Dear Governor Elect Brown:
One of the first things you can do to help the people of our beleaguered California is help restore balance to the State Board of Education. Please consider removing recent appointees Ben Austin and Alan Arkatov, both of whom are employed by the charter-voucher school sector, and neither of which have any substantial background in education.
The distinguished Ralph Shaffer, Professor Emeritus, History at Cal Poly Pomona, makes a cogent case for a generalized reason why these appointees should be denied:
We need to remove the monopoly grip charter schools have on the state board of education. There’s probably no more powerful, and certainly no more successful, lobby in California than that which promotes the interests of charter schools. Consider the biographies of those currently serving on the state board. Four of the nine are deeply involved in charters. That’s why they are on the board. The governor has just appointed two more charter advocates – one of whom has been the head cheerleader for the most powerful charter school corporation in the state, if not the county. Charters have no more than 5% of California’s students, yet with these appointments they will have a lock hold on the board. Who will speak for the overwhelming majority of our students, the 95% of our kids that the state board is slighting with its rush to expand charters, who already are draining the state education budget to the tune of a billion dollars a year.
We need a State Board of Education that represents the people of California, not an exclusive club of wealthy executives that operates essentially as an extension of the California Charter School Association. The lucrative charter-voucher industry has too many ways it can manipulate and game the system as it is. They shouldn't hold the State Board of Education hostage as well. For too long have corporations held all the reins of power in California, this is an opportunity to give some power back to the people.
Advocating Public Education
Robert D. Skeels