"Jack," a frequent commenter on Professor Diane Ravitch's site, sent a follow up to his Citizen Jack's Open Letter To The Author Of The L.A. Weekly Article About Ref Rodriguez.
On the subject of class and socio-economic status in this election, some things need to be said.
Ref portrays himself as a poor Chicano from the barrio who cares about the education well-being of poor Chicanos in the barrio.
Well, let’s see… because his PUC charters are unregulated, Ref can pay himself whatever he wants, and his workers as little (or as much) as he wants.
So given that unchecked power, how does Ref use it to provide for the well-being of his fellow poor Chicanos from the barrio?
Rodriguez pays himself $350,000 (a third of a million dollars) annually, while he pays his custodial and cafeteria workers—all low-income Latinos—$8/hour instead of the living wage that their counterparts in the traditional public schools get paid… while principals in traditional public schools (a brutal job in so many ways) earn only around $100,000 annually. To quote Gordon Gekko, that's a zero-sum game. The money that Ref pays himself is money that doesn't go to those workers, (or doesn't get to the classroom, for that matter)
Try to live in L.A. on $8/hour.
Now let's say that you're a parent (or just a citizen concerned about public education) that objects to the gross salaries that Ref and other bosses at PUC receive, and also object to the custodial and cafeteria workers (all low-income Latinos) get paid slave wages... You want to go in front of the LAUSD Board (the one Ref is trying get elected to) and demand a reduction in the bosses' salaries, and an increase in those workers' salaries ... as those are your economic peers in the community.
WELL, YOU CAN'T. Well, you can, but you'd be wasting your breath. That's the way this whole privatized charter thing works. A huge multi-million-dollar amount of your tax money gets dumped into an account and is the school's annual budget. That's it as far as any oversight that the Board has from that point on. The charter bosses can spend that money any way they damn please (concerns about "Better Meals 4 You"-style nepotism corruption be damned). You can only uncover such corruption after the fact, and by that time, your tax money is gone, baby, gone... never to be returned. Ref makes $350,000 for supervising about 3,000 students, while LAUSD Superintendent Cortines gets less, ($300,000) for supervising 670,000 students.
I would like to know exactly what Ref does in a typical 9-to-5, 40-hour week to justify getting paid that kind of cash? It can't be improving the operations of the school, or helping teachers... critiquing instruction, helping design a lesson plan, assisting in classroom management, leading I.E.P. / S.S.T. meetings, or professional development. Ref has ZERO education, training, or experience teaching high school or working as an administrator. (Just out of college, he got in early on the whole charter school racket (1999), without ever learning anything from the ground up.)
As opposed to incumbent Board Member Bennett Kayser, who has 30 years in classroom followed by years as an administrator. Kayser went straight from decades of dedicated work in the schoolhouse to then serve on the Board, so he has an intimate, and detailed knowledge of what students, need, what teachers need, and, in general, what schools need.
Also... Bennet's most certainly not in it for the money... the job pays only $40,000 year., and that's all he earns, or desires to.
The choice is easy, but the trouble is that Ref is outspending Bennet 8-to-1.... dozens of colored cardboard stuffing your mailbox attest to this.
Now, think about that for a second. Billionaires from out of the state and within the state--money-motivated privatizers who don't even live here in LAUSD, whose kids don't go to school here---have pumped in $5 million total tp a PAC to elect Ref.. for a political office that pays only $40,000 ???!!
And we're supposed to believe that they're doing it because they care so much about the education of poor and middle class students? Does that pass the smell test? Look closer and you see how---once Ref is elected and has to power to do their bidding---they will profit from chunk after chunk of the district being given to charter school companies owned and/or allied with them (and then removed from any public oversight), and also profit from companies that they own---in whole or in part---that will reap billions in exchange for providing dubious digital learning, on-line learning, curriculum. etc. to both charters and traditional public schools.
Ref's backers are those oxymoronic and entrepreneurial creatures that populate today's landscape of what's called neo-liberalism... "vulture philanthropists"... "philanthro-preneurs". Unrelieved greed covered the thinnest false veneer of social responsibility.
If you want to keep a money-motivated privatizer like Ref Rodriguez (and his corporate backers) out of power...
if you want to keep our schools truly public---accountable & transparent to the public, controlled by the public via democratically-elected school boards, and educating all of the public, including... as the Good Book says.... the "least of our brethren"... the most vulnerable... special ed. kids, ESL kids, homeless, foster care kids... (the ones charters kick out with abandon, or refuse to accept in the first place)...
If you want all this, then donate to Ref's opponent, Bennett Kayser—a 30-year teacher and administrator who's not in it for the money, but for the students, and for the community. Tell eveyrone you know in District 5 to vote for Bennett Kayser--friends, neighbors, co-workers, people you went to high school with, grade school, college, whatever.
Here’s where you can donate on-line to Bennett Kayser’s campaign:
Here’s his website in general:
Re-Elect Bennett Kayser for School Board 2015