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.

Listen to internet radio with Bronx Teacher on Blog Talk Radio

[Click if you can't view the audio player]

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.



Thursday, September 23, 2010

Trailer for The Inconvenient Truth About Waiting for Superman Released

Check out this trailer for the upcoming expose of the nefarious reactionaries behind Davis Guggenheim's privatization propaganda piece.

[Click if you can't view the video]


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Dr. Stephen Krashen - The Bad School Syndrome [1]

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

Defend Public Schools from Corporate Charter-Voucher Charlatans
Dr. Stephen Krashen and Jason Ohler

As is always the case, the recent Phi Delta Kappan/Gallup poll (PDK, September 2010) found that people rate their local schools much more positively than they do schools in the US in general.

The differences were striking: Forty-nine percent of respondents said they would give the public schools in their neighborhood a grade or A or B, but only 18% would give public schools in the nation A or B. When asked about the school their oldest child attends, 77% said they would give the school at A or B, suggesting that those who have more information about local schools rate them more highly.

How can this be so? Why do parents think their local schools are good, but at the same time think that Aermican schools in general are not good?

In his commentary, John Schnur makes the astonishing statement that this result shows that people overestimate how good their local schools are: "Parents need more, better information" (the title of his article). But parents get information of the best kind: First hand from direct experience.

In a column accompanying last year's poll, which produced nearly identical results, Gerald Bracey ("Experience outweighs rhetoric") gives a logical explanation for this phenomenon: "Americans never hear anything positive about the nation's schools," noting that "negative information flows almost daily from media, politicians, and ideologues." [2]

Parents' views of the nation's schools are thus similar to
George Gerbner's "Mean World Syndrome," the view that because of the media, people think the world is much more violent than it actually is. Gerbner argues that this phenomenon prompts a desire for more protection than is warranted by any actual threat.

Bracey's view can be characterized as the "Bad Schools Syndrome." Because of media reports, people think that schools are much worse than they really are, which prompts a willingness to allow programs to be introduced that would otherwise not be tolerated.

Bracey's many columns in the Kappan and his books provided overwhelming evidence that this negative perception of the quality of the nation's schools is undeserved, that the parents' perceptions are much closer to the truth than John Schnur's point of view.


[1] This paper is a slightly revised version of a paper published in Substances News exactly one year ago. Clearly, nothing has changed since then.

[2] Emphasis by Robert D. Skeels


Save Ethnic Studies Tour presented by Base Paulo Freire of Unión del Barrio

Base Paulo Freire of Unión del Barrio, Los Angeles Presents Save Ethnic Studies Tour

Base Paulo Freire of Unión del Barrio, Los Angeles Presents

Save Ethnic Studies Tour

Delegation of Arizona students and teachers speak out against SB 1070 and the attacks on Ethnic Studies (SB 2281).

Friday, October 1, 2010, 6:00PM

Centro Cultural Francisco Villa
2100 S. Maple Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90011

Endorsed by:
Association of Raza Educators, Los Angeles
UTLA Raza Education Committee
Southern California Immigration Coalition (SCIC)
Association of Mexican American Educators (AMAE), Santa Monica,
and many more...

For more information:


UTLA Brings Dr. Diane Ravitch to Los Angeles

UTLA Brings Dr. Diane Ravitch to Los Angeles


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Some thoughts on Rick Ayers' "An Inconvenient Superman"

"[S]ome charters are known to discourage less academically inclined students from enrolling." — Los Angeles Times

California Charter Schools Association Charlatans are a vehicle for vouchers
Rick Ayers' excellent essay entitled An Inconvenient Superman: Davis Guggenheim's New Film Hijacks School Reform
points out Guggenheim's embrace of the banking concept of pedagogy. This is first pointed out on Fred Klonsky's blog:

Waiting for Superman accepts a theory of learning that is embarrassing in its stupidity. In one of its many little cartoon segments, it purports to show how kids learn. The top of a child's head is cut open and a jumble of factoids is poured in. Ouch! Oh, and then the evil teacher union and regulations stop this productive pouring project. The film-makers betray no understanding of how people actually learn, the active and agentive participation of students in the learning process. They ignore the social construction of knowledge, the difference between deep learning and rote memorization. The film unquestioningly bows down to standardized tests as the measure of student knowledge, school success.

Here were my comments on Davis Guggenheim and this hideous portrayal of how human beings learn:

"Problem posing education does not and cannot serve the interests of the oppressor" — Paulo Freire Pedagogy of the Oppressed

But the banking system of education does, and that's why the film depicts "The top of a child's head is cut open and a jumble of factoids is poured in."

Broad, Gates, Tilson, Hastings, Fischer, and all the other nefarious funders of school privatization believe wholeheartedly in the banking system of pedagogy -- for working people of course. One of the telling symptoms of these late stages of neoliberalism is that these rulers now treat their own working class as colonial subjects.

The smug Davis Guggenheim looks down at all of us with the condescending banking notion. Smart rich white male saviors like himself will liberate us from evil teachers who might challenge us to develop critical thinking skills.

Later, when a winger tries to attribute Davis' disgusting film to white guilt, I have this to say:

My original comment had little to do with so-called white guilt, and everything to do with paternalism. Namely, what Freire calls the "the false generosity of paternalism," which the oppressor often extends to the colonized as a means of maintaining their roles.

The charter-voucher industry and their propagandists might put on an occasional liberal veneer, but underneath they're free market worshiping snake oil salesman who are making a killing gorging at the trough of pubic funds.


Friday, September 17, 2010

October 7th National Strike and Day of Action

October 7th National Strike and Day of Action!
¡7 de Octobre Día Nacional Huelga y Día de Demonstraciones!

October 7th National Strike and Day of Action - Defend Public Education and Social Services

Defend Public Education and Social Services
Para Defender Educación Publica y Servicios Sociales

Sundays 2:30PM * Domingos a 2:30PM
AFSCME Council 36 Building
514 Shatto Place, Los Angeles 90020

For More information contact
Omar Hussein
(818) 613-0146

Para Mas Información llama
Arturo Velasquez
(323) 428-5711

National Actions to Defend Public Education, October 7th 2010 – National

Education 4 the People!


Justice for Manuel Jamines!

Justice for Manuel Jamines!
Join the community tomorrow to protest the murder of Manuel Jamines. The following articles give more background:

LAPD shooting stirs residents' anger — Victor Fressie

The Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration, and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary — Dr. Danny Weil

Rally and protest information from the SCIC website:
Justice for Manuel Jamines!
Stop Killer Cops!
March and Rally
10 am Saturday, September 18th
6th St and Union

On Sunday, September 5th 2010, Manuel Jamines, a Guatemalan migrant, was shot twice in the head on a crowded street by an LAPD officer known in the community for his brutality. Frank Hernandez, the who carried out the shooting, has already been investigated for shooting an African-American woman and then again more recently for shooting an 18-year-old Latino. He has not been charged with murder or even fired, and is currently on desk duty at the 437 million Parker Center Police HQ.

Eyewitnesses from the community have come forward to expose the police cover-up and revealed that Manuel was unarmed when he was gunned down. But their testimonies were ignored by the police investigators. Shooting like this don't occur in wealthy neigborhoods—only in communities where African-Americans, Latinos and migrants live. The police is trying to cover up the anti-Latino racism tha characterizes their presence in Westlake, but the people are fed up!

District Attorner Cooley Prosecute Hernandez for Murder!
Stop Police Terror in Black, Latino, and Migrant Communities!
Stop the ICE Raids! We Demand Full Legalization!

Contact: 323-602-3480 or 213-712-0370 Dowload Flier for the this march and rally.

ANSWER's local site also has event information.


Thursday, September 09, 2010

Jose Lara Speaks Truth to Power! No more LAPD atrocities!

Noted Los Angeles activist and social justice educator José Lara discusses LAPD's cold blooded murder of Manuel Jamines with RT's Kristine Frazao.

[Click if you can't view the video]


Monday, September 06, 2010

Yet another white supremacist calls me a 'race traitor.' Don't they know that's a compliment?

White supremacist scum, like charter-voucher advocates, want a return to Jim Crow segregation
I was just looking through my YouTube account messages, and noticed an interesting response to one of my comments defending my compañero Ron Gochez from right wing filth.

YouTube user AnnihilatingAngel had this flattering thing to say to me.

@rdsathene You're a dime-a-dozen "white" liberal punk brainwashed by the Social Marxism of Frankfurt School jews. Your kind pathetically tries to attain "righteous" status by lovingly sucking the stinky asses of "oppressed immigrants and the indigenous" while betraying your own besieged, dwindling people. But the brownies - who would NEVER Judas their own kind - still hold you in the contempt you deserve.

Nobody likes or trusts a traitor. Why not end it all right now? One shot, then peace...

First and foremost, I'm a LEFTIST, not a liberal.

Notice the AnnihilatingAngel accuses me of betrayal (whatever that means) twice. If there's any doubt of AnnihilatingAngel's leanings, his YouTube homepage features a confederate flag and his friends have screen names like Bobalex88. Don't know what 88 is in supremacist speak? SPLC has an excellent Racist Skinhead Glossary.

While being called a 'race traitor' is a badge of courage amoung us social justice activists, it's especially sweet when hurled at you by white supremacists, nativists, neo-nazis, and other right wing racist reactionary filth.

I remember receiving death threats for several brief entries I've written here, like this one. Let's not forget the vitriol and death threats my An open letter to anti-immigrant groups caused.

To be sure, the battles against school privatization, institutionalized racism, and vile nativism will earn you enemies. There's even reactionary right wing kooks like the so-called edobserver blogging about me from his mom's basement while listening to the Fountainhead book-on-tape and playing with his Milton Freidman action figures. Keep that whole libertarian, anti-union, pro-privatization, racist, bigoted LAPU/PR thing going there Anthony, it sure suits you. Sounds like you've been reading a few too many Texas textbooks and fantasizing about fellow charter-voucher school cheerleader and hedge-fund manager Whitney "we need a lot more well-off, well-educated white folks" Tilson. It's no small secret that most of the DLC/DFER charter-voucher advocate camp, like white supremacist scum, want a return to Jim Crow segregation.

I take their racist attacks in stride. I can sleep at night knowing that I take principled stands and fight for my working class sisters, brothers, and the oppressed on every occasion.

¡La lucha sigue y sigue!