Thursday, September 30, 2010

Debating Far Right Charter Voucher Supporters on Education Issues

Bill Grundfest, a disciple of Ludwig von Mises' Austrian Economics, and one of the most vocal founders of Los Angeles Parents Union (LAPU)/Parent Revolution debated several social justice advocates and public school teachers on education issues on Wednesday night.

Here is the radio show recording.

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For those unfamiliar with this corporate charter voucher school spokesperson, and bosom buddy of Marco Petruzzi and Ben Austin, the following article provides a good background:

Billy the Big Bad Bully for Corporate Charter-Voucher Charlatans

Defend Public Schools from Corporate Charter Voucher Charlatans
Thoughts on the conversation

The radio show debate was very interesting. Mr. Grundfest is actually less combative verbally than when writing. While there were deep, fundamental disagreements between himself and all the other callers (myself including), the conversation didn't devolve into name calling, except when Grundfest discussed with much vitriol the UTLA president A.J. Duffy, and education luminary Dr. Diane Ravitch. Grundfest seemed taken aback that callers were able to rebut all of his arguments with ease, and were better versed in statistics than he was. He became very quiet when points about parents having even less power in charter-voucher schools were brought to the fore. It seemed as if in all his railing against the deficiencies of LAUSD (they are myriad), he hadn't considered the alternative is worse. He also needs to read about what tenure really is, instead of listening to the Ann Coulter/Ben Austin/Glen Beck explanation.

If Grundfest wasn't counter-posing privatization to LAUSD he would find me aligned on many points. Funny how the right wingers think they are alone in criticizing bureaucracy — social justice advocates and teachers would also rather see that money being spent in classrooms! Where we differ is that he is only critical of LAUSD administrators making big salaries, but when Anna Ponce, Judy Burton, or Marco Petruzzi make a quarter million a year, then there's no discussion from Grundfest of how that money should be "used for kids." On the left, we're consistent on our message, let's have the money go into the classrooms, whether in public schools or charter-voucher schools. We don't think public school administrators should be getting rich at the expense of children, and we certainly see the obscenity of poverty pimps like Geoffrey Canada making more than a half a million a year, while countless NYC public schools languish broke.

Grundfest was also surprised to learn that I was not in a union, which completely took the air out of his mantra: "this is only unions against parents." He was further surprised when I told him about how I would leave my house two hours early during the WGA strike to help the Writers Guild members picket Paramount Studios before I would go to work in the mornings. Grundfest is a member of the WGA himself. I explained that I support the rank and file of every union, because I believe all workers deserve protection from their capricious employers, doesn't matter if it's WGA, UTLA, ILWU or the NBA Players Association.

While I'm sure we'll continue to have heated debates with Grundfest, I'll give him credit for one thing: at least he is willing to debate the social justice crowd on education issues!

Cowardly Duncan, Broad, Rhee, Gates, Oprah, and all of their proxies like Ben Austin, Gabe Rose, and Davis Guggenheim avoid direct debates with public education advocates precisely because know they can't win the debate. The huge corporate privatization forces and their media outlets are excluding the left from this discussion precisely because they know communities and parents trust teachers. They know that working people naturally know that it is Wall Street, not public school teachers that are to blame. After all teachers are the ones that have dedicated their lives to helping children, not hedge fund managers and so-called philanthropists. Funny how the corporate lackies in the DLC/DFER crowd consistently say you cannot save public education by throwing money at it [1], but as soon as one of their privatized charter voucher schools are in trouble, they throw money at it, and lots of it! Mike Piscal is laughing all the way to the bank, while the taxpayers have been fleeced again.

If the so-called edreform crowd was really interested in improving education they would work with us instead of against us. Unfortunately they are only interested in profiting from what could be the very last of the public commons.

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NOTES
[1] http://www.parentrevolution.org/index.php/blog/entry/in_support_of_last_weeks_protests/

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1 comment:

A Teacher In The Bronx said...

Excellent! Thank you so much for participating.