Friday, November 20, 2009

Advocating Public Education Roundup 09W47 Part 2

"The Obama administration is using its unprecedented billions to advance a strategy of deregulation and deprofessionalization." -- Diane Ravitch (celebrated education professor and author)

Advocate Public Education, No More CMO Corporate Charter-Voucher Schools!I've never needed to do two roundup pieces in one week until now. There's just too many things going on before this weekend's conference featuring The Socialist Perspective on School Reform to wait until next week.

I've finally found something the corporate charter-voucher establishment is actually good at, sadly it's institutional racism. Looks like Marco Petruzzi, Steve Barr, and Ben Austin feel like Jim Crow didn't get a fair shake, so they've masterminded a redux! Think my recent piece exposing Green Dot Public [sic] Schools and it's proxy LAPU/PR's uglier side was a little biased? Turns out I was actually understating things.

This amazing UCLA study just released reveals that charter schools violate civil rights, foster racial isolation, and exacerbate segregation. EQUITY OVERLOOKED: CHARTER SCHOOLS AND CIVIL RIGHTS POLICY.

Although not new, Steven Miller and Jack Gerson's The Corporate Surge Against Public Schools made the rounds mid-week. It is one of the most cogent and well presented pieces on school privatization around. It is a must read for anyone concerned with social justice and public education.

Talk about prolific. Kenneth Libby and Dr. Danny Weil manage to get another piece out this week. Charter Management Organizations Take Aim at Los Angeles Unified School District

Education Notes Online has a great piece entitled Hey, SEIU Goons: Break a Egg looking at yellow union tactics. I responded in a comment:


You're certainly dead on with the Silverlake snake-oil salesman -- Steve Barr, and his ability to attract and manipulate company union sycophants. AMU by definition, is a yellow union (its CTA status notwithstanding), and SEIU Local 1877 sits on Green Dot's board. How anyone in organized labor could support the anti-working class corporate charter-voucher establishment, much less legitimize it by sitting on the board of one of the most capricious CMOs in business, is beyond me.

Meanwhile SEIU Local 99 is equivocating to Superintendent Cortines bullying tactics to add more furloughs and layoffs, instead of standing by their sisters and brothers in CSEA and UTLA.

If and when (sadly the later seems more likely), we see an end to public education at the hands of the greedy EMO/CMO corporate charter-voucher establishment and their billionaire backers, we'll be able to thank SEIU for their class collaboration with the most reactionary elements in the so called DLC/DFER crowd.


In a major step towards fulfilling Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman's dystopian future where corporations own everything, liberal turned right wing reactionary State Senator Gloria Romero's SB 592 bill hands the titles of public schools over to Corporate Charters. Dr. Danny Weil exposes the giant corporate bailout in Good News for Charter School Chains in California: Asset Stripping Gives Them Titles to Public School. Dr. Weil is a friend, so I had to comment on his piece:


Thank you Dr. Weil. This is an astonishing update in the battles we are waging against the corporate forces in Los Angeles. It's no wonder the out of state school privatization firm, Synesi Associates, put in bids on all but one of the Los Angeles schools up for grabs under LAUSD VP Yolie Flores Aguilars' Corporate Charter Choice Resolution. Synesi Associates, like all these other corporate vultures see the profitability in stealing the shiny, new, multi-million dollar facilities built by the Los Angeles' working class with the tax money extracted from the Los Angeles working class.

The Marco Petruzzis, Gary Solomons, Steve Barrs, Ben Austins, and Antony Resslers of the corporate charter-voucher establishment are salivating at the opportunity to further cash in on the neoliberal privatization of the last of the "public commons." Their ruling class masters including Broad, Gates, and the Waltons are behind the scenes wringing their hands with glee. All the above enabled by a cast of DLC/DFER characters including Duncan, Romero, Garcia, Villaraigosa, and Flores Aguilar, with nary a peep from their so called right wing opposition. If anyone hasn't figured out why the reactionary right isn't opposed, indeed they're cheerleading, this charter-voucher approach of "reform," it's because these have been the right wing's ideas all along!


Dr. Weil also republished an older piece he'd written entitled Our children have entered a Dickensian World of Nightmarish Proportions this week.

My compaƱero Jose del Barrio asked everyone to repost this very important information.


In California, 15 years ago those who made over 250,000 a year paid 10% in taxes, those over 500,000 year paid 11%. Today both pay 9.3%! No wonder we dont have money for schools, the rich have not paid their fair share!


Last but not least, Caroline Grannan passes along a poignant letter from one of those people who the corporate world will never understand, an educator: Teacher-trashers can't take away the true rewards -- but they are trying hard.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Martha Infante's Open Letter to LAUSD Board and President Monica Garcia

To LAUSD Board President Monica Garcia and Fellow Board Members:

It has come to my attention that this week, a flyer was circulated by an unknown person, or persons, in an attempt to misinform parents about charter schools and to falsely imply that their immigration status could be in danger if they choose to enroll their child in such a school.

Without a doubt, this flyer was beyond unethical; it was perverse. Preying on the fear and fragile vulnerabilities of families in this district is the antithesis of what educators stand for and have a long history of fighting against.

Today, you chose to hold a press conference in front of the UTLA building to denounce this flyer, implying, just like the flyer, that UTLA members such as myself, were responsible for its creation and distribution. I am disappointed that you would imply that the thousands of educators who fight every single day to provide students and their families with a quality education could be responsible for this singular act of cowardice. Not only have we persevered in the face of budget cuts, massive layoffs (20 teachers at my school), and payroll errors, but now we must face being painted in broad strokes as deceitful, underhanded people who would abuse the very people we have chosen to serve.

Ms. Garcia, if you want to promote the privatization of public education, that is your choice. But today you offended the sensibilities of educators throughout the city of Los Angeles. Your press conference cast aspersions on not one individual, or two, or three, but on the entire teaching force that is UTLA. In social studies, we teach that people are innocent until proven guilty. In English classrooms, we teach students to cite evidence from the text to support their assertions. By holding this press conference in front of the UTLA building without clear evidence to prove they are responsible for the flyer, you have done no better than the perpetrators, who have used the public's lack of awareness of school issues to plant seeds of fear, lies, and distrust. If you have evidence that UTLA was somehow responsible for this act, I for one would like to see it. Otherwise, all you have accomplished today is the further alienation of the teaching force, and the continued fragmentation of a district that is in desperate need of cohesion, and courageous leadership.

Leticia (Martha) Infante
2009 CCSS Teacher of the Year
Los Angeles Academy Middle School

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Advocating Public Education Roundup 09W47

Separate is never equal. corporate charter schoolsI recently interviewed Peri Lynn Turnbull of the CCSA, who maintained the CCSA and its constituents believe in the obligation to educate every child. She stated that even though the charters are negotiating with LAUSD over this requirement in the current RFP, that CCSA is committed to Special Education. We can take Ms. Turnbull at her word, that this is the official position of the CCSA.

In practice however, the corporate charter-voucher establishment perpetrates something completely different. The recent documents from the Modified Consent Decree expose corporate CMO charter-voucher school discrimination and exclusivity. Very telling is the statement that children with disabilities are "significantly underrepresented" at CMO run charter schools. The executive summary of the report, and the data tables from the report. Marco Petruzzi's concerns that special education programs cut into his massive salary aside, even these corporate run schools should be obligated legally, ethically, and morally to educate every child! The easy solution is to just keep schools public and ditch the failed CMO experiment altogether, but that's a battle that will take some time.

My little missive to the LAUSD Board President about aligning with and co-signing the outrageous lies about UTLA coming from highly paid corporate charter-voucher proxies including Veronica Melvin, Maria Casillas, and Jarad Sanchez has proved popular. Let's say it caused some real consternation on the board. If you haven't seen it: Open letter to LAUSD Board President Monica Garcia regarding the press conference.

Brian Jones is his usual brilliant self in The charter school charade. This is one of those articles that you want to print out tons of copies and give to everyone you know! New York has a vibrant parent-teacher-student movement fighting back against the corporate charter-voucher establishment called the Grassroots Education Movement (NYC).

In 'Market Share' as a goal for privatization attacks on public schools... Charter master plan targets gaining 'market share' in urban districts Kenneth Libby and George Schmidt expose Arne Duncan's strong ties to the reactionary right wing extremist firm "John Galt Solutions, Inc." modeled on the bankrupt ideologies of Ayn Rand, who George pegs perfectly as a "right wing fundamentalist." Make no mistake, the Andy Smarick Ken discusses in the article works with range of right wing think tanks and is the ideological muse of Steve Barr and other DLC/DFER disciples of public school destruction. We've mentioned the Smarick article published in a journal from The Hoover Institution used by Green Dot Schools and their front group LAPU/PR to implement their hostile takeover plans before in the notes of a recent article here.

Jeff Bleich unknowingly spells out the racist priorities of empire in California's higher-education debacle:

"California's public universities and community colleges have half as much to spend today as they did in 1990 in real dollars. In the 1980s, 17% of the state budget went to higher education and 3% went to prisons. Today, only 9% goes to universities and 10% goes to prisons."


Adam Sanchez looks at this administration's reactionary education policies in Race to the top or to the bottom? I'd be remiss not to reprint this quote:


"One study reviewed in the book showed that family income supplements as low as $4,000 a year improved children's school achievement by 10-15 percent. So what would a real "Race to the Top" program look like? We could start by taking the largely taxpayer-funded $23 billion in bonuses that Goldman Sachs is giving out this year, and put that money toward giving nearly 6 million families that $4,000 income supplement."


For more on the infamous Vielka McFarlane self-colonization (aka teach civil rights at a charter school -- loose your job) incident, there's a much older, but well thought out piece on Firedoglake L.A. Charter School: Emmett Till Deserved to Die.

More math and mendacity lessons from Green Dot Public Schools. The corporate hacks at Green Dot love to crow about their ability to place their graduates in college. Well, it sure isn't because of their proficiency levels. There are tables published by the CSU system for all schools available, with a wealth of statistics. I choose one of Green Dot's better performing corporate CMO schools, since they recently accused me of just picking on their Animo Watts II campus.

Let's look at Animo Venice Charter High School. Of the Green Dot students admitted to the CSU system in 2008 67% WERE NOT PROFICIENT IN MATHEMATICS. This is compared to just 49% of the much maligned LAUSD students. Moreover, only 33% of the children graduating the Green Dot corporate factory school were proficient, while children attending public schools comprised a much more respectable 51%. More evidence of the Silverlake snake oil salesman Steve Barr's exceedingly arrogant, but obviously erroneous statement "our model should work in any educational context, because the principles are embodied in all high-performing schools." I'm sure the right wing corporate charter-voucher apologists Jarad Sanchez and Veronica Melvin of the so called Alliance for a Better Community could find a way to spin Green Dot's abysmal numbers, but maybe instead of listening to washed up businessmen, Wall Street hucksters, and political hacks like Barr et al, we should have educators leading the way for education.

This Green Dot Math and Mendacity theme is going to be a continuing series on this blog, since Green Dot is constantly guilty of the most egregious manipulation of facts and statistics.

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Believe in public education? Democratic societies? Stand up and fight back!

Stand up to Green Dot's corporate charter privatization scheme!You hear the right wing's ideas about education on a daily basis in the corporate media. A day doesn't go by without the Los Angeles Times cheerleading the corporate charter-voucher establishment. On television, the racist corporate vision of education is presented as the only way to "reform" an education system starved of resources though decades of massive tax cuts for the rich. Ultra-wealthy, nefarious right wing ideologues like the Waltons, Gates, Milkens, and Broads, who use their vast fortunes to accelerate the dismantling of public and democratic institutions to usher in their vision of a privatized and corporate controlled society, are lauded as "reformers" in the very media they or their peers own and control.

What then, is the left's vision of public education? Come to The Socialist Perspective on School Reform next week to find out.

Why is this important? Last week all of the following happened in Los Angeles:


  • The LAUSD President and Vice President stood alongside highly paid NGO executives from the charter/voucher establishment, who through a series of outrageous lies, insinuation, and innuendo accused UTLA of serious, but baseless charges of lying to undocumented peoples.


  • LAUSD Superintendent Cortines sent out a letter threatening up to 14,000 more lay offs, and is demanding even more concessions from the hard working women and men who educate children in our communities.


  • Out of state, highly funded, corporate charter/voucher company Synesi Associates submitted letters of intent on all but one of the schools available under VP Yolie Flores-Aguilar's corporate charter choice give-away resolution.



Meanwhile the same budget cuts that are gutting K-12 are turning California's community college, CSU, and UC systems into a luxury for the well-to-do.

There's never been a more important time to stand with public school advocates and defend public education!


The Socialist Perspective on School Reform



Join the struggle against Green Dot's Corporate Charter-Voucher Onslaught"School reform" is one of the most overused phrases in the media these days. To the Obama administration and the corporate interests wanting to dismantle public education, "school reform" means attacking teachers' unions, increasing standardized testing, and handing schools over to unaccountable Charter Management Organizations.

But to us, truly reforming our schools would mean giving them all the funding they need for beautiful school buildings, small class sizes, educational materials, and engaging field trips. It would mean putting teachers and parents in control of running their schools in the best interests of students, and getting rid of the bureaucrats and mandates that try to control education from the top down.

"School reform" has a dual meaning because education itself has two sides under capitalism. It's used to reproduce class inequalities by training a few to be managers and the rest of us to work for them. But as people come together to be educated, we also begin to think about reaching our full potential and liberating ourselves. That's why education has always been a location of conflict and struggle in our society.

Come to this meeting to discuss how the fight for truly liberatory education is linked to the fight for a socialist society run democratically in the interests of the many rather than the few!

featuring speakers
Gillian Russom and David Rapkin, UTLA and ISO

This event is part of the
2009 Southern California Socialist Conference
Saturday, November 21, 2009 from 1:30—3:00pm
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=198934026139

USC Taper Hall of Humanities (THH)
3501 Trousdale Parkway
Los Angeles, CA 90007

http://socalsocialism.org/
lacityiso@yahoo.com
(310) 404-1738

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Open letter to LAUSD Board President Monica Garcia regarding the press conference

Dear Board President Garcia:

I'll start this missive like every one I've ever sent you, although experience has shown you won't respond, and probably won't even read, since I am merely your constituent, my name isn't Marco, Steve, or Ben, and I don't run a lucrative CMO. Regardless...

My name is Robert D. Skeels, I am a long time resident of District 2, and my wife attends Evans Adult School.

Save public schools and communities from the corporate charter-voucher campaign led by Alliance for a Better Community!I had the misfortune of attending your media event staged yesterday at 3303 Wilshire Boulevard. Before I go any further, I want to be clear on something since your propensity to paint privatization opponents with the same brush is well known. I whole-heartedly agree with you that the flyer suggesting deportation in relation to corporate CMO petition signing is deplorable! I would go further to say that the individual who conceived, created, and distributed that disgusting flyer deserves nothing but contempt and scorn from our communities. Now that's out of the way, let's get to my reason for writing you President Garcia.

Yesterday I discovered that everything I've learned in my many years as an immigrant rights activist is completely wrong. All the contacts, colleagues, and comrades I've met insignificant. All the struggles I've been a part of for the rights of the undocumented persons and immigrants in general have been misguided. That's right President Garcia, you, the Board Vice President, and the well compensated CEOs of the NGOs accompanying you yesterday turned the entire immigrant rights movement on its head with bold new revelations. Here's what we learned from you and your fellow press conference speakers. 

Turns out that it isn't the racist Minutemen, Lou Dobbs, Fox News, James Sensenbrenner, or Janet Napolitano's draconian enforcement policies that are the greatest threat to the civil rights of undocumented peoples. According to your press conference, that dubious distinction belongs to the teachers of UTLA.

I'm sure the former workers from Overhill Farms, Farmer John, and American Apparel will be happy to learn that the single biggest violation of their civil rights wasn't being fired in response to no match letters, but instead occurs whenever community activists inform them that corporate CMOs have unelected boards.

How foolish of us to think groups like RISE, Hermandad, MEChA, Union del Barrio, and the Brown Berets comprised true grassroots immigrant rights activism, while all along astroturf organizations like Alliance for a Better Community, Families in Schools, and Green Dot's LAPU/Parent Revolution have been at the vanguard of civil rights organizing. Never mind that none of those organizations have existed for even a decade! Never mind that the later organizations are all funded by the likes of the Gates, Broad, Walton, and Annenberg foundations! We can all agree that those right wing "politically neutral" foundations are also very concerned about civil rights and immigrant rights.

We in the immigrant rights movement thought sponsoring "know your rights" clinics to educate undocumented peoples against the very real scare tactics employed by DHS/ICE agents was defending civil rights. Instead we should have been looking to the heroic efforts originating from 350 South Bixel and 350 South Figueroa to educate undocumented people about their right to choose which unaccountable corporate 501c3 will seize their local public school.

I'm sure the fact that we in the immigrant rights movement have never seen yourself, VP Yolie Flores-Aguilar, Veronica Melvin, Maria Casillas, Jarad Sanchez, Mary Najara, Reverend Tulloss, Gabriel Rose, or any of the other members of your press conference yesterday at an immigrant rights march, a rally against ICE raids, a day labor site defense, or any other related protest isn't because you aren't on the leading edge of the immigrant and civil rights movement.

I could go on, but even I understand sarcasm wears thin very quickly. That said, let's take a look at the horrific stunt you pulled off yesterday.

In addition to years in the immigrant rights movement, I am one of the founding members of the Southern California Immigration Coalition (SCIC), along with long time immigrant rights activists like Jesse Diaz, Daniel Montes, Laura Villegas, Alvaro Maldonado, Nathalie Contreras, Martin Terrones, Ron Gochez, and many others. I have had the humble privilege to serve under the leadership of real luminaries of the immigrant right movement including Gloria Salcedo, Nativo Lopez, and Carlos Montes. Let it suffice that I am no stranger to the immigrant rights movement, and I can vouch to UTLA's record on defending the rights of all immigrants!

I took the photo at the top of this letter at this year's SCIC hosted May Day immigrant rights march. I have seen UTLA representation at these type of events, coalition meetings, and other such organizing for over a decade. I've NEVER seen an Alliance for a Better Community, LAPU/Parent Revolution, or Families in Schools banner at any immigrant rights event. In fact, I've never seen any of the members of your press conference yesterday speak at an immigrant rights event. At the very least Mayor Villaraigosa shows up at the end of marches to give a short speech, making you and your group's absence even more glaring.

Which begs the question President Garcia.

Why is that you and these NGO executives are suddenly discussing civil and immigrant rights in the narrow context of the CMO/corporate charter/voucher establishment? Could it be that yesterday's press conference was really all about corporate rights? Was this a way of distracting the public from CMO charter discrimination and exclusivity exposed in the recent Modified Consent Decree Report which explicitly states children with disabilities are "significantly underrepresented" at CMO run charter schools?

Isn't a little too convenient that with little to no community support for corporate charters, and many charters making themselves look very bad by rejecting and fighting the resolution's requirements to educate special needs children and respect attendance boundaries, that you and all the other pro-charter/pro-voucher crowd hold a "press conference" publicity stunt at the entrance of the UTLA building with the full intention of smearing the teachers' union?

I've followed your career President Garcia, and there was a time when you were progressive, for the community, and would have stood against corporate interests. What happened to that person?!?

Yesterday, by every form of innuendo, insinuation, and lies of omission did Veronica Melvin and Maria Casillas attempt to assign guilt by association to the hard working women and men who teach in our communities. For you, as President of the Board, and your colleague, the Vice President of the Board to speak following those wild accusations without question or qualification is unconscionable!

Maria Casillas used the phrase "el pecado mortal," in reference to the disgusting lie on the flyer. Having been a bi-lingual catechist teacher for over 12 years, I'm very familiar with the phrase and am in total agreement with her on the grave nature of those that would lie in order to prey on the fears of undocumented peoples. I'll go further, since she seemingly forgot a key phrase from the Acto Penitencial: "obra y omisiĆ³n." What went unsaid, and what was omitted at yesterday's press conference would also qualify as a mortal sin, and your group stands guilty of the most vile slander against the courageous individuals who educate the children in our communities.


Advocating Public Education

Robert D. Skeels

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

First thoughts on today's shameless press conference by the pro-charter/voucher establishment

"Improving education is not the goal. Privatization is the goal... Private interests are just that – private." -- Bruce A. Dixon (Managing Editor, "Black Agenda Report")

Defend our communities from the corporate charter fear campaign led by Alliance for a Better Community
Defend our communities from the corporate charter fear campaign led by Alliance for a Better Community
At no point during the event did any of the pro-charter/voucher establishment make it clear that the flyer didn't originate from UTLA! Lies of omission are lies nonetheless.

Let's be clear, today's press conference was called as a desperate attempt to move the focus off some corporate charters' bad faith negotiating with LAUSD Superintendent Cortines over Special Education. With little to no community support for corporate charters, and many charters making themselves look very, very bad by rejecting and fighting the resolution's requirements to educate special needs children and respect attendance boundaries, they are now wont to try and focus the blame on the hard working teachers of UTLA! This is an obvious smear campaign, and cannot be allowed to go unchallenged.

While the content of the flyer in question is deplorable, the fact that at no time during the press conference did any speaker mention the flyer did not come from UTLA, is not associated with UTLA in any way, nor does it represent UTLA's position in any fashion, is just as despicable. ABC's Executive Veronica Melvin made every effort to suggest UTLA was somehow guilty by association. Worse still was Maria Casillas, President of FIS, who asserted "unions need to monitor their own people," clearly trying to place the blame for some rogue individual squarely on organized labor.

To have two prominent school board members then follow these NGO executives, and not call out the previous two speakers' obvious innuendo and lies of omission is unconscionable! Board President Garcia went as far as to suggest certain organizations (standing at the UTLA entrance) were violating civil rights! We activists in the social justice movement understand Garcia, Flores-Aguilar, and the 501c3 executive crowd owe a great debt to the corporate benefactors backing them financially, but today's smear campaign was way beyond the pale.


Please look forward to an expanded report on this time permits.

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Defend teachers from the corporate charter smear campaign Tuesday 11-10-09

Save public schools from the lies and anti-teacher smears by The Alliance for a Better Community!All out mobilization Tuesday, November 11, 2009 09:45am at the

UTLA Building
3303 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90010

Protest the pro-corporate, anti-community, and anti-labor press conference tomorrow being held by Green Dot's LAPU/Parent Revolution, LAUSD VP Yolie Flores Aguilar, LAUSD President Monica Garcia, The Alliance for a Better Community, and other CMO/Corporate Charter/Voucher establishment spokespersons to keep them from spreading vicious unsubstantiated lies against teachers and social justice advocates!

All claims made by The Alliance for a Better Community, which works in conjunction with Green Dot's LAPU/Parent Revolution and several other pro-charter, pro-privatization groups, that UTLA is deceiving parents with scare tactics are patently false. Sadly, since revealing facts and telling the truth about corporate charters alone are considered scare tactics by those who would privatize our public schools system, there is much confusion.

With little to no community support for corporate charters, and charters making themselves look very, very, bad since they are rejecting and fighting the resolution's requirements to educate special needs children and respect attendance boundaries, they are now wont to try and focus the blame on the hard working teachers of UTLA! This is an obvious smear campaign, and cannot be allowed to go unchallenged. If Yolie Flores Aguilar and Monica Garcia had been waging an undeclared war against our impoverished communities and organized labor to this point, then this is their outright declaration!

We need everyone with daytime availability to show up before 10:00am at the UTLA building and let these privatizers know their attempts to smear UTLA will not stand. As luck has it, I work on the next block, so I will be there to support all of you. It is unconscionable that they would stoop to this level, but since all they have on their side is ideology, this isn't surprising.

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Friday, November 06, 2009

The Socialist Perspective on School Reform - 11/21/09

Join the struggle against Green Dot's Corporate Charter-Voucher Onslaught"School reform" is one of the most overused phrases in the media these days. To the Obama administration and the corporate interests wanting to dismantle public education, "school reform" means attacking teachers' unions, increasing standardized testing, and handing schools over to unaccountable Charter Management Organizations.

But to us, truly reforming our schools would mean giving them all the funding they need for beautiful school buildings, small class sizes, educational materials, and engaging field trips. It would mean putting teachers and parents in control of running their schools in the best interests of students, and getting rid of the bureaucrats and mandates that try to control education from the top down.

"School reform" has a dual meaning because education itself has two sides under capitalism. It's used to reproduce class inequalities by training a few to be managers and the rest of us to work for them. But as people come together to be educated, we also begin to think about reaching our full potential and liberating ourselves. That's why education has always been a location of conflict and struggle in our society.

Come to this meeting to discuss how the fight for truly liberatory education is linked to the fight for a socialist society run democratically in the interests of the many rather than the few!

featuring speakers
Gillian Russom and David Rapkin, UTLA and ISO

This event is part of the
2009 Southern California Socialist Conference
Saturday, November 21, 2009 from 1:30—3:00pm
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=198934026139

USC Taper Hall of Humanities (THH)
3501 Trousdale Parkway
Los Angeles, CA 90007

http://socalsocialism.org/
lacityiso@yahoo.com
(310) 404-1738

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It's Not the Refrom Plan That's at Risk, It's the Kids! — Professor Ralph E. Shaffer

"If this study shows anything, it shows that we've got a two-to-one margin of bad charters to good charters, that's a red flag." -- Margaret E. Raymond (Director Stanford Center for Research on Education Outcomes CREDO 2009)

Support Parents and UTLA against LAUSD and Green Dot's corporate charter cash cowsHow long does it take the Times editorial board to realize that not all change is reform?

For several years the Times has been the major exponent of charterizing the Los Angeles Unified School District. Whether Mesmerized by the charismatic leader of Green Dot or influenced by the strong pro-charter stance of a local billionaire who may someday own the Times, the paper has become the most outspoken cheerleader for turning dozen, or hundreds, of LAUSD schools over to the charter privateers.

Even though unacceptable acts by charter activists were so egregious that Times editorial writers had to scold them, the editorial board continues to support the dismantling of LAUSD by giving new schools to charter entrepreneurs and turning over existing schools to them as well.

Readers of Monday's editorial, "Policy skirmishing puts LAUSD reform at risk," [1] would have applauded had its concern about the potential scuttling of the misnamed Flores Aguilar "School Choice" plan led to an editorial conclusion that the plan was ill-advised in the first place. But the editorial betrayed LAUSD students and parents by continuing to support a phony reform that lines the pockets of charter privateers with taxpayer dollars.

More important, there is nothing about "School Choice" in the plan the board and superintendent are moving with unacceptable speed to implement. As noted by the paper's own education writer, Howard Blume, this is really a "School Control:" scam. The only "choice" is which school goes to which charter. As it now stands, Flores Aguilar will place a hundred thousand or more of the district's students under the indoctrinating control of ideologically-oriented entrepreneurs.

The Times worries that the plan is "at risk." The paper's editors ought to be worried that the kids are at risk. The editors, the op-ed staff, and the LAUSD board knew that the charter under which Locke High was turned over to Green Dot required that every Locke student would be required to DEMONSTRATE A BELIEF in capitalism. The editors knew that one charter operator requires students to stand each morning and give an oral pledge to capitalism. At that school they don't have to pledge to the flag, however.

This is the wonderful world of charter schools. The two instances cited occurred at schools run by privateers who are frequently cited by charter advocates, including the Times, as outstanding examples of what can happen under charter operation. If the teachers union formed a charter school and required the students to recite a daily homage to the working class can you imagine the outrage that would quickly grace the editorial pages of the Times?

So who is responsible for endangering the Flores Aguilar con? Those favored charter operators themselves. Why? Because they don't like a requirement that makes them enroll all the students living in the attendance area of each of the schools they are about to pilfer. And why don't charters want all those kids? The Times editorial recognized, for the first time, what the reason is. Charters want "students whose parents are informed and involved enough to enter the lotteries in the first place -- which also means that these schools attract a motivated population of students and families. Left out are many students, such as foster children, who most need well-run schools."

If charters took all the students, as a traditional LAUSD school must do, those questionable but highly touted charter test scores would plummet. Attendance problems would suddenly appear. Discipline would be comparable to the problems that existed before the charters moved in and weeded out trouble making kids.

Face it, editorial board, you've ignored the realistic criticism raised by concerned citizens - not the teachers union - for several years now. Even when in your own editorial you recognize what is wrong with the charter movement and why it cannot replicate the unsubstantiated claims that charter advocates put forth, you stand firm in your naive belief that charters, not genuine reform within the LAUSD, is the answer to the district's problems.

Ralph E. Shaffer, long-time charter critic whose op-eds are shuffled off to [the Los Angeles Times'] Blowback or Dust Up, is Professor Emeritus of History at Cal Poly Pomona.


NOTES
[1] http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-ed-lausd2-2009nov02,0,3883858.story

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