Thursday, December 23, 2010

Dr. Stephen Krashen - Let's pull out of Race to the Top, but not because our standards are so good

Just continue to follow the money. This Race to the Trough will make the Reading First crooks under Bush look like dopey Boy Scouts. — Jim Horn, PhD (Educator, Writer

Defend Public Schools from Corporate Charter-Voucher Charlatans
Sent to the Daily Breeze, Torrance, CA

Doug Laskin feels that Gov-elect Brown "needs to pull California out of Race to the Top" (Dec. 20) because California already has good standards and the feds' standards don't exist yet. The virtue of California's language arts standards, according to Laskin, is that they restore grammar, spelling and phonics instruction, which had been removed "by faddish theories."

The "faddish' theories were the result of decades of responsible scientific work published in major journals and books. The theories concluded that most of our ability to use grammar and phonics and most of our spelling ability is the result of reading. They also concluded that a modest amount of direct instruction in grammar, phonics, and spelling is advisable, but that these subjects should not dominate the language arts curriculum.

The evidence includes studies showing that showing that those who read more read better, have more control over complex grammar, and spell better. The evidence also includes studies of the effect of Reading First, a program based on "intensive, systematic" phonics instruction. Reading First children performed no better on tests of reading comprehension than children taught by regular methods, even though those in Reading First had more reading instructional time.

I agree with Laskin that California should pull out of Race to the Top, but not because our standards are so good. They aren't.

Stephen Krashen

Laskin article at:


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Update on the veracity of McKinley Parents for Change

"We want to keep McKinley open under new management (Celerity Educational Group)." — Parent Revolution's Gabe Rose posing as McKinley Parents for Change

LAPU-Parent Revolution's foppish millionaire from Benedict Canyon -- the mendacious Ben Austin
The bottom of the McKinley Parents for Change flyer states "You can also call 310 866 2118 to have your questions answered." Considering the certainty and conviction of the bullet points on the flyer by this newly formed, pro-Celerity "parent" group, supposedly wholly unrelated to the well paid professional staffers at the billionaire financed Parent Revolution, I figured my questions and concerns would be promptly addressed.

I left a message with my name and number for McKinley Parents for Change last night, and lo and behold Parent Revolution returned my call this morning. Yuri (not sure if I'm spelling that right, my apologies if I'm not) must not be aware of my years of investigative journalism exposing the insatiable greed of the lucrative charter-voucher industry. The poor woman couldn't answer any of my questions about Celerity's lack of compliance with the Modified Consent Decree or the State Board of Education's proposed regulations on their Corporate Charter Trigger Law, so she said she'd have Gabe Rose call me back to clarify.

She also was very helpful and explained to me that Gabe Rose played a major role in the creation of the flyer (who would have guessed), so he was the best person to explain it. So much for McKinley Parents for Change's claim that they are parents at McKinley Elementary School. I somehow doubt I'll receive that second phone call.

By definition Astroturf.

It's Yuritzy "Yuri" Anaya.


Astroturf Spawns Ever More Astroturf, Plus Parent Revolution Lies about Celerity Special Education Again!

"The idea of the parent revolution is to say fuck you." — Ben Austin [1] (Executive Director Parent Revolution)

Update on this here: Update on the veracity of McKinley Parents for Change

A 'revolution' funded by Wal-Mart and Microsoft.
The phonies, fakes, and frauds running the pernicious asto-turf Parent Revolution, which sprang fully formed from Green Dot Public [sic] Schools Los Angeles Parents Union, has spawned yet another "parent" group. The name of the new group? McKinley Parents for Change, a group whose authenticity and grassroots credibility is best summed up by Caroline Grannan's descriptive passage:

an organizing drive from within a school community does not require paid organizers to cold-call all over town, asking strangers if their children attend the school.

So what does a newly formed, pro-charter-voucher "parent" group, supposedly wholly unrelated to the highly paid staff at the billionaire financed Parent Revolution do first in the midst of the scandal Parent Revolution managed to create in Compton? They produce a flyer announcing another Ben Austin/Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa style closed town hall. You know, one of those meetings where softball questions lobbed up by charter-voucher supporters like Marlene Romero and Ismenia Guzman are answered by slick charter school marketing professionals and the foppish millionaire from Benedict Canyon. Dissenting questions and legitimate concerns by parents like Karla Garcia and Lee Finnie will be patently ignored, or worse, dismissed as supporting the mythical status quo. These corporately controlled closed town-halls are notorious for, in the words of the snarling vicious corporate troll Michelle Rhee, "creat[ing] a hostile environment when parents speak up." [2]

The amateurish prose of the flyer, which sounds suspiciously like it was written by a recent Political Science undergraduate with Coro affiliations, makes the bold assertion that the wealthy Vielka McFarlane's corporate charter has to accept all students under the law [3] and then provides a passage from the proposed regulations of the corporate charter trigger law ostensibly as "proof." While the proposed regulations make vague mention of admitting all students within an attendance boundary, there is no language discussing charters being required to accommodate special education pupils, students with disabilities, or English Language Learners at all. [4] None.

Parent Revolut... er, I mean, McKinley Parents for Change might try to say that means Celerity could in theory support children with special needs, so let's look at the facts.

Here is the [real] proof

Here are Celerity's existing special education figures:

Data Tables: Pilot Study of Charter Schools' Compliance with the Modified Consent Decree and the LAUSD Special Education Policies and Procedures

Not very promising if your child has special needs huh? Here is some more hard data disproving the Compton Charter Charlatan's alleged "proof" and putting to lie their accusations that social justice activists spreading misinformation:

Pilot Study of Charter Schools’ Compliance with the Modified Consent Decree and the LAUSD Special Education Policies and Procedures

  • SWD attending charter schools made up 7.6% of the overall charter student population, while SWD consisted of 11.3% of the overall student population attending DO schools which indicates that SWD are disproportionately under-enrolled at charter schools.
  • Students with low incidence disabilities attended charters representing 1.11% of the total charter enrollment, while students with low incidence disabilities made up 3.09% of the DO school population of SWD. Based on this, the relative risk ratio for students with low incidence disabilities to be enrolled in charter schools is 0.36, which means that students with low incidence disabilities enrolled at LAUSD charters are significantly under-represented.
  • During the 2008-2009 school year, 12 of 148 (8.1%) charter schools offered a special day program as an option for serving SWD. In contrast, 87% of DO schools provided this same program option. Collectively, the lack of such programs indicates a disproportionate availability of special education services offered at charters.

Further, "accepting" all children from an attendance boundary is not the same thing as actively supporting all their needs. Charter-voucher schools, which typically pay their executives whopping six figure salaries, usually don't have money left over for special education children, students with disabilities, or English Language Learners. What charter-voucher schools usually do is tell parents "your child is welcome here, but we don't have the facilities to provide them with everything they need, we will do our best but..." At this point parents make the only rational decision they can make, and that is to place their child in a public school — a school where the obligation to educate every child comes before profit and executive salaries. The cynical charter-voucher operators are then able to say "the parent voluntarily withdrew their child, they chose to return to the district."

Bear in mind that Yolie Flores' vile Corporate Charter Choice Resolution [5] also contained so called provisions to accept every child in an attendance boundary (vehemently fought by the California Charter School Association). In practice when "Para Los Niños" was able to seize a portion of Evelyn Gratts Elementary School via Yolie Flore's giveaway resolution, all the parents that had special needs children had to change schools after the charter takeover in order to get their children the resources they needed.

Unlike the heartless and greedy charter-voucher advocates at Parent Revolution (or whatever name they are calling themselves today), I remember the impassioned speech by a mother fighting to keep all of Gratts a public school so that her special needs child could continue attending Gratts. [6]

LAUSD said of PSC, like the CCSA/DFER says of the "trigger" law, that their corporate charter allies have to accept all students. Meanwhile they do nothing of the sort in practice. These pernicious, privately managed entities, have only one real priority — profit. According to Part VII of Celerity Educational Group's 2009 Form 990 Vielka McFarlane pays herself a whopping $193,442.00 a year in salary. That ladies and gentlemen, is the motivating factor behind dubious trigger laws.

[1] this one sided pro-privatization article quotes Austin as saying "The idea of the parent revolution is to say fuck you." While we already knew that was how Austin felt about our communities, poor people, and people of color, to hear it coming from the wealthy white charter profiteer's mouth was quite startling. (this footnote first published by Robert D. Skeels here)
[2] The evil empress of privatization pushing and poverty pimping is quoted here the hedge fund darling found time to support Ben Austin on her way to work for fellow teabagger Rick Scott.
[3] The extremely dishonest bullet point says the following: "Under the law, Celerity has to accept all students (including Special Education students) and all current students regardless of grades."
[4] The closest thing to an obligation to educating every child appears in §4806 under "Permissible activities. An LEA [Local Educational Agency] may also implement comprehensive instructional reform strategies, such as: ... (C) Providing additional supports and professional development to teachers and principals in order to implement effective strategies to support students with disabilities in the least restrictive environment and to ensure that limited-English-proficient students acquire language skills to master academic content;" In other words, educational programs for children with special needs are entirely optional, and not required. Once more the charter-voucher industry has found a way out of the obligation to educate every child! Proof indeed!
[5] Cynically named Public School Choice Resolution
[6] For the mother's impassioned speech see the 08-25-09regbd video in this directory on LAUSD's site This is the same board meeting in which Ben Austin called parent and community votes for community schools "soviet style elections."


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Is the non-parent Parent Trigger backfiring?

The move to hand challenged, high-need McKinley Elementary School in Compton over to a charter operator under California's “Parent Trigger” law was widely reported earlier this month as a resounding triumph for low-income parents demanding a decent school for their children.

To those following the issue closely, that version has rapidly fallen apart, as critics (including this poster) have retorted that an organization founded by charter operators and funded by billionaires ran the show and exploited the parents. As I and many others have said, it's unclear on the concept to portray an action orchestrated by professionals, funded by billionaires and corporate titans, and applauded by the leader of the free world (reportedly), the governor of California and the mayor of Los Angeles as a “revolution of the little people.”

Meanwhile, the school community has predictably dissolved into chaos and conflict.

California's Parent Trigger legislation passed earlier this year and allows 51 percent of voters (the specifics of exactly who can vote appear to be nebulous) to sign petitions to force a school to transform by (choose one) requiring a charter school to take over; bringing in a new staff and giving the parents significant control over staffing and budgeting; closing down the school; or merely replacing the principal.

On Dec. 7, in a polished media event, McKinley parents delivered their signatures (apparently of McKinley parents and not the vague “others” the Parent Trigger law also allows to vote) to officials of the Compton Unified School District.

The move would put the school into the hands of a specific charter operator, Celerity Educational Group. The entire Parent Trigger move actually came not from within the McKinley community but from the organization Parent Revolution, which was founded not by parents but by a group of charter school operators led by the high-profile Green Dot. As the L.A. Weekly puts it, Parent Revolution “has 10 full-time staff members and a $1 million annual operating budget, is funded by blue-chip philanthropic endeavors, such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Wasserman Foundation, the Broad Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation [of Wal-Mart]."

The L.A. Weekly, a conservative “advocacy journalism” alternative paper, provides the most detailed and revealing accounts of the events before and since the signatures were delivered. The degree to which the accounts are revealing is ironic, as the Weekly's advocacy in favor of the Trigger is full-throated — to my eyes as a well-informed California education advocate who holds the opposite position, much of the Weekly's portrayal is jaw-droppingly distorted. But putting that aside, if even a portion of the information is accurate, the L.A. Weekly is definitely the source to follow.

After the signatures were delivered and the national and international press, politicians, commentators et al. leaped on the event to proclaim a victory for the people, the L.A. Times followed up with a Dec. 11 story announcing that some McKinley parents claimed to have been misled and wanted to withdraw their signatures.

And in a detailed blog report posted late last night (Dec. 14), the L.A. Weekly describes an angry and chaotic Compton Unified School District meeting, “packed with press and hundreds of angry parents, many of whom say they were tricked into signing the Parent Trigger petition without knowing its gravity.”

“Above all,” the Weekly post declares, “the air is buzzing with confusion.
“It seems everyone here has a contradicting understanding of what, exactly, the new Celerity Educational Group charter school would mean for their children.”

Further chaos ensues:

Admin, teachers, parents and students from another Los Angeles charter school — the Wisdom Academy for Young Scientists — have showed up in mass (sic) to sing the praises of charter schools. 'The teachers there are great — everybody's great,' says one mother. WAYS grandmother Ethel Nathaniel says, 'The school is really beautiful; it's wonderful.'

'We don't want charter school! We don't want charter school!' some mothers chant.
… More and more, the crowd reveals itself as anti-Parent Trigger. The only speakers that are cheered are the ones defending CUSD.

The conclusion of the current version of the L.A. Weekly blog tells the story.

… There's a new civil war working against the betterment [the wording expresses the Weekly's open view that the move would promote the school's “betterment”] of McKinley Elementary: The Celerity parents versus the CUSD parents. And as long as they're both preaching to their own choirs, this is going to be one long, painful board meeting of a battle for the children.”
It was obvious that this move would rip the community apart. No one who has been part of — or a close observer of — a school community could fail to see that.

The Weekly is once again the best source for a description of how the organizing against McKinley Elementary took place:

"Parent Revolution decided to focus on McKinley Elementary School and approach parents there after researching the worst school districts in California. ... [Parent Revolution Executive Director Ben] Austin and his staff surveyed parents at several schools in Compton, asking if they were interested in a transformation. ... field organizers have canvassed a large chunk of the 10-square-mile city of Compton, knocking on hundreds of doors, walking its sidewalks and driving its streets, asking people if their children attend McKinley, making contacts."

Needless to say, an organizing drive from within a school community does not require paid organizers to cold-call all over town, asking strangers if their children attend the school.

The Weekly's description of the photo-op surprise delivery of the petition signatures to the school district should make it clear to anyone who's not sound asleep that there's big money behind this move: A "crowd -- including parents, children and reporters from the New York Times, Los Angeles times, CNN, local TV channels 2, 4, 7, 11, radio news stations KPCC and others, as well as aides to U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa -- then clambers into two yellow school buses...” After a mother hands the signatures to the acting superintendent (who's waiting outside with a police escort), requests and receives a receipt, the mother “holds the receipt in the air and several parents and their children cheer and begin chanting 'Yes we can! Yes we can!' ”

Not an event created by meek and downtrodden parents unaccustomed to the media spotlight, shall we say.

There's one more little twist to the national press coverage describing McKinley Elementary as a disastrous academic failure: In reality, McKinley outperforms the average Green Dot charter school. Green Dot, again, is the organization behind this move, as the lead founder of Parent Revolution.

California's school accountability system is called the Academic Performance Index, which compiles the student test scores annually into one API number on a scale of 200-1000. 800-plus is considered excellent.

Spring 2010 API for McKinley Elementary in Compton, CA: 684.
Spring 2010 average API for all Green Dot charter schools in California: 657.

(Source: My own research on the California Department of Education database.)

— Caroline Grannan


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Excerpts from "What international test scores really tell us: Lessons buried in PISA report"

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

Defend Public Schools from Corporate Charter-Voucher Charlatans
Here are important excerpts from William J. Mathis' brilliant essay:

Federal and state policymakers continue to embrace reforms that have little positive effect (if not downright negative effects) while ignoring reforms that make a difference. Buried within the PISA report is an analysis of educational systems that registered high test scores. Here are some of the less-reported findings:.

  • The best performing school systems manage to provide high-quality education to all children.
  • Students from low socio-economic backgrounds score a year behind their more affluent classmates. However, poorer students who are integrated with their more affluent classmates score strikingly higher. The difference is worth more than a year's education.
  • In schools where students are required to repeat grades (such as with promotion requirements), the test scores are lower and the achievement gap is larger.
  • Tracking students ("ability grouping") results in the gap becoming wider. The earlier the practice begins, the greater the gap. Poor children are more frequently shunted into the lower tracks.
  • Systems that transfer weak or disruptive students score lower on tests and on equity. One-third of the differences in national performance can be ascribed to this one factor.
  • Schools that have autonomy over curriculum, finances and assessment score higher.
  • Schools that compete for students (vouchers, charters, etc.) show no achievement score advantage.
  • Private schools do no better once family wealth factors are considered.
  • Students that attended pre-school score higher, even after more than 10 years.

As OECD Paris-based official Michael Davidson said in National Public Radio comments, "One of the striking things is the impact of social background on (U.S.) success."

Twenty percent of U.S. performance was attributed to social background, which is far higher than in other nations. Davidson went on to point out that the United States just does not distribute financial resources or quality teachers equally. In a related finding, students from single-parent homes score much lower in the United States than they do in other countries. The 23-point difference is almost a year's lack of growth.

All emphasis mine. Read the whole article: What international test scores really tell us: Lessons buried in PISA report


How corporate school reform proxies treat students -- neoliberalism requires violent enforcement

[click if you can't view this video]


Mayor Villaraigosa, can you be honest for once? Please?

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

Failure doesn't begin to describe charter sycophant Villaraigosa and PLAS
In response to the Mayor's latest school privatization diatribe in which he lionizes teabagger Michelle Rhee and praises the underhanded tactics of his good friend Ben Austin.

Mayor Villaraigosa:

As of Spring 2010 Green Dot's average API 657, Compton's McKinley 684. Who determines failing schools? Oh yeah, the foppish millionaire from Benedict Canyon (aka CEO of Parent Revolution).

Mayor, we know Eli Broad's money is critical for your political future, but could you please stop the constant dishonesty? The trigger law was leveraged into the State legislature by the biggest enemies of parental and community control there are -- Ben Austin of LAPU/PR and Gloria Romero of DFER. Please Mayor, tell us how much power parents have over the unelected, secretive, private boards of charter-voucher schools?

We also understand that Ben's wife, Tracy Austin of Austin Egoscue Development (whose office is conveniently a block or two from Eli's headquarters) is your primary Fundraising Consultant.

Mayor, your long history of malfeasance and collusion in conjunction with Ben Austin in order to capture market share for your CCSA allies is well documented:

In other words, you're not fooling anyone.

Instead of constantly serving the interests of the well heeled charter-voucher industry, could you just once listen to the community and what we want? We want public schools run by our communities, not privatized schools run by the CMO/EMO plutocrats.


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Charter Charlatans Caught Cheating in Compton!

"We are giving away our schools and now we want to get rid of transparency... so we can do whatever we want in the dark of night." — Marguerite P. LaMotte in response to Yolie Flores Corporate Charter Choice Resolution

LAPU-Parent Revolution's foppish millionaire from Benedict Canyon -- the mendacious Ben Austin
Wow! A sudden lapse in the normally dishonest dominant discourse by the charter-voucher sector sycophantic Los Angeles press? Effort to convert Compton school to charter draws fire.

The mendaciousness of the wealthy Ben Austin and his junta of school privatization drones including Gabe Rose, Pat DeTemple, Shirley Ford, and Mary Najera is legendary. While I was researching my first article on LAPU/Parent Revolution's foppish millionaire from Benedict Canyon, I had parents from Garfield HS tell me that Mary Najera used to go monolingual Spanish church services with English petitions and tell them to sign the petition if they wanted their children to go to college. Of course, there's also the well documented incidents of shameful class and race-baiting discussed in Code Words and Green Dot’s Pandering to Westside Racism. It doesn't take much to understand that the Gates and Walton Foundation funded "Parent" Revolution are still employing such deceptive and deplorable tactics.

The entire network of charter-voucher front groups for the CCSA and DFER, which are a collection of astro-turf 501c3s including Families in Schools, Alliance for a Better Community, Families That Can, and first and foremost — Parent Revolution (née LAPU), are a despicable collection of liars and thieves.

I want to commend Howard Blume and Teresa Watanabe for having the courage to write this article given Russ Stanton's editorial policy of non-stop charter-voucher industry cheerleading.


Thursday, December 09, 2010

Mayor Villaraigosa's vile, reprehensible, repugnant speech at PPIC

"We have our cake, and are eating it too." — Eli Broad (Predatory Pseudo-Philanthropist and Charter-Voucher School Backer)

Failure doesn't begin to describe charter sycophant Villaraigosa and PLAS
Don't know if anyone caught the horror that was "Remarks as Prepared for Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa - PPIC "California's Future" Conference - Education Keynote, December 7, 2010," but it is some of the most vile, reprehensible, repugnant filth ever uttered by a politician in my memory, and that includes George W. Bush's racist lies leading up to the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Astonishingly, the philandering Mayor's mendacity knows no bounds. This speech, overflowing with falsehoods and outrageous slander, is beyond shameful, and speaks volumes to his complete complicity with the corporate agenda of known privatization proponents like Eli Broad, William Gates III, and the Walton heirs.

The irony is that the pernicious Mayor spells out the real trouble with our schools in the beginning of his ill conceived speech. He says:

"When most of us went to school in the 1950s and 1960s, we were blessed that California public schools were synonymous with excellence."

Villaraigosa knows as well as we do that our schools and the unions haven't changed since that time. In fact, only one thing has changed — spending. But the spineless politician dare not challenge his corporate backers, and then commits an enormous non-sequitur in blaming the hard working women and men that teach in our communities and the working class organizations that protect them from people like Villaraigosa and his junta of privatizers like John Deasy.

While all the fact-free points in his speech are easily rebutted with the truth, his use of his powerful position (again) to tell outrageous lies furthering the corporate agenda is beyond the pale. The most disgusting part is when he refers to his close friend Ben Austin's astro-turf group as if they are a legitimate parent organization. I suppose the fact Ben's wife Tracy Austin of Austin Egoscue Development is the Mayor's fundraising consultant explains much of that.

Mayor Villariagosa, instead of you calling on hardworking teachers to give up the modicum of protections they have against the corporate agenda, why don't you listen to the call of the community? We aren't demanding school privatization and the devaluating of teaching professionals. We aren't calling for outsiders and charter-voucher operators to discriminate against the most vulnerable children, those with special needs. We aren't calling for the resegregation of our schools. We aren't calling for people with no background or knowledge of pedagogy to dictate how our education system should run. We are calling for school to allow more parental and community control, not for you to give schools to private unelected boards that aren't answerable to anyone. We aren't calling for CMO/EMO executives to make themselves ever more rich at the trough of our hard earned tax dollars.

What we are calling for is for you to use your bully pulpit to call out those really responsible for education problems. We are calling on you to tax the rich! However, just like when you were in the State Assembly, Mayor Villaraigosa, you still cower from the ghost of the ghoulish in life Howard Jarvis.


Wednesday, December 08, 2010

DFER Reactionary Gloria Romero Jumps on the Hostile Takeover Bandwagon in Compton

Barr's parent organization gave... a grass-roots visual... And his paid staffers hit the right rhetorical notes... while identifying themselves to reporters and officials only as parents. — Howard Blume (Los Angeles Times)

A 'revolution' funded by Wal-Mart and Microsoft.
Here's my comments on Howard Blume and Teresa Watanabe's latest glowing, gushing piece on everyone's favorite corporate school privatizers.

Good to see the reactionary pro-corporate Gloria Romero side with of parents that signed the petition and utterly ignore the wishes of parents and community members that opposed it. Why did you want to "prevent opposition" Senator? Is it because giving the parents all the facts and multiple choices instead of a hand picked single choice would have prevented the well heeled Vielka McFarlane from increasing her market share? Or is it that you and your fellow wealthy elitist Ben Austin felt those parents weren't capable of making informed decisions outside of those you already made for them?

Can't wait to see the DFER 990 filing to see how well Romero is compensated for her loyal devotion to the lucrative corporate charter-voucher industry.

One thing Austin, Romero, Barr, and Schwarzenegger don't mention is that their petitions can legally contain parents who won't send their children to the school including: parents sending their kids to parochial schools and parents that will move before their kids attend a school. They also don't bring up the fact that community members (ie. taxpayers that finance the school) have no voice in the corporate trigger process. In other words, a tiny minority of the 'stakeholders' have sway over the process. How convenient for the well financed proxies of the charter-voucher sector, like Parent Revolution, are able to use this carefully crafted legislation to subvert any semblance of democratic processes. That's how corporate America rolls, right?

Lastly, I'm hope all the McKinley parents with special needs children will be sure to thank Ismenia Guzman for essentially casting their children to the curb. Given the dearth of Celerity's special education capacity, that future Guzman speaks of will be quite grim for the neediest children of all. But charter-voucher supporter don't care about 'those' kids. Greedy, heartless, and selfish doesn't begin to describe...

With less than 1/5 of CMO/EMOs outperforming average public schools, you've got to wonder why all the "free market" kooks support them. How does railing against "big government" schools explain the fact that 83% of public schools are better than charter-voucher schools. Further, unlike charters, public schools are required to educate every child, and they still outperform their privatized counterparts. Sadly these charters eschew responsibility to special needs children for no other reason than it cuts into profitability. That's a coup de grace argument against the private sector, but corporate charter supporters ignore the facts for of one of two reasons.

There's a camp getting obscenely wealthy from charter bubble. charter CEOs are making whopping six figure salaries, and others are scoring big too. Real estate and vendor contracts are so lucrative that the hedge fund parasites and even the big dogs like Goldman Sachs and Tilson Funds are in on the action.

Then there's a camp ideologically wedded to privatization despite the overwhelming evidence it doesn't work. While this includes extremist right wing think tanks like Cato, AEI, and Hoover, it also includes so-called philanthropists manipulating behind the scenes. Unfortunately this camp hasn't figured out that Galt and Rourke are fictional characters from a depraved woman's mind.


Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Vielka McFarlane and Ben Austin orchestrate hostile takeover in Compton

"We don't want to focus on how the history of the country has been checkered but on how do we dress for success..." — historical revisionist and Celerity CEO Vielka McFarlane on why she insists on hiding the history of Emmett Till's brutal murder at the hands of white supremacists.

'We don't want to focus on how the history of the country has been checkered but on how do we dress for success...' -- historical revisionist and Celerity CEO Vielka McFarlane on why she insists on hiding the history of Emmett Till's brutal murder at the
First read Teresa Watanabe and Howard Blume's obsequious homage to the corporate school privatizers in this story. Here's my quick response:

Big news! Ben Austin helps the wealthy Vielka McFarlane, owner of the Celerity corporate charter-voucher chain, increase her market share and revenue stream. Too bad for the community. For anyone deluded enough think that Ben Austin cares about anyone's kids, try taking a look at Part VII of his 501c3's 990 form.

Austin's quote about transferring power to the parents is laughable considering that parents are POWERLESS over CMO charters -- maybe the parents should have asked how much decision making power they would have once the school was seized by McFarlane and her board. Of course, Austin never addresses those questions. Remember when Austin and his privatization junta hid cowardly while parents from his previous parent organization were cast to the curb when Marco Petruzzi shut down Animo Justice by fiat declaration? Was that a "unapologetic transfer of raw power?" The community, on the other hand, protested the gross injustice at the hands of the corporate charter-voucher sector's elite executives.

Give Austin some credit, for a guy on the corporate payroll, he sure finds creative ways to co-opt the language of struggle. A "revolution" funded by Wal-Mart and Microsoft? Please!

Wait until McFarlane and company start pushing out children impacting their inflated API scores like they have in all their other schools. Sorry, but if a school takes public funds, it should be OBLIGATED TO EDUCATE EVERY CHILD.

Today we've seen yet another "unapologetic transfer of" public funds into private hands.


Friday, December 03, 2010

Rhee, the Evil Princess of Privatization on Teabagger Transition Team

Right wing reactionary Michelle Rhee is finally working with her own ilk — the racist Teabaggers! Corporate darling Rhee, along with a host of other far right ideologues will work on teabagger-white supremacist favorite Florida Governor-Elect Rick Scott's transition team.

That Rhee was immediately picked to head the education transition team of a teabagger/tea party politician should come as no surprise. Her ability to put the needs of corporations before communities, to call hard working people "special interests," and to make conditions favorable for the get rich quick schemesters in the charter-voucher sector fit right in with the reactionary, market driven, racist teabagging world view.

In this regard so-called edreformers like Michelle Rhee, Ben Austin, Gloria Romero, and Eric Lee hold a ton of common ground with the teabaggers. Check out this piece on David Harmer Tea Party Frontrunner: Abolish Public Schools. No surprise that the teabaggers hold the exact same principles as the hedge fund founded DFER does for education: markets, choice, competition, etc. What is it that Ben Austin always says? "We'll make schools great by forcing them to compete?" Good to know Ben Austin and David Harmer share 18th century values. I thought Harmer was channeling Austin when he said: "In this quintessentially American approach, free people acting in a free market found a variety of ways to pay for a variety of schools serving a variety of students"

Here's the Evil Princess of Privatization's recent appearance on The Steven Colbert Show.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Michelle Rhee
Colbert Report Full Episodes2010 ElectionMarch to Keep Fear Alive

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Ms. Rhee gets one thing partially right. American schools were better during the 1950's, but let's look at some of the "inconvenient truths" the corporate edreform crowd leaves out. What was the state of infrastructure of all the other leading industrial nations Rhee refers to in the 1950's? Hint, there was a world war a few years prior. Here are two more questions to ask smug Harvard graduates and TFA alumni: what was the corporate tax rate during the 1950's? What was the tax percentage on the wealthiest Americans during the Eisenhower administration? Answer those questions, and you come to the only cogent explanation for the decline in public education, which as Dr. Stephen Krashen always puts it: "The Problem is Poverty."