Tuesday, March 30, 2010

California's Number One Enemy of Public Education Nominated for the State Board of Education


Only Schwarzenegger would nominate a charter profiteer who has an open case (City Ethics Case # 2010-36) with the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission to the SBE

Report Green Dot's Ben Austin on the City Ethics Commission Complaint Form OnlineThe Beverly Hills Barrister, Ben Austin, showed his true colors once again when he refused to support the parents of Animo Justice — desperate for help regarding their now closing Green Dot school. Ben Austin's incredible mendacity is matched only by his epic opportunism. So much for corporate CMO charter "parent empowerment," when parents in his own organization needed Austin most, he did what he does best — looked out for himself and his own well heeled interests. We need to contact our State Senators and demand neither of these snake oil salesmen Ben Austin nor Alan Arkatov be confirmed. Both of these individuals have made a fortune at the public trough, neither have contributed to the public good. It's reprehensible and repugnant to see these slick opportunistic politicians have garnered nominations for such an important post.

L.A. charter school supporters Austin and Arkatov nominated to state school board


Monday, March 29, 2010

¿Que queremos? ¡Justicia! ¿Cuando que queremos? ¡Ahora! Animo Justice community marches and descends on Green Dot Public [sic] Schools headquarters

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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Open letter to Prof. Shaffer on Ánimo Justice - ¡Tenemos el Animo Pero No Justicia!

Green Dot promised us a quality education and a democratic school where our voice counts, so why is our school being shut down with no parent and student say?" — Animo Justice Parent

"Everything we do from now moving forward, will be to expose all of Green Dot's lies and everything they lied to us and to our parents." — Animo Justice Student

Stand by students, parents, and community — keep Animo Justice open, no more school closures!Ralph Shaffer is Professor Emeritus of History at Cal Poly Pomona. Prof. Shaffer has been writing the candidates for the State of California, Superintendent of Public Instruction trying desperately to get them to take action, or at the very least, a stand on Green Dot's monumental announcement to shutter Animo Justice. He is also trying to get the charter-voucher friendly press to write more honest stories on this front. In an effort to inform his inquiry and help him ask the most pointed questions possible, I sent him this open letter.

Prof. Shaffer:

Let me suggest any inquiry into Animo Justice take into consideration that it was the only school with sufficient ELL and Special Education resources, both in the Green Dot universe, and in that attendance boundary (Jefferson excepted). This is critical in understanding the gravity of the closure. All those I spoke to said Animo Justice had been a CMO "experiment" to prove that they could serve similar populations to public schools, while still paying astronomical salaries to their executives, and running schools in their trademark heavy handed top down fashion. It was going to serve as a bastion against corporate charter critics to say that they weren't "skimming," and could educate every child.

Sadly for the families and community Green Dot supposedly serves, the experiment effected Green Dot's profitability. Suddenly their much ballyhooed "kids centered agenda" was jettisoned for reasons solely tied to their bottom line — the hallmark of corporate CMO charters, their "raison d'être" so to speak. One would think that a CMO with such dismal Special Ed and ELL populations in the rest of their schools would find a way to keep Animo Justice going. As for Marco Petruzzi's assertion that Animo Justice was their worst performing school, another lie. That "distinction" belongs to Animo Watts II.

When Petruzzi's letter tells distraught parents that they will be able to transfer their children to Animo Ralph Bunche, he fails to mention the school doesn't have proper facilities for those ELL and Special Education students. He also failed to mention there aren't enough seats at Animo Ralph Bunche in general for all the students at Animo Justice. Parents and students found that out when they spoke to lesser Green Dot officials last week who held a informational meeting with the Animo Justice parents.

One of the student leaders, an Animo Justice Junior who led the march to Green Dot headquarters, said there were some Green Dot officials suggesting a return to public schools for students that wouldn't be able to attend Animo Ralph Bunche or commute to another Green Dot facility. This is unconscionable, but not unexpected by any of us that have followed the rise of CMOs and the charter-voucher industry.

Also unreported was the fact that Animo Justice teachers were told a different story than that contained in Petruzzi's "public" letter announcing the school closure. The Green Dot teachers who spoke to me at the community forum held Friday in South Central Los Angeles all told me that their jobs were up in the air. Suddenly AMU is exposed as the yellow union it is — there has been no attempt save their members jobs or dignity. All of the teachers I spoke to were exceptionally young, another feature of CMO style cost savings.

The energy and militancy of the Animo Justice families at Friday night's forum was something to behold. I was awed and humbled by people trying their best to give their children optimal opportunities. I was also warmly received by Green Dot students, parents, and teachers who not only enthusiastically applauded my speech, but many spoke to me after the event and several even obtained my contact information.

Noticeably absent from the meeting? Shirley Ford, Ben Austin, Gabe Rose, and all the other so-called "Parent Revolution" executives. Here was a forum specifically tailored to their mission statement, and they failed these families since they were not there. Clearly, their "parent empowerment and advocacy" begins with and ends with hostile takeovers and conversions of public schools to charters. The parents on Friday night needed the Green Dot founded, Ben Austin run advocacy group there to support them. LAPU/Parent Revolution, like Green Dot, left these Animo Justice parents and the community with nothing but empty rhetoric, outrageous lies, and broken promises.

Green Dot should be forced to keep the school open, or at the very least, pay LAUSD to transform it into a real public school that will serve the needs of its population. If corporate CMO charters want to abdicate their responsibility to educate every child, then there should be a heavy price for their executives and billionaire backers to pay. Animo Justice is proof positive that the dearth of laws managing charter operation have failed us, and that publicly funded institutions should not be exempted from public oversight and scrutiny. In addition to implementing oversight laws, the law should be changed where charter renewal petitions occur annually instead of every five years — it's the only way to avoid more tragedies like Animo Justice.

Robert D. Skeels


Friday, March 26, 2010

LA Times writes a story on a Marshall Tuck's PLAS school and then pins blame on LAUSD?

Marshall Tuck was a failure at Green Dot and now he is a failure at PLAS!New depths have been plumbed by the voucher-charter happy publication on 1st Street.

In "A lesson about speaking up" Mr. Hector Tobar writes a deservedly critical piece on one of Marshall Tuck, Ryan Smith, and Antonio Villaraigosa's monstrosities and then squarely blames LAUSD without mentioning it's a PLAS school. Mr. Tobar would have been well served looking up even a modicum of information about what he writes about. As a journalistic courtesy, here's your research:

Markham Middle School: The Partnership for Los Angeles Schools

Truth is Marshall Tuck was a failure at Green Dot Public [sic] Schools and now he is a failure at PLAS. Why Tuck is allowed near schools just might be the great mystery of this epoch.

What's next, blame public schools and UTLA for Animo Justice's closure? Maybe charter sycophant Steve Lopez can pen a fluff piece blaming CSEA and myself for Animo Film & Theatre Arts' demise? LAUSD gets enough wrong on its own without taking the blame for Villaraigosa and Tuck's epic failures.

Shameful at best Los Angeles Times, but we've come to expect such coverage.

With indescribable astonishment

Robert D. Skeels


More Arne Duncan mendacity, elitism, and cronyism on display

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Time for corporatist Arne "Katrina Schadenfreude" Duncan to step down from DOE.

Linda Darling-Hammond should have been SOE right from the start.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

UdB and Parents Host Community Forum on School Closures

Community Forum on School Closures. It is time we demand justice!

Special thanks to Social Justice Educator Jose Lara for passing this information on!

Fremont, Menlo, Animo Justice, All school that will be closing down this year. Join Union del Barrio as we unite with parents and students to discuss why is this happening and what we can do about it. It is time we demand justice!!!!


Central Falls Teachers Union Rally

[Click if you can't view the video]


A Call To Action From a Concerned Parent

This open letter from an anonymous parent in the Valley was sent to all social justice minded activists in order to spread awareness and agitate people to action!

Educate Every Child! It's that simple.I am a public school father. I have a child in Special Education and a child in General Education. I have received papers from a source at my elementary school that glaringly reveal the plans and completely callous attitude towards our Special Needs program in the public schools by Superintendent Ramon Cortines. The documents are damning for so many reasons. The planned changes show a complete lack of preparation and thought. The plans illustrate the desperation of LAUSD to cut costs at all costs. It seems that there is one thing that has been conveniently left out of all of the proposed cuts. That would, of course, be any thought for our children. 

I spent 40 minutes on the phone with Cheryl Krohn. She is the Head of the Special Education Dept. in District 1. After explaining my concerns she took me through the reality of the situation and it is even worse than I had previously stated. Ramon C. Cortines, The Superintendent of LAUSD has mandated that District 1 and 2 close 64 Special Ed classes. These districts make up the valley. They had originally been told to close 27 in District 1 and 22 in District 2 and Cortines has added to that number. More will probably be added. Pink slips have already gone out. As a matter of fact Ms. Krohn informed me that she (the head of district 1) had received a pink slip as well. 

Ms. Krohn told me that when she was mandated to close 27 classrooms she voiced her concerns to her superiors. She said that "she didn't know how she could do it" and that "she thought it was crazy." Her superiors told her that the per class Norm had to be increased. The only exception was autism. That exception has since been lifted. In fact, she informed me that in the fall there will be an Autistic class in a high-school in her district with 19 students in it. I told her this was a human rights violation. She did not object to that statement. She said that LAUSD is in a crisis and that the way we look at public education will change. She anticipates much forced retirement and attrition in the field of special education in the coming year. This is a disaster in the making. Actually it is a disaster.

There has been a reluctance from LAUSD officials to write about this for fear that parent groups and attorneys will have time to intervene. Officials at the schools are obviously very concerned. The school officials I have spoken with have eloquently voiced their concerns to downtown and have received only obligatory replies. There is a mention of busing in these documents. In an email from Cheryl Krohn it states that the children will be bused to “appropriate alternative locations”. Pressing for further information, school officials verbally voiced their deep concern about the children in their special needs program and about where they would go. LAUSD simply stated that "they had no plans as of yet" and that the only certainty is that "they would be bused." I am also told there has been pressure to deny service and to move children that are not ready from Special Education into General Education. This completely irresponsible act will not only endanger these special needs children but also take up valuable time from an already overtaxed teacher giving her less time and resources to teach her "typical" children.

In an already heavily weighted IEP system these changes will certainly be disastrous. Lower income and ESL (English as a Second Language) parents who are already wildly unrepresented will surely be completely lost now. Getting services to special needs children must be a priority. LAUSD continues to think like bean counters without any thought about our children. This is a human rights emergency. We need these people to understand that these cuts border on child abuse. We need these people to understand that early education and special needs services are paramount to the futures of these children and to our nations future. We need them to realize that paying for 15 years of services for special needs children will save them from taking care of a large majority of them for 60+ years. That giving them this precious help in their formative years will give them the strength to become vibrant contributing adults. We're not just talking Autism here, which effects 1 out of 70 boys. Special Education includes a wide range of conditions including ADD, ADHD, and Down Syndrome to name a few. 

This is a call to action! Let's be very noisy about this. We can't let this stand. Call and write Ramon Cortines and let him know that arbitrary cuts to special ed programs are not acceptable. They are, brick by brick, dismantling everything that has been built since the landmark Chanda Smith Decision. Please help me bring this story out and try and change things. We can't let this happen to our kids and the people who are dedicated to helping them.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Press Release.
March 23, 2010
By Leonard James Martin
Candidate for the State of California, Superintendent of Public Instruction 2010

Leonard J. Martin for Superintendent of Public InstructionLeonard J. Martin, candidate for State Superintendent of Public Instruction

This week's announcement that the corporate giant in the charter school business will close a Los Angeles high school reveals the folly of running public schools like a business. Yet that is exactly what charter advocates, including the leaders of Green Dot, insist is the key to successfully "operating" public schools in Los Angeles, and elsewhere.

Like an employer closing a branch plant to save money, Green Dot decided to close one of its many "subsidiaries" in L.A. That decision was taken without input from those most affected by the closure: students, teachers and parents. Instead, the self-appointed, unelected corporate board at Green Dot made that decision behind closed doors.

How often we see the same ruthless approach in the business world as one large corporation after another shuts its doors, putting great numbers of employees out of work without adequate notice or an opportunity to offer input, all for the sake of the bottom line.

Kids are not a commodity. Green Dot has not learned that but it is true. Billionaire-financed "educational" corporations should not be allowed to interrupt a child's schooling. When Animo Justice closes at the end of the academic year, kids in grades 9-11 will be set adrift. Was this part of the "contract" that parents and kids signed when they entered the school?

There is a simple solution. The governing board that granted Green Dot the right to organize this school - the Los Angeles Unified School District - should add Animo Justice to the list of 30 schools that have already been turned over to others to run, primarily to teachers. In this case, give the school to those most involved in the education process at Animo - the kids, their parents and their teachers.

Short of that, the school board should refuse to approve the closing of the school and should force Green Dot to continue operating it, even at a loss. But that would punish the kids more than it would punish Green dot.

Leonard J. Martin
for the State of California, Superintendent of Public Instruction 2010


P.O. Box 802888
Santa Clarita, California 91380-2888


A REAL Parent and Student Revolution brewing at Corporate Green Dot CMO Charter Schools

"Everything we do from now moving forward, will be to expose all of Green Dot's lies and everything they lied to us and to our parents." — Animo Justice Student

The ultimatum is at odds with Green Dot's principles, which call for teacher input into critical decisionsJudy Riemenschneider

Steve Barr's corporate charter-voucher establishment in Los Angeles, like all EMO/CMO factory schools with their unelected and unaccountable boards, have been a paradigm of parent and community disenfranchisement. &mdash Robert D. Skeels

Is there a PARENT TRIGGER for this?

Green Dot Public [sic] Schools' Marco Petruzzi recently announced that they were doing what all investment bankers, hedge fund managers and Corporate CEOs do when the aren't realizing high profitability, the closure of Animo Justice. Since children are mere commodities to the hedge fund manager and investment banker logic of individuals like Marco Petruzzi, Steve Barr, Gabe Rose, and Ben Austin, this is a sad extension of their business principles.

Think "parent advocate" Ben Austin will sweep in to rescue these parents from a lack of "adult accountability" and "mismanaged bureaucracy?" Wasn't it Petruzzi and Austin that came up with the farcical "give us three years and we'll give you a great school" motto? Is this an example of parent power? Is this what Yolie Flores Aguilar, inc. means by high performing charters? Is this what Ben Austin refers to as "a kid centered agenda?"

Downsizing. Corporate values through and through. As Social Justice Educator Jose Lara says "Welcome to the business model."

In Green Dot to close Justice Charter High School Howard Blume mentions Animo Film & Theatre Arts will probably be the next to "go out of business."

However, parents and students of the school aren't taking the shocking announcement by the well heeled corporate executives sitting down. Instead of posturing and misappropriating the language of revolutionary resistance, like corporate hack Ben Austin constantly does, these real Green Dot parents and Green Dot students are taking real direct action!

We in the social justice community fully support the students, parents, activists, and community members trying to prevent school closures!

Here's a quote from one of the organizers:

Today, over 400 students participated in a sit-in that lasted nearly 5 hours, culminating in a walk out, where press covered the action. Students are protesting the blatant disrespect Green Dot has shown them, their families, and their entire communities by promising to provide them a quality education and democratic schools, only to shut down the school at the end of this school year, with students and parents having absolutely NO say in the decision. For those who don't know, Animo Justice is the ONLY school in the Green Dot Jefferson cluster that accepts English Language Learners and the school with the 2nd highest proportion of students with IEPs in all of GD. Hmm ... sounds a bit like creaming the crop to me....

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Wasn't it Green Dot's David Ha that insisted that every Green Dot Public [sic] School had a huge waiting list since Green Dot offered "school choice?" How does that explain Green Dot closing schools due to low attendance? Then again, he also said Milton Freidman was widely respected, so we can understand his utter confusion.

Note to charters: children are not a commodity! Tell the greedy executives at this corporate CMO to keep Animo Justice open. On top of sucking up our tax dollars, Green Dot Public [sic] Schools get millions of extra dollars from the Waltons, Broads, and Gates. They are only closing to raise profitability and target other schools. I hope Arne "Katrina Schadenfreude" Duncan is watching, because this is what their corporate schools model inevitably leads to. Oh yeah, that's what he wants.

Pedagogy not profit!

More on this soon...


Sunday, March 21, 2010

An Afternoon with Diane Ravitch - At UCLA!

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

"[T]here should be no education marketplace." — Diane Ravitch (celebrated education professor and author)

Celebrated education historian, research professor, and author Diane RavitchAn Afternoon with Diane Ravitch
Monday, April 12, 2010
4:00 - 6:00 pm
Grand Horizon Room
Covel Commons, UCLA campus
405 Hilgard Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90095

The celebrated education historian, research professor, and author Diane Ravitch will be discussing her recent book entitled The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education. She will also engage in a conversation with Professor Mike Rose, and take questions from the audience.

Given the scale of misinformation and propaganda disseminated by the false education reformers in Los Angeles, particularly anti-labor billionaire Eli Broad and his proxy organizations like the thoroughly astroturf "Parent Revolution," having a real education expert in Los Angeles to speak truth to power is something not to be missed.

Schools Matter's Jim Horn had this to say about the Ravitch tour:

Thanks to Ravitch, the truth has just gone mass market (most likely NYTimes Bestseller List), and nothing could be sweeter than the squirming among the corporate leeches and snake oil salesmen who have taken public education to the brink of destruction.

RSVP Required

For directions to the UCLA campus, please use the following link: http://bit.ly/7McgLI. Parking for event attendees is available in Sunset Village (SV) parking structure at $10 per car. For parking information and event location, please go to: http://bit.ly/6V0SJq.

Please direct all inquiries to Alexander Pierson, UCLA GSE&IS Office of Development & Alumni Affairs at (310) 206-0375, or via e-mail at apierson@support.ucla.edu.

Presented by
UCLA School Management Program (SMP)
UCLA Education Alumni Association
UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Studies (GSE&IS)


Jose Lara 0103 Video Blog [March15 Empty Chairs, Diane Ravitch, Obama's "post NCLB"]

[Click if you can't view the video]


Root for Ed O'Bannon to upset the NCAA

UCLA BruinsDave Zirin, an east coast comrade has written a very important piece entitled Root for Ed O'Bannon to upset the NCAA about exploitation of the NCAA's student athletes. While exploitation is part and parcel the capitalist system, under which the hardened heel we live, the wanton exploitation discussed in Dave's piece is worth pondering.

I shared a history class with Ed O'Bannon when I had the great fortune of attending UCLA. The next year saw the Bruin's return to glory with a national championship — words can't describe how exciting it was to be a student there during that time. I wish Ed O'Bannon and all the athletes struggling for justice victory against the corporate forces that exploit them. ¡Venceramos!


Money for Schools not for War!

Money for Schools not for War!

Money for Schools not for War! One would think if the Parent Revolution (née Los Angeles Parents Union) was really concerned about children and schools, that they'd be out marching along with us. Recently Gabe Rose, one of LAPU/PR's haughty executives, suggested that there just isn't any money available for public education — to which I replied:

You live in a country that spends billions monthly on overseas military occupations, and has trillions to give out to investment bankers and hedge fund managers. You live in a state where the rich and corporations pay a lower tax rate than the lowest income quintile of tax payers, a state where oil companies don't pay a penny in extraction taxes. Can you honestly say a world where public education is fully funded is a "perfect fantasy world?" If we merely raised the tax rate on upper quintile which includes the CCSA's wealthy backers to the same a the lowest quintile of taxpayers in the state, there would be a bountiful budget surplus.

A real "Parent Revolution" would march against the war and demand that every penny spent on war and occupation be spent on schools and education instead. Since LAPU/PR is an astroturf instead of a grass roots organization, that'll never happen.


From Our Eyes - Stories and Photos From South Central Residents

A close friend asked me to post this.


San Patricios - The Irishmen Who Died For Mexico

Please share this with others! On this Saint Patrick's Day, we must remember the powerful connection that we as Mexicans have with the brave people of Ireland! Just like we have been victims of colonization and imperialism, so have the Irish. Just how today we are fighting here in Occupied Mexico for the liberation of our homeland, so are the Irish in Ireland! When US Imperialism was attacking us and stealing our land, the brave Irishmen who became known as the San Patricios, stood on the right side of history and joined with us, the oppressed/colonized peoples. Not only did they join our side in principle, they joined us and took up arms with us as comrades! They paid a very heavy price for their decision to join us in the struggle so we must forever remember and recognize their valiance and their actions. We have much to learn from this beautiful example of unity!

Vivan los San Patricios! Viva la solidaridad internacional! Viva Mexico y Irlanda libre!

Ron Gochez
Social Justice Educator/Community Organizer


Tuesday, March 09, 2010

ISO*LA Meeting: Challenging Capitalism's Education Agenda

"A deepened consciousness of their situation leads people to apprehend that situation as an historical reality susceptible to transformation." — Paulo Freire

ISO*LA Meeting: Challenging Capitalism's Education Agenda
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
7:00pm - 8:30pm
United Teachers Los Angeles* (UTLA)
*UTLA is neither a sponsor nor endorser of this event
3303 Wilshire Blvd Room 814
Los Angeles, CA 90010
[Map] [facebook] [iCal]

Resisting Budget Cuts, School Privatization, and CMO corporate chartersMarch 4 represents a historic step forward in the fight against budget cuts and for fully funded public education. Students and teachers, community members and workers from across the system of public colleges, universities and pre-K-12 schools are now fighting together for all of our futures.

We must fight back against these cuts in the here and now with boldness and determination, but we must also come together to develop long-term strategies to force those in power to fund our schools. Our unions must become social justice organizations, ready and willing to use every weapon in their power to take on our enemies. Our coalitions must lead the way with our vision of authentic school reform and our demand for the resources that will begin to shift the balance in favor of public schools.

We can be under no illusions. From the White House to the State House to LAUSD and beyond, the agenda coming from the top is clear: cut public education to the bone, attack unions that could mount a fight and propose genuine reform, and replace the system with charter schools and private institutions that serve the interests of big corporations, not the public.

Profound inequality is the hallmark of education under capitalism at all times, but especially in times of economic crisis poor and working class youth, and especially students of color, are made to suffer in underfunded schools and are forced to drop out as fees rise beyond their reach. The struggle for excellent, liberatory education for ordinary people around California, the US, and the world requires that we challenge the entire system that guarantees that our children are always the ones who will be left behind in the race for wealth and profit.

Contact: lacityiso@yahoo.com (626)-375-2873

International Socialist Organization * Los Angeles


Saturday, March 06, 2010

March 4 Day of Action to Save Public Education Videos

The energy and militancy of the nationwide March 4 Day of Action to Save Public Education protests was encouraging. Here's a video I shot and one Jose Lara shot from the day of in downtown Los Angeles. Whose streets? Our streets!

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Be sure to check out my photos from the protest, Socialist Worker's brilliant coverage, and this Labor Notes article.

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Be sure to check out Social Justice Educator and Community Activist Jose Lara's videoblog.

Bonus Video from Jose's videoblog!

"Jose Lara speaks from Downtown Los Angeles at March 4 protest and march. He interviews several educators and activists on the scene, including: Linda Guthrie, Ron Gochez, Mike Gonzalez, nurse Yvonne Familara, Barnaby Shepherd and Olmeca speaking truth of power."

[Click if you can't view the video]


Thursday, March 04, 2010

March 4, 2010: While we protest budget cuts today, LAPU/PR's Ben Austin is in Denver pushing privatization plans for corporate charters

"Soviet style elections" — Ben Austin in response to parents and communities choosing community school plans over corporate charters.

Report Green Dot's Ben Austin on the City Ethics Commission Complaint Form OnlineGreen Dot Public [sic] Schools/LAPU/Parent Revolution's Ben Austin sent out a letter a week or so ago boasting about a March 4, 2010 Denver trip where he and fellow voucher-charter privatizer Shirley Ford would speak at an event and meet with his fellow rich corporate elitists. If the Austin cared even a little about children and education, then why isn't he and his organization on the forefront of the March 4th Day of Action demonstrations?

The scale of the budget cuts in the richest state in the country are unconscionable. Their drastic impact on Community College, CSU, and UC students are only outweighed by the vicious cuts to K-12.

What kind of "Parent Revolution" only concerns itself with privately held charter schools and could care less about the hundreds of thousands of children in public schools? What kind of "Parent Revolution" could care less about inflated class sizes, mass layoffs, less resources, eliminated after school programs, and so much more? I suppose a "Parent Revolution" funded by billionaires, with the sole purpose of school privatization could care less, and that's precisely what Ben Austin heads up.

Avaricious Austin is all about the money, his actions demonstrate time and time again that he doesn't care about children, students, or education!


Jose Lara - Republican Education Plan: Same as the Democratic one

Support Parents and UTLA against corporate charter cash cowsJose Lara was kind enough to give me permission to reprint his excellent take on the bi-partisan right wing school privatization agenda, and how it impacts communities of color and poverty.

Dear Social Justice Educators,

I recently ran across an article in Newsweek Magazine titled, How the GOP Sees It: What Republicans would do if given carte blanche to run the country.

As the title suggests, the article was all about what Republicans would be if they were in charge.

The most interesting part of this article was the section on education where Republican authors suggest that, "Since the 1980s, Republicans have led the debate on education. They have introduced some of the most successful reform ideas for improving failing schools: increasing competition and choice, raising standards and expectations, and relying on hard data to determine what works and what doesn't."

Moreover, it goes on further to suggest that, "Education may be the one significant policy domain where the Obama agenda is winning reasonable points from a lot of Republicans."

One of the major problems in our fight against Corporate Charter Schools, Merit Pay, and School Choice is that proponents wrap these moves in the language of civil rights with no real intentions of truly advancing the civil rights of the poor or people of color. Moreover, they use tactics usually used by progressives to further their movement, such as community organizing, rallies and direct action. A prime example of this is the Green Dot Charter School Corporation's funded group "Parent Revolution."

This has confused some progressives and caring educators into viewing these "right wing" reforms are actually progressive reforms. Unknowing parents also accept these reforms because they are unsatisfied with the current school system and they should be. The truth is that for many poor and people of color, the school system IS failing.

The challenge for social Justice Educators is to reframe the debate and suggest feasible alternatives to right wing reforms now championed by Democrats. Secondly we must unmask these so-called "reform" efforts being pushed by Democrats as advancement of free-market ideology that seeks to "WalMart-ize" our educational system. In other words, rally to the cause of the slogan "My child is more than a standardized test score!" Further more we must STOP supporting Democrats just because they likely to win or support some of our lesser important issues.

We can no longer pander to Democrats.

Lastly, as we expose the truth of these false "progressive reforms," we must not forget that we MUST provide true socially just alternatives and true reforms that work. Moreover it must be in a discourse that the community can understand. If Charter schools, Merit Pay, and Closing Down poor performing schools don't work what does?

Below is the text of the Newsweek Article referenced above.



Jose Lara
Social Justice Educator
Santee Education Committee


The Fundamental Right of Self Determination' - Jose Lara speaks truth to corporate charter school power at LAUSD

After a procession of mind-numbing speeches chock full of dishonesty by wealthy CMO corporate charter executives including Marco Petruzzi, Ben Austin, and the CCSA's Jed Wallace, Jose Lara's brilliant speech in which he exhorts the corporate friendly LAUSD Board to respect our community's "fundamental right of self determination" was an exhilarating breath of honesty and integrity. Too bad Yolie Flores Aguilar, Inc. wasn't listening.

[Click if you can't view the video]

Be sure to check out Social Justice Educator and Community Activist Jose Lara's videoblog.


Wednesday, March 03, 2010

The Central Falls 93: Obama, press reset

The word “backlash” is actually being used about a so-called school reform maneuver so shortsighted and coldblooded that almost no one is speaking up in support of it — almost no one but President Obama.

Last month, all 93 members of the faculty, administration and support staff of Central Falls High school in Central Falls, R.I., were told that they’re fired as of the end of this school year.

Then, on Monday, President Obama spoke up, according to the New York Times.

“Mr. Obama said he supported the school board’s decision to dismiss the faculty and staff members. ‘Our kids get only one chance at an education and we need to get it right,’ he said.”

(Obama’s lightweight, resume-faking Secretary of Education praised the move too, but he’s not really worth devoting blogosphere bandwidth to.)

Despite the current climate in which blaming, bashing and demonizing teachers has become a comfortable and popular theme in all kinds of commentary, Obama’s remark actually seems to have provoked dismay and outrage. In the most current news article showing online as I write this, the Providence Journal uses the term “wildfire.”

“The wildfire of national debate over the mass firings at Central Falls High School spread further Tuesday, when the executive council of the AFL-CIO unanimously condemned the removal of all 93 teachers, support staff and administrators at the city’s only high school.
The executive council said its members were “appalled” that President Obama and U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan had endorsed the terminations in recent comments, and said the firings will not help the 800 students at the high school, which is one of the poorest and lowest-performing schools in Rhode Island.”

Well, I have a proposal. Those 93 teachers, support staff and administrators should get together, pull the necessary strings (which are in their reach right now while the story is hot), and request a meeting with the president — all 93 of them. If Obama could have a beer with Henry Louis Gates and that cop whose name I’ve now forgotten, surely he’s willing to spend a little time hearing the viewpoint of 93 people whom he has essentially attacked sight unseen. While it would be hospitable for him to invite them to the White House, it would be a lot classier for him to have a soothing spot of tea catered in at Central Falls High School. (And he desperately needs to show a little class right now; his supply is perilously low.) I’m sure the cafeteria has enough room to seat the Central Falls 93, Obama and his entourage.

Two years ago, it would have been impossible for me to imagine saying this, but I also propose that President Obama emulate something San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom has been doing. I’m not normally Newsom’s biggest fan, with the exception of back in February 2004 when his then-revolutionary gay marriages were spreading joy through San Francisco.

But lately, my city's mayor has been doing something admirable after being challenged by Patricia Gray, the longtime rock-star principal of San Francisco’s Balboa High School. Newsom has been spending Saturdays calling the homes of students who are chronically truant from their San Francisco public schools. The San Francisco Chronicle’s Matier and Ross political insider column wrote about this in a Jan. 31 column (not available online.)

“It has been a real eye-opener,” Newsom told the Chronicle. “In just about every case,” Matier and Ross wrote, “the family is in crisis.” In other words, truancy isn’t all the fault of inept teachers and uncaring schools after all, Newsom is learning.

At an overflowing Town Hall meeting in San Francisco, called by public-school parents to address the current budget crisis, Newsom brought up his calls (and visits) to the homes of truants, and reiterated that point quite emphatically. The truants are almost always living in households battered by the worst life can dump on them, and it’s unrealistic to expect educators to magically cure it all, and to blame them for not working miracles.

Well, if Newsom — who I never would have thought could hold a candle to Obama in depth and thoughtfulness — can accept Patricia Gray’s challenge and gain such new understanding, where’s the president?

I hope to read about that meeting in the Central Falls High School cafeteria soon.

For more on the Central Falls firings, here’s a snippet of commentary by veteran Washington Post education writer Valerie Strauss:

“…93 names were called for firing — 74 classroom teachers, plus reading specialists, guidance counselors, physical education teachers, the school psychologist, the principal and three assistant principals, according to the Providence Journal. Not one was good enough to stay.
Some of the teachers at the city's only high school cried, but the committee held firm.
It's no wonder that Education Secretary Arne Duncan applauded the move, saying the committee members were "showing courage and doing the right thing for kids."
Courage, indeed.
Now, all they have to do is find 93 excellent professionals to take their places. Recruiting the best educators should be easy, especially when you can offer them life in a very poor town and a job with no security.”

-- Guest blogger Caroline Grannan,
San Francisco public school parent and advocate