education-reform project, with Obama chairing the board that oversaw funding decisions, CAC underwrote the Klonsky/Ayers Small Schools Workshop with a whopping $1,056,162. And that’s not all. Nearly another million dollars was steered to the Small Schools Workshop by the Joyce and Woods Funds when Obama sat on their boards. The grand total comes to $1,968,718.