Monday, August 29, 2016

Schools Matter: Does your candidate hold left wing or right wing views on education?

First published on Schools Matter on August 25, 2016


“Hillary Clinton, who, for me, is a neoliberal disaster…” — Professor Cornel West

Is your candidate progressive or reactionary on education issues? One measure is to compare their views to those of the notoriously right-wing JBS. Here we look at some critical issues facing students, families, and our public schools.



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K-12 Wire: Thank you John Oliver for exposing how charter schools steal from children

First published on K-12 Wire on August 26, 2016


“Fraud is a feature of deregulation, not a bug. When no one is looking, some people steal. Not everyone steals, but many do. That is why Ohio, Florida, Michigan, and California are scamming taxpayers.” — Professor Diane Ravitch

The vile poverty pimps and privatization pushers of the lucrative charter school industry were infuriated when John Oliver had the temerity to speak truth to their power. Given their fortunes at stake, the charter sector has launched an unprecedented attack on the truth teller. The Network For Public Education has begun a letter writing campaign to counter that of the well funded efforts by the school privatizers to silence Oliver and other public school supporters. Not one to use boilerplate text, I composed my own thank you note, reproduced here.


Dear Mr. Oliver:

I've spent the past two decades of my life researching and writing about the lucrative charter school industry. For many of those early years I, and a few others, were subjected to scorn and abuse for our audacity to speak truth to power.

My motivation has always been to defend those with the most to lose because of the charter project's existence—students with disabilities (SWD), students with disciplinary issues, low-performing students, and so on. All these students are discriminated against because they threaten charter school revenues.

Today our voices are no longer alone, ignored, or silenced. The recent NAACP announcement, and your brilliant segment are testament to that. I understand that the charter industry has been launching vile attacks against you for exposing their insatiable greed. Please know that people of good conscience stand behind you. The neoliberal corporate education reform project backing the charter industry puts profits before pupils, and that's unacceptable.

It's time to end the horrifically failed charter school project, and turn our attentions to public schools.

Thank you for your courage.

Robert D. Skeels
Juris Doctor Candidate



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Schools Matter: Perhaps Bill and Melinda Gates need their folly expressed in a more familiar format to understand it?

First published on Schools Matter on August 16, 2016


“Philanthropy is not progressive and never has been.” — Tiffany Lethabo King and Ewuare Osayande

Seems Bill and Melinda Gates have great difficulty learning from their myriad mistakes. Our Professor Stephen Krashen is frequently reminding them and their fellow neoliberal corporate education reformers of what the real problem is. While the convicted predatory monopolist has no degree, Melinda Gates actually attended and graduated college, so one would think the two of them could sort these issues out. Despite this, the Gates Foundation duo are demanding yet more data, as if that doubling down on their poorly-thought-out ideas will work.

Since they're both computer science types, the problem may just be that they need to see their folly expressed in code. To that end, I've written a short program illustrating what the two Gates Foundation plutocrats do.

If I were more cynical, given their behavior in the face of overwhelming evidence discrediting their ideas and ideology, I think that their constant calls for more data are an attempt to rationalize their conduct, rather than actually trying to help anyone.



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Monday, August 15, 2016

Schools Matter: Neoliberal Corporate Education Reform… for “other” peoples’ kids

First published on Schools Matter on August 12, 2016


“CCSS assume an American population embodied with a similar history of freedom and cultural ‘neutrality’ or ‘universality’” — Donald H. Smith, Ph.D.

The Atlantic has a surprisingly candid piece entitled “A Public-School Paradox” about the hypocrisy of the establishment elite in Washington not sending their own spawn to public schools. This has been exacerbated by the fact that the most vociferous neoliberal corporate education reform proponents — like Barack Obama, Arne Duncan, and Hillary Rodham Clinton — are all private school parents. Disconnected and disinvested from the public commons, they advocate for horrific, racist, classist “reforms” that only serve to widen the gap between working class families and themselves. Especially disturbing is this trio of Democratic politicians’ full-throated support of the white supremacist Common Core State Standards (CCSS), a curriculum from which their own scion were spared.

My brief comments in reaction to the piece follow.


Sidwell Friends School is the polar opposite of the horrific KIPP dungeons Obama advocates for other POC kids. My editor at Schools Matter — Dr. Jim Horn — has been publishing chapters from his book on KIPP, but I have a paper copy I’ll read once the MPRE is over. It was Horn that coined the phrase “cultural sterilization” to describe the no excuses model inflicted on students. I can’t think of a better way to frame it, nor anything more removed from the experience of establishment elitists that advocate it for “other” peoples’ children.



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Schools Matter: Clinton cheerleaders claiming she isn't in the corporate charter camp?

First published on Schools Matter on July 09, 2016


“There is not a speck, not a sliced-thin scintilla of evidence to suggest that Clinton will do anything except continue straight down the same road that Bush and Obama took us. And there’s no telling what Trump will do about education, but it’s a safe bet that it will be huge, it will be business oriented, and that it will involve blustery hair-brained ignorance.” — Peter Greene

It's a tough time to be a public education advocate. The fervor over the 2016 election has partisans lashing out with an unprecedented amount of vitriol towards anyone questioning the education policies of mainstream candidates. Worst of the bunch are the supporters of presumed Democratic Party nominee, Hillary Rodham Clinton. Here's an example of the angry denials from one of Clinton's most ardent supporters:

It is also total bullshit that you keep insisting that HRC is pushing charters and ed reform. That is TOTAL BULLSHIT.

Astonishingly, this was written by a teacher member of the Badass Teachers Association (BATs). Never mind that Clinton has deep ties the Walton Family Foundation, ignore her intwinement with Center for American Progress (CAP), her association with the Broads, and all the other obvious red flags indicating that Clinton will double down on Obama's policies. Clinton is on record as completely supporting privately managed charter schools, so-called "school choice," and for that matter, the entire neoliberal corporate education reform platform. Total "BS"? Here's a screen capture right off of Clinton's campaign website, where she lauds ESSA and its support of "high-quality public [sic] charter schools":

Clinton cheerleaders claiming she isn't in the corporate charter camp?

Unequivocal. Clinton has never changed her stance on privately managed charter schools, and that's why the National Association of Public [sic] Charter Schools (NAPCS) features the following on their website. A pro-charter pull-quote by Clinton appears alongside similar ones by Bill Gates, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Arne Duncan. Clinton's mild criticisms of some charter schools a few months back were to placate certain constituencies, nothing more.

Clinton cheerleaders claiming she isn't in the corporate charter camp?

This is the same former Walmart board member who stood before the National Educators Association (NEA) Convention and had no qualms about boasting about her support for the lucrative charter school sector. The same Goldman Sachs confidant who is the favorite of the far-right Democrats for Education Reform (DFER). In sum, corporatist Jeffries of the arch-reactionary (DFER) is on record saying that Hillary Rodham Clinton is their choice to carry on their projects of privatization pushing and poverty pimping. He also states that it is because she is fully on board with their notions of "school choice" and she fully supports charter schools. Some in the BATs forum have ruthlessly attacked me, assailed my character, and called me a liar for saying as much, but to hear it out of the mouth a the hedge fund group's representative makes it a little bit harder to deny. Hillary Rodham Clinton is DFER's candidate.

The attacks on me, in any forum that I speak truth to power on education issues, are relentless. Here's something that I posted on my facebook page a bit back after an encounter with a particularly rabid Clinton supporter.

So red baiting is still a thing. I was on a teachers' message board talking about Oaxaca, Naomi Klein, neoliberalism, and privatization, and was essentially told by a right-of-center HillBot to shut up and pack my bags for North Korea.

It's like Dr. Khury Petersen-Smith writes in his powerful essay "I won't be shamed into voting for Clinton":

It was another example of a proven fact about liberalism — Democrats and their media cheerleaders save their deepest contempt not for right wingers, but for those who challenge them from the left.

Ain't that the truth! For some further reading on Clinton's education agenda check out this piece by Steven Singer and this one by Douglas Harris.

Lastly I wanted to address the dissembling about public versus private charter schools, since it has been a common form of deception employed by high-profile politicians and the billionaires that pull their strings. Clinton is an attorney, so she doesn't have the option of saying she doesn't know the legal standing of charter schools. I'm including my boilerplate prose on how charter schools are not public, since the more places this appears, the more likely this information will be disseminated:

As a Juris Doctor candidate whose specialty is education law in the era of neoliberalism, allow me to present the legal arguments on how privately managed charter schools are not at all “public.”

Generally charter schools are not public schools. This has been long established by both existing case law and public policy. The Washington State Supreme Court (2015) held that charter schools are not “common schools” because they are governed by appointed rather than elected boards. The 9th Circuit US Court of Appeals (2010) ruled that charter schools are not “public actors.” The California Court of Appeals (2007) ruled that charter schools are not “public agents.” Additionally, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) joined scores of other government agencies in unequivocally determining that charters are, in NLRB’s words, “private entities.”

By definition if a charter school is operated by a for-profit company, or by a 501c3 non-profit corporation (e.g. Harlem Success Academy), then it is not a public school. The United States Census Bureau frames this latter issue best:

“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.” (US Census Bureau. (2011). “Public Education Finances: 2009 (GO9-ASPEF)”. Washington, DC: US Government Printing O ce. Print. vi).

Because these lucrative charter schools are not public, and therefore not subject to even a modicum of public oversight, they are able violate the constitutional rights of their students. The decision in Scott B. v. Board of Trustees of Orange County High School of the Arts saw scholar Rosa K. Hirji, Esq. write for the American Bar Association:

“The structures that allow charter schools to exist are marked by the absence of protections that are traditionally guaranteed by public education, protections that only become apparent and necessary when families and students begin to face a denial of what they were initially promised to be their right.”

The distinguished Professor Preston C. Green III of University of Connecticut has written extensively on this subject. One of his recent papers examines "how charter schools have used their public characteristics to qualify for public funding under state constitutional law, while highlighting their private characteristics to exempt themselves from other laws that apply to public schools." This private-in-every-aspect except for when siphoning funds away from authentic public schools is a defining feature of charter schools.



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Monday, July 25, 2016

Support California Kids YES on Prop 58

Support California Kids YES on Prop 58 by Robert D. Skeels on Scribd



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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Schools Matter: Confronting the Clinton cheerleaders with her racist record

First published on Schools Matter on June 08, 2016


“Hillary Clinton is not a Klanswoman, but she performs the same racial violence that white men do, just as many Klanswomen did less than a century ago. Thousands of black people continue to lose their lives because some white women still want to be as “badass” and powerful as the white men who silenced them in the home, held back their right to vote, and brutalized as many black people as they desired.” — Ahmad Greene-Hayes

The Clinton cheerleading that has been building up to a crescendo at Professor Ravitch's site reached a new nadir today. I suppose we will see a lot of this between now and November. It's hard to see people using the excuse of opposing one racist to support another racist, but that's what this election boils down to. Although I should avoid engaging those steeped in supporting neoliberalism, I couldn't avoid posting the following comments:

As horrifying as the prospect of Trump is, let's not fool ourselves into thinking that he is the only racist representing a major political party in this election. Indeed, the genteel, more insidious racism of his Democratic opponent is equally disconcerting. While Trump can't speak without uttering bigotry, are we supposed to ignore his opponent's racist slurs against Native Americans with her infamous "off the reservation" remark? Are we to excuse her vile "super-predators" speech where she says that "we have to bring them to heel" in reference to children of color? I understand her apologists excuse that kind of racist rhetoric, but any of us that live and breath social justice are in agreement with the distinguished Professor Michelle Alexander, who says, "Hillary Clinton" uses "racially coded rhetoric to cast black children as animals." And while Trump talks about border walls, Clinton proudly reminds us "I voted numerous times when I was a senator to spend money to build a barrier to try to prevent illegal immigrants from coming in…" Clinton and Trump's use of the racist term "illegal" is in itself bigoted and nativist. In fact, even the Associated Press stopped using the horrible phrase some time ago. We can discuss how terrible Trump's rhetoric is on issues of immigration, but Clinton has an actual record to scrutinize, and it is a record of the most vile bigotry in practice.

I'll stop here because I realize that speaking truth to power on this issue will do little more than evoke lesser evilism responses. No one will actually be able to defend Trump or Clinton's records on the issues I've raised, because they are indefensible. I'll be voting for the same feminist this November that I did in 2012 — her name is Dr. Jill Stein. Stein, by the way, has the best stances on education. She opposes charters and vouchers, opposes high-stakes standardized testing, stands with teachers, and called the Obama Administration out on its appointment of the doltish John King. It don't recall the candidates from the major parties ever taking such principled stands.

Like the sage Professor Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor says: "Clinton will never be a lesser evil."

Confronting the Clinton cheerleaders with her racist record



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Thursday, June 09, 2016

Schools Matter: Gulenist Caprice Young lies in a Magnolia Science Academy Press Release

First published on Schools Matter on June 07, 2016


“Magnolia should be ashamed of this reprehensible behavior; attempting to use innocent students and parents as human shields to hide their criminal activity” — Robert Amsterdam, Esq.

This video segment is significant in that Gülenist Caprice Young claimed in her most recent "press release" and "protest" smear of those investigating her corporate charter cult that LAUSD had found no connection between Magnolia Science Academy (MSA) and the Gülen charter network. The video puts to lie Young's assertion. Clearly there was an intentional misrepresentation in Magnolia's press release.

The same MSA press release stated that LAUSD has never found any irregularities with Magnolia's finances. This assertion, repeated by Young on numerous occasions, is an intentional misrepresentation on both her and the corporate charter chain's part.

Magnolia, its parent Pacifica Institute, and their cult leader Fethullah Gülen are all high profile Armenian Genocide deniers. To make matters worse, their entire public relations campaign is paid for with money that is supposed to be used in classrooms. Magnolia enlisted the help of the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) for this Gülen misinformation campaign, and CCSA's "CEO" Jed Wallace is quoted in the press release in which misrepresentations about both Magnolia's connections to the Gülen Network, and their audit results appear.

The CCSA is currently attacking an Armenian candidate running for California Assembly, spending obscene amounts of money. That the CCSA, Jed Wallace, and Caprice Young are simultaneously attacking Armenian candidates for office, while working hand-in-hand with organizations that actively deny the Armenian Genocide is highly disconcerting.

Gulenist Caprice Young lies in a Magnolia Science Academy Press Release



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Schools Matter: Hillary Rodham Clinton's Core CAP Charter Cabal

First published on Schools Matter on June 07, 2016


Hillary Rodham Clinton's core CAP charter cabal

“That’s why, you know, I was a senator and voted for Leave No Child Behind [sic] because I thought every child should matter” — Hillary Rodham Clinton

Hillary Rodham Clinton's supporters have been less than honest about her education record. Worse still, those same Liberals will ask everyone on the left to vote for her as the ostensible "lesser evil" to GOP troglodyte Donald John Trump in November. There are myriad good reasons to oppose both Clinton and Trump in November, but Liberals will cite Clinton's endorsements by executives of the largest teachers' unions as evidence of her being better on education issues. However, these same unions endorsed President Barack Hussein Obama, who has been the worst education President in history. Rather than an extensive survey of Clinton's abject policy support for neoliberal corporate education reforms including: George W. Bush's No Child Left Behind (NCLB); the racist and classist Common Core State Standards (CCSS); so-called school choice through privately managed charter schools; punitive, but ineffective school closures; and a host of other wrongheaded policies, it might serve well to look at her relationships with members of the right-of-center think-tank Center for American Progress.

Center for American Progress (CAP)

CAP was allegedly founded for neoliberal Democrats to have a think-tank of their own, akin to the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), or the Manhattan Institute. Essentially indistinguishable from that of those and other such organizations, CAP's education advocacy reads like it was crafted by John Birch Society and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Peter Greene lists some of the anti-public education policies CAP advocates, and that list could be easily increased. CAP has been the most vocal apologists for the Obama Administration's disastrous education policies.

Funded by a host of ideologically charged billionaires, CAP's education agenda looks like that of the Center for Education Reform. One teacher belonging to the Badass Teachers Association (BATs) used both a The Nation article and CAP's own website to compile this list that is more comprehensive than the SourceWatch list linked above:

Ford Foundation $1,000,000+
The Hutchins Family Foundation $1,000,000+
Sandler Foundation $1,000,000+
TomKat Charitable Trust $1,000,000+
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation $500,000 to $999,999
Joyce Foundation $500,000 to $999,999
Not On Our Watch $500,000 to $999,999
Open Square Charitable Gift Fund $500,000 to $999,999
Embassy of United Arab Emirates $500,000 to $999,999
Walton Family Foundation $500,000 to $999,999
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation $500,000 to $999,999

Like that teacher states, "It's a who's who of corporate reformers."

American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and Center for American Progress (CAP) co-hosted event banner

Comparisons of CAP to the AEI should not be taken lightly, they frequently co-host education events together. The image used above here is from one of their many event pages. Aside from working hand-in-hand with extremist organizations like the AEI, CAP has a well-earned reputation of playing fast and loose with the truth.

Three key CAP figures loom large in the Hillary Clinton universe: John Podesta, Neera Tanden, and David Domenici.

John Podesta

Podesta, founder of CAP, is perhaps one of the most vehement opponents to public education this side of Betsy DeVos and the Brothers Koch. He is Clinton's 2016 campaign chairman. When not palling around with reactionaries Jeb Bush and Chester Finn, Podesta is hatching more ideas like NCLB, RttT, and CCSS. Many sources state that it was Podesta that encouraged Obama to select the doltish, non-educator Arne Duncan over Professor Linda Darling-Hammond for Secretary of Education. Given Obama's subsequent selection of John King to replace Duncan, it would seem Obama didn't need much encouragement choosing a corporatist over an educator. It's hard to imagine a Clinton administration being any better than Obama's on education issues, and given her abject history with the Walton family, and her reliance on Podesta, it could feasibly be worse.

Neera Tanden

Tanden is another longtime CAP fixture. On her first stint with the organization she was Vice President of Academic Affairs, and played a major role in shaping their neoliberal corporate education reform messaging. Another high-profile member of BATs posted the following, saying they preferred it be cited without attribution:

Hillary Clinton names Neera Tanden of the Center for American Progress to the Dem[ocratic] Platform Committee. CAP is a funder and promoter of the privatization of our schools, VAM, and Pearson testing. This is what AFT and NEA endorsement has earned us. if you are still supporting HRC nomination, understand she stands with your enemies.

David Domenici

Domenici is a Senior Fellow at CAP, and Clinton's go-to guy on finding ways to leverage disaster capitalism to push trough CAP and Clinton's anti-public education agenda. Clinton and Domenici hatched a racist, neo-colonial plan to inflict a nationwide privately managed charter school school network with a Teach for America style model in Haiti. This plot was exposed in the WikiLeak archive of Clinton's emails. These thoughts on the Haitian fiasco sum up Clinton's views on education for poor children, and children of color:

It's no surprise that the woman who refers to children of color as "super-predators", insisting that "we have to bring them to heel", would search out such a racist education plan to inflict on a Haitian population decimated as much by the Clintons' free-trade deals as by natural disasters. Like the distinguished Professor Michelle Alexander says, Hillary Clinton uses "racially coded rhetoric to cast black children as animals." While Haiti was spared this horrific, colonial charter school plan hatched by Clinton and her corporate advisors, we can expect more of the same if she somehow comes to power again. We need to organize and prepare to fight against her racist penchant for neoliberal corporate education reform.

With Clinton we'll be getting more of Podesta, Tanden, and Domenici's toxic policy advocacy. Much like we've seen with Obama, CAP's virulent brand of neoliberal corporate education reform will be a centerpiece of a Clinton administration.

Anyone supporting public education should reject both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

There is a candidate running for president — who will be on most November ballots — whose education platform is worthy of support from the left. Indeed, she has consistently articulated the best public education platform of all the candidates. That candidate is Dr. Jill Stein of the Green Party.



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Thursday, June 02, 2016

Schools Matter: 2016 Week 22 Education Odds and Ends

First published on Schools Matter on June 1, 2016


“[Mike] Feinberg’s fumbling rhetoric and transparent body language cannot conceal the condescending corporate paternalism that is a defining characteristic of KIPP’s abusive corporate reform school testing camps.” — Professor James Horn

A parent testifies about charter co-location

Parent-Activist Karen Wolfe provides powerful testimony against corporate charter profiteer Refugio "Ref" Rodriguez's scheme to make it easier for charters to occupy large portions of public schools. Her piece is available here.

New Series Looks At Charter Schools

Jeff Bryant announced this on another site:

Over the next few days Capital & Main, an independent news outlet in California, will be looking at charter school expansions in the state and their impact on school districts, teachers, and students. Given some of the sources involved in the reporting, this should be really good. See the kick-off here.

A Charter With Its Hand in the Cookie Jar?

LAUSD Board Candidate Carl J. Petersen continues to expose the wrongdoing of Granada Hills Charter High School (GHCHS).

Steve Zeltzer: Connecting The Dots, Charter Schools, Privatization and Public Education In Richmond CA

https://youtu.be/0XymPX9wOqI

Teachers who are members of United Teachers of Richmond UTR and Vallejo Education Association joined with parents and supporters of public education in Richmond, California on May 28, 2016 to report on the continuing attack on public education through charters, testing and privatization.

There was also reports on the role of Ron Beller and the Caliber Charter Schools which wants to buy the Adams school site for $60,000.

Additional media:

https://youtu.be/FUER2mOFzEU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kk9n36VzQ14

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VWO_zxwxZQg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TrmgFgfoFPw

Production of Labor Video Project



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Schools Matter: WikiLeaks reveals: Hillary Clinton plotted corporate charter school colonialism for Haiti

First published on Schools Matter on May 24, 2016


“Worse, Clinton’s “boarding school” socialization and structure idea sounds more like assimilation than education. Shocking and scarily reminiscent of other U.S. ventures in segregating classes of “other” people. Native Americans were also thought to be in need of “education” to work differently in groups and to be in need of structure.”— Daun Kauffman

WikiLeaks released the Hillary Clinton Email Archive mid-March 2016. Many users were searching for terms like hedge fund manager, Goldman Sachs, or, as the example in the WikiLeaks boolean tutorial: "syria libya will show results…" I decided to search for familiar phases of the neoliberal corporate education reform camp. I struck pay-dirt on my first try with "charter schools." Note my excitement on the day of discovery

In one thread Clinton and her cabal talk about a colonial project to remake earthquake stricken Haiti's education system using disaster capitalism, much in the way author Naomi Klein describes what happened in New Orleans:

In sharp contrast to the glacial pace with which the levees were repaired and the electricity grid brought back online, the auctioning-off of New Orleans' school system took place with military speed and precision. Within 19 months, with most of the city's poor residents still in exile, New Orleans' public school system had been almost completely replaced by privately run charter schools.

Before getting to the content of the email, it's important to contextualize the Clinton's relationship with the island nation. When not facilitating the orchestration of coups in Latin America, bombing the Near East and Africa into the stone age, or providing full-throated support for apartheid states, Clinton is meddling in Haiti. Lots of good pieces on the Clintons and Haiti in publications like Counterpunch and Black Agenda Report, but this excerpt from an essay by Shadowproof's Roqayah Chamseddine is an excellent summary:

WikiLeaks reveals: Hillary Clinton planned corporate charter school colonialism for Haiti, photo credit www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10209151080035791&set=a.1444118904652.2059706.1283508895&type=3&theater

In 2010, Hillary Clinton visited Haiti as part of a public relations stunt that allowed her to see firsthand the devastation wrought by the earthquake that killed at least 100,000. This performance was primarily meant to demonstrate solidarity and show the international community that the United States would be there to help in reconstruction efforts. Yet, her visit came less than a year after the U.S. State Department, then led by Clinton, had pressured the government of Haiti into denying laborers a wage increase of $0.62.

Dan Caughlin and Kim Ives of Haïti Liberté reported the U.S. Embassy in Haiti aggressively pressured “factory owners [in Haiti] contracted by Levi’s, Hanes, and Fruit of the Loom to block a paltry minimum wage increase for Haitian assembly zone workers, the lowest paid in the hemisphere.” In statements reminiscent of the Clinton campaign’s recent charges against Sanders, Deputy Chief of Mission David E. Lindwall called the proposed $5 minimum wage for Haitian assembly zone workers one which “did not take economic reality into account” but that was meant to appeal to the “unemployed and underpaid masses.”

Haiti has long been a kind of pet project for the Clintons, and they’ve often spoken of “falling in love with Haiti” during their honeymoon. But the love isn’t mutual by any means, and Haitians across the U.S. have made this increasingly clear by way of protests spotlighting the catastrophe the Clintons have left behind. Dahoud Andre, a radio host who has organized protests in New York, is quoted by the New York Times as saying that “a vote for Hillary Clinton means further corruption, further death and destruction for our people.”

Since the email I'll be discussing is accessible here, and is somewhat long, I will not reproduce it in its entirety. Rather, I'll draw excerpts from sections and discuss them. Secretary Clinton forwarded the email in question to one of her assistants, Lauren Jiloty. It was written by neoliberal corporate education reform cheerleader David Domenici in response to Clinton's wanting suggestions on how to capitalize on the Haitian disaster. Charter school profiteer Domenici has no background in pedagogy, has never worked at a public school, "worked in finance", and is a Senior Fellow for the right-wing think-tank Center for American Progress. His biography reads like those of most of his ilk: "He felt that an understanding of the law coupled with his understanding of the financial world would help frame his sense of how best to generate positive social change." It is with this profound ignorance of education and pedagogy that Domenici crafted the Clinton Colonial Education Corps plan. That former Secretary Clinton relied on a venture capitalist for education policy advice speaks volumes, and foreshadows some very frightening prospects should she capture the Presidency.


From: Hillary Clinton
To: Lauren Jiloty
Date: 2010-01-18 19:23
Subject: HOPE YOU ARE WELL, WHERE EVER YOU GET THIS - - BELOW ARE IDEAS RE: EDUCATION CORPS FOR HAITI THAT YOU ASKED FOR

UNCLASSIFIED U.S. Department of State Case No. F-2014-20439 Doc No. C05772910 Date: 08/31/2015
RELEASE IN PART B6

From: H hrod17@clintonemail.com
Sent: Tuesday, January 19, 2010 7:23 AM
To: 'JilotyLC@state.gov'
Subject: Fw: Hope you are well, where ever you get this-- below are ideas re: education corps for Haiti that you asked for

From: David Domenici
Sent: Monday, January 18, 2010 7:55 PM
To: 'Mills, Cheryl D'; 'Cheryl Mills'
Subject: Hope you are well, where ever you get this-- below are ideas re: education corps for Haiti that you asked for

UNCLASSIFIED U.S. Department of State Case No. F-2014-20439 Doc No. C05772910 Date: 08/31/2015
Hey Cheryl,

It's important to establish who was sending what to who.

Here are some quick thoughts on re-building school infrastructure in Port-au-Prince. Feel free to share with whomever you'd like.

I have little idea of the larger context here — how many schools/kids are we looking at, but one thing we've learned in the US in the last 5 years is that good teachers are the #1 lever of change in education. If we got 1,000 really great teachers into Port-au-Prince (w/ even a modicum of support and materials), they'd make a big difference and touch the lives of 30,000-60,000 kids.

Here Domenici perpetuates the most common falsehood from the reformers' talking point list, that good/great teachers are the number one factor affecting students. He's dead wrong, and this misrepresentation of fact needs correction.

It's not that teaching isn't important—quite the contrary, but teaching is a minority factor in group of factors impacting students. Even more so in the abject conditions of post-earthquake Haiti, which was already an impoverished nation due to U.S. economic imperialism. It's doubtful that Domenici or Clinton have actually read about this outside their small insular world of edreform, where policy papers are passed off as research. However, depending on which study we rely on, teachers at most comprise 10 to 20 percent of factors for achievement outcomes. The distinguished Dr. Paul L. Thomas has written on this, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has funded major studies, edreform darling Eric A. Hanushek has documented it, as have many others. Some selected sources:

Di Carlo: But in the big picture, roughly 60 percent of achievement outcomes is explained by student and family background characteristics (most are unobserved, but likely pertain to income/poverty). Observable and unobservable schooling factors explain roughly 20 percent, most of this (10-15 percent) being teacher effects. The rest of the variation (about 20 percent) is unexplained (error). In other words, though precise estimates vary, the preponderance of evidence shows that achievement differences between students are overwhelmingly attributable to factors outside of schools and classrooms (see Hanushek et al. 1998; Rockoff 2003; Goldhaber et al. 1999; Rowan et al. 2002; Nye et al. 2004).

Rothstein: The 2/3 — 1/3 breakdown between family background and school influences was the core finding of the 1966 federal study, the “Coleman Report.” But this interpretation of the report overstates its finding about the influence of schools, because Coleman and his colleagues considered the influence of a child’s schoolmates (“peer effects”) to be a school factor, not an out-of-school factor. (Coleman, James S., and Ernest Q. Campbell, Carol J. Hobson, James McPartland, Alexander M. Mood, Frederic D. Weinfeld, and Rober L. York, Equality of Educational Opportunity, Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, Government Printing Office, 1966.) Yet the only way to affect the composition of peers in the neighborhood schools he studied would be to change the composition of neighborhoods, with housing integration policies, for example. Of the in-school influences, the Coleman Report identified teacher quality (defined by teacher characteristics such as their educational attainment and experience) to be most important.

In the context of post-earthquake Haiti, understanding that we cannot rely on teachers alone to make up for the crushing poverty, multiple traumas, and lack of infrastructure, is critical. While we certainly want all children in Haiti to have access to education, the idea that we can ignore the rest of the issues they're facing reeks of colonialism and callousness.

I think this is totally doable, in short-order, in a magnificent way that could set the foundation for a well-educated generation of Haitians who could lead the country out of poverty, to self-sustainability, self-governance and openness.

Never mind that Haitian poverty is a result of U.S. transnational corporations depressing wages (cf Secretary Clinton's intervention in Haiti's attempt to raise minimum wage discussed supra). Pay no attention to the blatantly racist and colonialist notion that but for U.S. intervention, there would never be a "well-educated generation of Haitians". Ignore the fact that every attempt by Haitians to create self-sustainability and self-governance has been thwarted by U.S. interventions. Corporate education reform will correct all these things in "short-order" under the new Clinton Education Corps plan.

There were four goals listed for the Clinton Colonial Education Corps plan. Domenici enumerates them as:

  • Goal 1: Human Capital
  • Goal 2: Build a robust curriculum and teacher instruction program
  • Goal 3: Build high quality, durable schools that entice families, children into education
  • Goal 4: Create family, community impetus for all school age children to be in school

Goal 1: Human Capital:

Create Haiti Teacher Corps. Model loosely off of Peace Corps/Teach for America, CityYear Teacher corps (US): Recruit, train, and place 500-1000 teachers from US this spring and summer. We can do this.

* * *

o Language/culture training: TDB — find the best folks out there to train in French/Creole, and Haitian culture, current socio-political situation — 50% of the training program.

o Academic training: We'll work w/ TFA and others and develop 8 week intensive teacher training program for other 50% of program.

Being a business-finance type, Domenici is quite at home writing about how to make other people do work. This is the longest section of his piece, so only small portion will be addressed here. The most frightening thing is that he pushes the Teach for America (TFA) model, which at best is a paternalistic, colonial model. Clinton's advisor then outlines his program for "training" that is eight weeks long. At first blush, this is a vast improvement over TFA's woefully deficient standard five week model. That is until we take into account that they want these recruits "to train in French/Creole, and Haitian culture" simultaneously. While the self-congratulatory reformsters all consider themselves "elite", it's somewhat absurd that eight weeks is all that's allotted for all this content. To contextualize, at its shortest point, clown college was eight weeks. In essence, Clinton's cabal feel that the best Haitian students deserve is people with no more training than clowns.

Haiti-based: Less clear what the teacher-leader pipeline is like...but we can figure out and get whoever we can.

Clinton's advisor Domenici consistently speaks of the Haitian people as somewhat of an afterthought. They are someone you do "for" or "to", but never "with". That this wealthy, white male consistently leaves the agency of Haitians out of the equation is completely in line with the white supremacist lens that both he and Hillary Clinton see the world through.

Much of the rest of this section deals with how cheaply they'd like to see all the labor paid. Interestingly, this is in line with how Clinton's State Department kept Haitian wages low in order to sate corporate capital. Domenici asserts that there's plenty of young charter school types that are willing to make the sacrifices that neither he, nor any of his peers would ever make. The finance capitalist then turns his attentions to the next goal.

I am not a curriculum expert, but I think this is really doable, as well, so long as we get the right team […]

Clinton's fellow corporate reformer is refreshingly honest here. Not only is he not a "curriculum expert", he's not even a novice. When we look at his notions of "Backwards Mapping" and "clusters and in modules that can be swapped in and out", it's clear that Domenici is pushing what Paulo Freire termed "the banking model of pedagogy", that is, that students are vessels into which corporate reformers pour knowlege into. This model works well for maintaining oppression, and would serve to perpetuate the United States' existing historical relationship with Haiti.

Reading this section reminds one of just how profoundly ignorant neoliberal corporate eduction reform types are. This may be the one individual less knowledgeable than Arne Duncan or John King on education issues, which would likely mean a potential Clinton administration would tap him to head the Education Department. If Domenici is one thing, he's buzzword compliant. Every phrase and term for the reformy canon is on display in his missive to the Wall Street funded Presidential candidate who spent many years on Walmart's board of directors.

Consider technology and technology infrastructure as a part of the initial construction plan so it's not add-on later.

Hillary Clinton and Cheryl Mills' education "expert" would be remiss if he wasn't providing profit vectors for Reed Hastings, Bill Gates, and Pearson, PLC. The rest of his section for goal three is quite reminiscent of the Naomi Klein quote supra, where she discusses destroyed infrastructure being ignored in favor of school privatization happening with "speed and precision". Domenici does disaster capitalism with the best of them.

The corporatist's final section suggests wrap-around services, something that those of us in the social justice camp are certainly in favor of. However, Clinton's confidant can't seem to keep his paternalism in check. He asserts that if his plan is followed, that it will "be a catalyst for socio-political change". We discussed above how Haiti's problems are due to U.S. economic imperialism, and seemingly endless interventionism in the country's affairs. To suggest that their problems stem from a lack of education is that special kind of victim blaming that corporate reformers are so adept at. It also smacks of how neoliberal Democrats, as Thomas Frank so succinctly puts it, "see every economic problem as an educational problem".

Domenici is an elitist from the finance capital sector, and had been asked by a Secretary of State whose Wall Street ties are like no other to advise her on educational policy for Haiti. So it's no small wonder that he ends his email with:

Gotta run. See you shortly.

xo,

dd

It's no surprise that the woman who refers to children of color as "super-predators", insisting that "we have to bring them to heel", would search out such a racist education plan to inflict on a Haitian population decimated as much by the Clintons' free-trade deals as by natural disasters. Like the distinguished Professor Michelle Alexander says, Hillary Clinton uses "racially coded rhetoric to cast black children as animals." While Haiti was spared this horrific, colonial charter school plan hatched by Clinton and her corporate advisors, we can expect more of the same if she somehow comes to power again. We need to organize and prepare to fight against her racist penchant for neoliberal corporate education reform.


While not Hillary Clinton specific, Jesse Hagopian has an excellent piece entitled: Shock-Doctrine Schooling in Haiti: Neoliberalism Off the Richter Scale



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Friday, May 06, 2016

Schools Matter: Meritocracy myths allow neoliberal Democrats to proffer education as an inequality palliative

First published on Schools Matter on April 15, 2016


“They favored policies that created “equal opportunity” and fostered “individual rights,” instead of those designed to eradicate the structural underpinnings of racial segregation and economic inequity.”—Professor Lily Geismer, "Atari Democrats", Jacobin

Thomas Frank has a new book out. While I've only read excerpts from his previous works, and several of his essays, I think Paul D'Amato sums up Frank well in that he: "offers some important food for thought–but it’s more of a snack than a full meal." That said, given the precariousness of public education in this era of neoliberalism, even a snack may stave off starvation. Frank is making the tour discussing his new work, and a friend posted one of the interviews. I was listening to it in the background while studying for my Civil Procedure midterm (the arcana of Judgment Non Obstante Veredicto, and other FRCP 50 mysteries), when I heard Frank say something that most of us touch upon when discussing the plutocrats pushing neoliberal corporate education reform. That is regarding the meritocracy myth.

The audio being discussed is at the 21:07 mark and my rough transcription follows.

Democrats are like no, no, no... that's not right. You've got to give everyone student loans. You got to build charter schools. Both sides have their pat answers that have nothing to do with the problem...

This is a book about Democrats, and they see every economic problem as an educational problem, requiring more student loans, more charter schools. That sort of thing. People studying STEM subjects, or whatever it is. This is just how they interpret the world. Why do they do they interpret the world that way? Because that's what worked for them personally. If you look at the biographies of different, prominent Democrats of our time, they all have this eerily similar biography. They are often plucked from obscurity by prestigious universities. Look at Bill Clinton, this kid in Hot Springs Arkansas, goes to Georgetown University, then he's a Rhodes Scholar, then he goes to Yale Law School. All his friends have this similar kind of background. Look at Barack Obama. He goes to Columbia, then Harvard Law School, and is the editor of the Harvard Law Review. For these guys academic achievement and prestige, that's what opened the doors for them, and it is very natural for them to assume that is what will open the doors for everyone else. Now I'm a great believer in education, I spent twenty-five years of my life getting one. But I'm here to tell you that that's not the solution for inequality. We need education, obviously everyone needs to know how to read and do math. We need experts.

That is not the problem with the economy. The problem is not that workers are not smart enough. The problem is that workers don't have any power.

That last, overarching issue is the crux of the problem. I'd like to delve into it further, but that will have to wait until summer break. The other issue of the Democrats championing the meritocracy myth and their pandering the false notion that education will solve inequality is of crucial importance during this election cycle. The Geismer piece cited in the beginning of this post discusses a Democratic Party candidate's ties to many of the worst of the cult of meritocracy.

In her 2016 campaign bid, Hillary Clinton has strengthened these ties, surpassing candidates from both parties in individual donations from employees at the ten highest-grossing companies in Silicon Valley, including Google, Facebook, Apple, and eBay.

Four more years of neoliberalism and wrongheaded education policy are a frightening prospect. Now is time for action.



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Saturday, April 16, 2016

Schools Matter: The schools Steve Barr made: Green Dot Charters post NINE of lowest fifty SAT scores

First published on Schools Matter on April 06, 2016


"The lowest-performing, based on test scores, is the large Green Dot chain." — Los Angeles Times

Steve Barr. Stand up to Green Dot's corporate charter-voucher racism.
Beleaguered Green Dot schools have dealt with charges of racism, embezzlement, poor performance, and even cheating. Green Dot Founder Steve Barr created a mythology about his corporate charters that persists even today. Barr photo http://www.flickr.com/photos/kk/
CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Corporate profiteer Steve Barr is in the news again. Now he is mulling a run at Los Angeles Mayor. Barr calls himself an "educational innovator" despite having no background in either education or pedagogy. While his attempts to "turn around schools" have been epic failures in New Orleans and Los Angeles, his Green Dot Corporate Charter Chain is frequently held up as a measure of his so-called success. Except they're anything but successful.

Green Dot Corporate Charter Schools hold the dubious record of NINE of the lowest fifty average SAT scores in Los Angeles County for 2015. The billionaire backed charter chain, founded by corporate executive Barr and run by hedge fund manager Marco Petruzzi, group of SAT bottom dwellers leads all other charter chains in comprising 18% of the fifty worst. These schools were (lower numbers are worst performing):

  • 4. Animo Locke Charter High School #1 (Los Angeles): SAT Composite 1033
  • 12. Animo Watts Charter High (Los Angeles): SAT Composite 1092
  • 14. Animo Locke Charter High School #2 (Los Angeles): SAT Composite 1104
  • 16. Alain Leroy Locke High (Los Angeles): SAT Composite 1107
  • 19. Animo Ralph Bunche High (Los Angeles): SAT Composite 1117
  • 25. Animo Locke Technology High (Los Angeles): SAT Composite 1129
  • 26. Animo Oscar De La Hoya Charter High (Los Angeles): SAT Composite 1129
  • 34. Animo Jackie Robinson High (Los Angeles): SAT Composite 1150
  • 50. Animo South Los Angeles Charter (Los Angeles): SAT Composite 1180

The privately managed charter chain's marketing slogan is "…all students graduate prepared for college, leadership and life." These dismal SAT scores would seem to indicate otherwise. For context 1500 is considered the minimum threshold for college readiness, while 2052 was the composite average for Freshmen accepted into UCLA in 2013.

Barr has never been able to get his own house together at his lucrative charter chain. Why would we trust him meddling with our public schools?


(Source: LATimes accessed 20160210)



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Schools Matter: Shining light on the charter school industry's biggest player

First published on Schools Matter on April 05, 2016


“This increasingly well-rooted network provides the Gulen Movement with daily access to the minds of over 45,000 students, and yearly access to hundreds of millions of hard-earned tax dollars.” — Sharon Higgins

KILLING ED is a new documentary feature film that exposes a shocking truth: that one of the largest networks of taxpayer-funded charter schools in the U.S. are a worst-case-scenario—operated with questionable academic, labor, and H1-B visa standards by members of the Gülen Movement.The largest chain of charter schools in the United States is that of those associated with the secretive Gülenist religious cult. With financial might sufficient to buy off politicians, and the political clout to push legislation, Gülen charters, like all charter schools, are the inevitable result of what happens after putting public money into private hands. Gülen is just one of many cults dominating the corporate charter school industry. Charter schools are symptomatic of the privatization of the public commons.

After years of being able to remain in obscurity while silencing their opposition, the Gülenist Network is beginning to find itself under ever increasing scrutiny. The Turkish government hired Amsterdam & Partners LLP to investigate. Their findings are even more shocking than many Gülen observers expected. Additionally, a full length documentary film entitled KILLING ED has been released, which outlines the shadowy Gülenist Network’s pervasive involvement with privately managed charter schools.

While some of lucrative charter school industry's top profiteers have been brought in to attempt damage control, there remains hope that this story of corruption, greed, and indoctrination will begin to reach an ever widening circle of people.

Please find below Amsterdam & Partners LLP’s press release, press conference video, and trailer for KILLING ED. Stopping the charter school industry must become one of our top priorities if we value public education as a society.


State of California Urged to Investigate Gülen-linked Magnolia Charter Schools

By Editor | Published: February 16, 2016

The following press release was distributed to media on Tuesday, February 16, 2016:

LOS ANGELES, February 16, 2016 – A formal complaint has been issued under the California Uniform Complaint Procedure (“UCP”) urging the California Department of Education to conduct a full investigation into the financial practices of the Magnolia Public Schools charter school network, which currently operates 11 active charter schools in California.

The UCP Complaint – brought by the law firm Amsterdam & Partners LLP, in conjunction with interested California taxpayers Dr. José Moreno and Tina Andres – notes that a 2015 audit conducted by the California State Auditor discovered widespread accounting impropriety and raised numerous other important questions about Magnolia’s financial practices. Notable among them is Magnolia’s connection to the global organization of charter schools and businesses headed by Turkish national Fethullah Gülen, a reclusive Islamic cleric who resides in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania.

“The State Auditor was unable to verify the propriety of a staggering 69% of financial transactions from a sampling at the Magnolia schools, but it did identify large contracts from Magnolia to affiliated vendors, and revealed that Magnolia has improperly spent hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on immigration lawyers to import teachers from Turkey,” said Robert Amsterdam, founding partner of Amsterdam & Partners LLP. “Although Magnolia’s CEO and Superintendent insists that there is no connection between Magnolia and the Gülen Organization, we respectfully direct the California authorities to Magnolia’s financial ties to the Pacifica Institute in Irvine, and to the similarities between Magnolia’s operating profile and that of other known Gülen Organization charter schools.”

Tina Andres, one of the individual Complainants, said, “Magnolia’s misuse of public funds is intolerable. They use our tax dollars to pay for visas to hire Turkish teachers, while there are plenty of talented and highly qualified teachers looking for positions in our area.”

Magnolia has submitted multiple new charter school applications valued at more than $48 million each. The UCP Complaint asserts that the volume of negative findings of the California State Auditor from a mere sampling of Magnolia’s transactions and vendor agreements should have spurred a comprehensive investigation into the Magnolia charter school network, and that the State of California owes a fiduciary duty to California taxpayers to probe further.

The UCP Complaint was delivered to the California Department of Education, as well as to various stakeholders concerned about the issue. It is available for viewing at http://magnoliacomplaint.com, where supporters may also sign a petition urging the California Department of Education to initiate the requested investigation

Dr. José Moreno is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Chicano & Latino Studies at California State University, Long Beach, and a former President of the Board of Education for the Anaheim City School District. He has four children currently attending public schools in Anaheim, where Magnolia is seeking to expand. Tina Andres is a veteran public school teacher in the Santa Ana Unified School District, which hosts a Magnolia school. She has two children attending public schools in the district, one of which is a charter school.

Amsterdam & Partners LLP – an international law firm with offices in London and Washington, DC – acts for the Republic of Turkey, and is conducting a global investigation into the alleged illegal activities of the Gülen Organization. Additional information about Amsterdam & Partners LLP is available at www.amsterdamandpartners.com.




Gülen Charter Schools Investigation Press Conference

Robert Amsterdam, lawyer at Amsterdam & Partners LLP, holds press conference updating the public on the latest developments and upcoming legal suits relating to alleged illegal conduct by the U.S. charter school network controlled by controversial Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen.


Documentary film exposing charter schools and the Gülenist Network

KILLING ED is a new documentary feature film that exposes a shocking truth: that one of the largest networks of taxpayer-funded charter schools in the U.S. are a worst-case-scenario—operated with questionable academic, labor, and H1-B visa standards by members of the “Gülen Movement” – a rapidly expanding, global Islamic group whose leader, Fethullah Gülen, lives in seclusion in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania.



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Schools Matter: Guest Post: Tom McIver: Caprice Young and the Master of Deception

First published on Schools Matter on April 04, 2016


“Jed’s predecessor, Caprice Young, made over $250,000 for her work at the CCSA. Check out the cast of characters on CCSA’s board of directors.” — Kenneth Libby

Caprice "Capricious" Young, Privatization Princess, CORO Fellow, CCSA Alum, ICEF Flunky, and Poverty Pimp.These pages have addressed right-wing school privatization pusher Caprice Young before. Her early history working with Richard Riordan, predatory capitalist and junk bond felon Michael Milken, and racist, bigoted, anti-immigrant nativist Steve Poizner was discussed in a piece that also exposed her profiting from the dubious online charter school sector. What was missing from that piece is that she openly boasts of Walmart's John Walton being her mentor. Another piece addressed her taking the helm of Fethullah Gülen's failing Magnolia corporate charter chain.

Credit to Young. Two times she was able to step into situations where charter schools had squandered millions of taxpayer dollars, and make the investigations go away. Young, along with her Gülen corporate charters in Los Angeles, are currently being investigated by Amsterdam & Partners LLP.

I received a communiqué from Dr. Tom McIver in November of 2013 regarding another one of Young's unsavory colleagues, which, in turn, was another one of her charter business "ventures" (read scams). However, I had just returned to UCLA after a nineteen year hiatus to complete my BA, and my focus was on that. The email went unnoticed until recently. Checking the links led to me asking for clarification, and with his permission, his initial email, and excerpts from another email appear here:


From: tmciver@
Subject: Caprice Young and the Master of Deception
Date November 03, 2013 17:46:35 PST
To: rdsathene@

Robert Skeels,

I came across some blog posts by you that mentioned Caprice Young. At one point, when she was supported by the Milken Foundation, she was collaborating with Al Seckel, who I know all too well. He has boasted of his partnership with her, e.g. this interview with billionaire (and convicted sex offender) Richard Epstein: http://web.archive.org/web/20101112051416/http://www.jeffreyepsteinscience.com/2010/10/jeffrey-epstein-talks-perception-with-al-seckel/

Here they are at Jeff Pulver's prestigious DLD conference joined by Arianna Huffington and CNN chief Jonathan Klein:http://blip.tv/140conf/140-characters-conference-the-democratization-of-information-2801228

Seckel is currently defendant in this fraud case: http://www.courthousenews.com/2011/03/10/34803.htm This case is just the tip of his fraud. In case you are interested, attached is timeline of his activities (including his association with Young).

Tom McIver


I too discovered the DLD link was dead.  The whole session was on video, but no longer.  I have put my Seckel timeline online and updated it and added links: http://undeceive.weebly.com/ I do not mind attribution.  Seckel is reportedly dead, as the now timeline indicates.  Some new information has come to light, and I hope more will follow.

DLD is a global conference network (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital LifeDesign). Here is there speaker bio for Seckel (mentioning the panel with Young): http://dld-conference.com/users/al-seckel

Tom McIver


Excerpts from McIver's original chronology implicating Young (emphasis mine), which is displayed below. His updated chronology timeline is here.

2009 Oct 29: Seckel hosts presents and hosts panel on information technology and education at internet entrepreneur Jeff Pulver’s 140-Characters conference; panelists include Arianna Huffington, Jonathan Klein (CNN chief), and Caprice Young (Milken Institute). http://blip.tv/140conf/140-characters-conference-the-democratization-of-information-2801228

2010 Oct 23: Seckel and Maxwell host G4G10 event at their “beautiful Malibu home.” Features Robert Lang and Chris Palmer origami displays and guest of honor Nolan Bushnell (Atari). Attendees include Jeff Scanlan, Catherine Mohr, Stuart Anstis, Jonathan Delbruck, Solomon Golomb, Caprice Young, Irving Biederman, Brad Templeton, Arana Greenberg, Brock Pierce, Michael Kaliski, Victoria Skye, Amy Sterling Casil, Eric Gradman, Brian Deagon, Philip Lelyveld, Richard Bilow, Glenn Kaino, Michael Naimark, Sanford Climan

2010 Oct: Seckel interview is lead item on Jeffrey Epstein’s science website. Self-promotional claims here are similar to his original Wikipedia entry. Says he got funding for “massive interactive website on thinking skills” with friend Caprice Young (Milken Institute). Claims “Tommy” Gold was his Cornell advisor, and at Caltech he was in Feynman’s “very close inner circle” with Michael Douglas and one other person, spending hours with him “almost every other day.” Claims to be very close to M. Gell-Mann, and friends with “Shelly” Glashow, Lisa Randall, Sean Carroll, and Jimmy Wales. http://web.archive.org/web/20101112051416/http://www.jeffreyepsteinscience.com/2010/10/jeffrey-epstein-talks-perception-with-al-seckel/

Gülenist Caprice Young's association with Al Seckel by Robert D. Skeels



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K-12NN Wire: California charter school industry bill attempts to eliminate only source of public oversight

First published on K-12NN Wire on April 1, 2016


“…charter schools have used their public characteristics to qualify for public funding under state constitutional law, while highlighting their private characteristics to exempt themselves from other laws that apply to public schools.”—Professors Preston C. Green and Joseph Oluwole

Save Public Schools! Adult Education Students protest school privatizer Monica Garcia in Koreatown after she voted to shut down all adult schools and use the money for privately managed charters.

School privatization promoting Nonprofit Industrial Complex (NPIC) EdSource has long been a source of both political cover, and highly biased "journalism" on behalf of the lucrative charter school industry. Their pay-to-advocate paradigm is evidenced by a donor list that is replete with the usual suspects of ideologically charged (read reactionary) billionaires and foundations. On March 30, 2016 they posted a puff piece on behalf of the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) regarding AB 2806, a bill that would further block oversight of charter schools, and impede any investigations into charter school wrongdoing. Trade association CCSA, essentially a U.S. Chamber of Commerce for the lucrative charter school industry in California, has increasingly used its seemingly endless source of lobbying funds to push the bill.

My comments are reproduced here:

The lengths these revenue hungry charter school executives will go to avoid any and all oversight is astonishing. The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) and the Office of the Independent Monitor (OIM) are the only organs of public oversight that come close to the de minimis scrutiny these privately managed schools should be subject to. As a legal scholar whose research into the various misrepresentation and malfeasance perpetrated by the charter sector, I depend on access to information gathered by the OIG/OIM. I would find impossible to discover facts that would otherwise remain undisclosed by the secretive charter industry without these bodies. I am not alone in this regard. The United States Census Bureau is on record for not being able to report information on charter schools because of their private nature (US Census Bureau. (2011). "Public Education Finances: 2009 (GO9-ASPEF)". Washington, DC: US Government Printing O ce. Print. vi).

It is in the public interest that charter schools be subject to a modicum of oversight. One would think that it would be public policy that any organization that takes public money should be subject to public scrutiny. AB 2806 would severely hamper the OIG's already minimal ability to investigate an industry that essentially runs with no other public oversight or control. The charter industry's attempts to eliminate this one mechanism for holding them accountable is unconscionable, but not unexpected.

The irony of well-heeled charter school executives like Caprice Young decrying the OIG should not go unnoticed. In defense of her beleaguered Magnolia charter chain, Young has written several Op-Eds. In them she discusses a 2015 audit of the schools claiming it was "financially solvent", but omits that scores of previous audits found the chain insolvent. For instance, the 2014 audit revealed them "operating on a $1.7 million deficit" and that there multiple instances of "missing, misused funds" (SPRC, 2014). This misrepresentation by omission alone impeaches Young's credibility beyond any reasonable standard. Moreover, it demonstrates why public agencies like the OIG and OIG are so critical. AB 2806 is further evidence of the lucrative charter school industry's revenue-first agenda, and their ongoing efforts to avoid any oversight is another example of how they harm both their own students, and the students in our public schools.

Defeat AB 2806 & Empower the LAUSD Inspector General's Office



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Schools Matter: Debunking the charter school industry’s “lotteries prevent cherry picking” trope

First published on Schools Matter on March 30, 2016


A brief response to a charter school industry apologist encountered on Professor Ravitch's site:

A threadbare trope of the charter industry (profit and nonprofit alike), is that of “lotteries prevent cherry picking”. Cherry picking, or what we term selective enrollment in more learned circles, is far more easily achieved by attrition. High attrition is facilitated through push out policies (e.g. charter school disciplinary practices, onerous requirements for parents, etc.), through counseling out (a practice used by most Los Angeles charter chains for Students With Disabilities (cf. Office of the Independent Monitor. “Pilot Study of Charter Schools’ Compliance with the Modified Consent Decree and the LAUSD Special Education Policies and Procedures”., Los Angeles: Modified Consent Decree., 2009. Print.)), and a number of other practices. Moreover, students lost (a euphemism) through attrition are generally not replaced with students mid-year (revenue hungry charter operators call this not “backfilling”).

Debunking the charter school industry’s lotteries prevent cherry picking tropeIn addition to effectively selecting their student body through attrition (the de facto “cherry picking,” so to speak), charters frequently screen children out during pre-lottery enrollment through difficult to understand applications, and/or applications that require disclosure of information that discourage families from the process to being with. For example, in Los Angeles, so-called 501c3 “non-profit” charters were found to require parents “to indicate if their child had an IEP or received special education services. Of these, about two-thirds (64.77%) requested that a copy of the IEP be provided with the application. Similarly, 34.83% of the applications asked if a student had a 504 plan, with 79.03% of these requesting a copy with the application.” (Office of the Independent Monitor. “Findings of the Review of Charter Applications and Enrollment Forms”., Los Angeles: Report on the Progress and Effectiveness of the Los Angeles Unified School District's Implementation of the Modified Consent Decree During the 2010-2011 School Year., 2011. Print.)



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Schools Matter: Guest Post: Dr. Jill Stein: A failing grade for Obama's Education pick

First published on Schools Matter on March 27, 2016


“Public education is another example where there has been a complete scam [regarding privatization]—charter schools are not better than public schools—and in many cases they are far worse. They cherry-pick their students so they can show better test scores. The treasure of our public schools system has been assaulted by the process of privatization.” — Dr. Jill Stein

Dr. Jill Stein: A failing grade for Obama's Education pick

Dr. Jill Stein, Green Party candidate for President, has consistently articulated the best public education platform of all the candidates. Her basic education tenets are the anthesis of those advanced by the neoliberal corporate education reform crowd:

Education as a Right: Abolish student debt to free a generation of Americans from debt servitude. Guarantee tuition-free, world-class public education from pre-school through university. End high stakes testing and public school privatization.

Her campaign sent out a press release on the woefully inappropriate appointment of John King as Secretary of Education. So well reasoned and written, it warrants reproduction here:


A failing grade for Obama's Education pick

Dr. Jill Stein, Green Party candidate for President President Obama’s choice for Education Secretary has earned a failing grade from parents, students, teachers, and education advocates across the nation.

Former New York State Education Commissioner John King’s education reforms have been such a disaster for NY schools that last year an incredible 20% of students opted out of the Common Core high-stakes tests introduced by King.

King’s corporate education agenda has given Wall Street A+ profits, but has robbed our children of the quality education they need and deserve.

That’s why I’m asking you to join my call today for a public education system that puts our children first, not corporate profits!

How do we know that Obama’s new Education Secretary is the wrong choice to be in charge of our schools? Let’s look at his report card.

John King co-founded Roxbury Academy in Boston, a charter school noted for rigid, authoritarian zero-tolerance policies that gave it one of the highest suspension rates in the state. In some years, students were punished with suspension at a rate ten times the state average or more.

As NYS Education Commissioner, King moved quickly to implement Common Core standards, which the Obama administration coerced schools into accepting by offering “Race to the Top” money while many school budgets were being slashed due to the recession and austerity.

Despite a firestorm of controversy across the state over the rushed implementation of high-stakes testing, as well as the lack of field testing and input from parents, teachers and students, King brushed off these concerns and insisted on ramming his plan through.

Warnings from King’s critics came true in 2013, when just 31% of students passed the new Common Core math and reading tests.

We’ve seen a common pattern with the education agenda pushed by Wall Street and standardized test corporations: high-stakes testing sets up public schools to fail, paving the way for the takeover of education by charter schools with their profits subsidized by taxpayer dollars.

Within two years after King’s disastrous Common Core rollout, 20% of students were sitting out the tests in protest. Even NY Governor Andrew Cuomo, who appointed King as commissioner, told state education officials that “Common Core’s implementation in New York has been flawed and mismanaged from the start.”

So John King gets an A for boosting corporate profits from high-stakes testing, but an F for improving educational opportunities and outcomes for students.

It’s outrageous that both Democrats and Republicans agree on an education agenda that comes from Wall Street profiteers.

Sign and share my call for an education system designed to educate our children, not to enrich corporate profiteers!

As President, I will halt the destructive push for high-stakes testing and school privatization. Instead of teaching to the test, we need to teach to the whole student for lifetime learning.

We also need increased federal public education funding to correct the shameful disparities between rich and poor school districts, and policies to reverse the growing de facto race and class segregation in public schools.

I will work together with educators, parents, and students to create a world-class public education system that works for people, not profit.

Because our children deserve better.

It’s in our hands!



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