Saturday, June 29, 2013
Thursday, June 20, 2013
Yoon Jung found this via one of her Korean news sites she visits. She found it fun and wanted me to post it. Truth be told, no food they serve can be worse than the rotten and expired food that Megan Chernin's LA Fund inflicts on our district with their disgusting Breakfast in the Classroom project.
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
First published on @TCFKSM on June 19, 2013
"Several studies of Los Angeles schools showed substantial gains from class size reduction. One found that smaller classes increased reading scores by 9.5%, math scores by 13.9% and language scores by 14.5%, with double these gains for "high need" students. Two other controlled studies also show significant gains in Los Angeles, with effect sizes that increased the longer the child remained in smaller classes, and gains that persisted into higher grades." — Leonie Haimson, Executive Director, Class Size Matters
The illustrious Leonie Haimson did overtime in preparing an amicus research brief for a school district all the way across the country from her New York City. Later that week she sent me and other activists a heads up on a poll released by a newly formed grouping of Nonprofit Industrial Complex (NPIC) members. At first I didn't understand the bar graphs because they were so confusing. Leonie patiently pointed out that the graphs actually supported our cause, in other words the NPICs wanted people to be as confused as I was, but the truth was right there. Despite all their Gates Foundation talking points about "teacher quality," "effective evaluations," and all the other corporate reform speak, it turns out that even the staunchest enemies of public education can't avoid the truth that... well, class size matters.
Here's my initial note to local education colleagues, which contains my uncensored thoughts on NPICs:
When I get time I'm going to write an article about this, but Leonie Haimson of Class Size Matters sent me a very interesting find.
The new right-wing consortium of greedy charter executives, NPICs, and political opportunists known as CLASS (Communities for Los Angeles Student Success) held a survey in which, in their words, "Over 100 community leaders weigh in on the leadership and direction of our public schools." Unbelievably, the district hosts the document on their site:
See the forth bar chart entitled: "Ranking Important Investment Areas" copied here for your convenience.
What's interesting is that despite them deviously trying to hide it by aggregating the data of first, second, and third choices, it turns out that the number one concern of first choice responses was "Reduction in class sizes" at 28%.
In other words, even CLASS' own polling of so called "community leaders" agree on the critical importance of class size. A media campaign pointing out that even Deasy's closest allies support reducing class size would be a great way of using their own propaganda against themselves.
Here's my toned down version that was sent to all the member of the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education (the resolution passed by the way):
Even Communities for Los Angeles Student Success agree on the critical importance of class size
As the Honorable Members of the Board of Education consider Mr. Kayser's "To Engage the Los Angeles Unified School District Community and Establish Fiscal Priorities" and other resolutions, it may help to have some additional evidence.
While it's no secret that I don't hold the nonprofit industrial complex in high esteem, I do follow their mechanizations in the sphere of education. In the process of gathering information in support of class size reduction, Leonie Haimson of Class Size Matters sent me a very interesting find.
The newly formed local consortium known as CLASS (Communities for Los Angeles Student Success) recently held a survey in which, in their words, "Over 100 community leaders weigh in on the leadership and direction of our public schools." The district hosts the document on the LAUSD site:
See the forth bar chart entitled: "Ranking Important Investment Areas" copied here for your convenience.
What's interesting is that despite CLASS deviously trying to hide it by aggregating the data of first, second, and third choices, it turns out that the number one concern of first choice responses was "Reduction in class sizes" at 28%.
In other words, even CLASS' own polling of so called "community leaders" agree on the critical importance of class size. It's rare that you see groups of their persuasion agreeing with social justice advocates, but happy coincidences are just that. I am also resending the amicus research brief from Class Size Matters in support of LAUSD reducing class sizes.
Let's do what's best for students. I urge you all to vote yes on the To Engage the Los Angeles Unified School District Community and Establish Fiscal Priorities resolution.
Advocating public education and social justice
Robert D. Skeels
First published on @TCFKSM on June 19, 2013
"The resolution by board member Steve Zimmer requires the district to independently verify the signatures and how they're gathered by Parent Revolution, the group that helps to organize parents in efforts to take over schools. The district will also increase the amount and types of information available, such as an analysis of five years of school data and the types of reforms attempted in the past." — Barbara Jones, Daily News
The poverty pimps and privatization pushers at the plutocrat funded Parent Revolution are a little bit rattled right now. After their corporate drive by at Los Angeles' Weigand Elementary resulted in 21 of 22 teachers departing in solidarity with their outstanding principal who was targeted by gunman Austin, the local press and others took notice and were critical. Even the Nonprofit Quarterly took issue with Parent Revolution's unsavory tactics. Professor Diane Ravitch's cogent critiques of Parent Revolution have been so effective, that Ben Austin attacked her on Huffington Post, and now they've created a blog to "debunk" the esteemed education historian's factual dismantling of their astroturf organization.Parent Revolution was totally caught off guard when Los Angeles Unified School District's (LAUSD) Steve Zimmer introduced a resolution intended to curtail some of their one sided war on public schools. The resolution passed, and there's a chance it could lead to an eventual repeal of the awful legislation. I sent the following note to the LAUSD board members today prior to the historic vote to check the plutocrats' Parent Revolution Pinkertons.
Important evidence supporting Mr. Zimmer's resolution
As the Honorable Members of the Board of Education consider Mr. Zimmer's "Comprehensive Information for Parent Initiated School Transformation" resolution to request provisions for transparency, information, and equity in the Parent Empowerment Act (aka Parent Trigger), it may help to understand why those glaring issues weren't addressed in the first place.
Parent Revolution's Ben Austin was a paid advocate for the lucrative charter school industry before, during, and after the entire process of crafting the regulations for the so-called Parent Trigger. While the two former time periods were unethical, the latter time period was illegal, and Austin received an official letter of censorship from the California State Board of Education (SBE) for breaking California law by lobbying for and tampering with the regulations. That letter is attached and can be also read here: http://www.schoolsmatter.info/2011/07/parent-trigger-co-author-austin-knew-he.html
It tells Parent Revolution's Austin "...please immediately discontinue any paid advocacy to the State Board of Education including advocacy on the Parent Empowerment regulations.
Unfortunately, the letter was too little, too late. All of the anti-democratic provisions in the trigger regulations like the faculty gag rule, rules against holding open informational meetings at schools, no rules providing equity for all stakeholders -- including parents that don't sign the petition, and every other rule crafted to provide Austin's billionaire funded organization with every advantage had already been codified by Austin before he was censured. The milquetoast slap on the wrist didn't reverse or mitigate the abject damage the law has allowed Austin and his group to wreak on our communities.
Why should our Board of Education vote in favor of this resolution and be doing everything it can overturn the trigger? When laws are immoral and serve to perpetuate classism, racism, and other oppressions, we have a moral duty to resist, defy, and even break them. Doesn't matter if it's the Parent Trigger, the Fugitive Slave Law, or the 1870s Enforcement Act. Every era has deplorable laws that exist to serve those on top and to undermine the conditions of working people, the Parent Trigger is just one in a long line of unconscionable crimes against the most vulnerable.
I urge you all to vote yes on the Comprehensive Information for Parent Initiated School Transformation resolution.
Advocating public education and social justice
Robert D. Skeels
PS: Several former Parent Revolution staffers have remarked on Deputy Director Gabe Rose's hygiene issues. Today's tweet from the LAUSD Board Room by Hillel Aron of the right-wing LA School Report really drove home how unsettling this is.
.@parentrev's gabe rose is here and he is wearing flip flops!— LA School Report (@LASchoolReport) June 18, 2013
Saturday, June 15, 2013
Because we know that language learning doesn't occur in one year or even in a few months, it's over time.—Becky Palacios, Ph.D.
The School Readiness Language Development Program (SRLDP) is an amazingly effective Pre-K program for English Language Leaners. This isn't the first time that Broad and Gates' Superintendent John Deasy has tried to kill the program, it was on his neoliberal chopping block last year along with Adult Education and other vital programs.
This only serves to highlight a key problem with Governor Brown's just passed Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF). When your local controller is little more than an incarnate version of the "corporations are people" school of aberrant thought, you will see local control prioritizing profits over people. Deasy has already been diverting Title I and Title III dollars to projects that don't benefit students. LCFF gives Deasy more money, but without the constraints of categorical funding. Money for SRLDP Preschools, school libraries or Adult Education? Nope, sorry. Money for Rupert Murdoch's DIBELS® or Laurene Powell Jobs' iPads? Sure we've got that.
WHEN? Tuesday, June 18th WHERE? The LAUSD Beaudry Building 333 S. Beaudry Ave. L.A. 90017 (In front of the Board Room) TIME? Get there as early as you can – before 9:00 a.m. Plan to be there the entire day. WHY? In protest of the proposed drastic SRLDP changes WHO? All SRLDP teachers, parents, and friends Wear yellow, bring posters, signs, flags, hats, musical instruments and anything you can think of that is pro SRLDP. Also bring water and a sandwich for yourself. This will be a big push to save our program. Let’s stand together in unity. This program is too valuable for the children and parents in our communities. If you don’t stand up for them, who will? We must be proactive to be productive. Be there on Tuesday! All is not lost! We are still in negotiations! EVERY SRLDP TEACHER MUST BE THERE TO MAKE AN IMPACT. BRING PARENTS & FRIENDS. SPREAD THE WORD!
@TCFKSM: Report Back from the Trigger Happy Parent Revolution's "Meet and Greet" with teachers and social justice organizers
First published on @TCFKSM on June 15, 2013
What troubles me is what you are doing with the millions you raise. You use it to sow dissension, to set parents against parents, parents against teachers, parents against principals. I don’t see this as productive or helpful. Schools function best when there is collaboration among teachers, parents, administrators, and students. Schools have a better chance of success for the children when they have a strong community and culture of respect. — Professor Diane Ravitch
Quick background. The Walton Foundation funded Parent Revolution operatives were handing out flyers to everyone, including me, before the UTLA Chapter Chair meeting on June 2, 2013. The flyer contained their typical boilerplate bombast, and also featured an invitation to a "Meet and Greet" on June 12, 2013. The flyer is archived here.
I arrived just before 17:00 and tweeted a photo of the place while waiting for everyone. I was in a fairly somber mood, having been at the vet in the morning before work putting down one of our terminally ill cats. Perhaps my grieving kept me from getting in trouble, although I'm sure just my presence made the privatizers uncomfortable.
I met the illustrious UTLA South Area Chair Ingrid Villeda and two Weigand ES teachers in a parking lot behind the arranged location. We walked in solidarity. When we arrived several Parent Revolution (henceforth pRev—the name the pro-public school Adelento parents like Lori Yuan call them) were waiting outside the Golden Gopher. The pRev privatizers sent TFA alumna Christina Sánchez, Patrick DeTemple, Anne Lee, Rafael Serrano, and a few other staffers I didn't know. Before we were done Gabe Rose joined the meeting.
We waited with them for the venue to open and everyone made nervous small talk and introductions. Another Weigand teacher and spouse showed up as we were waiting. After a while it became obvious that the Gopher was going to stay closed, and the owner came and told us they had a private party. Our side was wondering why an organization with tens of millions of dollars at its disposal hadn't reserved or even called the place they set for the meeting. Ingrid tweeted our situation.
@LASchoolReport for the record I came 2 talk about school reform and the Golden Gopher is closed? What happened Ben Austin?— Ingrid Villeda (@EducateLAnow) June 13, 2013
The pRev folks suggested a place several blocks away, and with some misgiving, we went with them to a place called Los Angeles Brewing Company. When we arrived, the pRev folks were smart enough to stagger seating so that we ended up engaged in separate conversations. I ended up speaking with Patrick DeTemple. I was already pretty familiar with his party line, which hadn't changed since his long post defending pRev when Ben Austin was immortalized on the famous Crooks and Liars website. His commentary there is worth reading since it contains some of their stock language and ideology borrowed from the extreme right including gems like "intolerable levels of incompetence are permitted" by teachers unions. He told me verbally that basic protections like seniority somehow allowed for such things as well. Like all reform parrot-speak, it's not rooted in reality and wilts under scrutiny.
For those of you who have never seen the Austin segment on Crooks and Liars, it's a must-see and is the perfect example of how he cynically manipulates parents of color for his charter industry agenda. Shemika Murphy must have felt so empowered when she couldn't answer that softball question which wealthy white lawyer Austin stepped in with his evasive answer on her "behalf."
Whenever I factually cornered DeTemple, he'd essentially change the subject or say things like "we're working on that." That included things like how is 53 people voting on the disposition of a public resource in Adelento, a city of 32,000 democratic? Or how does creating the chaos of 21 of 22 teachers leaving a school benefit students or empower parents? His answer to that was interesting, he said "our intel didn't indicate that would happen." For a guy whose resume includes so much UFW and other union related organizing, you'd think he would have heard of the concept of solidarity. DeTemple isn't as much of true believer as many in the corporate education reform project, but he's the epitome of mixed consciousness politically. He's easily the smartest person they have in their organization, but he still melted when asked direct questions for the obvious reason, they can't provide honest answers since those answers would expose their agenda for what it truly is.
I caught a little bit of Ingrid's conversation with Sánchez. The best part of which was when Ingrid pointed out to Sánchez that when she abandoned teaching, she abandoned the children she now claims to be helping. Of course, that's a point of pride for TFA anyway, right? I couldn't hear the Weigand ES conversations from where I was sitting, but Ingrid said she did, so maybe she can provide us with any interesting tidbits. I'll ask her to comment here with any additional thoughts. I welcome the pRev staffers that were at the meeting to comment here as well. Ingrid and I left about a half hour after all the Weigand teachers left.
I sort of knew the entire thing would go the way it did. They get paid very well to advocate what they advocate, and weren't there to listen to community or teacher voices. The teachers and myself don't get paid at all to advocate alongside our communities, and that's part of the point isn't it? On the other hand it was important that we showed up since they would have been able to take the high ground and say they made overtures that went unanswered. It also probably did them some good to talk to real classroom teachers, something they almost never do.
Moving forward UTLA needs to start organizing alongside community organizations at every school site in order to begin building an infrastructure to combat future trigger attempts. Parents Across America has made it clear that they want to see multiple local chapters in Los Angeles, and we should be helping them build. Educated parents tend to run pRev petitioners out of town, but we need to reach people with the truth in the open before they are deceived secretly. LAUSD Board Member Steve Zimmer's resolution will help in this regard, but organizing to end the corporate drive by trigger law will take more than that.
The saddest thing I heard on Wednesday was that none of the new teachers headed for Weigand have any experience. While I wish all of them the best of luck (even the TFA missionaries among them), we all know how first year teachers fare. We confronted the pRev about this, saying how did that empower anyone? Ingrid's tweet from Thursday sums this up.
News Flash! This just in. 17 BRAND NEW teachers (some just interns, others TFA) at Weigand ES after Parent Revolution blasts the school...— Ingrid Villeda (@EducateLAnow) June 13, 2013
The damage Austin and his coterie caused Weigand will take years to mitigate, and even then it will never be completely ameliorated. Ingrid posted a great comment on that bastion of right-wing thought run by reactionary Jamie Alter-Lynton also known as the LA School Report. It bears reproduction here:
More mind blowing is how Parent Revolution can claim to be about community involvement but not have open meetings, announce agendas, discuss with stakeholders, and announce campaigns. Parents being hand picked, and asked to meet an organizer at a nearby fast food place is not community engagement. And how empowering is it, to not properly address the poverty afflicting these kids and families. How empowering is it for parents NOT to read academic plans...or be acquainted with data, academic focus, etc. One of the central parents staying "I never read the plan" makes a huge statement. This isn't about making things better for kids but adult agendas instead. The principal is no good and she lacks vision but her plan (one she wrote with many teachers) gets the okay...something doesn't make sense.
Friday, June 14, 2013
Saturday, June 08, 2013
Friday, June 07, 2013
First published on @TCFKSM on June 8, 2013
These myths falsely portrayed desegregation's failures as the product of autonomous individual choice. Meanwhile, these myths obscured inequalities in desegregation. A new, but parallel, kind of mythmaking about choice is underway in today's charter school efforts. — Ansley T. Erickson
Parent Revolution's executive director, wealthy white Beverly Hills lawyer Ben Austin, has made himself out to be a "victim" of the esteemed Professor Diane Ravitch's stern words for him and his organization's vile operations at Weigand Elementary School in Los Angeles. In a bombastic Huffington Post diatribe attacking Dr. Ravitch and accusing her of being immature and bullying, he then launches into a sob story of white privilege that borders on the bizarre even for egotistical ed-reformers.
You see, Ben Austin—in his words, can tell us about Hell. Austin's hell consisted of attending an exclusive private school in the upscale area of Venice Beach California. He constantly worried that the wealthier kids might be better off than him. His unfortunate private school hell wound up only getting him into "second rate" schools like UC Berkeley and Georgetown Law School. A hellish, but lucrative political career working for neoliberal triangulators that eliminated welfare for millions of poor then followed. Now, after all those bad breaks, misfortune, and hardscrabble living, Austin is redeeming and sacrificing himself by making a mere quarter million a year privatizing and disrupting public schools. Cry us a river!
Professor Ravitch responded with grace and dignity, and her cogent dismantling of everything Austin stands for is nothing short of breathtaking. Her piece is My Reply to Ben Austin’s Open Letter to Me.
Of course, nearly all the comments under Austin's idiotic post supported of Professor Ravitch. There were a few exceptions, and I immediately recognized those of a bwsmith (Bruce William Smith), a longtime corporate education reform cheerleader and sycophant to any billionaire looking to privatize education. He was one of the ringleaders in the handover of Alain Leroy Locke High School to the Green Dot Charter Corporation, which didn't work out too well. Smith insinuates that the corporate reformers actually debate those who see education as something other than an opportunity for profit.
I replied to Smith, but those commentes haven't been approved. My Huffington Post censor rate is around 50% despite having over 300 "fans" there. I've addressed that situation before: On Huffington Post censorship and Parent Revolution puff pieces. Here are my edited comments:
Mr. Smith, your inability to tell the truth is matched only by your unseemly groveling to powerful rich white people. I've followed Austin's trajectory in the corporate reform project ever since he first was hired by Barr and Petruzzi as a consultant for Green Dot for a staggering amount of money. I watched him arrange illegal, closed meetings with the Mayor during city working hours to push charters and PSC. Those incidents were so scandalous, even the charter friendly Daily News published my Op Ed exposing it: http://www.dailynews.com/opinions/ci_13185224 As a corporate ed-reformer, Austin's salary has almost tripled from when he was a lawyer.
I watched when Ryan Smith ran Barr's Los Angeles Parent Union (née Small Schools Alliance) into the ground and Petruzzi brought in his crony Austin to take his place. Austin, seeing the astonishing amounts of money being dumped into school privatization, changed the name of LAPU to Parent Revolution (all this is on their 990 forms) and never looked backed. Next he illegally booted Steve Barr of their board. When he worked with ALEC, Bob Huff, Schwarzenegger's staff, Heartland Institute, and Gloria Romero to craft the disgustingly racist trigger law, we all knew he was going to inflict a lot of damage on poor communities of color. Austin illegally lobbied the SBE after he was thrown off, and was later censored for his actions. He later was dropped by the California State Bar for failing to take required ethics courses.
At every turn, Ben Austin has been dishonest, opportunistic, greedy, self-serving, and vicious. Professor Ravitch's calling him and his unconscionable actions "loathsome" doesn't begin to address how depraved, despicable, and deplorable Austin is. Who knows which circle of hell is reserved for him, it's the hell he's creating for impoverished communities and children of color that I'm concerned with.
Now how about a little disclosure Mr. Bruce William Smith, tell everyone how you are trying to open a privately managed charter school, and how you'll ingratiate yourself to anyone who might make your lucrative dream come true.
Thursday, June 06, 2013
First published on @TCFKSM on June 6, 2013
"As it is, the meetings are held downtown in the middle of the day when most parents, students and employees cannot participate. Ultimately this behavior pattern leads to decisions made in a vacuum, isolation from reality and the rubberstamping of pre-determined outcomes."—Bennett Kayser
Former teacher and current Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board of Education member Bennett Kayser's Op-Ed in the Los Angeles Daily News entitled LAUSD should have more public meetings is well worth reading a sharing widely. Following the piece are excellent comments including ones by special needs children advocate Sonja Luchini and substitute teacher Fredrick Bertz. Not surprisingly, my favorite commentary following the piece is mine, reproduced here:
The current one-public-meeting-a-month schedule was imposed by Mónica García so that she would have more time to spend with her real constituents: billionaires, real estate developers, and well heeled 501c3 sector and charter industry executives.
How does holding frequent public meetings accessible to working class families mesh with certain board members' pro-corporate education reform agenda of forming policy with millionaire Elise Buik of the United Way at Chamber of Commerce luncheons, or deciding which new district building to give away to Philip Lance and Anna Ponce while grazing the buffet at the California Charter School Association headquarters?
Mr. Kayser is right to call on the LAUSD Board to open itself up to the public that pays for the board and our schools. It's time for LAUSD to actually listen to voices of the community instead of outsiders greasing palms of certain board members who have turned the district into a handout for corporations, developers, and greedy charter executives.
With a new board member who actually knows something about education because she was a classroom teacher, and the end of the tyrannical reign of the perpetual president, we might see a district that finally prioritizes people over profits.
The struggle to make LAUSD meetings more accessible has been going on for some time. United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) has been circulating bi-lingual petitions in support of evening meetings for over a year. During my campaign for LAUSD I wrote the following.
For far too long only the well-paid members of the Nonprofit Industrial Complex (NPIC) posing as parents have been able to attend public LAUSD board meetings. Why? Because the meetings are intentionally held when working people...well, are at work or attending school. This petition calls on LAUSD to move public meetings to the evening so that the true voice of the community will be heard. Parents, students, educators, and community have been shut out of LAUSD. Meanwhile the charter industry and the NPICs have dominated the dialog and continue to provide the "Anschutz Four" board members political cover.
As a District 2 Trustee candidate for LAUSD, I endorse all efforts to make board meetings accessible to real stakeholders, and not just the NPICs and wealthy charter sector executives. Download these bilingual petitions and get them into our communities!
Wednesday, June 05, 2013
Tuesday, June 04, 2013
Class Size Matters sent the following amicus research brief in support of the Creating Equitable and Enriching Learning Environments for All Los Angeles Unified School District Students resolution. While I don't like that Board Members Dr. Vladovic et al included mention of Corporate Core (CCSS) and A-G in their resolution, our students will continue to suffer if class sizes aren't reduced. Superintendent Deasy would much rather use Prop 30 funds to hand over to his buddy Rupert Murdoch at Amplify, Inc., than do anything that helps our students.
From the organizers:
PLEASE SHARE! Protest TODAY (Tuesday) at Santee High School at 3PM to get rid of Mayor Villaraigosa's "Partnership" for Los Angeles Schools! They are dishonest, corrupt and shady as hell! They have gotten rid of many teachers, Ethnic Studies classes and now they are trying to get rid of Dr. Rangel! Enough is enough! Let's get rid of these people already! Villaraigosa is leaving City Hall and his corrupt "Partnership" needs to leave Santee!
I've written about PLAS' shutting down Ethnic Studies here: Schools Matter: Mayor Villaraigosa and PLAS CEO Tuck bring Arizona style bigotry to Los Angeles
Watch this fun video exposing idiocy of Parent Revolution and Parent Trigger Laws youtu.be/DaVpO30qfZE via @youtube
— Julie Woestehoff (@pureparents) June 4, 2013
Monday, June 03, 2013
PESJA: Since Llury Garcia is a self-appointed expert on literacy, language arts, & principals, can we expect her to apply for Cobian's job?
Since Llury Garcia is a self-appointed expert on literacy, language arts, & principals, can we expect her to apply for Cobian's job? #LAUSD— PESJA Los Angeles (@PESJA_LA) June 3, 2013
This week, parents voted to accept Cobian's turnaround plan as the next step forward. Although a Parent Revolution statement quoted [Llury] Garcia as saying that parents "spent several months carefully reviewing" the plan, she told The Times last week that she had never read it and disagreed with key elements, such as its focus on reading and writing.—LA Times (emphasis mine)
And Walton Foundation backed Ben Austin of Parent Revolution wonders why the top education expert in the country calls him "loathsome?"
More on the Weigand tragedy
- More on Parent Revolution triggerman Ben Austin's gunning down of a well regarded LAUSD principal
- Right-wing groups stand behind Parent Revolution and Ben Austin—The FreedomWorks Teabaggers
- Weigand ES Community protest the trigger happy Parent Revolution astroturf reactionaries
Sunday, June 02, 2013
@TCFKSM: More on Parent Revolution triggerman Ben Austin's gunning down of a well regarded LAUSD principal
First published on @TCFKSM on June 2, 2013
"The 'parent trigger' by definition is a hostile act. It creates division and conflict. It sets parents against parents. It sets parents against teachers. It sets parents against administrators. It is a "trigger" and triggers kill." — Professor Diane Ravitch
Parent Revolution, the well funded neoliberal operatives in charge of achieving reactionary Andy Smarick's dream of replacing public schools with a privatized system, has been experiencing a little blow back from their recent corporate drive by. In addition to the news of protests against the Weigand trigger pull and another Tea Party group joining forces with Parent Revolution, there has been some interesting criticisms from expected, and unexpected venues.
Even the biggest privatization cheerleaders—the Los Angeles Times—have recently expressed concerns with the anti-democratic trigger process in their The 'parent trigger' trap. Refreshingly, they've even been covering the grassroots resistance to Walton Foundation's Parent Pinkertons. An example is Teresa Watanabe's Watts teachers urge public notice for parent trigger campaignsA surprising source of criticism of both Austin and the so-called Parent Revolution is that bastion of the Nonprofit Industrial Complex (NPIC), the Nonprofit Quarterly (NPQ). In a surprisingly well reasoned piece excoriating the process, the author makes a profound and powerful statement.
Something doesn't add up. Cobian hardly seems like the ogre or incompetent that Austin describes. But Cobian is the first administrator ousted from the Los Angeles public schools under the trigger law. It feels like Parent Revolution was flexing its muscle and putting teachers and administrators on notice. The result seems certain to demoralize teachers far beyond the Weigand Avenue Elementary campus. A button on the webpage of Parent Revolution is, "we <3 our teachers." The Weigand Avenue Elementary School teachers clearly don't feel "<3'ed".
I'm sitting in an emergency UTLA meeting called in response to these hostile take-overs as I'm writting this. While listening to a dozen Weigand parents and teachers speaking effusively about their principal, NPQ's statement that "Cobian hardly seems like the ogre or incompetent that Austin describes" rings all too true. Hearing various educators from school sites current threatened by Wasserman Foundation funded Parent Revolution school terrorists is heartbreaking and reminds me why I've opposed these poverty pimps for so many years.
4LAKids' Scott Folsom sometimes takes somewhat conservative positions on education issues. However, on Parent Trigger he has always been right on the mark. Here is his take on the Weigand situation published in his weekly email digest.
In the San Fernando Valley at Arleta High School (one of the new ones) the principal is retiring in glory having done everything right and having produced the desired results. At Weigand Avenue Elementary School in Watts a principal is booted out, apparently having done nothing wrong save losing a petition-drive popularity contest – courtesy of the Parent Trigger ["Watts teachers urge public notice for parent trigger campaigns"] – with the Board of Ed and Superintendent hiding behind “Our hands are tied, The Law’s the Law!”. As Parent Revolutionary-in-Chief Ben Austin wrote the Parent Trigger Law. As an appointed member of the State Board of Education Ben Austin promoted the Parent Trigger Law – and lobbied for it in the legislature. Now back at P-Rev Ben Austin applies the law…or maybe IS the law! Austin likes to say that the Parent Trigger Law empowers parents – but in reality it empowers Ben Austin – who has been intimately involved in every application of it – welcoming himself to LAUSD as our liberator.
Professor Diane Ravitch has been covering the Weigand tragedy from the get go. Articles like "Parent Trigger" Sets Parents Against Parents in Los Angeles really gets to the heart of the matter. Sherman Dorn's "Parent trigger" as a pale shadow of community involvement is also recommended reading.
I want to close with an expanded version Caroline Grannan's tweet over the weekend. "Parent Revolution - a history of attacking teachers. Ben Austin's awkward made-up story about teachers torturing kids - appalling." The lie laden story she's referring too is the interview Austin did with the arch-reactionaries at ChoiceMedia.TV Austin's mendacious fabrication is disgusting in that he would stoop to such a level, but it's also racist in that he's referring to teachers of color at Compton's McKinley ES. Austin's outrageous lie was carried over to a scene in Philip Anschutz, Bill Gates, and Rupert Murdoch's "Won't Back Down" film. H/T to Jack for reminding everyone of this horrible false narrative.
Saturday, June 01, 2013
While the community and social justice activists protest Ben Austin and his neoliberal wrecking crew, the birchers, birthers, and teabaggers have lined up behind them and their deceptive, divisive, and duplicitous charter trigger law.
Arch-reactionaries FreedomWorks bill themselves as supporting "Lower Taxes, Less Government, More Freedom! Educating and equipping a grassroots army for liberty." FreedomWorks joins a bevy of extreme right-wing groups supporting the Walton Family Foundation backed Parent Revolution and their Parent Trigger law, including The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and The Heartland Institute. The link to their pro-Parent Revolution tweet appears in my tweet above, but it's provided here as well: https://twitter.com/FreedomWorks/status/340660302884528128
"This further substantiates our claim that by not openly demanding wealth redistribution, reparations, or justice for exploited workers, white social justice non-profits function as brokers for the wealthy." — Tiffany Lethabo King and Ewuare Osyande (The Revolution Will Not Be Funded, 82)
Great footage by LArepresents of the community protesting the astroturf perpetuators of the latest corporate drive by in Los Angeles. Parents, community members, and educators held a press conference decrying flaws in the Parent "Tricker" Law, and the deceptive, divisive, and duplicitous tactics used by ALEC and Heartland Institute's closest ally, Parent Revolution. Astroturfers tried to encroach, and were sent scurrying back to their crevices. From the video's introduction:
Parents, teachers and concerned community members at Weigand Elementary say "NO!" to outside billionaire-funded group "Parent Revolution" that has been accused of lying to and misleading K-12 parents in Los Angeles and other cities in California. For more info: Parent Trigger - False Promises, Divided Communities and Disrupted Young Lives
David Phelps (the privileged white male in the white button down shirt) is quite the tough guy getting in the faces of female community members protesting his Walton Foundation funded charter market share expansion group. Please, please, please let David Phelps, Gabe Rose, the diminutive Ben Austin, or any of the other cowardly corporate trigger goons try that intimidation nonsense with me at one of these events in the future.
The footage of the protesters sending Ben Austin's neoliberal austerity crew packing is just as entertaining, as is its following caption.
Parents, teachers and community members send a clear message to outsiders of billionaire backed astroturf group "Parent Revolution." Outnumbered and apparently understanding that they are not welcome at Weigand Elementary, the ParentRev outsiders leave, as their organizer is left alone standing with his clipboard and a smirk on his face.
Considering the unlimited resources the billionaire boys club has devoted to anti-public education outfits like Parent Revolution, we're up against a formidable foe. That said, ordinary working class families, community members, and educators can, and must, run these corporate proxies off our streets and away from our schools!