At a “fireside chat” that followed his speech to the Association of Teacher Educators on Sunday morning, February 17, Bill Ayers, co-founder of the terrorist group the Weathermen and retired “distinguished professor of education” from the University of Illinois at Chicago, expressed his gratitude that the Atlanta Hyatt Regency Hotel did not “buckle” and reveal to callers when and where he would be speaking during the conference. There were no protestors, and no visible police. Few would have guessed that Ayers’s speech would come at 9:45 on a Sunday morning.
I had expected Ayers to be more of a novelty or a celebrity. But he was treated as a highly regarded mentor. A few people chatted with him right before his talk, but there was no clamoring throng. There is no sense of subversive celebrity. Ayers is one of them, one of the thousands of middle-class, indistinguishable attendees one would expect to see at an education conference. But education, in the real sense, is the least of Ayers’s concerns.
Ayers’s real concern, and the concern of many in the educating educators industry, which trains and certifies future teachers, is turning classrooms into spaces for activism on behalf of what is called “social justice.” As they do this, they gloss over the violent past and revolutionary Marxist goals of its purveyors. Ayers has repeatedly called himself a communist with a small “c,” and the Weathermen were involved in several bombings.
Ayers mentioned that he would be having a meeting with a union in a couple days. Then I read a report of his speech on February 26 at Minnesota State University, where he is to be scholar in residence. The news report said he spoke about “education reform,” but the quotations from his talk were the same as what I heard in Atlanta.
Ayers quoted his mother: “’Education is God’s work.’” …