Bill Ayers


Bill Ayers (photo is courtesy Chicago Magazine)


GUEST:  Bill Ayers is a retired Professor of Education of the University of Illinois at Chicago. He was also a founder and early leader of the Weather Underground.


TOPIC:  In advance of his trip to Charlottesville where he will speak about education, Coy and Bill spoke about efficacy and challenges of standardized testing in schools. Bill also reflected on changes he has seen in his three-plus decades in higher education, and the rise of a bureaucratic, managerial class of administrators, and how that is impacting education.

He reflects on the same tendency at work in government: a bureacratic class of managers who act on the assumption that they know better than the people they manage, and therefore insist on compliance and submission to their programs. In the NSA’s domestic spying program, for example, Bill sees “the absolute undoing of the founding principle of democracy.”

Coy asked Bill as well about his years in the Weather Underground. Bill says, “We were lucky in one sense, because we were playing with fire…The question that arose in our minds was how do you stop a war? We organized, we sacrificed, we did everything we could think of to convince the American people it was wrong. And we won that battle. But the war didn’t end. In that crisis of democracy, in that crisis of the anti-war movement, the anti-war movement splintered.  Many of my friends, many of my family, chose different paths, but none of those paths proved successful. None of them actually ended the war. So on our most modest demand, our modest goal, to end this one war, we failed. But we did learn some things, and one of those things we learned, I think, is that it’s our responsibilities as citizens, and as citizens of the world, to speak up and to act out when we see injustice being carried out in our name. And in a world as out of bounds as this one is, each one of us has a lot of work to do. I intend to keep doing it until I drop.”


ORIGINAL BROADCAST DATE:  Monday, February 17, 2014.