Monday, April 27, 2015

LAUSD District 5: Money, education and the school board race! On KPFK's Politics or Pedagogy? with John Cromshow

Politics Or Pedagogy? with John Cromshow

Featuring an analysis of education, policy and practice affecting our public schools.

KPFK 90.7 FM
KPFK's Politics or Pedagogy? with John Cromshow

Tuesday, April 28
7:00 PM
Call in number: (818) 985-5735

TOPIC:
Money, education and the school board race. Case in point, LAUSD District 5. It takes money to run a political campaign - lots of it - even for something as basic to education as a school board race.

GUESTS — PRERECORDED:
Bennett Kayser (LAUSD School Board), 10-minute Q & A
Scott Folsom (4LAKIDS), Money, the School Board Race and more
Roger Wagner, Ph.D. (Servant Leadership)

GUESTS — IN-STUDIO:
Andrew Thomas, Ph.D. (District 5 candidate in the 2015 Primary)

PANELISTS:
Lisa Karahalios (LAUSD Teacher)
Plus a Kayser Campaign Staffer

Both Refugio "Ref" Rodriguez's and the Honorable Bennett Kayser's campaigns were invited but only the Kayser campaign agree to appear as requested below.

TO: Campaign Managers, LAUSD School Board, District 5
FROM: John Cromshow, KPFK, Politics or pedagogy?
RE: INVITATION Candidates Forum Participation
DATE: Tuesday, April 21, 2015

To confirm our conversation regarding the Candidates' On-Air Forum:

  1. Each candidate has been invited to participate in an individual pre-recorded interview.
  2. John Cromshow, host of Politics or pedagogy? on KPFK will conduct each interview.
  3. Each candidate will be asked to respond to the same questions.
  4. Pre-recorded interview answers (10 minutes total) will be a central part of the forum.
  5. Invited on-air panelists - one teacher-supporter and one campaign-staffer for each candidate.
  6. Panelists will discuss the School Board race and answer listener calls.
  7. Program will air on Tuesday, April 28, 2015 from 7:00-8:00 p.m.
  8. Candidate(s) accepting the invitation, as outlined above, will be represented in the program.

Call in number: (818) 985-5735



Share/Bookmark

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Schools Matter: What are Ref Rodriguez's ties to the Gülen cult, and why is the Armenian community supporting Bennett Kayser?

First published on Schools Matter on April 23, 2015


“Review of the financial statements and accounting records noted: non-disclosure of related party transactions; failure to maintain required fund reserves; failure to appropriately apply accrual basis of accounting; lack of monitoring of cash receipts and deposits process; lack of documentation for disbursements; lack of control over journal entries, and lack of adequate training for the accounting staff.” — Los Angeles Unified School District, Office of the Inspector General

Who has ties to the cultish Gülenist Movement? Fethullah Gülen, Ref Rodriguez, Caprice Young, Monica Garcia, Richard Vladovic, Reed Hastings, Yvonne Chan, and Carrie Walton Penner

Refugio "Ref" Rodriguez is arguably as secretive as the Gülen religious cult. Secrecy isn't the only thing the two charter giants have in common. While there's no direct evidence of collaboration, there is plenty of circumstantial evidence connecting these charter conspirators.

Rodriguez's charter empire and Gülenist movement are both funded by Walmart fortune heirs. The LA School Report blog's Vanessa Romo wrote about Rodriguez's corporate charter network on January 20, 2015:

"All got their seed money from the biggest players in education reform — either the Walton Family Foundation or the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He [Ref Rodriguez] says all but a handful of PUC schools out-perform the surrounding public schools." [emphasis mine]

The same Walton Family Foundation funds the largest chain of privately managed charter schools in the United States, namely the Gülenist Movement:

"The Walton family, founder of Wal-mart, the worldwide retail giant, has donated millions of dollars to schools considered to be associated with the Gülen community." [emphasis mine]

The common thread is Walmart fortune heiress, Carrie Walton Penner. She is currently the California Charter Schools Association's (CCSA) Board Vice-Chair (term ending 6/30/2017). Her close friend Rodriguez was a CCSA Board member from 2005 to 2009. Her mutual funding of both Rodriguez's lucrative PUC corporate charter network, and the Gülen charter school network (including Magnolia charters) is undisputed.

Another strong piece of evidence is that Magnolia branches of the Gülen charter school network bloomed under Rodriguez's CCSA board tenure. No less than five Magnolia schools were opened during the Rodriguez era:

  1. 2007 Magnolia Science Academy – 2 Valley (MSA-2)
  2. 2008 Magnolia Science Academy – 3 Carson (MSA-3)
  3. 2008 Magnolia Science Academy – 4 Venice (MSA-4)
  4. 2008 Magnolia Science Academy – 5 (MSA-5)
  5. 2009 Magnolia Science Academy – 6 Palms (MSA-6)

The proliferation of Gülen charter schools under Rodriguez's CCSA board term might explain why he has remained silent as to the serious charges of malfeasance against those schools. Rodriguez, who claims he wants to see "bad charters shut down," would do well to read Scott M. Folsom's sage words on the acts committed:

"Parental Choice does not give the right to parents to choose to send their kids to a bad school -- whether the school is bad because it does a crummy job of teaching students or managing the public's funds."

The fact that Rodriguez has been endorsed by long-time Gülenist supporters Monica Garcia and Caprice Young doesn't bode well for him offering any defenses. The latter is now a Gülen employee.

The unequivocal support of Los Angeles' Armenian community of Rodriguez's opponent, the Honorable Bennett Kayser, may be the most damning piece of evidence. Magnolia is tightly aligned with the Gülenist Pacifica Institute. In 2011 Armenian groups protested the organization's ties to Turkish groups denying the 1915-1918 Armenian genocide. That Ref Rodriguez and Monica Garcia are closely aligned to genocide deniers should concern voters to no end. Following is a press release announcing an Asbarez.com article discussing Kayser's broad support by Armenians.


Vote. Give. Do. | Asbarez.com


Garen Yegparin, a journalist of Asbaraz Armeian news, wrote an excellent piece on the importance of voting, donating, and volunteering for your local candidates over the next few weeks.

Yegparin specifically writes about Bennett's race and what is at stake this Tuesday, May 19th: 


"But perhaps the most subtly important LA election is for the school board’s District 5 seat. Bennett Kayser, the incumbent running for reelection placed second, and faces a very strong challenger in the runoff. Kayser’s opponent is supported with serious money from the charter school movement (specifically, the California Charter Schools Association Advocates and its various tentacles), the same people from whom the Turkish Gulen movement has benefitted as it successfully encroaches on LAUSD schools."

"Consider that when all the spending in this race is added up (by the candidates themselves and independent expenditure committees for and against the candidates) Kayser’s opponent comes out 43% ahead in dollar terms! This is very unusual. It is more commonly the incumbent that has the money edge. It speaks to how much Kayser is being targeted." 

"We should be assisting him as much as possible. Unfortunately, his district covers areas which are not home to very many Armenians, which speaks to the principled nature of his stance. So that leaves volunteering (making phone calls or walking neighborhoods) and campaign donations, both of which can be done through the Kayser’s website, www.bennett2015.com."

 
Bennett Kayser is endorsed by the Armenian National Committee of America Western Region and the Armenian Council of America.  Kayser will also carry a resolution at the next LAUSD Board Meeting recognizing the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.

Paid for by Re-Elect Bennett Kayser for School Board 2015 - General – 419 North Larchmont Blvd., #37, Los Angeles, CA 90004 – ID #1375891 – More information available at Ethics.lacity.org – Bennett2015.com – (323) 535-9930


Share/Bookmark

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Daily Censored: Why won’t Ref Rodriguez tell the truth?

First published April 22, 2015 on Daily Censored


Why won’t Ref Rodriguez tell the truth?

Reporters, parents, and community activists have been trying to get the facts about wealthy charter industry executive Refugio “Ref” Rodriguez. They have called, emailed, and even asked Rodriguez campaign workers at their doorsteps simple, but important questions. They are being ignored.

Q1: It’s known that Rodriguez attended Catholic schools, did he ever attend a public school?

Q2: We know Rodriguez has worked for charter schools and Catholic schools. Has he ever worked at a public school? Volunteered at one?

Q3: Lacking public school experience he wants to be elected to our school board. Will Rodriguez ever open up his charter chain’s board to public elections?

Curious? Ask him yourself. Call (310) 968-5729

In addition to dodging the simple questions above, Rodriguez never disclosed that his California Charter School Association (CCSA) boasted “30% profit margins… with 20-30% lead generation and 20-50% close ratios.” He won’t discuss his relationship with the secretive Gülen cult charter network. Rodriguez has avoided discussing how much money his charter chain spends on advertising instead of students. That’s a lot of secrets! Los Angeles Unified School District students deserve honest, forthcoming school board members, not ones with so many things to hide.



Share/Bookmark

Maybe the LA School Report can run this piece on education and privilege?

How the Rich Get Into Ivies: Behind the Scenes of Elite Admissions

Jamie Alter-Lynton's Deasy (LA) School Report
Jamie Alter-Lynton's blog byline should read "what Deasy wants you to think is really going on in LAUSD"

There's some other investigative reporting that "journalists" Michael Janofsky, Vanessa-Romo, and Craig Clough might want to look into.



Share/Bookmark

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

CCSA's Ref Rodriguez campaign now linked to ALEC, Kochs, SFER and DFER

CCSA's Ref Rodriguez campaign now linked to ALEC, Kochs, SFER and DFER



April 21, 2015

Contact: Bennett Kayser HQ
Cell: 323-535-9930

HEY NEW YORKERS, WELCOME TO OUR L.A. SCHOOL BOARD RACE, NOW FOLLOW OUR LOCAL ETHICS AND TRANSPARENCY RULES!!

Los Angeles – New York money continues to attempt to buy influence in the Los Angeles Unified School Board race in District 5. Out-of-state “Reform, Inc.” money still pours in against local teacher and current Board member Bennett Kayser. One NYC billionaire was good for $450,000 as of December. Now, a front group from NYC linked to the hard-core Republican super PAC known as ALEC and the Koch brothers has inserted money in our school board race.

“Students for Education Reform” (SFER) has landed with boots on the ground, paid boots. (Whether they were flown in is another question.) SFER has spent $20,120.80 so far. Just two weeks in town and SFER has already violated our local ethics and transparency requirements.

SFER has failed to follow both California and the City of Los Angeles’ election ethics rules for mail communications. They are required to include a disclaimer specifying the name, address, a registered ID number and to inform the public who paid for the material and that additional information is available at ethics.lacity.org. Once again Rodriguez supporters are circumventing the law, violating local ethics rules and hiding out-of-state billionaire backers.

The following is SFER’s non-disclosure, “dis-closure” found on their mail: “Paid for by Students for Education Reform Action Network and not authorized by candidate(s) or any committee controlled by the candidate(s).”

Astroturf Activism: Who is Behind Students for Education Reform? (by George Joseph in the Nation)

SFER has received $1.6 million from Education Reform Now, whose PAC, Democrats for Education Reform (DFER), shelled out $1 million to attack the Chicago Teachers Union. DFER worked with the Koch brothers and ALEC to push Proposition 32, which if passed, would have blocked labor unions from using automatic payroll deductions for political purposes. Though SFER claims neutral territory, its motives are laid bare by its rallying around the funding of charter schools, the issue of limiting tenure, and its strict focus on testing. The testing corporations and charter school CEOs might agree with hedge funder and DFER founder Whitney Tilson’s explanation for his interest in education: “Hedge funds are always looking for ways to turn a small amount of capital into a large amount of capital.”


http://www.thenation.com/blog/172174/astroturf-activism-who-behind-students-education-reform

Nothing says democracy, education Reform, Inc.-style more than a trip to Walmart and valet service!



http://ethics.lacity.org/disclosure/campaign/search/public_ie_search_results.cfm
###

Paid for by Re-Elect Bennett Kayser for School Board 2015 - General – 419 North Larchmont Blvd., #37, Los Angeles, CA 90004 – ID #1375891 – More information available at Ethics.lacity.org – Bennett2015.com – (323) 535-9930

Copyright © 2015 Re-Elect Bennett Kayser For School Board 2015 - General, All rights reserved.


Share/Bookmark

Monday, April 20, 2015

K-12NN Wire: How is CCSA's Ref Rodriguez hiding his billionaire and ideologue contributors?

First published April 20, 2015 on K-12 News Network


“In the long run, charter schools are being strategically used to pave the way for vouchers. The voucher advocates, who are very powerful and funded by right-wing foundations and families, recognize that the word voucher has been successfully discredited by enlightened Americans who believe in the public sector. So they’ve resorted to two strategies. First, they no longer use the word “vouchers.” They’ve adopted the seemingly benign phrase “school choice,” but they are still voucher advocates.” — Jonathan Kozol

CCSA SuperPAC April 2015 Form 460 by Robert D. Skeels

How does California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) hide the billionaires, fringe right-wingers, and extreme ideologues contributing to charter profiteer Refugio "Ref" Rodriguez and neoliberal school privatizer Tamar Galatzan's Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) campaigns? Hide those contributions by laundering them from one SuperPAC, to another SuperPAC (CCSA Advocates), to another SuperPAC (Parent Teacher Alliance in Support of Rodriguez, Galatzan, and Vladovic for School Board 2015, Sponsored by CCSA Advocates Independent Expenditure Committee).

Although they'll be able to hide the contributors until many months after the election, you can be sure it's the usual suspects supporting their fellow school privatization profiteers. Reed Hastings, Eli Broad, Michael Bloomberg, Philip Anschutz, and others are names they are likely hiding from the public.

Maybe the vile Ref Rodriguez can use those tens of millions of corporate dollars to make more ads mocking Bennett Kayser's disability.

PROFITS! Why Ref Rodriguez and his CCSA covet the LAUSD Board Seat



Share/Bookmark

Schools Matter: Husband of John Deasy confidant, Jamie Alter Lynton, cashed in big on Pearson PLC's LAUSD iPad Deal

First published April 19, 2015 on Schools Matter


If the Lyntons are trying to sell off $38,099.31 of Pearson PLC  shares in March 2014, is that tantamount to insider trading, given their relationship with Deasy?

From: "Robert D. Skeels" <***@ucla.edu>
Subject: RepairsNOTiPad's alert: Husband of Deasy confidant, Jamie Alter Lynton, cashed in big on Pearson PLC
Date: April 19, 2015 at 06:43:29 AM PDT
To: [REDACTED]
Content-Type: multipart/alternative; boundary="Apple-Mail=_625E9864-12A5-4A2B-B53F-3F0A02FCDFF1"
X-Smtp-Server: smtp.gmail.com:***@g.ucla.edu
X-Universally-Unique-Identifier: D167F5C1-F6D5-42CE-BA06-EDE4999BD90B
Message-Id:
Mime-Version: 1.0 (Mac OS X Mail 7.3 \(1878.6\))

Colleagues:

I was alerted to the WikiLeaks of Sony emails early yesterday. I had a seven hour mock of the State Bar of California FYLSX exam yesterday, and have a lot of studying to do today, so I don't have much time. That said, the leaks are devastating in that they prove unequivocally that the billionaires, ideologues, charter executives, and their school board candidates all work together for their common cause of eliminating public education (and profiting thereof).

We're frequently told that we dabble in guilt by association, but then you see items like this leaked:

https://wikileaks.org/sony/emails/emailid/117253

and it confirms that we have been correct all along in our assertion that this is a well coordinated project by the ruling class (or 1% if you prefer), and their hangers on.

This email is of great importhttps://wikileaks.org/sony/emails/emailid/133248

establishing Jamie Alter Lynton's husband Michael Lynton, Sony CEO, cashed in big on the major corporate player in the disgraced John Deasy's iPad scandal, Pearson PLC.

I am putting out both a call for help, and an assertion that we all need to writing about this. Both charter profiteer Ref Rodriguez, and longtime neoliberal corporate education reformer Tamar Galatzan have insurmountable funding advantages in this upcoming election, and it is the individuals discussed in this email that are bankrolling them. Here's what I need help with, and following that, is a few items that will help others with research and writing their own articles.

NEED

  • Someone to go through all of Rodriguez and Galatzan's current 460 Forms looking for contributions by Jamie Alter Lynton and Michael Lynton.
  • Doing the same for the various Independent Expenditures for this election.
  • A time table of Deasy's iPad fiasco, including the attacks on Stuart Magruder, and when Annie Gilbertson wrote her brilliant articles about Deasy's inappropriate relations with Pearson and Apple executives.
  • If the Lyntons are trying to sell off $38,099.31 of Pearson PLC  shares in March 2014, is that tantamount to insider trading, given their relationship with Deasy?
  • Someone to go through all of Rodriguez and Galatzan's current 460 Forms looking for contributions by anyone on this list https://wikileaks.org/sony/emails/emailid/117253.
  • Figures of how much LAUSD bond money was squandered in the Pearson deal.
  • Statement from https://www.facebook.com/pages/Repairs-Not-IPads/228827333958584 Repairs not iPads representatives on their thoughts on these latest developments.

PROVIDING

Here's some helpful information for other people's articles and research.

Jamie Alter Lynton has supported the Coalition for School Reform (CSR) and its candidates—including Galatzan—in the past with obscene sums like $100,000.

CSR was an anti-public education SuperPAC started in conjunction with right-wing extremists Philip Anschutz, Jerry Perenchio, Eli Broad, and Frank Baxter. These plutocrats are now funding California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) and its associated SuperPAC directly. For more on CSR.

Here's some background on Jamie Alter Lynton from K-12 News Network's The Wire August 11, 2014:

The second issue is that the link in Johnson’s tweet is to the notorious Deasy School Report*, an anti-public education blog created by Jamie Alter-Lynton, a wealthy reactionary who sits as a board member on Superintendent John Deasy’s LA Fund slush 501c3. Alter-Lynton, sibling of corrupt charter cheerleader Jonathan Alter, practices Breitbart style “journalism” — feeling that outlets like the LA Times and LA Daily News weren’t planted in the the neoliberal corporate reform camp firmly enough. Her Ayn Rand leaning views on the public sector are second to her almost maniacal hatred of working class schoolteachers. One can really gauge Alter-Lynton by her letting go of both Alexander Russo and Hillel Aron. Neither of those writers would ever be accused of supporting public schools or saying anything positive about teachers, but they weren’t willing to pursue the white whale with Alter-Lynton’s Ahab-like vengeance.

The distinguished Dr. George McKenna owes nothing to Alex Johnson, the Deasy School Report, or Jamie Alter-Lynton. He is right not to respond to her constant badgering and attention seeking. The best thing we could all do is allow Alter-Lynton’s me-too-reformer blog die a deserved death of obscurity by not visiting or linking to it.

* Properly “LA School Report,” but most activists don’t call it by that very misleading name.

Husband of John Deasy confidant, Jamie Alter Lynton, cashed in big on Pearson PLC's LAUSD iPad Deal



Share/Bookmark

Friday, April 17, 2015

Where parents can report Camino Nuevo's illegal in kind contributions to Ref Rodriguez, anonymity available

PROFITS! Why Ref Rodriguez and his CCSA covet the LAUSD Board Seat

The publishing of Is CNCA paying parents to support CCSA's Ref Rodriguez's LAUSD Board campaign? has seen a few more parents corroborating the initial reports of these very serious accusations. One asked if it was a crime, and who they could report it to. My response was as follows:


Unless every instance of CNCA providing their meeting spaces, food, materials, dinners, etc. is documented on a 460 Form for this election, then they are breaking the law. In kind donations of that sort are calculated to their nearest fair market value and are considered campaign contributions just as much as cash contributions.

Conscientious parents on this list should consider documenting the instances that this has happened and reporting it.

Los Angeles City Ethics Commission
200 North Spring Street
City Hall, 24th Floor
Los Angeles, California 90012

(213) 978-1960 Phone
(213) 978-1988 Fax
ethics.commission@lacity.org

Office Hours:
Monday through Friday
8:00 a.m. to noon; 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Anonymous reporting is available

The City Ethics Commission's enforcement division investigates and brings enforcement actions against individuals and entities who violate the City's ethics, campaign finance or lobbying provisions. Many of its cases begin as complaints to the Whistleblower Hotline. The division also refers to and works with other government agencies when appropriate.

Reporting Violations

https://ethics.lacity.org//Whistleblower/complaint.cfm

To report a violation, call our Whistleblower Hotline at 213-978-1999 (toll free at 1-800-824-4825) or submit a complaint online.



Share/Bookmark

Thursday, April 16, 2015

School Choice allows segregation to come full circle

“As a result, advantaged, mostly white parents are pushed to make choices that they think protect their privilege. These factors perpetuate the cycle of social reproduction and resegregation, wherein schools enrolling the most students from affluent white families are automatically considered “better”—and therefore attract more students from advantaged backgrounds.” — Allison Roda and Amy Stuart Wells

School Choice allows segregation to come full circle

Washington Post just ran a piece entitled "White parents in North Carolina are using charter schools to secede from the education system," and it's exactly what we'd expect it to be.

Saw the link to the article on Dr. James Avington Miller Jr.'s Facebook page. Miller, of The War Report on Public Education radio show fame, had the following salient comment posted with the link: "BACK TO THE FUTURE------BACK WHERE IT STARTED"

I left the following commentary on Washington Post:

School Choice was coined by the segregationists, borrowed by the Broad/Gates/Walton Triumvirate, and now gleefully being reclaimed by the segregationists. Not just Southerners either, mind you. Check out Los Angeles "boutique charters" like Citizens of the World (CWC), Larchmont, and Metro. They cater to so-called liberal parents looking for "alternatives." What that really means is alternatives to having brown and poor children in their schools... well with the exception of those whose parents are self colonized and adept at respectability politics. Those are the parents of color that the Mike McGalliards of the charter project would boast are "so articulate" (read white-acting). The concept of school choice is racist and classist at its very core.



Share/Bookmark

Schools Matter: Is CNCA paying parents to support CCSA's Ref Rodriguez's LAUSD Board campaign?

First published on Schools Matter on April 15, 2015


“Walmart fortune heiress, Carrie Walton Penner, is currently the CCSA Board Vice-Chair (term ending 6/30/2017). By most accounts Walton Penner is close to both profiteer "Ref" Rodriguez of the PUC Charter School Corporation, and the well-heeled Ana Ponce of the Camino Nuevo Charter School Corporation.” — Robert D. Skeels

PROFITS! Why Ref Rodriguez and his CCSA covet the LAUSD Board Seat

Charter industry profiteer Refugio "Ref" Rodriguez, and his California Charter Schools Association's (CCSA) ruthless campaign to capture the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board of Education seat for District 5 has had every advantage. Rodriguez is backed with millions of dollars from an assortment of billionaires ranging from right-wing extremists like the Walton Family Fortune (Walmart) heirs to anti-public-commons ideologues including Reed Hastings, Eli Broad, and Michael Bloomberg. He has received uncritical press from all the major Los Angeles corporate media outlets. Rodriguez has waged a dishonest campaign that viciously mocked the incumbent school board member's disabilities, and went as far to make deplorable accusations of racism. With essentially unlimited funding at his disposal, one would think that the profit hungry corporate charter school executive wouldn't need any more advantages. However, Rodriguez and his CCSA allies are leaving nothing to chance in defense of their lucrative profits. Profits that have been threatened by an incumbent who has insisted that the charter industry serve all students, not just the ones that are "cheap" to educate.

Evidence of possible further impropriety was provided by Cheryl Ortega. Ortega is the Director of Bilingual Education at United Teachers Los Angeles, has taught in the community for nearly half a century, is a member of the Greater Echo Park Elysian Neighborhood Council, and was recently honored as the 28th Congressional District Woman of the Year. Given her long-standing ties to the community, parents frequently use her as a clearinghouse for education issues. For example, this revelation that she posted on her Facebook feed:

Interesting and shocking fact regarding the Kayser - Rodriguez LAUSD school board race. A long time friend and former school parent at Logan Elementary School, told me that parents at the Sandra Cisneros/Camino Nuevo Charter Corp School in Echo Park were paid to attend political meetings to help elect Ref Rodriguez. They were told that Bennet Kayser would "close down their school" if elected to the school board. I am not surprised at Camino Nuevo's message given their record of "misleading" parents.

Asking around, I've been informed that these parents are being paid in kind (not cash), with expensive dinners, trips to Starbucks, etc. These reports corroborate each other, and with definitive proof that CCSA and Rodriguez are chasing profits, their purported "payment" of parents to sway this election makes perfect sense. Who is doing it makes sense too.

Camino Nuevo Charter Corporation's profits depend on market share

Camino Nuevo Charter Academy Corporation (CNCA) has a long record of duplicity. Their fourteen member Board of Directors, comprised mostly of hedge fund/investment managers, venture capitalists, brokers, and bankers, is wholly unaccountable to the community. CNCA's campaign to expropriate the newly constructed CRES #14 school site during Gates Foundation employee Yolie Flores' so-called Public School Choice (PSC) charter school handout project, saw CNCA trying to stack the vote by busing in outsiders. CNCA lost to the community public school plan by more than 2 to 1 margin, but Flores gave them our school anyway. Here is a photo, taken at Rosemont ES during the CRES #14 advisory vote, of one of nearly a dozen buses brought in by the Camino Nuevo Charter Corporation.

Taken by Robert D. Skeels at Rosemont ES during the CRES #14 advisory vote, was one of nearly a dozen brought in by the Camino Nuevo Charter Corporation.

Charter schools using parents as political pawns for profits

It should be no surprise if CNCA is bribing parents to campaign and vote for Rodriguez. Even when they aren't using meals, gift cards, t-shirts, and other material enticements to induce parents into engaging in charter political activities, the lucrative charter school industry has another means of getting what they want—forced parent work policies. For years social justice activists have pointed out that CCSA, CCSA Advocates, Families that Can, and individual corporate charter chains have compelled parents to participate in their political activities by evoking their required "volunteer" hours. However, it wasn't until the watershed report from Public Advocates Inc. entitled Charging for Access: How California Charter Schools Exclude Vulnerable Students by Imposing Illegal Family Work Quotas was published that we began to recognize the full extent of this practice.

Wealthy Ana Ponce and Ref Rodriguez aiming for more profits

The essay PROFITS! Why Ref Rodriguez and his CCSA covet the LAUSD Board Seat exposed the connections between the CCSA, transnational corporations, and local charter school profiteers. This quote is extremely important:

Walmart fortune heiress, Carrie Walton Penner, is currently the CCSA Board Vice-Chair (term ending 6/30/2017). By most accounts Walton Penner is close to both profiteer "Ref" Rodriguez of the PUC Charter School Corporation, and the well-heeled Ana Ponce of the Camino Nuevo Charter School Corporation.

CNCA Corporation's 2012 Form 990, Part VII§A shows Ponce stuffing her pockets with a mind-boggling $230,811.00. Her ties to Rodriguez extend beyond their mutual profiteering, and California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) board memberships. Ponce did postgraduate work at Loyola Marymount University (LMU), and Rodriguez is an adjunct instructor there. Sadly LMU's education department faculty and administration is dominated by neoliberal privatizers, like Shane P. Martin, who actively work to destroy public education at the behest of their corporate sponsors. The one exception to LMU's complicity with the Broad/Gates/Walton Triumvirate is that of renowned Freirian scholar Professor Antonia Darder, who writes brilliant essays like Racism and the Charter School Movement: Unveiling the Myths. Darder's is the sole voice of reason in LMU's cacophony of corporate concerns.

Paying parents to advocate for the charter industry's political and financial aims, whether those payments are in kind, through required "volunteer" hours, or any other form of consideration is highly unethical, immoral, and likely illegal. In other words, it's just the sort of thing that Refugio "Ref" Rodriguez and his CCSA cabal would do.

If you live in LAUSD District 5, I implore you to demonstrate to charter profiteer Ref Rodriguez, his CNCA allies, and his deep-pocketed CCSA trade association that our communities value pupils over profits. Reelect the Honorable Bennett Kayser in the May 19, 2015 General Municipal Election!



Share/Bookmark

K12NN Wire: Why can't the LA Times get early education right?

First published on K12NN Wire on April 8, 2015


In How to even the educational playing field for Latino kids The Los Angeles Times discusses the work of UC Berkeley's Professor Bruce Fuller, but draw several wrong conclusions. They get it half right when they say "The discrepancy starts much earlier, and even high-quality preschool makes up only about a third of the deficit." It's not that this isn't true, it's that most preschools don't focus on language development. That's a big part of the problem. Here I reproduce my commentary, that was also submitted as a letter to the editor.

I realize that none of the members of the Los Angeles Times editorial staff have backgrounds in pedagogy, or even read anything more complex than "executive summaries" of the papers they cite, but you would think that School Readiness Language Development Program (SRLDP) might have been appropriate to mention in this editorial? That, and the fact that Superintendent Cortines is threatening to gut SRLDP so that he continue to pay for Rupert Murdoch's DIBBELS program? SRLDP is a research proven, award winning program that addresses all of the issues brought up here, let's expand it.

One Los Angeles news source did write about the SRLDP issue. See KPCC's Los Angeles Unified considers killing preschool program.

SRLDP supporters have a facebook page. The official, Los Angeles Unified School District page is here.

Why can't the LA Times get early education right?



Share/Bookmark

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Stabilize the LAUSD DACE budget now!

March 24, 2015, Los Angeles Unified School Board meeting. Over 2200 petition signatures collected in support of all classes beginning in the fall. The full text of the petition is: "The students and teachers urge the Division of Adult and Career Education (DACE) to give us a full and consistent schedule of classes for students beginning at the start of the school year, rather than holding back appropriated funds. DACE has established a pattern of holding funds, especially from the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), until well after the beginning of the school year, despite the fact that the funds are appropriated by the state and available to the district before the beginning of the school year. This policy deprives the students of a full year of education and destabilizes programs. It drives away good teachers who cannot get health benefits, tenure, or make a living wage. This is not a good policy for the students or the teachers and we ask that you change it."



Share/Bookmark

Armenian groups support Bennett Kayser for LAUSD School Board


Garen Yegparin, a journalist of Asbaraz Armeian news, wrote an excellent piece on the importance of voting, donating, and volunteering for your local candidates over the next few weeks.

Yegparin specifically writes about Bennett's race and what is at stake this Tuesday, May 19th: 


"But perhaps the most subtly important LA election is for the school board’s District 5 seat. Bennett Kayser, the incumbent running for reelection placed second, and faces a very strong challenger in the runoff. Kayser’s opponent is supported with serious money from the charter school movement (specifically, the California Charter Schools Association Advocates and its various tentacles), the same people from whom the Turkish Gulen movement has benefitted as it successfully encroaches on LAUSD schools."

"Consider that when all the spending in this race is added up (by the candidates themselves and independent expenditure committees for and against the candidates) Kayser’s opponent comes out 43% ahead in dollar terms! This is very unusual. It is more commonly the incumbent that has the money edge. It speaks to how much Kayser is being targeted." 

"We should be assisting him as much as possible. Unfortunately, his district covers areas which are not home to very many Armenians, which speaks to the principled nature of his stance. So that leaves volunteering (making phone calls or walking neighborhoods) and campaign donations, both of which can be done through the Kayser’s website, www.bennett2015.com."

 
Bennett Kayser is endorsed by the Armenian National Committee of America Western Region and the Armenian Council of America.  Kayser will also carry a resolution at the next LAUSD Board Meeting recognizing the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.

Paid for by Re-Elect Bennett Kayser for School Board 2015 - General – 419 North Larchmont Blvd., #37, Los Angeles, CA 90004 – ID #1375891 – More information available at Ethics.lacity.org – Bennett2015.com – (323) 535-9930


Share/Bookmark

100+ Labor, Education, Community Groups Representing More Than 7M People Call On Congress To Reject ESEA Proposal


For Immediate Release: April 8, 2015
Contact: Madison Donzis, madison@fitzgibbonmedia.com, 210.488.6220
 
100+ Labor, Education, Community Groups Representing More Than 7M People Call On Congress To Reject ESEA Proposal
 
Alliance To Reclaim Our Schools Address Consequences of the ESEA in Letter to Boehner and McConnell; Demand Revisions to the Act
 
On Wednesday, April 8th, the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools (AROS)—a coalition of parents, students, educators and community members—issued a letter to Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader McConnell, calling on them to reject the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) in its current form. Among other changes, the group is calling for $20 billion in funding for Title I, an amount they say is closer to what is needed than either the current House proposal of $14.4 billion or the President’s budget request of $15.4 billion.
 
The letter, signed by more than 100 groups, details recommendations for revisions to the Act that was originally written to address the impacts of poverty and discrimination in schools attended by the nation’s poorest children. Signatories on the letter come from organizations representing more than 7 million people.
 
“The only way to give every child some educational justice is through publicly funded, equitable and democratically controlled public schools,” said Jitu Brown, the National Director of Journey for Justice, an AROS member. “We believe that the federal government plays a critical role in ensuring that opportunity.”  
 
The group’s letter states, “As the reauthorization moves through Congress, we hope that you, as Congressional Leaders, will listen to the priorities of students, parents, and educators over the well-funded special interests who prioritize profits over real strategies to create the schools that all our children deserve. We hope that you will hear our voices as you move forward with reauthorization of ESEA.”
 
The groups signing the letter include Alliance for Educational Justice, Journey for Justice Alliance, American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association, Center for Popular Democracy, Service Employees International Union, Gamaliel Network, The Opportunity to Learn Campaign and more than 100 community, youth, civil rights and labor groups across the country.
 
See the letter here: http://www.reclaimourschools.org/updates/aros-esea
 
The letter to Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader McConnell offered AROS’ demands for ESEA reform:
 
·       $1 billion dedicated to support the transformation of 5,000 high poverty schools into Sustainable Community Schools;
 
·       A moratorium on federal funding for the creation or expansion of charter schools, and increased regulation on charters to strengthen quality and oversight;
 
·      An allocation of at least $20 billion this year for Title I, which targets additional funding to high poverty schools. The group is demanding that Congress fully fund Title I within ten years, and points to the original goal of the law to offer an additional 40% per student above state average per pupil spending, targeted specifically at high poverty schools;
 
·      $500 million to provide training, staffing and supports to schools working to fully implement restorative justice and/or other programs to end the school-to-prison pipeline.     
 
The Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools is a national coalition of organizations working to strengthen public education and counter-act the effects of two decades of corporate-led reform efforts on high poverty schools and communities.
 
###
 
The Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools (AROS) is a national coalition representing more than 7 million Americans who attend and work in public schools, and live in the communities most impacted by the ESEA.


Share/Bookmark

Monday, April 06, 2015

SKrashen: Do education officials understand why the opt out movement is so strong?

Posted at: http://www.sfgate.com/…/Education-commissioner-Students-can…

In response to: "Education commissioner: Students can't opt out of testing"

Missing from this article is why parents are refusing to allow their
children to be tested: the parents are not against assessment but are
against excessive and inappropriate assessment. This is the reason the
opt-out movement is so widespread. I wonder if those imposing penalties
for opting out understand this.

S Krashen

Share/Bookmark

Friday, April 03, 2015

Like college sports, but am far more interested in our UCLA Powell Library #13 Ranking!

PROFITS! Why Ref Rodriguez and his CCSA covet the LAUSD Board Seat



Share/Bookmark

We see students… Ref Rodriguez and CCSA see 5 x 30% profit margins

PROFITS! Why Ref Rodriguez and his CCSA covet the LAUSD Board Seat



Share/Bookmark

Thursday, April 02, 2015

PROFITS! Why Ref Rodriguez and his CCSA covet the LAUSD Board Seat

“The education industry represents, in our opinion, the final frontier of a number of sectors once under public control... represents the largest market opportunity... the K-12 market is the Big Enchilada.” — Montgomery Securities prospectus quoted in Jonathan Kozol’s The Big Enchilada

Most of the time the charter school industry's corporate leadership is able to craft their messaging so as to distract the populace from the real purposes undergirding their project. Occasionally, someone in their sector goes off script and tells the truth about what chartering is all about. Usually it's those in the sphere of finance capital—gleefully celebrating how lucrative the charter school industry has been for them. The Forbes piece, Charter School Gravy Train Runs Express To Fat City , is an excellent example of this. Sometimes individuals in the neoliberal corporate education reform camp spill the proverbial beans. Industry proselytizers like Andy Smarick and Paul Vallas have been candidly honest about charters discriminating against Students with Disabilities (SWD), and charters eschewing veteran teachers, respectively. Revelations of the dark secrets behind the charter industry's insatiable drive for profits also shine cleansing light on a current local issue—namely the attempts of charter industry profiteer Refugio "Ref" Rodriguez, and his California Charter Schools Association's (CCSA) campaign to capture the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board of Education seat for District 5. One of Rodriguez's fellow CCSA profiteers inadvertently provided incontrovertible evidence of why the school privatization camp spent over three quarters of a million dollars in the primary election alone.

PROFITS! Why Ref Rodriguez and his CCSA covet the LAUSD Board Seat

A Twitter follow from a name I recognized as a marginal player in the corporate education reform camp sparked curiosity. A moment spent checking their LinkedIn profile yielded a veritable gold mine of information unequivocally proving the charter industry's, and particularly CCSA's, drive for profits comes at the expense of children and community. The prose from their profile says it all:

Co-Founder/VP - School Services & Products
California Charter Schools Association
July 2003 – July 2007 (4 years 1 month)
Launched and operated association services and products division providing financial, insurance, special education, and other member services that broke-even the first year and generated 30% profit margins in subsequent years--with 20-30% lead generation and 20-50% close ratios.

Profit margins, lead generation, and close ratios… refreshing honesty from an industry that claims it "puts kids first."

Like the hedge fund managers discussed in the Forbes piece above, platitudes about helping kids are quickly subsumed by talk of plentiful profits, revenues, and business opportunities when charter school executives talk among themselves. This focus on profits drives Ref Rodriguez's CCSA charter school industry trade association to eliminate any political opposition, and also explains their unhinged viciousness and ruthlessness towards the Honorable Bennett Kayser, our sitting LAUSD Board member, who has had the temerity to oppose charter schools placing greed over student need. Let's look more closely at CCSA's business dealings, how they harm students enrolled in charters, how they harm students enrolled in public schools, and then return to the implications of the May 19, 2015 General Municipal Election in Los Angeles.

Charters convert public funds into private profits

California Charter Schools Association's (CCSA) business ventures were so outrageously profitable, they drew in an array of corporations, privately held companies, and large foundations wanting a share. Firms like EdTec, Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., Charter Impact, Inc., and Discover Re (The Travelers Indemnity Company) jumped in CCSA's profits pool. Longtime school privatization advocates The Walton Family Foundation and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation loomed large. Seeing an opportunity to exploit public education dollars nationally, the CCSA, Walton Family Foundation, Travelers, and Gallagher & Co. launched School Risk Management, LLC, which later became known as CharterSafe/PrivateSafe. Here is an excerpt of a 2007 press release from one of the corporate entities involved in this deal.

"In 2007 as a response to the growing need for appropriate insurance for charter schools nationally, Gallagher partnered with the California Charter School Association JPA and the Walton Family Foundation to form a risk management and insurance program for charter schools. This program has been known as the CharterSafe program. Recently the California Charter School Association JPA began promoting their self insured pool program as CharterSafe. In an effort it differentiate the national program from the California based JPA program, we have decided to change our program name. Going forward, we will be known as the Charter First Insurance Program."

Note the prominence of the right-wing-reactionary Walton Family Foundation in the press release. Walmart fortune heiress, Carrie Walton Penner, is currently the CCSA Board Vice-Chair (term ending 6/30/2017). By most accounts Walton Penner is close to both profiteer "Ref" Rodriguez of the PUC Charter School Corporation, and the well-heeled Ana Ponce of the Camino Nuevo Charter School Corporation. Rodriguez was a CCSA Board member from 2005 to 2009, while Ponce currently serves as the CCSA Board secretary. Like all 501c3 "non-profits", the CCSA Board is unelected, and, to all intents and purposes, is unaccountable to anyone other than its charter executive membership and private funders. CCSA's public funders (the taxpayers) have no voice in the 501c3 corporation's affairs. Its private investors get seats on the board. Known for their aversion to public education, and their exploitation of working class families, the Walton Family Foundation is CCSA's biggest funder. In 2010 they showered the CCSA charter school industry association with a staggering $3,940,652.00. Annual investments like that are nothing when one considers the return of investment in the forms of profitable finance capital spinoffs like CharterSafe, LLC.

The avaricious insurance executive… ahem, "education entrepreneur" who oversaw growth of the hugely profitable CCSA CharterSafe enterprise, then launched his own consulting firm to skim more money from the trough of public funds. Funds which became entirely unregulated when the charter school industry was created by corporate interests in the nineteen-nineties. Refugio "Ref" Rodriguez's revenue hungry PUC charter school chain is a client of that selfsame consulting firm.

PROFITS! Why Ref Rodriguez and his CCSA covet the LAUSD Board Seat

The money making aspect of chartering is so predominant, that peripheral concerns like pupils, pedagogy, or populace are not part of the discussion. Here is a LinkedIn endorsement for our CharterSafe protagonist by the Senior Vice President for Strategic Initiatives at the National Alliance for Public [sic] Charter Schools:

"Ted is one of the most creative people I know. He is an excellent partner because he always makes sure the business relationship benefits both parties. I have introduced him to our customers, and they always come away impressed."

I doubt many think of children, schoolteachers, or education when they see phrases like "business relationship", or "introduced him to our customers", but that's what the charter school project is all about—business. Big business at that.

The charter industry's profits-first agenda hurts it's own students

The CCSA counts 14 of the schools comprising Refugio "Ref" Rodriguez's charter empire among its membership. As mentioned above, CCSA and its business partners profit from selling financial products and services to its corporate charter members. Additionally, just like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, CCSA charges dues. Their formula is based on enrollment. Of issue is whether these corporate charters can demonstrate that the dues they pay to their trade association come from somewhere other than taxpayer funds intended for students. Rodriguez's PUC has paid well over a hundred thousand dollars into the CCSA slush fund, which in turn is used for political lobbying to increase charter industry profits. Those funds, regardless if they came straight out of taxpayer pockets, or are front end investments from billionaire ideologues like Walton Penner, would be better spent on students. Yet as we saw above, when it comes between profits and pupils, the charter industry always prioritizes the former. The "non-profit" designation of the charter industry is simply a tax status, indicating they don't have shareholders. The 501c3 "non-profit shells" of these organization merely serve as a fronts to the myriad businesses they feed education funds to. Real estate, leasing, insurance, administration, and many more lucrative industries benefit from this arrangement.

Charter executives make sure they partake of the profits too. I remember interviewing a young person who had worked for a wholly owned subsidiary of the Green Dot Charter Corporation. They told me they had lost any illusions that they were a "non-profit" when they saw Green Dot's Alma Vivian Marquez roll up in a brand new Porsche Cayenne. A sampling of Los Angeles corporate charter school CEO salaries is eye opening, especially when one realizes that they all work for schools with a tiny fraction of the student population that the public school district serves:

Charter Chain Executive Total Compensation Form 990, Part VII§A
Celerity Vielka McFarlane $438,730.00 2012
Alliance Judy Burton $330,400.00 2012
Aspire James R. Willcox $293,687.00 2012
Green Dot Marco Petruzzi $279,478.00 2013
Camino Nuevo Ana Ponce $230,811.00 2012

While representatives of the lucrative charter industry claim they run public schools, entities tasked with using precise legal definitions all say otherwise. This includes the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, the California Court of Appeals, and the National Labor Relations Board, all of which are on record stating that charter schools are not public entities. The most authoritative framing of this issue comes from the U.S. Census Department:

"A few "public charter schools" are run by public universities and municipalities. However, most charter schools are run by private nonprofit organizations and are therefore classified as private."

Like the rest of the private sector, the charter industry must continually increase market share in order to maintain profitability. One of the ways they do this is through advertising. Rodriguez's corporate charter schools squander untold amounts of taxpayer funds on advertising in pursuit of growing market share, and hence increased profits for the business interests associated with his schools and his CCSA trade association. The photo of a ubiquitous PUC advertisement below was taken by the author. Our tax dollars are being leveraged in order to secure more of our tax dollars to fuel the revenue hungry machine that is the charter school industry. Obviously this is of no concern to profit minded charter executives like Rodriguez, but those funds could, and should, be spent in the classroom for student learning, instead of growing market share for the burgeoning charter school sector. Ironically these corporate charter school chains frequently claim they have long "waiting lists," so why the need to advertise? In a word the whole waiting list myth is another part of their marketing scheme.

PROFITS! Why Ref Rodriguez and his CCSA covet the LAUSD Board Seat

Despite having additional resources invested in them by billionaire foundations, not to mention their being able to control their student populations through selective enrollment, attrition, and outright discrimination against Students with Disabilities (SWD), PUC charter schools, while profitable, haven't done much for students. For example, in 2013 students from Rodriguez’s Early College Academy for Leaders and Scholars (ECALS) took the California State University (CSU) entrance exams. Half of those taking the test failed to test proficient in either mathematics or English. The fifty percent of Rodriguez's students that failed had to take remedial high school classes.

PROFITS! Why Ref Rodriguez and his CCSA covet the LAUSD Board Seat

Other corporate charter school chains, like Alliance, Camino Nuevo, and Green Dot, have had years where up to ninety-eight percent of their "graduates" failed to test proficient in either mathematics or English. If the tradeoff for public control and oversight of our education dollars was supposedly to accommodate these so-called "high performing," privately managed entities, then we have been duped. The only area where charter schools have performed well is that of funneling precious education funding into the coffers of the corporate interests they serve.

The charter industry's profits-first agenda hurts public school students

I recently wrote in response to a charter chain getting away with defrauding the public for millions of dollars.

"One cringes thinking of all the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) public school libraries that could have been reopened with those millions "missing" from the privately managed Magnolia Gülen Charters."

This sentiment holds true across the board. For every education dollar that winds up in the hands of hedge fund managers, business bankers, and corporate executives, there is a public school child suffering from the inequity of a system being systematically starved of resources. In March of 2015 The Center for Popular Democracy released a groundbreaking report entitled Risking Public Money: California Charter School Fraud. The report meticulously details tens of millions of dollars in fraud stemming from this essentially unregulated industry, and suggests that "[b]ased on conservative estimates, California stands to lose more than $100 million to charter school fraud in 2015." As a community organizer I constantly hear parents talk about overcrowded classrooms and lack of resources. It is incomprehensible that at the same time our neighborhood public schools are in desperate need, our community's funds are wantonly, recklessly, and even fraudulently squandered by the opaque structures of the privately managed charter school industry.

In response to our public schools being short changed because of the myriad shortcomings of the lucrative charter school industry, the Honorable Jackie Goldberg founded the Transparency, Equity, and Accountability in Charter Schools (TEAch) organization a few years ago. Everyone should support TEACh, even families with children enrolled in privately managed charter schools. Their mission statement: "An organization working to ensure that charter schools are Transparent, Equitable, and held Accountable for their practices."

Aside from budget woes created by the charter sector syphoning our education dollars off into corporate coffers, another area where public school students are most hurt by charter industry's profits-first agenda is that of special education. The 2008 Andy Smarick piece alluded to earlier outlines how the charter industry deliberately avoids enrolling Students with Disabilities (SWD) to save money and uses that additional financial burden to bankrupt the public school district. His words echo the neoliberal ideology of eliminating the public commons in favor of a profitable, private sector:

"As chartering increases its market share in a city, the district will come under growing financial pressure. The district, despite educating fewer and fewer students, will still require a large administrative staff to process payroll and benefits, administer federal programs, and oversee special education. With a lopsided adult-to-student ratio, the district's per-pupil costs will skyrocket." [emphasis mine]

As a society we must stand against the exploitation of our most vulnerable. Frankly, any school getting public funding should be obligated legally, ethically, and morally to educate every child. If it is too difficult for the charter school industry to stop prioritizing corporate greed over special education need, then there needs to be discussions of shutting down their industry. Los Angeles School Board members who have attempted to enforce these obligations on charters have been savaged by the CCSA. Bennett Kayser's principled stand against the lucrative Aspire Charter Corporation is notable. Depending on which source one cites, Aspire either served a negligible number of SWD, or none at all at the time of Kayser's opposition to their charter renewal:

"But a look at area special education programs provides insight into the types of students served by Aspire. ¶ El Dorado's special ed program does not serve a single visual or hearing impaired student nor students with multiple disabilities, orthopedic or brain injuries, according to state reports. L.A. Unified's program serves many of these disabilities, requiring highly-specialized, costly care." (KPCC, April 16, 2014)

This is unacceptable. We already saw James R. Willcox's compensation package above. Children in both the public school system, and the privately managed charter school sector, deserve better than to have the funds we alloted them diverted into private hands.

The billionaire backed CCSA campaign for the May 19, 2015 School Board election

With prodigious profits for themselves and their investors at stake, the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) launched a scorched earth campaign to get one of their longtime industry operatives, Refugio "Ref" Rodriguez, elected. Dr. Andrew Thomas, the third place finisher in the primary election for the LAUSD District 5 seat, wrote the following commentary regarding the ideologically charged billionaires supporting CCSA's SuperPAC for Rodriguez:

Why are out-of-district billionaires such as Netflix Chief Executive Reed Hastings, former New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Jim Walton of the Wal-Mart founding family, and local philanthropist [sic] Eli Broad spending over a $1 million in this school board race?

In defense of their profits, Rodriguez and his CCSA trade group launched the most deplorable and dishonest political campaign in recent memory. One lie and innuendo packed CCSA mailer attacking the Honorable Bennett Kayser was so repugnant that it saw Kayser's fellow board member, the Honorable Dr. George McKenna, calling the CCSA out for being "racially inflammatory". Rodriguez's CCSA trying to paint their opposition as racist is no small irony, given that the CCSA was founded by bigoted nativist Steve Poizner. Another series of Rodriguez's CCSA attacks mocked Kayser's disability. Kayser, who suffers from Parkinson's Disease, has been one of the strongest advocates for Student with Disabilities (SWD) the district has had in years. As discussed above, the charter school industry sees SWD as an impediment to their profits, so Kayser's standing up for those students has made him CCSA's biggest target.

With almost unlimited funding at their disposal, Rodriguez and his fellow CCSA profiteers look to seize the LAUSD District 5 Board of Education seat and use it as a means to increase charter market share, proliferate profits, and eliminate any oversight interfering with those first two goals. An important question we should be asking ourselves is why can charter industry executives run for our public school board, but no member of the public can ever run for the boards of their charter school empires?

If you live in LAUSD District 5, I implore you to demonstrate to profiteer Rodriguez and his CCSA trade association that our community values pupils over profits by voting for Bennett Kayser in the May 19, 2015 General Municipal Election.



Share/Bookmark