Friday, October 06, 2017

Jeanne Allen: Reactionary Right-Wing Extremist

Allen: On board with ALEC

It’s general knowledge that Center for Education Reform (CER), and its CEO Jeanne Allen, are extremely right-wing. Sourcewatch documents their connection with American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

Allen: Funded by the fringe

Jeanne Allen’s CER is funded by reactionary extremist billionaires, here’s a a sampling of their fringe-right supporters:

  • The Anschutz Foundation
  • The Laura and John Arnold Foundation
  • The Honorable and Mrs. Frank Baxter
  • The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation
  • The Broad Foundation
  • The Doris and Donald Fisher Fund
  • The L & S Milken Family Foundation
  • Mr. Whitney Tilson
  • The Walton Family Foundation

Allen: Writing for the Fringe-Right

Jeanne Allen is a frequent contributor for reactionary publications like National Review. Additionally, she expressed enthusiastic support, in writing, for the policies of Donald J. Trump and his arch-reactionary Secretary of Education, religious extremist Betsy DeVos. Moreover, Allen was called out on Crooks and Liars for her full-throated support of DeVos’ segregationist policies.

Allen: Reactionary Republican

Jeanne Allen ran as the GOP candidate in 2010 for Maryland’s District 16 race for House of Delegates. She received funding from right-wing republicans like Jeb Bush, dark-money investors, and charter school profiteers. Jeanne Allen was Executive Director of the extreme-right Heritage Foundation’s “Town Hall.”

Brief history on how this meme came about. I recently tweeted about Allen in connection to an article I saw another activist post about her.

My tone not comporting, to steal from Professor Dylan Rodriguez, with the norms of "white civil society" caused some consternation with the reactionaries inhabiting #EdReform Twitter. Here are a few of the more notable responses:


Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Conference presentation on criminal defendant Ref Rodriguez

Legal scholar Robert D. Skeels gave a twenty minute talk on criminal defendant Refugio “Ref” Rodriguez of the California Charter Schools Association at a conference on school privatization on October 1, 2017.


Friday, September 29, 2017

Criminal defendant Ref Rodriguez, an introduction

Corporate charter school mogul Refugio “Ref” Rodriguez has been in the news lately. First, for his being elected President of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board of Education. Second, he is facing criminal charges of three felony counts, including conspiracy and perjury, and 25 misdemeanor counts of assumed name contribution.

Who is this rising star of the California Charter Schools Association? How did he end up on LAUSD’s board despite having never attended, nor worked at a public school? Why are these charges no surprise to Los Angeles public education activists? All of the questions and more answered in a talk by Robert D. Skeels at 2:30 PM during Defend Public Education NOW’s Opposing Charter Schools Conference. This talk, and topic, is one of many at the event.

Conference: Opposing Charter Schools
Saturday, September 30, 2017 from 11 AM — 4 PM
Southern California Library
6120 S Vermont Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90044

Robert D. Skeels is a Juris Doctor candidate specializing in education policy and the law. His work appears in a range of publications including Jacobin, Truthout, and CounterPunch. He is one of the contributors for


Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Schools Matter: Time to end the racist triumvirate of Tuck, Huppenthal, and Horne

First published on Schools Matter on August 29, 2017

It’s a tale of white fragility and fear, really.—Imani Gandy

These two racist State Superintendents finally got what they deserved for shuttering ethnic studies in Arizona. However, right here in California, we have a candidate for State Superintendent that enacted the same policies in Los Angeles—shuttering ethnic studies, closing dual language programs, and killing heritage language programs. That bigot's name is Marshall Tuck. Let's show Tuck that California is not Arizona, and that we shouldn't have to wait for years for a court to rule in on his racist policies. Let's stop Tuck from repeating a Horne or a Huppenthal, by making sure he never holds a position of power in which he can harm school children again.


Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Grit by any other name is torture

Angela Duckworth and her "academic" mentor Martin Seligman helped develop torture models that the CIA uses in places like Iraq. The very same elements of these torture models were taken from Duckworth et al. to establish the horrific "no excuses" policies of corporate charter school chains like KIPP. Both Duckworth and Seligman are monsters, and that the corporate media continues to provide them a platform is a testament to the pervasiveness of neoliberal ideology. Dr. Jim Horn and others have written quite a lot about Duckworth and her ilk at SchoolsMatter.


Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Charter schools harm students

Remediation costs from charter high school “graduates” getting into college, but not having basic proficiency are astronomical both in terms of economics, and in demoralizing students. Education legal scholars like Robert D. Skeels have called for wealthy charter school executives and their unelected boards of directors to be held personally liable for the damages both to individual students, and to society at large. The costs of putting charter greed before student need are grave. It’s time to end the racist and classist “school choice” project.



Sunday, May 14, 2017

Senator Bernie Sanders endorses Padilla and Zimmer for LAUSD

Senator Bernie Sanders stands against right-wing privatizers like Melvoin. Sanders endorses Padilla and Zimmer for LAUSD.


Saturday, May 13, 2017

Schools Matter: Privatizer Nick Melvoin wants Betsy DeVos style policies for Los Angeles

First published on Schools Matter on May 13, 2017

"Melvoin’s people are not ordinary constituents passing daily through LAUSD’s school house doors. These are an extremely rarefied set of LA’s ruling class, the managers and not the workers of this great city." — Sara Roos

Nick Melvoin is a right-of-center, neoliberal privatizer who is close to David F. Welch and many other anti-public-education billionaires. The list of contributors for his Los Angeles Unified School (LAUSD) Board run contains some of the most virulent reactionaries bent on destroying the public commmons, and making education an easy source of revenue for the various industries they profit from.

David F. Welch is the right-wing, extremist millionaire that started the vile Nonprofit Industrial Complex (#NPIC) "Students Matter" which initiated/funded the Vergara v. California and other anti-public-education lawsuits.

Fortunately, the California Court of Appeals didn't agree with the arch-reactionary trial judge in Vergara, overturned his wrongheaded holdings, and vacated his judgement: Another defeat in court for right-wing privatizer David F. Welch.

Former Teach for America, Melvoin has worked with other organizations like Teach Plus, and testified for Welch in the Vergara action. Testified, in bad faith, against the very public schools that he worked for. Laura Moser writes in Slate:

"Nick Melvoin taught at one of those high-poverty schools in Watts, Los Angeles—until he was laid off, two years in a row, a victim of LIFO. Melvoin, who is now a teacher organizer with Teach Plus and a recently declared candidate for the L.A. Unified school board, testified on behalf of the plaintiffs in Vergara and thinks that overturning the statutes contested in Vergara “would be a game changer. It’s necessary but not sufficient,” he said."

One has to ask if Melvoin was really put out by layoffs, why didn't he go to work at one of the charter corporations he is so concerned about increasing market share for? Instead of questioning a system that doesn't provide enough resources to keep public school teachers employed — hence last in, first out policies, Melvoin disingenuously held himself out as the "poster child" for a policy that he, and other Betsy DeVos acolytes, falsely frame as an issue of teacher longevity versus quality.

Melvoin's almost irrational hatred of public schools is best summed up by his desire to entirely supplant them with privately managed institutions, including charter schools. When news broke of decades of scandal by Celerity Charter Corporation and their corrupt founder, Vielka McFarlane, Melvoin wrote an Op-Ed providing political cover. McFarlane is best known for the incident where she and her administrators claimed Emmett Till deserved to die, in defense of her firing teachers over a social justice lesson plan. McFarlane's reputation for dishonesty and greed even earned her the ire of former LAUSD Superindendent Johh Deasy, an individual generally not known for taking issue with wealthy charter school executives. That Melvoin positioned himself as McFarlane's champion says much.

Melvoin would bring the entire Betsy DeVos agenda to Los Angeles. His penchant for segregation, privatization, and subsidizing the greed of the charter school industry is peerless.


Friday, May 05, 2017

Graphic Essay: Betsy DeVos' 'School Choice' Movement Isn't Social Justice. It's a Return to Segregation.

Charters and vouchers have always been intended to break public schools, and wrest education away from the public commons. "School choice," a phrase coined by segregationists, has always been about maintaining and exacerbating segregation by race and class.

Graphic Essay: Betsy DeVos' 'School Choice' Movement Isn't Social Justice. It's a Return to Segregation. by Adam Bessie and Erik Thurman is a powerful piece that makes complex concepts easy to understand. It's a excellent thing to share with non-academics regarding the scourge of school privatization via charters-vouchers. I've included a quote and a teaser from the piece below.


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Tell California State Senators to support SB 808

Network for Public Education (NPE) is helping to support California Senate Bill 808. The legislation, while it doesn't go far enough, is an important first step towards reeling in the outrageous excesses of the charter school sector. My letter to my State Senator appears below, as well as the call to action letter from NPE.

Senator de Leon:

I am a third year law student, studying hard so that I can become an attorney and defend families of children with disabilities against discrimination by the lucrative charter school industry. Prior to my studying law, I wrote for numerous publications about the essentially unregulated charter sector, exposing abuses, fraud, misrepresentation, and more importantly, discriminatory conduct towards the most vulnerable students.

Charters discriminate against English language learners, students with disciplinary histories, students with disabilities, and more. Meanwhile, their high-powered executives—many of whom are not even educators—pull down astronomical salaries and use their ability as unregulated 501c3s to award no bid contracts to their friends, relatives, or in the case of a current Los Angeles School Board member, to their own consulting firm. Since members of the taxpaying public don't elect charter school boards, there exists a system that puts public money into private hands with no mechanisms to ensure even a modicum of transparency or oversight.

Furthermore, my alma mater, UCLA, has conducted several studies demonstrating that charter schools exacerbate segregation, and fuel the so-called "school to prison pipeline." A perusal of the studies compiled by UCLA's The Civil Rights Project / Proyecto Derechos Civiles would cause any reasonable person to realize that decades of letting the revenue-stream-driven charter school industry "regulate" itself has resulted in an abject situation.

Therefore, I'm asking you to please support SB 808. This bill would give California’s democratically elected, local school boards the final say when it comes to the approval of charter school petitions. The present system takes away community control, forcing districts to navigate reduced budgets and high legal costs for schools over which they have no authority.

Schools that receive public dollars must be responsible to the public. Thank you.

Dear Robert D,

NPE and NPE Action have long been concerned about charter schools in California. You can read our NPE reports about them here.

Now there is a chance to make a small improvement. On April 26th, SB 808 comes up for a hearing before the Senate Education Committee.

This bill would give California’s democratically elected, local school boards the final say when it comes to the approval of charter school petitions. Under current laws, charter petitioners can appeal to state and county boards of education, thereby taking away community control, forcing districts to navigate reduced budgets and high legal costs for schools over which they have no authority. Meanwhile, charter schools often receive blank checks, in the form of pro-bono legal work, funded by the billionaire-backed lobbying group, The California Charter Schools Association (CCSA). We need to level the playing field, so that all schools which receive public funding are responsible and accountable in the same ways.

Here is what we need you to do.

1. Send an email to your Senator. We make it very easy- just click here.

2. Call the members of the Senate Education Committee and ask them to vote YES on SB 808.

• Benjamin Allen, Chair (Santa Monica) 916-651-4026
• Scott Wilk, Vice Chair (Santa Clarita) 916-651-4021
• Cathleen Galgiani (Stockton) 916-651-4005
• Connie M. Leyva (Chino) 916-651-4020
• Tony Mendoza (Artesia) 916-651-4032
• Richard Pan (Sacramento) 916-651-4006
• Andy Vidak (Hanford) 916-651-4014

Let them know that the taxpayers of California deserve local, democratically elected and accountable officials overseeing how their children are educated and tax dollars are spent. Let them know that you are tired of charter school scandals. California's children and taxpayers deserve better.

Thank you for all that you do.

Carol Burris

Executive Director of NPE Action


GO ON STRIKE! May 1, 2017


Tuesday, March 07, 2017

How our household voted March 7, 2017


H — yes | Despite the fact that the reactionaries at the billionaire funded United Way of Greater Los Angeles supported it.
Mayor — Frantz Pierre | Some activists suggested Schawartz, but his mailers indicated he was a Clinton-Obama neoliberal. When respected Green Party CD34 Candidate Kenneth Mejia endorsed Pierre, that’s all we needed.
City Attorney — BLANK | Mike Feuer supported the racist Echo Parque gang injunction to help speed gentrification and line developer pockets. We don’t vote for racists.
Controller — BLANK | Ron Galperin could have used his position to expose all of the scandals in the charter school industry that steal money from public school students. He did not.
City Council — Jessica Salans | She’s endorsed by the Green Party, and has seemingly good politics. In 2013 I endorsed, we contributed, and we voted for Mitch O’Farrell, whom we thought leaned left, or at least center. However, O’Farrell supported the racist Echo Parque gang injunction to help speed gentrification and line developer pockets. We don’t vote for racists.
M — BLANK | We don’t smoke weed. Our stance is this is an issue for the stoners to decide for themselves.
N — BLANK | See explanation for M supra.
P— BLANK | We didn’t have sufficient time to formulate a position on this.
S — YES | Highly respected activists in communities most impacted are supporting this, including Damien Goodmon and Ron Gochez. This city is run by insatiably greedy developers, and while S isn’t the solution, it might give us enough time to organize a real response to the “genocide by gentrification” occurring at breakneck speeds. After watching what happened in my zip code, we embrace any resistance, even this imperfect kind, against the onslaught of unchecked development.
CC Trustees — Steven Veres, Dallas Fowler, and Dr. Gabriel Buelna | An activist we trust on these issues provided these picks.
LAUSD D2 — | Toss up between Carl Petersen and Lisa Alva. This was tough because both candidates have their pros and cons. Either Petersen or Alva are exponentially better than right-wing school privatizer Garcia. In the end we went with the candidate endorsed by Associated Administrators of Los Angeles. We can only hope that extremist Garcia and her vile Betsy DeVos agenda is defeated.

Remember that in Congressional District 34 we have a special election on April 4, 2017. Be sure to vote…

Kenneth Mejia for Congress!




Saturday, February 25, 2017

Schools Matter: Yolie Flores Aguilar email colluding with charter school executives

First published on Schools Matter on February 20, 2017

“PLEASE don’t forward this email. simply state it in your own words.”—Yolie Flores Aguilar

Corporatist Yolie Flores always puts privately managed charters first.This email was addressed to some 60 individuals, including myself, on February 4, 2017. While its authenticity is not absolutely certain, I have researched the email addresses in the email body and they all seem legitimate. The content is consistent with the language that these charter school executives use both in public and internal conversations.

Yolie Flores Aguilar was an employee of the infamous Gates Foundation (of ALEC and Discovery Institute donation fame) while she sat on the LAUSD Board. She brought a resolution to give away new schools built with taxpayer dollars to privately managed charter school corporations.

Here Flores colludes with several well paid charter executives to avoid public mention that her resolution (inappropriately named Public [sic] School Choice) was essentially a real estate bonanza for the lucrative charter school sector. Marco Petruzzi and Ben Austin of Green Dot/Parent Revolution, Judy Burton of Alliance, Mike Piscal of ICEF are the big names in this secret missive. The lot of them have been plagued by scandals, but most of them are still profiting mightily from the charter industry.

Flores is currently running for U.S. Congress. If she's capable of this sort of duplicity and malfeasance while on a school board, imagine her in another position of power to further serve her corporate masters. Arch-reactionary Betsy DeVos would love to have more neoliberal Democrats that support her school privatization agenda of charters-vouchers. DeVos already has corporatists like Corey Booker in her thrall, Yolie Flores would be no different.

The second document should help authenticate this email chain. It's an email from Dr. Danny Weil with Yolie Flores Aguilar's <> email address in the to field. I recall she had a blog by the same name (i.e. "itsyolie"), and remember seeing emails from her from that address back in that era.

Yolie Flores Aguilar email colluding with charter school executives by Robert D. Skeels on Scribd

Dr. Danny Weil email with Yolie Flores Aguilar's <> email address by Robert D. Skeels on Scribd