Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Tell California State Senators to support SB 808

Network for Public Education (NPE) is helping to support California Senate Bill 808. The legislation, while it doesn't go far enough, is an important first step towards reeling in the outrageous excesses of the charter school sector. My letter to my State Senator appears below, as well as the call to action letter from NPE.

Senator de Leon:

I am a third year law student, studying hard so that I can become an attorney and defend families of children with disabilities against discrimination by the lucrative charter school industry. Prior to my studying law, I wrote for numerous publications about the essentially unregulated charter sector, exposing abuses, fraud, misrepresentation, and more importantly, discriminatory conduct towards the most vulnerable students.

Charters discriminate against English language learners, students with disciplinary histories, students with disabilities, and more. Meanwhile, their high-powered executives—many of whom are not even educators—pull down astronomical salaries and use their ability as unregulated 501c3s to award no bid contracts to their friends, relatives, or in the case of a current Los Angeles School Board member, to their own consulting firm. Since members of the taxpaying public don't elect charter school boards, there exists a system that puts public money into private hands with no mechanisms to ensure even a modicum of transparency or oversight.

Furthermore, my alma mater, UCLA, has conducted several studies demonstrating that charter schools exacerbate segregation, and fuel the so-called "school to prison pipeline." A perusal of the studies compiled by UCLA's The Civil Rights Project / Proyecto Derechos Civiles would cause any reasonable person to realize that decades of letting the revenue-stream-driven charter school industry "regulate" itself has resulted in an abject situation.

Therefore, I'm asking you to please support SB 808. This bill would give California’s democratically elected, local school boards the final say when it comes to the approval of charter school petitions. The present system takes away community control, forcing districts to navigate reduced budgets and high legal costs for schools over which they have no authority.

Schools that receive public dollars must be responsible to the public. Thank you.

Dear Robert D,

NPE and NPE Action have long been concerned about charter schools in California. You can read our NPE reports about them here.

Now there is a chance to make a small improvement. On April 26th, SB 808 comes up for a hearing before the Senate Education Committee.

This bill would give California’s democratically elected, local school boards the final say when it comes to the approval of charter school petitions. Under current laws, charter petitioners can appeal to state and county boards of education, thereby taking away community control, forcing districts to navigate reduced budgets and high legal costs for schools over which they have no authority. Meanwhile, charter schools often receive blank checks, in the form of pro-bono legal work, funded by the billionaire-backed lobbying group, The California Charter Schools Association (CCSA). We need to level the playing field, so that all schools which receive public funding are responsible and accountable in the same ways.

Here is what we need you to do.

1. Send an email to your Senator. We make it very easy- just click here.

2. Call the members of the Senate Education Committee and ask them to vote YES on SB 808.

• Benjamin Allen, Chair (Santa Monica) 916-651-4026
• Scott Wilk, Vice Chair (Santa Clarita) 916-651-4021
• Cathleen Galgiani (Stockton) 916-651-4005
• Connie M. Leyva (Chino) 916-651-4020
• Tony Mendoza (Artesia) 916-651-4032
• Richard Pan (Sacramento) 916-651-4006
• Andy Vidak (Hanford) 916-651-4014

Let them know that the taxpayers of California deserve local, democratically elected and accountable officials overseeing how their children are educated and tax dollars are spent. Let them know that you are tired of charter school scandals. California's children and taxpayers deserve better.

Thank you for all that you do.

Carol Burris

Executive Director of NPE Action


GO ON STRIKE! May 1, 2017


Tuesday, March 07, 2017

How our household voted March 7, 2017


H — yes | Despite the fact that the reactionaries at the billionaire funded United Way of Greater Los Angeles supported it.
Mayor — Frantz Pierre | Some activists suggested Schawartz, but his mailers indicated he was a Clinton-Obama neoliberal. When respected Green Party CD34 Candidate Kenneth Mejia endorsed Pierre, that’s all we needed.
City Attorney — BLANK | Mike Feuer supported the racist Echo Parque gang injunction to help speed gentrification and line developer pockets. We don’t vote for racists.
Controller — BLANK | Ron Galperin could have used his position to expose all of the scandals in the charter school industry that steal money from public school students. He did not.
City Council — Jessica Salans | She’s endorsed by the Green Party, and has seemingly good politics. In 2013 I endorsed, we contributed, and we voted for Mitch O’Farrell, whom we thought leaned left, or at least center. However, O’Farrell supported the racist Echo Parque gang injunction to help speed gentrification and line developer pockets. We don’t vote for racists.
M — BLANK | We don’t smoke weed. Our stance is this is an issue for the stoners to decide for themselves.
N — BLANK | See explanation for M supra.
P— BLANK | We didn’t have sufficient time to formulate a position on this.
S — YES | Highly respected activists in communities most impacted are supporting this, including Damien Goodmon and Ron Gochez. This city is run by insatiably greedy developers, and while S isn’t the solution, it might give us enough time to organize a real response to the “genocide by gentrification” occurring at breakneck speeds. After watching what happened in my zip code, we embrace any resistance, even this imperfect kind, against the onslaught of unchecked development.
CC Trustees — Steven Veres, Dallas Fowler, and Dr. Gabriel Buelna | An activist we trust on these issues provided these picks.
LAUSD D2 — | Toss up between Carl Petersen and Lisa Alva. This was tough because both candidates have their pros and cons. Either Petersen or Alva are exponentially better than right-wing school privatizer Garcia. In the end we went with the candidate endorsed by Associated Administrators of Los Angeles. We can only hope that extremist Garcia and her vile Betsy DeVos agenda is defeated.

Remember that in Congressional District 34 we have a special election on April 4, 2017. Be sure to vote…

Kenneth Mejia for Congress!





Saturday, February 25, 2017

Schools Matter: Yolie Flores Aguilar email colluding with charter school executives

First published on Schools Matter on February 20, 2017

“PLEASE don’t forward this email. simply state it in your own words.”—Yolie Flores Aguilar

Corporatist Yolie Flores always puts privately managed charters first.This email was addressed to some 60 individuals, including myself, on February 4, 2017. While its authenticity is not absolutely certain, I have researched the email addresses in the email body and they all seem legitimate. The content is consistent with the language that these charter school executives use both in public and internal conversations.

Yolie Flores Aguilar was an employee of the infamous Gates Foundation (of ALEC and Discovery Institute donation fame) while she sat on the LAUSD Board. She brought a resolution to give away new schools built with taxpayer dollars to privately managed charter school corporations.

Here Flores colludes with several well paid charter executives to avoid public mention that her resolution (inappropriately named Public [sic] School Choice) was essentially a real estate bonanza for the lucrative charter school sector. Marco Petruzzi and Ben Austin of Green Dot/Parent Revolution, Judy Burton of Alliance, Mike Piscal of ICEF are the big names in this secret missive. The lot of them have been plagued by scandals, but most of them are still profiting mightily from the charter industry.

Flores is currently running for U.S. Congress. If she's capable of this sort of duplicity and malfeasance while on a school board, imagine her in another position of power to further serve her corporate masters. Arch-reactionary Betsy DeVos would love to have more neoliberal Democrats that support her school privatization agenda of charters-vouchers. DeVos already has corporatists like Corey Booker in her thrall, Yolie Flores would be no different.

The second document should help authenticate this email chain. It's an email from Dr. Danny Weil with Yolie Flores Aguilar's <itsyolie@sbcglobal.net> email address in the to field. I recall she had a blog by the same name (i.e. "itsyolie"), and remember seeing emails from her from that address back in that era.

Yolie Flores Aguilar email colluding with charter school executives by Robert D. Skeels on Scribd

Dr. Danny Weil email with Yolie Flores Aguilar's <itsyolie@sbcglobal.net> email address by Robert D. Skeels on Scribd


Monday, February 20, 2017

ALWAYS PUNCH NAZIS | This Shouldn't Be News

This video is brilliant. If we wait for fascists like Richard Spencer to herd us into concentration camps, then it's too late to punch them. I'm grateful that antifa and black bloc are doing the work to prevent these vile white supremacists and other assorted eugenists from growing.


Sunday, February 19, 2017

A tangible way to fight Betsy DeVos' arch-reactionary EdReform agenda?


Saturday, February 18, 2017

Schools Matter: The Monica Garcia - Betsy DeVos connection

First published on Schools Matter on December 13, 2016

“Monica Garcia believes in… choice… She expanded charter schools” — Michael R. Bloomberg and A. Jerrold Perenchio’s Coalition for School Reform

Los Angeles has had its own Betsy DeVos for many years in the form of anti-public school politician Monica Garcia.

Extremist Betsy DeVos was a long time favorite of neoliberal corporate education reform oriented Liberals and reactionary organizations like Democrats for Education Reform, so it's surprising that there's a little bit of consternation coming from some Democrats over Trump's ED pick. On the other hand, right-wing extremists like Campbell Brown seemingly can't contain their joy over the arch-reactionary appointment. Ultimately DeVos's school privatization policies won't differ substantively from those of the doltish Arne Duncan or John King. She'll just get to our rulers' end goal of eliminating public education quicker than the Bush and Obama Administrations were able to.

Los Angeles has had its own Betsy DeVos for many years in the form of anti-public school politician Monica Garcia. Garcia is running for a third term, and her long record of expanding revenue streams and market share for the lucrative charter school industry is legendary. Here are some of DeVos and Garcia's connections and shared values:

  • Betsy DeVos financially supports, and was on the board of publisher (The 74) of the dubious "LA School Report", a high-profile blog that has provided non-stop favorable publicity and propaganda for Moníca García since its inception.

  • DeVos has made sizable contributions to organizations that in turn made campaign contributions to SuperPAC Independent Expenditures supporting García's elections. Follow the money to organization like the now defunct Coalition for School Reform, and Great Public Schools Los Angeles, and also the current CCSA run Parent Teacher Alliance dark money SuperPAC.

  • DeVos funds the organizations espousing racist "school choice" policies from which García derives many of her policy positions and talking points.

  • DeVos and García openly support religious, and religious affiliated organizations running charter chains. DeVos with the various Christian Identity and white supremacist organizations she's associated with, and García, whose long time relationship with The Pacifica Institute and the shadowy Gülen network are well documented.


Friday, February 17, 2017

Associated Administrators of Los Angeles LAUSD Endorsements 2017

The LAUSD is an Early Education, K-12 through Adult Education Division District. Resources and services must be provided accordingly. — Associated Administrators of Los Angeles (AALA)

Associated Administrators of Los Angeles From the February 6, 2017 issue of Update

In January, the PAC Steering Committee invited the thirteen candidates for Board Districts 2, 4, and 6 to interviews. All came, with the exception of three. Candidates received AALA’s core values in advance, which may be accessed HERE. Interviews were 30 minutes in length and with the exception of the two incumbents

Monica Garcia and Steve Zimmer, all candidates were asked the same six questions on the following topics: background information and policies; role of Board Members; AALA’s core values; administrator's roles and workload; political base, fundraising, and campaign; final comments and questions.

The committee believes its recommended candidates are true advocates for public schools, are against privatization, and will ensure that all students are provided access and equity to a quality education. Following lively discussion, the PAC Council voted to endorse the following candidates:

  • Board District 2—Lisa Alva
  • Board District 4—Steve Zimmer
  • Board District 6—Imelda Padilla
  • L.A. City Council Seat 7—Mónica Ratliff

The Council also voted to donate $1,100 (the maximum allowed by law) to the candidates for the Board of Education and $750 to Mónica Ratliff. These funds come from AALA’s PAC account, which is separate from AALA’s operating budget. AALA members can choose whether to direct a portion of their AALA dues to the PAC.


Schools Matter: I can't think of anyone as profoundly ignorant, or as uniquely unqualified to be appointed Secretary of Education as Betsy…

First published on Schools Matter on February 07, 2017

I can't think of anyone as profoundly ignorant, or as uniquely unqualified to be appointed Secretary of Education as Betsy…

…oh, wait, never-mind.

Let's not forget that neoliberal school privatization is a bipartisan project. Both parties fail education.

A natural progression of neoliberalism

  • Rod Paige
  • Margaret Spellings
  • Arne Duncan
  • John King
  • Betsy DeVos

Not opposing the neoliberal corporate education reform agenda when Democrats were in charge is what led to the DeVos disaster. Not unlike how the Hillary Rodham Clinton camp's "Elevating Pied Piper Candidates" led to the Trump fiasco.


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Student Empowerment through Culture and Language

Student Empowerment through Culture and Language

3303 Wilshire Blvd Fl 10,
Los Angeles, California 90010
 Ethnic Studies, Dual and Mulitilingual Education. With the passage of Prop 58 the Multilingual Education Act and AB2016 Ethnic Studies we have a historic opportunity to advance issues and more. Join the UTLA Raza Ed. and Bilingual Education Commitee as we bring scholars, educators and community together for an engaging discussion. Best of all, this event is FREE!

Professors Solórzano and Krashen: Student Empowerment through Culture and Language by Robert D. Skeels on Scribd


Monday, January 16, 2017

Los Angeles student groups to protest racism and other right-wing hate

A busy week will be upon us. As most of you know, CEJ's campaign-turned-movement for the Schools LA Students Deserve has really grown in the last few years. Many of our chapters (we have 14 now!!) are called Students Deserve and our students, parents and teachers often call us Students Deserve now, although we are still Coalition for Educational Justice as well (CEJ). We have chapters as far west as Venice HS, as far east as Garfield HS, in Hollywood, Koreatown, Silver Lake, North Hollywood and South LA. We're seeing our dream of organizing across our huge city come to life!!
We wanted to share an exciting event  that our students have planned on their own with some support from our two new paid Students Deserve organizers, Maricela (full-time student and parent organizer) and Alfredo (part-time, supports the student organizing piece).
We're very excited to announce:
  • Weds, January 18th: Students United Against Hate, United for the Communities LA Students Deserve 
Event- MacArthur Park 4:30pm
 (PDF Flyer attached below) We want a safe space for students by students as we challenge Trump, his politics, his followers, the systems of oppression that have allowed him to exist, and the damage that he wants to do to us.

    There will be music, art, spoken word and a panel discussion. Our students are AWESOME. Please come to MacArthur Park on Wednesday after school if you are available!! We know that UTLA Chapter Chairs have Area Meetings that afternoon. 
We also will be involved on Thursday: January 19th: UTLA/ROS LA Morning Action. You probably know about the action taking place at schools. Students Deserve students want to support whatever this looks like at your campus to show that we won’t let Trump mess with schools and our communities.
Stay involved. Stay strong. Stay united. We will not be bullied by the incoming president and his right-wing cabinet nominees. WE WILL NOT BACK DOWN!
See you on Wednesday standing strong at MacArthur Park and Thursday standing strong at our schools!!


Saturday, January 14, 2017

NPE Action endorses Alva and Petersen for the LAUSD Board of Education

Carl Petersen and Lisa Alva for LAUSD

The Network for Public Education Action is proud to endorse two candidates for the Los Angeles Board of Education District 2 primary election—Lisa Alva and Carl Petersen. 
Although it is very unusual for us to endorse two for the same position, both are well qualified and are committed to the ideals of NPE Action.
The third candidate in the race, the incumbent Monica Garcia, has clearly demonstrated by her record that she is not aligned with the pro-public education agenda of the Network for Public Education Action.
We therefore urge our supporters to vote for either Lisa or Carl.

Lisa Alva
Lisa has been a classroom teacher, school leader and a voice for teachers for 18 years. She told us that her first priority if elected “would be to redirect funding, resources and personnel to neighborhood public schools so that all children, especially at-risk youth, have enough variety in classes, and small enough classes, to benefit from a complete education that includes electives and vocational-technical training, from pre-K through Adult School. This means beginning and ending every conversation with the question, “How will this benefit students?”
She supports less standardized testing, and smaller class sizes. She also embraces charter school reform and transparency, and a return to democratically controlled schools.
According to Lisa, “Charter schools needlessly drain resources from neighborhood schools, weaken the teaching profession and leave more students behind than they serve.”
Carl Petersen
Carl is the father of five children, all of whom have attended public schools. Two of his daughters are on the autism spectrum so he is especially sensitive to the importance of funding for students with special needs.
Carl’s first priority is to stop Eli Broad’s Great Public Schools Now Initiative “to reach 50 percent charter market share.” According to Carl, “The LAUSD does not currently have the capacity, or the will, to oversee the 250 charters that already operate within the District. Doubling the number of these organizations will create opportunities for financial improprieties like those that have occurred at El Camino Real Charter High School, where public funds were used for expensive dinners, first class airfare and personal expenses. Charters are currently allowed to cherry pick students who are not English learners, do not have special education needs and do not have behavioral issues. The higher costs of serving these students are borne by the LAUSD schools that continue to serve these populations. Increasing the number of charters will shift these costs to an even lower base of students. The bankruptcy of the District is a likely result.”
Carl believes there should be less testing and he is opposed to the Common Core. He believes that there should be more accountability for the Los Angeles Board of Education.
The LAUSD school board election primary will take place on March 7.  We ask you to choose between these two fine candidates when you cast your vote. 
Thank you,
Carol Burris
Executive Director
You can share these endorsements using the following links:


Schools Matter: DeVos: a product of bipartisan embrace of failed, racist “school choice” policies

First published on Schools Matter on December 20, 2016

“I stand behind the charter school… movement, because parents do deserve greater choice” — Hillary Rodham Clinton

With both mainstream presidential candidates publicly stating they believed in the white supremacist notion of school choice, it wasn’t hard to see the Trump nomination of someone as extreme as Betsy DeVos as being possible. How these abject, failed policies play out in reality is instructive.

Vice on Detroit: School choice gutted Detroit’s public schools. The rest of the country is next.


Schools Matter: Grit-meister Angela Duckworth headlines Jeb Bush's reactionary ExcelinEd summit

First published on Schools Matter on October 06, 2016

“As a close protege of Dr. Martin Seligman, Angela Duckworth serves as Seligman’s point person in moving his brand of paternalistic corporate psychology and character control into schools that teach the children of the poor.” — Professor James Horn

When modern day eugenicist Angela Duckworth isn't transforming Martin Seligman's torture techniques into "character development" policies for children of the poor, she's headlining events held by the nation's most reactionary, right-wing extremists.

What will the perseverance paramour be preaching to her DeVos, Bradley, Broad, Walton, Fisher, Gates, and Bloomberg partisans? Well, GRIT of course! What else do folks that otherwise engage in victim blaming talk about? You're poor because you don't try hard enough and give up too easily!

Nothing says hard work and perseverance like a handsome inheritance—just ask the Walton fortune heirs, who are both key sponsors of the summit and top ExcelinEd Donors. They're gritty, and so is Duckworth.

Modern day eugenicist Angela Duckworth Modern day eugenicist Angela Duckworth


Schools Matter: Another defeat in court for right-wing privatizer David F. Welch

First published on Schools Matter on September 23, 2016

“People need to understand that there’s tons of money in nonprofits.” — Brett Bymaster

David F. Welch neoliberal corporate education reform pusher

Gates Foundation rag EdSource and irrepressible education writer Peter Greene recently announced another resounding defeat in court for the anti-public education outfit Students Matter. The trial court ruled against David F. Welch's corporate reform group in Doe vs. Antioch. Welch's other action, the wrongheaded Vergara suit, recently ended with the Supreme Court of California's refusal to hear his group's appeal. I had some observations reproduced here.

Once more right-wing extremist David F. Welch costs the people of California untold sums of money with his reactionary group’s wrongheaded causes of action. One wonders how many school libraries could have been stocked with the resources squandered defending against these bad faith lawsuits brought by his group.

As a Juris Doctor candidate myself, I suppose I can consider Marcellus McRae, Joshua S. Lipshutz, and Theodore Boutrous of corporate firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher as somewhat instructive. They have demonstrated repeatedly how NOT to read statutes, how to present evidence that is neither logically nor legally relevant, and how to make bad faith arguments without conscience. I will take their lessons on how not to conduct myself as an attorney to heart.

Seems like they need refreshers in issue spotting and ethics. Having just scored a 124 on the MPRE myself, perhaps I could help them with the latter.