Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Choice and Accountability according to Green Dot's (Counter)Revolution

Support Parents and UTLA against Green Dot's corporate charter cash cowsThe Parent (Counter)Revolution, and its financiers including Green Dot, Alliance, and Bright Star love to gush on and on about the words "choice" and "accountability." The word choice also features prominently in the title of the LAUSD Vice President's Corporate Charter School Choice Resolution (more properly Public School Choice: A New Way at LAUSD), despite the fact that nowhere in the resolution is there explicit language allowing parents and communities a choice of which operator seizes their school. [1]

The words choice, accountability, and competition play a big role in Ben Austin's 1980's business buzzword bingo schtick. The way he tells it, you'd think parents will now have a smorgasbord of premier educational choices at their disposal, regardless of where they live, or their socioeconomic status. If only it was like that! Ask the good folks of Maywood how they feel about the so called choices they've been given.

Well it turns out the corporate hacks and free market sycophants running Green Dot's front group Parent Revolution (née LAPU), have an entirely different understanding of the words choice and accountability than the rest of us. Remember, part of our oppressor's advantage lies in their ability to define the terms used in the debate. You know, "the ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas."

Here is the school privatizers' conception of accountability and choice, straight from Green Dot's LAPU/Parent (Counter)Revolution own website's Corporate Charter FAQ [2]:

How are charter schools held accountable?

Unlike a traditional public school, parents choose to put their children into charter schools. If a charter school is not meeting a parent's expectations, the parent can simply switch their child back to the traditional public school, or a different neighborhood charter school. If enough parents are unhappy with the charter, the state will shut it down. Parents have choice, and the school is held accountable-unlike traditional public schools.

Translation from corporate-speak: While you have no recourse or redress whatsoever with the unaccountable corporate charter school's administration or the CMO's equally unaccountable unelected board, you can choose to enroll your child back in a traditional public school! That's right folks, your choice is limited to Barr's way or the highway!

Sounds like Green Dot's corporate hacks have employed the hackneyed right wing idiom in which people somehow "vote with their feet." This false notion of choice is often proffered by reactionaries like Robert Galloway and Dick Cheney in regards to chronic labor and human rights violator Wal-Mart. No small coincidence that the notorious Walton Clan also runs corporate charter schools as well.

To all the corporate charter advocates foisting their right wing agenda on us: a choice between undesirable outcomes isn't a choice, it's a dilemma!

Real choice comes from being able to participate fully in the process. Real choice would involve accountability from top to bottom. Real choice is part of our vision for both education reform, and a society in which workers and ordinary people would have real and meaningful control over every aspect of their lives.

[1] To Superintendent Cortines credit, he seems a little less hostile to community input than LASUD VP Flores Aguilar is. Recall how defensive Ms. Flores Aguilar and Garcia were during the August 25, 2009 LAUSD Board meeting when Mr. Zimmer and Ms. Martinez tried to add some toothless amendments including language providing for parent and community input. In addition to be unequivocally opposed to any language mentioning actual input or choice, all Garcia and Flores Aguilar could say repeatedly was "How will that effect charters?"



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