Friday, April 30, 2010

Advocating Public Education Roundup 10W17 - No School Closures

The Animo Social Justice (?) Charter is closing for no other reason than Green Dot cannot show a return on their financial investment. Skeels' - a very adept freelance forensic accountant - questioning of Petruzzi's "We don't have a rich guy...." is right on. It shows that Green Dot's rich guys are putting their eggs in more lucrative baskets - like another Green Dot school on the Westside. [Read the Billionaires Boys Club chapter in Diane Ravitch's The Death and Life of the Great American School System] — Scott M. Folsom (4LAKids)

Stand by students, parents, and community — keep Animo Justice open, no more school closures! Photo Credit O. MichaelI had a bunch of article deadlines recently, so I was very glad to see Caroline Grannan hold down the fort here with some really excellent articles and commentary. This roundup will focus on the articles pertaining to local school closures and the struggles to prevent those neoliberal "solutions."

As part of my ongoing campaign of shameless self promotion, I'll mention my articles first. In Taking on a charter school closing I cover the struggle for justice by the Ánimo Justice students against their capricious cash conscious corporate CMO. The previous piece was published the day of the big community forum on school closures and the historic march of the Ánimo Justice community all the way to Green Dot Public Schools' headquarters in luxurious World Trade Center building downtown. My write up of those two events appears in South Central protests school closures.

Jose Lara 0106 Video Blog [Fremont Reconstitution]

[Click if you can't view the video]

I really like what that one guy is saying at the 1:40 mark, especially his stance on taxing the rich.

The last article I was tied up with was about one of the most pernicious advocates of school closures and hostile take-overs by corporate charters, none other than poverty pimp and chief privatization cheerleader, Ben Austin. My exposé Political Patronage for Green Dot Public Schools’ Chief Propagandist tears the ugly mask off the hideous face of this repugnant and reprehensible privatizer.

Other coverage of these topics

Kevin Douglas Grant, senior editor of Neon Tommy wrote an excellent report about the forum in Two South LA High Schools Combine Efforts As They Fight To Save Themselves.

Scott M. Folsom liked my South Central protests school closures piece so much, he reprinted it with an introduction and some very cogent commentary following on his high profile blog 4LAKids under the title Fremont High, Ánimo/Green Dot Social Justice Charter, Menlo Adult School: SOUTH CENTRAL PROTESTS SCHOOL CLOSURES + smf’s 3¢.

Two more pieces that address the Ánimo Justice tragedy. Mike Klonsky has a good write up in It's hard to lose something you were so involved and invested in. He's actually spoken to Steve Barr and also has some great quotes from students and other people. Fred Klonsky discussed the sit-ins back in March in Green Dot's Animo Justice Charter shutting down. Students are sitting in.

José's thoughts on Fremont

I found this statement about Fremont HS so profound, I had to reprint it here.

Stand by students, parents, and community — keep Fremont HS open, no more school closures! title=

"I am in support of the teachers of Fremont because I am tired of untested education reform fads." There is absolutely NO creditable evidence that reconstitution, a process of firing all the teachers and making them reapply for their jobs, has a positive effect on the education of the students that attend that same school. I am in support of the teachers of Fremont because I am tired of untested education reform fads that do nothing to improve the education of our students, but instead threaten, intimidate, and blame the teachers for systematic problems in education created by years of neglect by LAUSD. The reality is that the reconstitution of Fremont is less about reform and more about threatening teachers into accepting untried reforms based solely on high-stakes testing that cut our contractual rights and use our students as guinea pigs for educational experience. Like with all bullies, we must stand up to the LAUSD superintendent. If we do not stop this threatening bully now, all our schools will be next. I encourage everyone to get involved with the struggle against the reconstitution of Fremont because only united, will we win! — Jose Lara (Santee Education Complex HS)

While Fremont is foremost in our minds, we also should be supporting the community at Lincoln HS, where the conniving LAUSD President Monica Garcia has schemed with some scabs including Beth Kennedy and Scott Petri to reconstitute one of the school's SLC via a loophole in the Pilot MOU. This type of class collaboration with our oppressors is unfortunate and reeks of the highest sort of opportunism outside of the realm of the privatizers.

More right wing mendacity on Ánimo Justice

Going back to the Ánimo Justice coverage. Even the mainstream press, normally sycophantic in the extreme to Green Dot Public [sic] Schools, were fairly neutral in their reporting. For a change they didn't use the occasion to cheerlead school privatization.

However, on the extreme reactionary realm of Reason, champion of Freidman's failed free market fantasies and bastion of the throughly discredited Austrian School of economics, Randite Lisa Snell [1] tries (like all ed-(de)reformers) to spin the closure in a positive light. However, her assertions, like her politics, fall flat on their face.

Snell, who is woefully uninformed on education issues to begin with, falls for reprinting Green Dot's press release in the Los Angeles Times without fact checking:

Closing Animo Justice makes sense because it has not equaled other Green Dot schools in performance... Petruzzi said. [2]

Of course Randite Snell is merely quoting Howard Blume's article which didn't vet information. However, had Snell taken the time to put aside Atlas Shrugged long enough to fact check her regurgitation of falsehoods she would have realized Ánimo Justice Charter High School actually outperforms three other, or 20% of Green Dot's local campuses. In other words, Ánimo Justice isn't even in the bottom quintile of Green Dot's perpetual bottom dwellers in terms of performance.

This coupled with Marco Petruzzi's other huge lie to the Ánimo Justice community:

We have no money. We're a nonprofit. We don't have a rich guy that gives us extra. — Marco Petruzzi

Of course they don't have "a rich guy," they have dozens! Maybe pathological liar Petruzzi used this slight nuance as a way to rationalize not counting the millions upon millions of dollars heaped on Green Dot by billionaires and their foundations including the Walton Foundation, Eli and Edythe Broad, Bill and Melinda Gates, Reed Hastings of Netflix, Donald Fisher of the Gap, and many others.

While we all know there is no honor among businessmen, lies of this magnitude do speak volumes to the type of people running charter-voucher schools. Petruzzi, Burton, Ponce, and all the other corporate vultures like Wallace, will go to any length to keep the money flowing in. Sadly, children and communities lose every time a charter-voucher school displaces a public school. The degree of mendacity and malfeasance these corporate charter-voucher school executives exhibit is nothing short of astonishing.

There has already been news that Green Dot is planning on opening two more charter-voucher schools, further proving that the entire Ánimo Justice incident is all about the money.

Jose Lara 0105 Video Blog [Animo Justice]

[Click if you can't view the video]

Be sure to visit Jose Lara's Video Blog


It wouldn't be surprising if Poverty Pimps Gabe Rose, Shirley Ford and Ben Austin turned out to be huge fans of Lisa Snell, they all share the same extreme right wing economic views. After all, the former both quote AEI, Cato, Hoover, Hudson, and other discredited right wing "think" tanks and actually talk about competition and markets as if they're a good thing!


I wanted to sneak this tidbit in: the 2006 Green Dot Educational Project 990 lists Marco Petruzzi’s insatiable former school privatization profiteering outfit — R3 School Solutions — as having raked in $141,500 of the public’s money via the Green Dot cash cow. Another win for the kids. Putting kids first. A kids centered agenda. No adult agendas here whatsoever.


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