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Monday, October 6, 2008

Who is William Ayers?

William Charles "Bill" Ayers (born 26 December 1944). Ayers grew up in Glen Ellyn, a suburb of Chicago, Illinois. He attended public schools there until his second year in high school, when he transferred to Lake Forest Academy, a small prep school.[2] Ayers earned an A.B. from the University of Michigan in American Studies in 1968. (His father, mother and older brother had preceded him there.)[2] He is the son of Thomas G. Ayers, former Chairman and CEO of Commonwealth Edison (1973 to 1980), Chicago philanthropist and the namesake of the Thomas G. Ayers College of Commerce and Industry. Ayers is known for the radical nature of his activism in the 1960s and 1970s as well as his current work in education reform, curriculum, and instruction. In 1969 he cofounded the violent radical left organization Weather Underground which was active during the 1960s and 1970s.



In 1970 Ayers was called "a national leader"[27] of the Weatherman organization and "one of the chief theoreticians of the Weathermen".[28] The Weathermen were initially part of the Revolutionary Youth Movement (RYM) within the SDS, splitting from the RYM's Maoists by claiming there was no time to build a vanguard party and that revolutionary war against the United States government and the capitalist system should begin immediately. Ayers participated in the bombings of New York City Police Headquarters in 1970, the United States Capitol building in 1971, and The Pentagon in 1972, as he noted in his 2001 book, Fugitive Days. Because of a water leak caused by the Pentagon bombing, aerial bombardments during the Vietnam War had to be halted for several days. Ayers writes: Although the bomb that rocked the Pentagon was itsy-bitsy - weighing close to two pounds - it caused 'tens of thousands of dollars' of damage. The operation cost under $500, and no one was killed or even hurt. [13] While underground, he and fellow member Bernardine Dohrn married, and the two remained fugitives together, changing identities, jobs and locations. By 1976 or 1977, with federal charges against both fugitives dropped due to prosecutorial misconduct (see COINTELPRO), Ayers was ready to turn himself in to authorities, but Dohrn remained reluctant until after she gave birth to two sons, one born in 1977, the other in 1980. "He was sweet and patient, as he always is, to let me come to my senses on my own", she later said.[2] The couple turned themselves in in 1980. Ayers and Dohrn later became legal guardians to the son of former Weathermen David Gilbert and Kathy Boudin after the boy's parents were convicted and sent to prison for their part in the Brinks Robbery of 1981.[14]

And here is how Ayers characterized himself and the longtime radical comrades to whom he was speaking:"Even though we think of ourselves as political, we weren’t politicians. We were people who had a moral vision of what was possible. And when we talk, for example, about health care, about peace, we’re talking a language of ethics, not a language of instrumentalism or opportunism, or what we might get. So we have to speak in a language that’s large and generous and encompassing. And then we have to act."





Ayers worked with Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley in shaping the city's school reform program,[40] and was one of three co-authors of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge grant proposal that in 1995 won $49.2 million over five years for public school reform.[41] Since 1999 he has served on the board of directors of the Woods Fund of Chicago, an anti-poverty, philanthropic foundation established as the Woods Charitable Fund in 1941.[42]



Ayers is currently a Distinguished Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Education. His interests include teaching for social justice, urban educational reform, narrative and interpretive research, children in trouble with the law, and related issues.href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Ayers#cite_note-UIC-38">[39] He began his career in primary education while an undergraduate, teaching at the Children’s Community School (CCS), a project founded by a group of students and based on the Summerhill method of education. After leaving the underground, he earned an M.Ed from Bank Street College in Early Childhood Education (1984), an M.Ed from Teachers College, Columbia University in Early Childhood Education (1987) and an Ed.D from Columbia University in Curriculum and Instruction (1987). He has edited and written many books and articles on education theory, policy and practice, and has appeared on many panels and symposia.

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