Sunday, July 15, 2012
Backed into a corner by a monster it helped create, LAUSD fights back against charter colocation greed
First Published on Schools Matter
Although the bungalows are used for after school programs, art classes, festivals and special education speech therapy space, according to the number of enrolled students at Micheltorena, the bungalows have been deemed empty and available for tenancy by any charter that requests them. — Lulu Wilson
The Los Angeles Times' LAUSD fights court order to give more space to charter schools highlights how the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) has asked corporate friendly Judge Terry A. Green's "court to reconsider its decision. The school system is also preparing an appeal."
This is in response to the California Charter Schools Association's recent overreach in which they were able to obtain yet another privatization friendly court ruling that allows privately managed charter corporations to norm their classrooms as low as ten students per teacher, meanwhile LAUSD public schools "are crammed with about 50 students" in some classes. Of course, Howard Blume's biased article leaves this (and many other facts) out entirely. Cheryl Ortega was kind enough to address this issue:
The article also fails to mention the issue of smaller norming and how that could affect the home school. The issue of not counting the set asides has been the practice, if not the policy, since the inception of prop 39 in LAUSD.
Green's ruling will result in neighborhood children being displaced from their own schools and a further marginalization of children with special needs. Of course, we already know the charter school industry serves fewer students with disabilities to begin with, so it's no surprise that charters don't mind displacing those children from public schools either.
I left the following comments on The Times site:
These privately managed charters only care about their revenue streams. Displacing services, or even students from their own neighborhood schools, means nothing to the wealthy executives at the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA), which continues to pull in tens of millions of dollars from right wing organizations like the Walton Family Foundation.
Meanwhile public school children are being crammed into smaller and smaller spaces, with less and less resources! The CCSA is on record for not caring about "severely disabled students, parent centers and computer labs." Californians were tricked by Prop 39, and now the fruits of that deception are coming to the fore.
Social Justice activists have fought against this charter colocation greed in communities like Echo Park and Silver Lake. What we need is create a large community push-back against the deep pocketed CCSA in every neighborhood. Any organization or law that puts revenues and executive salaries ahead of the needs of children and communities has to go!
I am proud to have been one of the community organizers who, alongside activists like educator Cheryl Ortega and many public school parents, have fought the occupations of our public schools by capricious corporate charter schools in the 90026 zip code. We exposed the illegal incursions by the Gabriella Charter Corporation and were able to convince the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council to vote against colocation by CWC Charter Corporation. We started a facebook support group for people struggling against heavy handed charters ruining their public schools called Communities & Families Resisting Proposition 39 Charter Colocations, please feel free to join.
Given the unlimited amounts of money the charter school industry has access to, it will always be an uphill struggle to battle against their efforts to undermine public education. That said, we must resist, and it's good sign to see that a school district and Superintendent renowned for kowtowing to the corporate charter sector, are, by necessity, beginning to fight back against the tide of neoliberalism and school privatization.
A reader emailed me the following yesterday. It explains a lot more about the corporate judge mentioned above.
Judge Terry A. Green, the one who ruled that charter school students have more rights than public school students, is a long time right-wing Republican donor who has given to fringe organizations like Economic Liberty PAC as well as the Bush-Cheney campaigns, the Republic National Committee, John McCain, the California Republican Party, and others like Congressman James Rogan and Senator-wannabe Bill Jones.
Go to the link and look for Terry A. Green from CA/Pasadena to see. Sometimes he is listed as Honorable Terry Green and the Superior Court is listed. http://query.nictusa.com/cgi-bin/qind/
In fact, he donated $500 to the Republican National Committee just 8 months ago, perhaps after reading the party platform on charter school/school choice expansion. http://tinyurl.com/d4uztel
Shouldn't a judge who donates thousands of dollars to organizations and individuals who blindly support charter schools recuse himself from these cases? Instead, he rules for—surprise—the CCSA!
Friday, July 13, 2012
On the morning of Friday July 13, 2012 wealthy charter corporation heads, billionaire funded 501c3 "non-profits," and well heeled business leaders celebrated a "Decade of Corporate Education Reforms" courtesy of LAUSD President Mónica Garcia.
Community members, students, educators, and social justice activists showed up on last minute notice to let Ms. García know that her tenure has been, and continues to be, unbearable to those suffering under her neoliberal regime of privatization and school closures. Several members of United Adult Students were on hand to remind everyone that García has stolen many students' futures have closed so many of our Early Education Center, Adult Education Schools, and SRLDP programs!
The Chamber of Commerce was the perfect place for the chief school privatizer—Mónica García to join her fellow one-percenters, profiteers, privatizers, and poverty pimps, since none of them are about education, they're all about business and revenues instead. Joan Sullivan, Marshall Tuck, Angelica Solis, Elise Buik, Veronica Melvin, and a host of other charter school bandits were on hand to salute Eli Broad and Philip Anschutz's avatar.
We're fighting back. http://www.recallmonicagarcia.com
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
This Sunday, July 15, 2012 from 9:00am — 1:00pm, South Central, Trinity Park, corner of Wall Street & 25th Street (3 blocks from Santee Educational Complex), 90011
Information: Vera Padilla email@example.com or (323)236-0595
From my official LAUSD Campaign website: Robert D. Skeels, a Social Justice Schoolboard Candidate
I need donations and campaign volunteers. Help save Los Angeles Schools from privatization.
My name is Robert D. Skeels. Over the course of many years as an education activist and a social justice writer, I've witnessed many grave injustices perpetrated by the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) on our community. Sadly, a primary reason for this is that a majority of our current Schoolboard members were elected with, and beholden to, money from the one percent and corporate interests. Until we have a majority of social justice minded Schoolboard Trustees, we will continue to suffer from policies that don't serve the needs of students, families and communities.
This is why I am running for the District 2 Trustee seat. As an individual committed to social justice, I will stand up to the corporate interests that currently dominate LAUSD. I bring both a wealth of knowledge on education and a commitment to the principles of social justice set forth by luminaries including Paulo Freire, Donaldo Macedo, and Henry GIroux. Armed with facts and truth, I will challenge the fatalistic neoliberal narrative that currently dominates Los Angeles education policy and I will speak truth to the corporate power that dominates our schools.
I've lived in LAUSD District 2 for eighteen years. My wife and I own a home in Echo Park/Historic Filipinotown.
Monday, July 09, 2012
The student activists of United Adult Students (UAS) held their Summer Celebration on the last day of June 2012. Through their hard work and perseverance they were able to salvage a portion of their programs despite the fact that LAUSD President Mónica García and Superintendent John Deasy were hades-bent on shutting down all of adult education and many more programs for working class peoples. The students held multiple large demonstrations, gathered hundreds of thousands of signatures, obtained resolutions from many Neighborhood Councils, garnered support from many community leaders, endorsements from politicians, and so much more. Their efforts made it politically untenable for Deasy, García and the rest of the Anschutz Four to steal their futures. The Los Angeles City Council passed an unanimous resolution supporting adult education, and unsurprisingly Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa — who postures as an 'Education Mayor' — refused to sign the resolution supporting over a quarter million working and immigrant families trying to improve their lot. While the students celebrated, they also thought of all the schools, educators, and opportunities that were lost through the missmanagement of LAUSD's resources and wrongheaded budget priorities. They resolved to continue the struggle to use our community's resources on classrooms rather than creating revenue streams from Pearson, plc.
Students, Parents, and Community Activists provided an update on the recall campaign and other activities to save LAUSD SRLDP, Early Education Centers, Adult Education, and to prevent further privatization, reconstitution, and closures of our local neighborhood schools. http://recallmonicagarcia.com
"We had an African American woman walk up to us and say 'why do you need Ethnic Studies?', and we looked at each other and said, 'that's exactly why we need Ethnic Studies!'" — Santee Students speaking at PLAS protest.
It would be a mistake to think the absolutely tragic stream of bigoted and racist legislation flowering in Arizona is confined to Arizona alone. Sadly, one of the most egregious perpetrators removing access to ethnic studies and heritage language programs in this country isn't Michael Hicks, Tom Horne, or John Huppenthal, but a privately managed organization called Partnership for Los Angeles Schools (PLAS) founded by the vehemently anti-public education Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa.
In my recent Schools Matter essay, Mayor Villaraigosa and PLAS CEO Tuck bring Arizona style bigotry to Los Angeles we examine how PLAS' high-handed leadership, including Marshal Tuck, Doc Ervin, Angela Bass, Joan Sullivan, and Ricardo Ruiz, have killed heritage language programs at two of their schools and are now robbing students at Santee High School of their beloved Ethnic Studies Program.
Published 2012-07-05 on Schools Matter, please read it there and share widely.
Be sure to see the contact information at the end of the article and let the corporate powers that be know that we demand they respect cultures and languages of all peoples!
Schools Matter: Democrats for Neoliberal Education Reform's Gloria J. Romero's Parent Tricker days are numbered
I think about former Senator Gloria Romero comparing Compton educators to "batterers" and wondered whether the writers of those words ever stop to think about the consequences of their prose. — Martha Infante
DFER veneer for right-wing "parent trigger" laws wears off, and more and more people see the privatization agenda for what it is, charlatans like Gloria Romero and Ben Austin have been scrambling to hide or minimize their ties to right wing extremists. The good news is that it isn't working, and that aside from shills like Andi Rotherham and Alex Russo even mainstream media journalists are starting to see through what the distinguished Professor Diane Ravitch refers to as the "Parent Tricker."
My recent Schools Matter essay, Democrats for Neoliberal Education Reform's Gloria J. Romero's Parent Tricker days are numbered, looks at DFER's Gloria Romero' unconscionable attacks on the distinguished Professor Diane Ravitch.
Published 2012-07-02 on Schools Matter, please read it there and share widely.
Bonus: Open letter to Doug Tuthill of the American Center for School Choice. My response to Mr. Tuthill's insistance that his fringe right organization and colleagues differ with the John Birch Society on education policies.
Monday, July 02, 2012
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)
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:
For the actual ALEC legislation crafted from Governor Schwartzenegger, Ben Austin, Gloria Romero's original bill, see:
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.
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:
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.
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
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.