Monday, July 02, 2012

Thoughts on Matthew Di Carlo's recent Shanker Blog piece on the 'parent tricker'

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)

Shirley Ford and Mary Najara of Parent Revolution née Los Angeles Parents Union

Matthew Di Carlo recently penned a thoughtful and somewhat nuanced piece on the vile so-called "parent trigger" legislation being pushed by the school privatization industry. In When Push Comes To Pull In The Parent Trigger Debate he suggests that support for or against anti-democratic triggers is often dependent on an individual's stance on charter schools to begin with.

Interestingly, he posits that if triggers were associated with authentic reforms like class size reduction as opposed to seizing property for the lucrative charter industry, that there might be less opposition to parent triggers and other shock doctrine style swindles. I for one think that's the point. Triggers were not devised as a way to improve or help public education. They have always been a way of increasing market share for the charter sector, union busting, and have been widely embraced by the fringe-right as a pathway to vouchers and other forms of plunder and poverty pimping.

Had trigger laws been a means for democratically engaging entire communities in the improvement of their schools, I would have become their biggest supporter. Instead, they are simply another way to stuff more money into the pockets of charter executives and their wealthy associates. Here are my comments posted to the Shanker Blog, which still apparently hasn't made it through the moderation process:

I'd agree that some perspective on corporate charter trigger laws is influenced by an individual's views on school privatization and the neoliberal project in general. However, that doesn't mean that the overarching problem with triggers is the fact that they are entirely anti-democratic to put the fate of a public resource into the hands of a minority of the community. More than that, the huge amounts of money and resources expended to sway parents to triggering their school into private hands has been seen repeatedly, with corporate charter advocacy groups like the so-called Parent Revolution with it's multi-million dollar budget from nefarious funders like the Walton Family Foundation.

We can learn much about the origins and motives of groups pushing the corporate charter "parent" trigger by where the majority of its support comes from—fringe right wing groups like The Heartland Institute and The American Legislative Exchange Council.

Parent Revolution can deny their ties to ALEC and other reactionaries all they want, but they can't hide the fact that they have had deep and long-standing partnerships with ALEC members, including fringe right-wing The Heartland Institute. In addition to constant collaboration with Heartland, Parent Revolution hosts forums with them. See the following flyer from one of their events and an article discussing it:

The Heartland Institute and Parent Revolution panel on the Trigger Law

Parent Revolution's mendacious minions to appear with The Heartland Institute reactionaries

For the actual ALEC legislation crafted from Governor Schwartzenegger, Ben Austin, Gloria Romero's original bill, see:

Ben Austin, Gloria Romero and ALEC's Parent Trigger Act

Gloria J. Romero, who along with former Governor Schwartzenegger's staff, and Parent Revolution's Ben Austin, drafted the parent trigger (more aptly, tricker), is also known to work hand and hand with the most extreme forces of reaction on education issues. She works closely with members of the Koret Foundation and The Hoover Institution. Shunned by her own party, she works with teabaggers and other right-wing politicians.

Peas in a pod: Koret Foundation, The Hoover Institution, and Democrats for Education Reform

Senators Romero and Huff to Hold Education Summit

The evidence is damning, and their claims that they don't represent right-wing interests ring hollow. Bear in mind Parent Revolution was originally the Los Angeles Parents Union, which was a wholly owned subsidiary of the Green Dot Charter School Corporation. Parent Revolution's sole reason for existence is to build market share for the lucrative charter school sector. This is born out both by the comments of their funders, and by the privatization policies of their funders.

See this piece for a statement by Eli Broad on why he funds Parent Revolution:

Eli Broad pays Parent Revolution to champion charters not to empower parents!

See these documents to see the names right-wing plutocrats who fund Parent Revolution and the staggering amounts they contribute. Tops on the list, the privatization reactionaries at the Walton Family Foundation. 

Los Angeles Parents Union DBA LAPU or Parent Revolution 2010 Form 990

To be sure, "school choice" was the clarion call of segregationists. It still is. Why the Racist History of the Charter School Movement Is Never Discussed

Quick look at the "there's no money" in charters deception

I was recently asked on facebook to explain how charters make money. This is important since the charter industry has recently been trying to convince the public that they're nothing more than a charitable exercise. Here's what I wrote back to them:

Here's just a taste, but it should be enough for you to answer such inquires.

Operators like Edison make profit directly, as do most EMOs, from the difference between "services rendered" and ADA money. CMOs don't make profit per se, but they pay their executives exorbitant (confer Petruzzi or Ponce to Deasy versus number of schools and students) salaries and make additional money from special relationships with vendors (look up companies like ExED and charter operator Judy Burton's very special relationship with them). Many charter executives set up these sweet vendor deals and then go on to work for the vendors. Another big money maker is charter financing and financial services by corporations like Charter School Capital, pushed by local CMO executive Ricardo Mireles.

The most lucrative part of the charter industry however, is real estate. How big is the charter-voucher school real estate bubble? Big enough to attract big names like Goldman Sachs, Andre Agassi, Citibank, and Richard Riordan to the lucrative land grab ventures. Big enough that Gloria Romero was rewarded with a cushy six-figure job as CEO at Democrats for Education Reform in California for her servile gift the privately managed charter industry called SB 592, which hands public school property over to privately managed charter corporations. New York based vultures, like Gideon Stein, are making a fortune in brokering charter real estate (and the raising of property values via gentrification of neighborhoods through those charters).

There's also all the lucrative "distance learning," "online charters," and "blended learning" cash cows. Bill Gates and Tom Vander Ark are never far from the picture when those money making scams are at hand. In fact, the vile Vander Ark was very recently on the all white (sans one) Board of Directors from LA's Promise that is now firing all of their hard working educators, so they can hire cheaper ones. Sure that has nothing to do with profits though.



Anonymous said...

And what of the corruption and cronyism feeding at the public sector trough? From textbook publishers to testing companies to school construction contractors and technology vendors, the private sector is alive and well when it comes to public schools as well as charters!

Robert D. Skeels * rdsathene said...

@Anonymous There's certainly profiteering to go around. However, at least with public schools there's a modicum of transparency, and some semblance of democratic controls to reign it in. Privately managed charters on the other hand are as opaque as concrete and are the antithesis of democracy.