Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Evidence against Mr. Ben Austin of LA City and Green Dot Public [sic] Schools Part One

"It would force the district to learn how to run great schools by forcing them to COMPETE." -- Ben Austin (Executive Director LAPU/PR)

"There's nothing the matter with teachers that a little less unionization and more COMPETITION couldn't cure." -- Ann Coulter (racist reactionary right wing pundit)

Report Green Dot's Ben Austin on the City Ethics Commission Complaint Form OnlineNovember 9, 2009

Attn: Investigator currently assigned to Mr. Ben Austin Case # 2010-36

Enc: PDF file with scans of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's official blog

I reported Mr. Austin of the City Attorney's office, for what I perceived as possible violations of the City's Code of Ethics, around mid-July of this year. While I finally received a response from the Ethics Commission in August, I have never once been contacted regarding evidence, nor asked why I reported Mr. Austin to begin with. While I find this highly irregular, I understand your department is probably understaffed and overwhelmed.

In light of this, I will begin sending evidence against Mr. Austin on a frequent basis, as my schedule permits. Some of this information I will republish publicly. Some information is sensitive in nature, so I will only send it to the Commission and select persons on the CC list. Given the breadth of my readership in the various publications I'm published in, the ones made public will find a large audience.

The first thing I want to submit is the enclosed attachment. It is a print out of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's official blog from September 1, 2009. The post in question dates from August 12, which was the third page of the print out. I also have paper copies available for viewing.

Ben Austin being given carte blanche to post on the Mayor's blog is problematic on several levels. First off, the biography for Mr. Austin under the post makes no mention of Mr. Austin being a city employee. Many taxpayers would be furious to learn they subsidize Mr. Austin's efforts to privatize education, when he is really supposed to be working at his city job. However, it's more telling that Mr. Austin choose not to reveal his city employment since many would want to know if he used his connections to the Mayor as a member of the City Attorney's Office to press his political agenda on the Mayor's high profile blog. It's not as if Mayor Villaraigosa invited school privatization opponents to post their thoughts on his official blog, I know that neither I, nor any public school advocates were asked to contribute.

Another problem with Mr. Austin being able to shamelessly promote the organization he moonlights for on a public venue like the Mayor's official blog, is that Mr. Austin stands to gain financially from the outcome. His bonuses and continued employment with Green Dot (LAPU/PR) is entirely contingent on his ability to press through the political agenda of the CMOs and the wealthy benefactors that subsidize the CMO/charter/voucher establishment. Mr. Austin's role in the passage of the corporate charter school choice resolution was critical. The fact that he was able to use his status as a city employee to garner favors from the Mayor's office, obtain inside information from LAUSD, and manipulate public institutions is unconscionable.

While the damage to our communities as a direct result of Mr. Austin's actions will be difficult to mitigate, at least the citizens of Los Angeles deserve an explanation as to how such a seeming conflict of interest can continue unabated.

Please look forward to more such evidence being submitted in the near future.

Advocating Public Education

Robert D. Skeels


Friday, December 18, 2009

Grannan looks at Reactionary Schwarzenegger's Affinity for Green Dot Public [sic] Schools

"The Obama administration is using its unprecedented billions to advance a strategy of deregulation and deprofessionalization." -- Diane Ravitch (celebrated education professor and author)

Support Parents and UTLA against LAUSD and Green Dot's corporate charter cash cowsThank you Caroline for your A sharp-eyed press view of Schwarzenegger and charter schools

Recently, Kenneth Libby of "Schools Matter" had a brilliant piece on how the sociopath Schwarzenegger spouts love for charters, choice, and other Milton Friedman cum Ayn Rand fantasies in Governator, Charter Schools, and the Market

While others here will take shots at the hard working women and men who teach children in our communities, a job teacher critics could never handle, your piece here is discussing the extreme right wing ideologues, charter-voucher charlatans, and corporate backers of the Governor and his failed charter-voucher vision. At least Schwarzenegger's close political ally, wealthy Beverly Hills Barrister Ben Austin, stands to gain even more financially, should their "race to privatization" package pass the state legislature.

Nor will teacher bashers speak to the millions upon millions in extra funding charters schools like Green Dot Public [sic] schools receive from nefarious right wing ideologues like AIG bailout recipient Eli Broad, convicted insider trader Michael Milkin, convicted predatory monopolist William Gates III, and the criminally exploitative Walton children. Sums so vast that the CTA figures mentioned above pale in comparison. I always love the contradiction of being told throwing more money at education won't solve any problems, while all the while the rich and powerful are throwing money into the democracy subverting kick back laden cronyism that is the charter-voucher school empire.

Schwarzenegger, Duncan, Romero, Villaraigosa, Barr, Petruzzi, Flores-Aguilar, Garcia, and Austin don't care at all about children or communities, as their vicious budget cuts have shown time and again! So why sudden enthusiasm about Duncan's blackmail plan? Follow the money:

"The education industry represents, in our opinion, the final frontier of a number of sectors once under public control... represents the largest market opportunity... the K-12 market is the Big Enchilada." -- Montgomery Securities prospectus quoted in Jonathan Kozol's "The Big Enchilada"

The Kozol quote pretty much sums up everything we need to know about the so called charter-voucher "movement." Rich executives keep getting richer, the sycophantic politicians keep getting donations, and our communities are left to languish in abject misery.

In response to an uneducated and unqualified comment following mine:

Is Mr. Krause serious? "there is nothing to skim off once expenses are paid" Have you seen the astronomical six figure salaries people like Austin, Petruzzi, Ressler, and Barr make? Have you heard about Green Dot's Steve Barr embezzling $51K, and then merely having to return it with no consequences once caught? Mr. Krause better warn all the CMO/EMO investors, as corporate charter-voucher schools are now all the rage for filthy predatory venture capitalists and hedge fund managers. There's far too much information available for people to claim charter-vouchers schools represent accountability, efficiency, or even public good. Available studies, statistics, and outrageous scandals like that mentioned above prove otherwise. Sorry, Green Dot hasn't "collected and folded up" just yet. In fact, Secretary of Education Duncan claims they've "cracked the code." I suppose he's right, the charter-voucher charlatans have cracked the code to malfeasance, mendacity, and MONEY!


Thursday, December 17, 2009

CCSA'S Jed Wallace's woeful corporate charter chicanery, defending the indefensible

Private money is paying for key senior staff positions... raising questions about transparency and the direction of reforms in the nation's second-largest school system. -- Howard Blume (Los Angeles Times Education Staff Writer)

Defend Public Schools from Corporate Charter Charlatans Like Jed WallaceWhile the Los Angeles Times is decidedly pro corporate charter-voucher in both concept and content, they are still a news source that needs a modicum of credibility in order to survive as a viable business. Their recent Learning about ethics discussing the utter unaccountability and lack of transparency in the corporate charter-voucher school syndicate was a major step towards exposing the kind of criminality school privatization opens the door to. Discussing the ethics issue (or in Barr's case the lack thereof) of charter school executive Steve Barr making off with a cool $51K was something we in the social justice community were heartened by. Howard Blume's brilliant Key L.A. Unified staff positions are funded privately exposed the incredible prospect that the billionaires club isn't satisfied with buying off politicians like Romero, Villaraigosa, Garcia, and Flores-Aguilar. The nefarious charter-voucher advocating plutocrats including the Waltons, Gates, Milkins, and Broads are now placing their "Made Men" inside public institutions that were at one time accountable to the tax payers. We public education activists knew Matt Hill was a bad guy with deep ties to Green Dot Public [sic] Schools, but we didn't know he was on Eli Broad's payroll. Great way to subvert democratic processes, Ben Austin must be proud.

In light of this tepid chastisement of their extremely profitable industry, Jed Wallace, the well heeled President and CEO of the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) launched an amateurish and fact free polemic entitled Who's watching charter schools [1] which the Los Angeles Times saw fit to publish in their online blowback section. Kenneth Libby of Schools Matter has fun picking apart Wallace's nonsensical Ayn Rand cum Milton Freidman fantasy land in Charter Lies.

Here's my letter to Mr. Wallace.

Mr. Wallace:

RE: "Who's watching charter schools" [1]

If regular working class people were "missing" $51,000 in receipts like Steve Barr, we would be FIRED and ARRESTED! What's more, Green Dot, like all EMO/CMO, suck up our tax dollars with the above-mentioned type of "accountability" going on. Only in the corporate charter-voucher school realm is such malfeasance and mendacity rewarded. Defending your fellow plutocrats in your fact-free diatribe is tantamount to being an accomplice to burglary.

In fact, we've been waiting for years to see a recent 990 come out of Green Dot's LAPU/PR subsidiary. Last one available was 2006 when Ryan Smith held the highly paid CEO post before moving on to Mayor Villaraigosa's education wrecking crew. I know Ben Austin wants his additional income to be kept secret, but rumor is his moonlighting gig at LAPU/PR pays more than his City Attorney day job. I guess that's the kind of "self policing" you are referring to here, no?

What's next Mr. Wallace? A defense of the AIG and Goldman Sachs' bailout financed bonuses? They claimed they'd do an adequate job "self policing" after deposing Glass-Steagall. They too fleeced the tax payers. No wonder hedge fund managers love charter-voucher schools!

Advocating Public Education

Robert D. Skeels

PS: $51K is a lot of fancy lunches with Romero, Garcia, and Flores-Aguilar. I hope your fellow country club elitist, Barr, enjoyed each and every one of them. It (privatization) is broke, and must be fixed!




Justice for Nativo Lopez and Overhill Farms Workers

Justice for Nativo Lopez and Overhill Farms WorkersFact Sheet

"An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." -- Martin Luther King, Jr.

INTRODUCTION. Nativo Lopez is known nationally for his organizing and support of immigrants, workers, and students. As president of the Mexican American Political Association and national director of the Hermandad Mexicana Latinoamericana, Nativo is a vocal advocate for the rights of undocumented immigrants who face persecution because of their status: be it at their workplace, school, or communities. Most recently he founded a new independent union, the General Brotherhood of Workers International Union, and has been working closely with terminated employees from the company Overhill Farms and assisting in their fight against unjust firings. Overhill Farms is the largest food processing and manufacturing company in California with between 800 and 1,000 employees, based in the city of Vernon, and supplies packaged food product to companies such as Jenny Craig, Panda Express, El Pollo Loco, American Airlines, Northwest Airlines, Safeway, and many other super-market chain stores.

  • Nativo faces eight felony charges by the Los Angeles District Attorney, Steve Cooley, that include: fraudulent voter registration, fraudulent document filing, perjury, and fraudulent voting. On July 8th, 2009, Nativo declared himself "NOT GUILTY" to a judge during his arraignment. These charges are based on allegations that he used a business address (of his organization) to register to vote and vote in an election, while allegedly residing at a different location. The period in question was January 2006 to March 2008. He voted on one single occasion, and never in multiple jurisdictions. The California Secretary of State investigated the case for one-and-a-half years, while the department could have decided to take administrative action, instead turned it over to the Los Angeles County District Attorney for prosecution.
  • These charges could have been resolved administratively due to their technical nature. Instead, they are being pursued as felony charges. It is a clear example of selective prosecution. Where others have never been prosecuted for similar infractions, Nativo has been targeted at a time that he has been vocal against the broken immigration system and stood up in defense of the workers at Overhill Farms, and the 1,800 workers terminated recently at American Apparel.
  • An arrest warrant was issued on June 22, 2009, however, false reports of his arrest have painted a flawed image of the actual nature of these charges and the events that followed. Nativo in fact presented himself to a judge at the Los Angeles Superior Court on June 24, 2009, the day before reports were made, and allowed to leave on his own recognizance.
  • The workers at Overhill Farms that stood up against their unfair boss have also been targeted by a lawsuit of the company. On July 1, 2009, a civil lawsuit was filed against Nativo Lopez and six worker leaders - charged with extortion, defamation and intentional interference with the company's customers, employees, and the union, which represents the majority of the employees. The company claims that they are being pressured to rehire the terminated employees but fails to mention anything about the procedure it took to select the almost 300 employees who were accused of a discrepancy in their social security numbers and given only 30 days to clear up the matter. These 300 employees had worked for the company between 5 and 20 years and had established their seniority and benefits under their union contract. When the employees questioned the company about their discriminatory practices, the company changed their story a few times and terminated them. Overhill Farms was not under any obligation by the Social Security Administration, the Internal Revenue Service, or any other government entity to fire the employees. The company also chose to terminate workers who presented evidence to correct the discrepancy. Overhill Farms turned around and hired part-time employees (so classified), but works them 50 to 60 hours weekly, at minimum wage and provides them absolutely no benefits. This was clearly the scheme of the company to eliminate seniority employees and replace them with lower wage part-time workers.
  • The charges (both the felonies and civil charges) against Nativo and the workers are a clear attempt to distract them from their call for a national boycott against Overhill Farms until the company rehires the dismissed workers. The charges are aimed at distracting the public from the real issue at hand.
  • Nativo's preliminary hearing will be on December 17, 2009 at 9:00 a.m. at the Los Angeles Superior Court at 210 W. Temple St., Los Angeles, 90012, Dept. 36 on the 3rd Floor.

For more information on assisting in the Justice for Nativo and Overhill Farms Workers Defense Committee please contact Taina Reyes at or call (323) 269-1575.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Sadly, it's not Sayonara for the Silver Lake Snake Oil Salesman Steve Barr

"It's like me saying, 'Duffy's a pig fucker.' Have I seen him fuck a pig? Do I have photos?" -- Steve Barr (Founder and (former) Chairman, Green Dot)

To be sure, Steve Barr lost his position because of the malfeasance of the missing $51,000 scandal, his embarrassing falling out with Michele Rhee during Green Dot Public [sic] Schools' negotiations in D.C., and his constant wrangling with the one man at Green Dot who is greedier than he is -- Marco Petruzzi. The money grubbing Green Dot Public [sic] Schools machine would have discarded the Silver Lake snake oil salesman completely, except their decade long public relations campaign portraying Steve Barr as the "friendly face" of the neoliberal dismantling of public education by corporate interests has been so successful, it would have harmed the corporate charter-voucher establishment in the long run. In the interest of "market share" Green Dot kept Barr on to serve as the corporate spokesperson for the sycophantic right wing business press and other corporate sociopaths to dote on him while they eliminate the last vestiges of the public commons, and give themselves bailout financed bonuses.

Steve Barr's corporate charter-voucher establishment in Los Angeles, like all EMO/CMO factory schools with their unelected and unaccountable boards, have been a paradigm of parent and community disenfranchisement. Recent definitive studies citing both charter school racism and CMO charter-voucher school discrimination and exclusivity toward children with special needs are further proof that the decades long failed experiment of the corporate CMO supporters must end.

Steve Barr's astro-turf parental "involvement," via LAPU/PR under wealthy Ben Austin is highly suspect as well. Aside from unsavory incidents of class oppression and racism the Green Dot/LAPU/PR tactic of organizing parents in front of LAUSD was typified in that he allowed parents to count it against their contractual "community services" clause they signed to get their children into Barr's factory schools. In addition to paying massive salaries to executives like Ben Austin Green Dot and its marketing division LAPU/PR is funded by nefarious billionaires like the Waltons, Gates, Milkens, and Broads, who dump millions into corporate CMO/EMO charters since it furthers their extreme right wing agenda and fuels their Milton Friedman cum Ayn Rand fantasies.

"We need to say no to the neoliberal fatalism that we are witnessing at the end of this century, informed by the ethics of the market, an ethics in which a minority makes most profits against the lives of the majority. In other words, those who cannot compete, die. This is a perverse ethics that, in fact, lacks ethics. I insist on saying that I continue to be human...I would then remain the last educator in the world to say no: I do not accept...history as determinism. I embrace history as possibility [where] we can demystify the evil in the perverse fatalism that characterizes the neoliberal discourse in the end of this century." -- Paulo Freire and Donaldo Macedo, "Ideology Matters"


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Universal Human Rights Day - Calling for the immediate release of Alex Sanchez

This press release was held at noon today along Wilshire. Alex Sanchez is a friend and a fellow activist, so I'm sad I was only able to spend about 15 minutes there. Here's the letter announcing the event:

The We Are Alex Chapters of LA, NY & DC invite you to join us this Thursday Dec 10th - Universal Human Rights Day - to call for the immediate release of Alex Sanchez.

The circumstances under which Alex has been detained are in direct violation of multiple articles stated within the UN's mandated Universal Declaration of Human Rights and therefore we call upon the U.S. Department of Justice to issue the release of Alex Sanchez and the complete restoration of his human rights.
If we are truly a democracy then it is imperative that we uphold human rights and due process -- once we start denying rights for one individual or group of people, it puts all individuals' rights at risk.  We hope you will you will join us.

In Peace & Justice,

We Are Alex

We Are Alex Site
We Are Alex Twitter
We Are Alex Facebook

Free Alex SanchezFree Alex Sanchez
Free Alex SanchezFree Alex Sanchez


Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Where was the Beverly Hills Barrister Ben Austin and his Blue Shirts contingent?

"This is a legitimate threat to the school district. And this is how we have to play to be heard. This is going to steamroll." -- Mary Najera (hostile takeover specialist, Green Dot Corporation)

Stand against Green Dot's corporate charter-voucher cash cowsYesterday LAUSD voted to harm thousands and thousands of kids through further unconscionable cuts which will balloon already bloated class sizes. Where was wealthy Ben Austin and his throngs of Green Dot Parent Revolutionaries? In fact why haven't Beverly Hills Ben Austin and his shock troops been at any pro-parent-student-community protest, hunger strike, rally, or event that was held by the community? Why is it that Austin only mobilizes parents or writes op-ed pieces full of sophistry and rhetoric for issues only effecting Green Dot, Alliance, and Bright Star? Oh yeah, Austin and Green Dot/LAPU/Parent Revolution are in it solely for the money!

Mr. Austin, you've proven time and time again, through your actions, not your grandiose speeches, that you are completely disingenuous and don't care about kids at all. Did your absence at yesterday's LAUSD vote to immiserate and victimize Los Angeles children reflect your hackneyed policy of advocating "what's good for kids, not grown-ups?" Please tell us Mr. Austin how Green Dot Public [sic] Schools and Parent Revolution view yesterday's board vote as giving "children the education they need and the future they deserve."

We're waiting.


Monday, December 07, 2009

Stop Gloria Romero's Corporate Charter Trigger aka SBX5 1 Race to the Abyss


Support Parents and UTLA against corporate charter cash cowsWhile spending more than 3.6 billion a month (which will increase with their bellicose "surge") on the vicious occupation of Afghanistan, trillions on bailing out the banksters, this administration doesn't seem to have much left over in terms of education spending. Instead of discarding the failed NCLB laws of their extreme right wing predecessor and fully funding public education, President Obama and Secretary Duncan have decided to force feed their own abject failure of Renaissance 2010 to the rest of the country. Rather than investing public bailout funds with no strings attached, like what was done for AIG, Goldman Sachs, et al, Duncan's Orwellian-named "Race to the Top" funds are only available to states that implement reactionary policies that the extreme right wing has been clamoring about for years.

All of this for just a pittance, the President is merely offering the entire State of California just 700 million for the year. A drop in the bucket compared to his massive war and defense budgets. While any money would certainly help at this point, we should be taxing the rich instead, and absolutely not give into the "pound of flesh" funding demands "rac[ist] to the top" requires.

State Senator Gloria Romero, a former liberal, who just passed a bill (SB 592) handing public school property over to private corporations [2], is pushing a version of a new bill in Sacramento. SBX5 1 aka SB 1, which doesn't just give in to Duncan and Obama's demands, tantamount to blackmail, but adds Ben Austin and Marco Petruzzi's anti-democratic corporate charter-voucher trigger language. Here is what SB 1 would codify if passed.

  1. A regressive merit pay system to discourage hard working teachers

  2. A removal of the already ridiculously high cap on corporate charter-voucher schools displacing public schools

  3. A wholly undemocratic corporate charter-voucher trigger mechanism that would let corporations like Green Dot seize public schools with greater ease than they do now

The first two have been discussed at length, and with the exception of fake academics at right-wing think tanks including Cato, Hoover, and Hudson, have been thoroughly discredited.

The last one was snuck into SB 1 on December 3rd, as a favor to Senator Romero's right wing friends at the Parent Revolution [3], and to the appease the likes of the Gates, Broad, Walton, and Annenberg foundations.

Here's the anti-democratic corporate charter-voucher trigger language of the bill:

1116(b)(8)(B) of the federal Elementary and
Secondary Education Act (20 U.S.C. Sec. 6301 et seq.) ,
including those activities required in the regulations and guidelines
for the federal Race to the Top Fund, authorized under the federal
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-5),
and the guidelines for the federal School Improvement Grants,
authorized under the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act
(20 U.S.C. Sec. 6301 et seq.) .
(b) For any other school which, after one full school year, is
subject to corrective action pursuant to paragraph (7) of Section
1116(b) of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (20
U.S.C. Sec 6301 et seq.) and continues to fail to make adequate
yearly progress, and where at least one-half of the parents or legal
guardians of pupils attending the school, or a combination of at
least one-half of the parents or legal guardians of pupils attending
the school and the elementary or middle schools that normally
matriculate into a middle or high school, as applicable, sign a
petition requesting the local educational agency to implement one or
more of the five federally mandated alternative governance
arrangements pursuant to Section 1116(b)(8) of the federal Elementary
and Secondary Education Act (20 U.S.C. Sec. 6301 et seq.), the local
educational agency shall implement the option requested by the
parents unless, in a regularly scheduled public hearing, the local
educational agency makes a finding in writing why it cannot implement
the specific recommended option and instead designates in writing
which of the other federally mandated alternative governance
arrangements it will implement in the subsequent school year
consistent with requirements specified in federal regulations and
guidelines for schools subject to restructuring under Section 1116(b)
(8) of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (20 U.S.C.
Sec. 6301 et seq.). If the local educational agency indicates in
writing that it will implement in the upcoming school year a
different alternative governance arrangement than requested by the
parents, the local educational agency shall notify the Superintendent
and the state board that the alternative governance option selected
has substantial promise of enabling the school to make adequate
yearly progress as defined in the federally mandated state plan under
Section 1111(b)(2) of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education
Act (20 U.S.C. Sec. 6301 et seq.).

I'll get back this the topic soon, but it is imperative we fight back against this disgusting right-wing legislation. Contact your assembly person and tell them you oppose SB 1!

For those harboring illusions about State Senator Gloria Romero, her ideology, and her intentions. Long time immigrant rights activist Alvaro Maldonado, who led the fight against the racist Prop 187, had this to say about State Senator and Privatization Pontiff Gloria Romero:

I just saw her the other day! She use to be a left liberal, now she's just a plain capitalist liberal! Gloria Romero was an 1970's activist turned Democratic politician just like Fabian Nunez. I think, it should be a good lesson to all that those liberals who tie themselves to the Democratic party are almost without exception, turn into promoters for the capitalist system; be they co-opted, sold out, or just believe that there is no alternative (I generally I don't buy the argument on practicality claimed by the "progressive" Democrats... Their excuses generally hide their opportunism). The UFW traditional leadership (Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, etc) gave us years of union and Democratic party opportunism in their stances on many an issue... but thats too long a story to get into on this comment page... it should suffice to be weary of "progressives" keeping close ties to the Democratic party.

[1] More on race to the abyss, er, top: Resisting the blackmail of "Race to the Top," three articles

[2] More on SB 592: Advocating Public Education Roundup 09W47 Part 2, Good News for Charter School Chains in California: Asset Stripping Gives Them Titles to Public School

[3] Ben Austin was a Republican Deputy Mayor, for those who don't remember.

[4] The Debate Over Differentiated Pay: The Devil is In the Details


Friday, December 04, 2009

Another racial profiling incident at Green Dot Public [sic] Schools?

"There are people who think, 'The school is too black, the school is too Mexican,' and all of a sudden you see a lot of ugly things about people. Prejudice still exists. For a lot of people, that's a very uncomfortable zone." -- Robyn Ritter Simon (quoted in "Healing the World, One School at a Time")

Marco Petruzzi. Stand up to Green Dot's corporate charter-voucher racism
Rev. K. W. Tulloss. Stand up to Green Dot's corporate charter-voucher racism
Wall Street privatization darling Marco Petruzzi (above) leads a beleaguered Green Dot through charges of racism, embezzlement, and now assault. Rev. Tulloss (below) faces a dilemna.

Beleaguered Green Dot and proxy group LAPU/PR have been getting a great deal of press lately. Whether we're discussing the malfeasance of Steve Barr pocketing a cool $51,000, and then having to pay it back when caught, to LAPU/PR's discriminatory organizing tactics on the west side, past incidents of staff violence towards students, or the new UCLA study just released revealing charter schools like Green Dot violate civil rights, foster racial isolation, and exacerbate segregation, there's an overwhelming amount of information finally revealing what Green Dot Public [sic] Schools is really about -- profit and profiling.

I've been researching a Green Dot story from rumors I heard about a week ago that has been covered up for weeks. As part of my research, I had to contact the parties involved. This made me realize that if the story is true, then Green Dot would have a chance to spin the incident before the truth came out. I've decided to share my letter exposing the rumor to LAUSD, and another letter I wrote to one of the parties involved in order to keep Green Dot Public Schools from trying to cover this ugly situation up. I'll be following up on this post and the subsequent story shortly.

Ms. LaMotte and staff:

Something has come to my attention that I think you should know about. Feel free to share it with anyone you want.

Several social justice minded people have contacted me regarding some Locke parents who witnessed an incident with Locke's security three of four Fridays ago following the football game. Ironically, the incident involved one of Green Dot's most ardent supporters, Rev. K. W. Tulloss.

From what I've been able to piece together from various sources, Locke security had detained one of Rev. Tulloss' relatives. Rev. Tulloss and his mother approached security who then roughed up and handcuffed his mother, while threatening to use a taser on Rev. Tulloss if he interfered.

Clearly this is yet another incident of racial profiling perpetrated by Green Dot's outsourced security thugs, we have all heard about students being pepper sprayed earlier this year. From Kenneth Libby and Dr. Danny Weil's recent article: "A major assumption lies behind this praise of order, discipline, and security: militarized environments are acceptable – even necessary – for urban youth, particularly youth of color.  At a recent event, high-level Green Dot employees revealed the Locke school operated with a $1.2 million security budget in its first year, employing subcontracted security guards armed with handguns and pepper spray.[5] The charter chain hopes to reduce security expenditures to a mere half a million dollars within the next few years." --

I think that sums up everything that needs to be said about Green Dot's view of our communities and people of color.

Why Rev. Tulloss hasn't gone public with this is beyond me. I wrote him and he responded "Mr. Skeels thank you for the email of concern." I'm also shocked this hasn't made the front page of the Daily News or Los Angeles Times, but given both those papers' ideological attachment to charters, it's understandable they wouldn't want to publish such an incendiary story, especially on the heels of the recent UCLA study on charter school racism. If Green Dot and its racist security represents the best of corporate CMO charter-voucher schools, then we need to fight even harder against this current wave of privatization.

I'm writing a story about the incident, despite limited information. I have left a message with Locke's principal requesting an interview and have done the same with Rev. Tulloss. While it is doubtful either will do so, it is at least worth the attempt.

I'll be happy if I learn this entire story is just a rumor or a misunderstanding. All of the people who contacted me demanded anonymity, and said Locke has threatened expulsion of any student talking about it. This makes it hard for me to write an article with quotes and references. However, my years of research into Green Dot lead me to feel the story is entirely genuine and needs investigating.

In closing I want to thank you Ms. LaMotte for your courageous defense of our communities, children, and schools.

In struggle and solidarity

Robert D. Skeels

My note to Rev. K. W. Tulloss

Requesting an interview regarding the recent Locke incident

Rev. Tulloss

I've written you in the past about my concerns for your enthusiastic support of the reactionary, and frankly racist organization Green Dot and it's proxy group LAPU/PR. I understand you choose to ignore my concerns, as that is your prerogative.

Imagine my shock, however, when several social justice minded parents informed me of the horribly racist incident involving Locke security attacking you and your family. Although the details are sketchy since only a handful of people witnessed the incident, it's clear the thuggish, racist, outsourced security at Green Dot's Locke has added another incident to their list of egregious treatment towards people of color.

I've called Locke's principal and left a message to give them a chance to tell their side of the story. I am writing you for the same reason, to get your side of the story before my article gets published. I've also notified my friend Ms. LaMotte of LAUSD that I'm working on this story and provided her with an outline of what I know.

You can contact me at

In solidarity

Robert D. Skeels


Thursday, December 03, 2009

Cynthia McKinney: Is President Obama’s Surge A Trap?

Is President Obama’s Surge A Trap?

By Cynthia McKinney

December 2, 2009

Money for schools and education, not for war and occupation!Last night, President Obama announced both his decision to add 30,000 U.S. troops to the mire in Afghanistan and his desire to see other countries and N.A.T.O. match his surge. Thanks to U.S. taxpayers, mercenaries will continue to be a part of the foreign presence in Afghanistan. The Republicans support the President’s move and are expected to reward President Obama with the bulk of their Congressional votes to pass his plan.

However, there is deep disquiet today within the ranks of the President’s own base in the Democratic Party, with independents, and with middle-of-the-roaders called “swing” voters. In unprecedented numbers, voters in the United States of all previous political persuasions went to the polls and invested their dreams and, most importantly, their votes in the “hope” and “change” promised by the Obama campaign. But in light of the President’s defense of Bush Administration war crimes and torture in U.S. courts, the transfer of trillions of hard-earned taxpayer dollars to the wealthy banking elite, continued spying on environmental and peace activists as well as support for the extension of the Patriot Act, and removal of Medicare-for-all (single payer) as a central feature of proposed health care reform, Obama voters are rethinking their support.

Already, according to a Daily Koss report written by Steve Singiser: “Two in five Democratic voters either consider themselves unlikely to vote at this point in time, or have already made the firm decision to remove themselves from the 2010 electorate pool. Indeed, Democrats were three times more likely to say that they will ‘definitely not vote’ in 2010 than are Republicans.” By contrast, Republicans are happy today. Almost giddy with glee as far as I can see. Warmonger John McCain and most Republicans will make sure the President gets what he wants. And in 2012, they will abandon their support of this President and support the candidate that comes from their base.

War-weary voters in this country are committed to peace. They reject the notion, as put forward by Vice President Dick Cheney that “the American way of life” is something worth fighting for when that means that war becomes an energy policy.

Tragically, the major unstated U.S. interest in the region that the President has bought into is the unacceptability of a proposed Iran-Pakistan-India (I-P-I) pipeline at a time when our country is saber-rattling against and threatening Iran with more sanctions. Earlier this year, Iran and Pakistan decided to move forward with their pipeline even if India decides to drop out. Ironically, I-P-I is also known as the “peace pipeline.”

The alternative pipeline route, Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (T-A-P-I), is supported by Washington because it denies an important economic benefit to Iran. Sadly, nowhere in the President’s remarks did he mention the pipeline on which construction is slated to begin in 2010.

U.S. policy is not only guided by pipeline politics. There is also the consideration of chessboard geo-positioning necessary to contain Russia, China, and ensure U.S. empire—for those inclined to traditional Cold Warrior “containment” thinking. Apparently, behind what some are calling a “shadow war in Muslim lands,” are targeted assassination teams that have wreaked tri-border havoc in Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

Fortunately, this time around, I’m convinced that U.S. voters will vote for peace. President Obama has now ensured this outcome. Imagine, John McCain and Joe Lieberman have just been made very happy by the President’s choice while that same choice leaves swing voters, independents, and some Democrats who enthusiastically supported Obama’s campaign looking for somewhere else to go.




Friday, November 20, 2009

Advocating Public Education Roundup 09W47 Part 2

"The Obama administration is using its unprecedented billions to advance a strategy of deregulation and deprofessionalization." -- Diane Ravitch (celebrated education professor and author)

Advocate Public Education, No More CMO Corporate Charter-Voucher Schools!I've never needed to do two roundup pieces in one week until now. There's just too many things going on before this weekend's conference featuring The Socialist Perspective on School Reform to wait until next week.

I've finally found something the corporate charter-voucher establishment is actually good at, sadly it's institutional racism. Looks like Marco Petruzzi, Steve Barr, and Ben Austin feel like Jim Crow didn't get a fair shake, so they've masterminded a redux! Think my recent piece exposing Green Dot Public [sic] Schools and it's proxy LAPU/PR's uglier side was a little biased? Turns out I was actually understating things.

This amazing UCLA study just released reveals that charter schools violate civil rights, foster racial isolation, and exacerbate segregation. EQUITY OVERLOOKED: CHARTER SCHOOLS AND CIVIL RIGHTS POLICY.

Although not new, Steven Miller and Jack Gerson's The Corporate Surge Against Public Schools made the rounds mid-week. It is one of the most cogent and well presented pieces on school privatization around. It is a must read for anyone concerned with social justice and public education.

Talk about prolific. Kenneth Libby and Dr. Danny Weil manage to get another piece out this week. Charter Management Organizations Take Aim at Los Angeles Unified School District

Education Notes Online has a great piece entitled Hey, SEIU Goons: Break a Egg looking at yellow union tactics. I responded in a comment:

You're certainly dead on with the Silverlake snake-oil salesman -- Steve Barr, and his ability to attract and manipulate company union sycophants. AMU by definition, is a yellow union (its CTA status notwithstanding), and SEIU Local 1877 sits on Green Dot's board. How anyone in organized labor could support the anti-working class corporate charter-voucher establishment, much less legitimize it by sitting on the board of one of the most capricious CMOs in business, is beyond me.

Meanwhile SEIU Local 99 is equivocating to Superintendent Cortines bullying tactics to add more furloughs and layoffs, instead of standing by their sisters and brothers in CSEA and UTLA.

If and when (sadly the later seems more likely), we see an end to public education at the hands of the greedy EMO/CMO corporate charter-voucher establishment and their billionaire backers, we'll be able to thank SEIU for their class collaboration with the most reactionary elements in the so called DLC/DFER crowd.

In a major step towards fulfilling Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman's dystopian future where corporations own everything, liberal turned right wing reactionary State Senator Gloria Romero's SB 592 bill hands the titles of public schools over to Corporate Charters. Dr. Danny Weil exposes the giant corporate bailout in Good News for Charter School Chains in California: Asset Stripping Gives Them Titles to Public School. Dr. Weil is a friend, so I had to comment on his piece:

Thank you Dr. Weil. This is an astonishing update in the battles we are waging against the corporate forces in Los Angeles. It's no wonder the out of state school privatization firm, Synesi Associates, put in bids on all but one of the Los Angeles schools up for grabs under LAUSD VP Yolie Flores Aguilars' Corporate Charter Choice Resolution. Synesi Associates, like all these other corporate vultures see the profitability in stealing the shiny, new, multi-million dollar facilities built by the Los Angeles' working class with the tax money extracted from the Los Angeles working class.

The Marco Petruzzis, Gary Solomons, Steve Barrs, Ben Austins, and Antony Resslers of the corporate charter-voucher establishment are salivating at the opportunity to further cash in on the neoliberal privatization of the last of the "public commons." Their ruling class masters including Broad, Gates, and the Waltons are behind the scenes wringing their hands with glee. All the above enabled by a cast of DLC/DFER characters including Duncan, Romero, Garcia, Villaraigosa, and Flores Aguilar, with nary a peep from their so called right wing opposition. If anyone hasn't figured out why the reactionary right isn't opposed, indeed they're cheerleading, this charter-voucher approach of "reform," it's because these have been the right wing's ideas all along!

Dr. Weil also republished an older piece he'd written entitled Our children have entered a Dickensian World of Nightmarish Proportions this week.

My compañero Jose del Barrio asked everyone to repost this very important information.

In California, 15 years ago those who made over 250,000 a year paid 10% in taxes, those over 500,000 year paid 11%. Today both pay 9.3%! No wonder we dont have money for schools, the rich have not paid their fair share!

Last but not least, Caroline Grannan passes along a poignant letter from one of those people who the corporate world will never understand, an educator: Teacher-trashers can't take away the true rewards -- but they are trying hard.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Martha Infante's Open Letter to LAUSD Board and President Monica Garcia

To LAUSD Board President Monica Garcia and Fellow Board Members:

It has come to my attention that this week, a flyer was circulated by an unknown person, or persons, in an attempt to misinform parents about charter schools and to falsely imply that their immigration status could be in danger if they choose to enroll their child in such a school.

Without a doubt, this flyer was beyond unethical; it was perverse. Preying on the fear and fragile vulnerabilities of families in this district is the antithesis of what educators stand for and have a long history of fighting against.

Today, you chose to hold a press conference in front of the UTLA building to denounce this flyer, implying, just like the flyer, that UTLA members such as myself, were responsible for its creation and distribution. I am disappointed that you would imply that the thousands of educators who fight every single day to provide students and their families with a quality education could be responsible for this singular act of cowardice. Not only have we persevered in the face of budget cuts, massive layoffs (20 teachers at my school), and payroll errors, but now we must face being painted in broad strokes as deceitful, underhanded people who would abuse the very people we have chosen to serve.

Ms. Garcia, if you want to promote the privatization of public education, that is your choice. But today you offended the sensibilities of educators throughout the city of Los Angeles. Your press conference cast aspersions on not one individual, or two, or three, but on the entire teaching force that is UTLA. In social studies, we teach that people are innocent until proven guilty. In English classrooms, we teach students to cite evidence from the text to support their assertions. By holding this press conference in front of the UTLA building without clear evidence to prove they are responsible for the flyer, you have done no better than the perpetrators, who have used the public's lack of awareness of school issues to plant seeds of fear, lies, and distrust. If you have evidence that UTLA was somehow responsible for this act, I for one would like to see it. Otherwise, all you have accomplished today is the further alienation of the teaching force, and the continued fragmentation of a district that is in desperate need of cohesion, and courageous leadership.

Leticia (Martha) Infante
2009 CCSS Teacher of the Year
Los Angeles Academy Middle School


Monday, November 16, 2009

Advocating Public Education Roundup 09W47

Separate is never equal. corporate charter schoolsI recently interviewed Peri Lynn Turnbull of the CCSA, who maintained the CCSA and its constituents believe in the obligation to educate every child. She stated that even though the charters are negotiating with LAUSD over this requirement in the current RFP, that CCSA is committed to Special Education. We can take Ms. Turnbull at her word, that this is the official position of the CCSA.

In practice however, the corporate charter-voucher establishment perpetrates something completely different. The recent documents from the Modified Consent Decree expose corporate CMO charter-voucher school discrimination and exclusivity. Very telling is the statement that children with disabilities are "significantly underrepresented" at CMO run charter schools. The executive summary of the report, and the data tables from the report. Marco Petruzzi's concerns that special education programs cut into his massive salary aside, even these corporate run schools should be obligated legally, ethically, and morally to educate every child! The easy solution is to just keep schools public and ditch the failed CMO experiment altogether, but that's a battle that will take some time.

My little missive to the LAUSD Board President about aligning with and co-signing the outrageous lies about UTLA coming from highly paid corporate charter-voucher proxies including Veronica Melvin, Maria Casillas, and Jarad Sanchez has proved popular. Let's say it caused some real consternation on the board. If you haven't seen it: Open letter to LAUSD Board President Monica Garcia regarding the press conference.

Brian Jones is his usual brilliant self in The charter school charade. This is one of those articles that you want to print out tons of copies and give to everyone you know! New York has a vibrant parent-teacher-student movement fighting back against the corporate charter-voucher establishment called the Grassroots Education Movement (NYC).

In 'Market Share' as a goal for privatization attacks on public schools... Charter master plan targets gaining 'market share' in urban districts Kenneth Libby and George Schmidt expose Arne Duncan's strong ties to the reactionary right wing extremist firm "John Galt Solutions, Inc." modeled on the bankrupt ideologies of Ayn Rand, who George pegs perfectly as a "right wing fundamentalist." Make no mistake, the Andy Smarick Ken discusses in the article works with range of right wing think tanks and is the ideological muse of Steve Barr and other DLC/DFER disciples of public school destruction. We've mentioned the Smarick article published in a journal from The Hoover Institution used by Green Dot Schools and their front group LAPU/PR to implement their hostile takeover plans before in the notes of a recent article here.

Jeff Bleich unknowingly spells out the racist priorities of empire in California's higher-education debacle:

"California's public universities and community colleges have half as much to spend today as they did in 1990 in real dollars. In the 1980s, 17% of the state budget went to higher education and 3% went to prisons. Today, only 9% goes to universities and 10% goes to prisons."

Adam Sanchez looks at this administration's reactionary education policies in Race to the top or to the bottom? I'd be remiss not to reprint this quote:

"One study reviewed in the book showed that family income supplements as low as $4,000 a year improved children's school achievement by 10-15 percent. So what would a real "Race to the Top" program look like? We could start by taking the largely taxpayer-funded $23 billion in bonuses that Goldman Sachs is giving out this year, and put that money toward giving nearly 6 million families that $4,000 income supplement."

For more on the infamous Vielka McFarlane self-colonization (aka teach civil rights at a charter school -- loose your job) incident, there's a much older, but well thought out piece on Firedoglake L.A. Charter School: Emmett Till Deserved to Die.

More math and mendacity lessons from Green Dot Public Schools. The corporate hacks at Green Dot love to crow about their ability to place their graduates in college. Well, it sure isn't because of their proficiency levels. There are tables published by the CSU system for all schools available, with a wealth of statistics. I choose one of Green Dot's better performing corporate CMO schools, since they recently accused me of just picking on their Animo Watts II campus.

Let's look at Animo Venice Charter High School. Of the Green Dot students admitted to the CSU system in 2008 67% WERE NOT PROFICIENT IN MATHEMATICS. This is compared to just 49% of the much maligned LAUSD students. Moreover, only 33% of the children graduating the Green Dot corporate factory school were proficient, while children attending public schools comprised a much more respectable 51%. More evidence of the Silverlake snake oil salesman Steve Barr's exceedingly arrogant, but obviously erroneous statement "our model should work in any educational context, because the principles are embodied in all high-performing schools." I'm sure the right wing corporate charter-voucher apologists Jarad Sanchez and Veronica Melvin of the so called Alliance for a Better Community could find a way to spin Green Dot's abysmal numbers, but maybe instead of listening to washed up businessmen, Wall Street hucksters, and political hacks like Barr et al, we should have educators leading the way for education.

This Green Dot Math and Mendacity theme is going to be a continuing series on this blog, since Green Dot is constantly guilty of the most egregious manipulation of facts and statistics.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Believe in public education? Democratic societies? Stand up and fight back!

Stand up to Green Dot's corporate charter privatization scheme!You hear the right wing's ideas about education on a daily basis in the corporate media. A day doesn't go by without the Los Angeles Times cheerleading the corporate charter-voucher establishment. On television, the racist corporate vision of education is presented as the only way to "reform" an education system starved of resources though decades of massive tax cuts for the rich. Ultra-wealthy, nefarious right wing ideologues like the Waltons, Gates, Milkens, and Broads, who use their vast fortunes to accelerate the dismantling of public and democratic institutions to usher in their vision of a privatized and corporate controlled society, are lauded as "reformers" in the very media they or their peers own and control.

What then, is the left's vision of public education? Come to The Socialist Perspective on School Reform next week to find out.

Why is this important? Last week all of the following happened in Los Angeles:

  • The LAUSD President and Vice President stood alongside highly paid NGO executives from the charter/voucher establishment, who through a series of outrageous lies, insinuation, and innuendo accused UTLA of serious, but baseless charges of lying to undocumented peoples.

  • LAUSD Superintendent Cortines sent out a letter threatening up to 14,000 more lay offs, and is demanding even more concessions from the hard working women and men who educate children in our communities.

  • Out of state, highly funded, corporate charter/voucher company Synesi Associates submitted letters of intent on all but one of the schools available under VP Yolie Flores-Aguilar's corporate charter choice give-away resolution.

Meanwhile the same budget cuts that are gutting K-12 are turning California's community college, CSU, and UC systems into a luxury for the well-to-do.

There's never been a more important time to stand with public school advocates and defend public education!

The Socialist Perspective on School Reform

Join the struggle against Green Dot's Corporate Charter-Voucher Onslaught"School reform" is one of the most overused phrases in the media these days. To the Obama administration and the corporate interests wanting to dismantle public education, "school reform" means attacking teachers' unions, increasing standardized testing, and handing schools over to unaccountable Charter Management Organizations.

But to us, truly reforming our schools would mean giving them all the funding they need for beautiful school buildings, small class sizes, educational materials, and engaging field trips. It would mean putting teachers and parents in control of running their schools in the best interests of students, and getting rid of the bureaucrats and mandates that try to control education from the top down.

"School reform" has a dual meaning because education itself has two sides under capitalism. It's used to reproduce class inequalities by training a few to be managers and the rest of us to work for them. But as people come together to be educated, we also begin to think about reaching our full potential and liberating ourselves. That's why education has always been a location of conflict and struggle in our society.

Come to this meeting to discuss how the fight for truly liberatory education is linked to the fight for a socialist society run democratically in the interests of the many rather than the few!

featuring speakers
Gillian Russom and David Rapkin, UTLA and ISO

This event is part of the
2009 Southern California Socialist Conference
Saturday, November 21, 2009 from 1:30—3:00pm

USC Taper Hall of Humanities (THH)
3501 Trousdale Parkway
Los Angeles, CA 90007
(310) 404-1738


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Open letter to LAUSD Board President Monica Garcia regarding the press conference

Dear Board President Garcia:

I'll start this missive like every one I've ever sent you, although experience has shown you won't respond, and probably won't even read, since I am merely your constituent, my name isn't Marco, Steve, or Ben, and I don't run a lucrative CMO. Regardless...

My name is Robert D. Skeels, I am a long time resident of District 2, and my wife attends Evans Adult School.

Save public schools and communities from the corporate charter-voucher campaign led by Alliance for a Better Community!I had the misfortune of attending your media event staged yesterday at 3303 Wilshire Boulevard. Before I go any further, I want to be clear on something since your propensity to paint privatization opponents with the same brush is well known. I whole-heartedly agree with you that the flyer suggesting deportation in relation to corporate CMO petition signing is deplorable! I would go further to say that the individual who conceived, created, and distributed that disgusting flyer deserves nothing but contempt and scorn from our communities. Now that's out of the way, let's get to my reason for writing you President Garcia.

Yesterday I discovered that everything I've learned in my many years as an immigrant rights activist is completely wrong. All the contacts, colleagues, and comrades I've met insignificant. All the struggles I've been a part of for the rights of the undocumented persons and immigrants in general have been misguided. That's right President Garcia, you, the Board Vice President, and the well compensated CEOs of the NGOs accompanying you yesterday turned the entire immigrant rights movement on its head with bold new revelations. Here's what we learned from you and your fellow press conference speakers. 

Turns out that it isn't the racist Minutemen, Lou Dobbs, Fox News, James Sensenbrenner, or Janet Napolitano's draconian enforcement policies that are the greatest threat to the civil rights of undocumented peoples. According to your press conference, that dubious distinction belongs to the teachers of UTLA.

I'm sure the former workers from Overhill Farms, Farmer John, and American Apparel will be happy to learn that the single biggest violation of their civil rights wasn't being fired in response to no match letters, but instead occurs whenever community activists inform them that corporate CMOs have unelected boards.

How foolish of us to think groups like RISE, Hermandad, MEChA, Union del Barrio, and the Brown Berets comprised true grassroots immigrant rights activism, while all along astroturf organizations like Alliance for a Better Community, Families in Schools, and Green Dot's LAPU/Parent Revolution have been at the vanguard of civil rights organizing. Never mind that none of those organizations have existed for even a decade! Never mind that the later organizations are all funded by the likes of the Gates, Broad, Walton, and Annenberg foundations! We can all agree that those right wing "politically neutral" foundations are also very concerned about civil rights and immigrant rights.

We in the immigrant rights movement thought sponsoring "know your rights" clinics to educate undocumented peoples against the very real scare tactics employed by DHS/ICE agents was defending civil rights. Instead we should have been looking to the heroic efforts originating from 350 South Bixel and 350 South Figueroa to educate undocumented people about their right to choose which unaccountable corporate 501c3 will seize their local public school.

I'm sure the fact that we in the immigrant rights movement have never seen yourself, VP Yolie Flores-Aguilar, Veronica Melvin, Maria Casillas, Jarad Sanchez, Mary Najara, Reverend Tulloss, Gabriel Rose, or any of the other members of your press conference yesterday at an immigrant rights march, a rally against ICE raids, a day labor site defense, or any other related protest isn't because you aren't on the leading edge of the immigrant and civil rights movement.

I could go on, but even I understand sarcasm wears thin very quickly. That said, let's take a look at the horrific stunt you pulled off yesterday.

In addition to years in the immigrant rights movement, I am one of the founding members of the Southern California Immigration Coalition (SCIC), along with long time immigrant rights activists like Jesse Diaz, Daniel Montes, Laura Villegas, Alvaro Maldonado, Nathalie Contreras, Martin Terrones, Ron Gochez, and many others. I have had the humble privilege to serve under the leadership of real luminaries of the immigrant right movement including Gloria Salcedo, Nativo Lopez, and Carlos Montes. Let it suffice that I am no stranger to the immigrant rights movement, and I can vouch to UTLA's record on defending the rights of all immigrants!

I took the photo at the top of this letter at this year's SCIC hosted May Day immigrant rights march. I have seen UTLA representation at these type of events, coalition meetings, and other such organizing for over a decade. I've NEVER seen an Alliance for a Better Community, LAPU/Parent Revolution, or Families in Schools banner at any immigrant rights event. In fact, I've never seen any of the members of your press conference yesterday speak at an immigrant rights event. At the very least Mayor Villaraigosa shows up at the end of marches to give a short speech, making you and your group's absence even more glaring.

Which begs the question President Garcia.

Why is that you and these NGO executives are suddenly discussing civil and immigrant rights in the narrow context of the CMO/corporate charter/voucher establishment? Could it be that yesterday's press conference was really all about corporate rights? Was this a way of distracting the public from CMO charter discrimination and exclusivity exposed in the recent Modified Consent Decree Report which explicitly states children with disabilities are "significantly underrepresented" at CMO run charter schools?

Isn't a little too convenient that with little to no community support for corporate charters, and many charters making themselves look very bad by rejecting and fighting the resolution's requirements to educate special needs children and respect attendance boundaries, that you and all the other pro-charter/pro-voucher crowd hold a "press conference" publicity stunt at the entrance of the UTLA building with the full intention of smearing the teachers' union?

I've followed your career President Garcia, and there was a time when you were progressive, for the community, and would have stood against corporate interests. What happened to that person?!?

Yesterday, by every form of innuendo, insinuation, and lies of omission did Veronica Melvin and Maria Casillas attempt to assign guilt by association to the hard working women and men who teach in our communities. For you, as President of the Board, and your colleague, the Vice President of the Board to speak following those wild accusations without question or qualification is unconscionable!

Maria Casillas used the phrase "el pecado mortal," in reference to the disgusting lie on the flyer. Having been a bi-lingual catechist teacher for over 12 years, I'm very familiar with the phrase and am in total agreement with her on the grave nature of those that would lie in order to prey on the fears of undocumented peoples. I'll go further, since she seemingly forgot a key phrase from the Acto Penitencial: "obra y omisión." What went unsaid, and what was omitted at yesterday's press conference would also qualify as a mortal sin, and your group stands guilty of the most vile slander against the courageous individuals who educate the children in our communities.

Advocating Public Education

Robert D. Skeels


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

First thoughts on today's shameless press conference by the pro-charter/voucher establishment

"Improving education is not the goal. Privatization is the goal... Private interests are just that – private." -- Bruce A. Dixon (Managing Editor, "Black Agenda Report")

Defend our communities from the corporate charter fear campaign led by Alliance for a Better Community
Defend our communities from the corporate charter fear campaign led by Alliance for a Better Community
At no point during the event did any of the pro-charter/voucher establishment make it clear that the flyer didn't originate from UTLA! Lies of omission are lies nonetheless.

Let's be clear, today's press conference was called as a desperate attempt to move the focus off some corporate charters' bad faith negotiating with LAUSD Superintendent Cortines over Special Education. With little to no community support for corporate charters, and many charters making themselves look very, very bad by rejecting and fighting the resolution's requirements to educate special needs children and respect attendance boundaries, they are now wont to try and focus the blame on the hard working teachers of UTLA! This is an obvious smear campaign, and cannot be allowed to go unchallenged.

While the content of the flyer in question is deplorable, the fact that at no time during the press conference did any speaker mention the flyer did not come from UTLA, is not associated with UTLA in any way, nor does it represent UTLA's position in any fashion, is just as despicable. ABC's Executive Veronica Melvin made every effort to suggest UTLA was somehow guilty by association. Worse still was Maria Casillas, President of FIS, who asserted "unions need to monitor their own people," clearly trying to place the blame for some rogue individual squarely on organized labor.

To have two prominent school board members then follow these NGO executives, and not call out the previous two speakers' obvious innuendo and lies of omission is unconscionable! Board President Garcia went as far as to suggest certain organizations (standing at the UTLA entrance) were violating civil rights! We activists in the social justice movement understand Garcia, Flores-Aguilar, and the 501c3 executive crowd owe a great debt to the corporate benefactors backing them financially, but today's smear campaign was way beyond the pale.

Please look forward to an expanded report on this time permits.


Defend teachers from the corporate charter smear campaign Tuesday 11-10-09

Save public schools from the lies and anti-teacher smears by The Alliance for a Better Community!All out mobilization Tuesday, November 11, 2009 09:45am at the

UTLA Building
3303 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90010

Protest the pro-corporate, anti-community, and anti-labor press conference tomorrow being held by Green Dot's LAPU/Parent Revolution, LAUSD VP Yolie Flores Aguilar, LAUSD President Monica Garcia, The Alliance for a Better Community, and other CMO/Corporate Charter/Voucher establishment spokespersons to keep them from spreading vicious unsubstantiated lies against teachers and social justice advocates!

All claims made by The Alliance for a Better Community, which works in conjunction with Green Dot's LAPU/Parent Revolution and several other pro-charter, pro-privatization groups, that UTLA is deceiving parents with scare tactics are patently false. Sadly, since revealing facts and telling the truth about corporate charters alone are considered scare tactics by those who would privatize our public schools system, there is much confusion.

With little to no community support for corporate charters, and charters making themselves look very, very, bad since they are rejecting and fighting the resolution's requirements to educate special needs children and respect attendance boundaries, they are now wont to try and focus the blame on the hard working teachers of UTLA! This is an obvious smear campaign, and cannot be allowed to go unchallenged. If Yolie Flores Aguilar and Monica Garcia had been waging an undeclared war against our impoverished communities and organized labor to this point, then this is their outright declaration!

We need everyone with daytime availability to show up before 10:00am at the UTLA building and let these privatizers know their attempts to smear UTLA will not stand. As luck has it, I work on the next block, so I will be there to support all of you. It is unconscionable that they would stoop to this level, but since all they have on their side is ideology, this isn't surprising.


Friday, November 06, 2009

The Socialist Perspective on School Reform - 11/21/09

Join the struggle against Green Dot's Corporate Charter-Voucher Onslaught"School reform" is one of the most overused phrases in the media these days. To the Obama administration and the corporate interests wanting to dismantle public education, "school reform" means attacking teachers' unions, increasing standardized testing, and handing schools over to unaccountable Charter Management Organizations.

But to us, truly reforming our schools would mean giving them all the funding they need for beautiful school buildings, small class sizes, educational materials, and engaging field trips. It would mean putting teachers and parents in control of running their schools in the best interests of students, and getting rid of the bureaucrats and mandates that try to control education from the top down.

"School reform" has a dual meaning because education itself has two sides under capitalism. It's used to reproduce class inequalities by training a few to be managers and the rest of us to work for them. But as people come together to be educated, we also begin to think about reaching our full potential and liberating ourselves. That's why education has always been a location of conflict and struggle in our society.

Come to this meeting to discuss how the fight for truly liberatory education is linked to the fight for a socialist society run democratically in the interests of the many rather than the few!

featuring speakers
Gillian Russom and David Rapkin, UTLA and ISO

This event is part of the
2009 Southern California Socialist Conference
Saturday, November 21, 2009 from 1:30—3:00pm

USC Taper Hall of Humanities (THH)
3501 Trousdale Parkway
Los Angeles, CA 90007
(310) 404-1738


It's Not the Refrom Plan That's at Risk, It's the Kids! — Professor Ralph E. Shaffer

"If this study shows anything, it shows that we've got a two-to-one margin of bad charters to good charters, that's a red flag." -- Margaret E. Raymond (Director Stanford Center for Research on Education Outcomes CREDO 2009)

Support Parents and UTLA against LAUSD and Green Dot's corporate charter cash cowsHow long does it take the Times editorial board to realize that not all change is reform?

For several years the Times has been the major exponent of charterizing the Los Angeles Unified School District. Whether Mesmerized by the charismatic leader of Green Dot or influenced by the strong pro-charter stance of a local billionaire who may someday own the Times, the paper has become the most outspoken cheerleader for turning dozen, or hundreds, of LAUSD schools over to the charter privateers.

Even though unacceptable acts by charter activists were so egregious that Times editorial writers had to scold them, the editorial board continues to support the dismantling of LAUSD by giving new schools to charter entrepreneurs and turning over existing schools to them as well.

Readers of Monday's editorial, "Policy skirmishing puts LAUSD reform at risk," [1] would have applauded had its concern about the potential scuttling of the misnamed Flores Aguilar "School Choice" plan led to an editorial conclusion that the plan was ill-advised in the first place. But the editorial betrayed LAUSD students and parents by continuing to support a phony reform that lines the pockets of charter privateers with taxpayer dollars.

More important, there is nothing about "School Choice" in the plan the board and superintendent are moving with unacceptable speed to implement. As noted by the paper's own education writer, Howard Blume, this is really a "School Control:" scam. The only "choice" is which school goes to which charter. As it now stands, Flores Aguilar will place a hundred thousand or more of the district's students under the indoctrinating control of ideologically-oriented entrepreneurs.

The Times worries that the plan is "at risk." The paper's editors ought to be worried that the kids are at risk. The editors, the op-ed staff, and the LAUSD board knew that the charter under which Locke High was turned over to Green Dot required that every Locke student would be required to DEMONSTRATE A BELIEF in capitalism. The editors knew that one charter operator requires students to stand each morning and give an oral pledge to capitalism. At that school they don't have to pledge to the flag, however.

This is the wonderful world of charter schools. The two instances cited occurred at schools run by privateers who are frequently cited by charter advocates, including the Times, as outstanding examples of what can happen under charter operation. If the teachers union formed a charter school and required the students to recite a daily homage to the working class can you imagine the outrage that would quickly grace the editorial pages of the Times?

So who is responsible for endangering the Flores Aguilar con? Those favored charter operators themselves. Why? Because they don't like a requirement that makes them enroll all the students living in the attendance area of each of the schools they are about to pilfer. And why don't charters want all those kids? The Times editorial recognized, for the first time, what the reason is. Charters want "students whose parents are informed and involved enough to enter the lotteries in the first place -- which also means that these schools attract a motivated population of students and families. Left out are many students, such as foster children, who most need well-run schools."

If charters took all the students, as a traditional LAUSD school must do, those questionable but highly touted charter test scores would plummet. Attendance problems would suddenly appear. Discipline would be comparable to the problems that existed before the charters moved in and weeded out trouble making kids.

Face it, editorial board, you've ignored the realistic criticism raised by concerned citizens - not the teachers union - for several years now. Even when in your own editorial you recognize what is wrong with the charter movement and why it cannot replicate the unsubstantiated claims that charter advocates put forth, you stand firm in your naive belief that charters, not genuine reform within the LAUSD, is the answer to the district's problems.

Ralph E. Shaffer, long-time charter critic whose op-eds are shuffled off to [the Los Angeles Times'] Blowback or Dust Up, is Professor Emeritus of History at Cal Poly Pomona.



Monday, October 26, 2009

Green Dot/LAPU/PR get their undemocratic provision added to LAUSD/Broad/Gates resolution!

Support Parents and UTLA against LAUSD and Green Dot's corporate charter cash cowsThe current RFP can be read here, the following discusses a quote from page 8 of document released October 23, 2009.

Green Dot, CMO, and privatization sympathizer Matt Hill at LAUSD recently had this added to Superintendent Cortines implementation of LAUSD VP Yolie Flores Aguilar's corporate charter choice privatization plan:

Parent Trigger for Program Improvement 3+ Schools

A Program Improvement (PI) year 3-5 school may be included as a Focus School, if signatures of 50 percent plus one of parents at an existing PI 3-5 school, or the signatures of 50 percent plus one of parents with children eligible to attend the school (parents of children who attend feeder schools). Parent Trigger for Program Improvement 3+ Schools

This undemocratic petition "trigger" provision was exactly what chief privatizer Ben Austin called for in his Green Dot/LAPU/PR "Now We Take Power" [1] pro-neoliberal privatization tirade.

Aside from being fraught with fraud, and unaccountable to the community at large, the petitioning clause allows CMOs, EMOs, corporate charters and voucher supporters to trick both unsuspecting parents and parents prone to corporate propaganda. The CMOs also want to collect signatures from feeder schools, with the notion that people whose children may someday attend a target school should be able to participate in handing said school over to corporate entities.

This underhanded attempt to subvert democratic processes is part and parcel the way CMO executives operate. Concerned only with increasing their market share, privately operated charters are the antithesis of democracy, and are wholly unaccountable to the communities in which they seize our schools. These ultra-wealthy CMO executives and their cronies hate democracy and community, we need to demand they keep their hands off our schools!



Friday, October 23, 2009

Advocating Public Education Roundup 09W43

Save Public Education from the right wing forces of privatizationThe most important thing in this update is The California Campaign to Save Public Education being held this weekend at UC Berkely. For more information go to the event's website, or read SW's excellent article discussing the conference: Organizing the fight for public education.

Dr. Danny Weil, editor of School Vouchers and Privatization: A Reference Handbook (Contemporary Education Issues) exposes the nefarious and reprehensible activities of Green Dot/LAPU/Parent Revolution as pure astroturf in: Say you want a revolution?: Parents Revolution, 'Astro turf' organizations and the privatization of public schools

On 4LAKIDS Scott Folsom's Blog review: THE BROAD REPORT, Mr. Folsom gives a good outline of the subject matter found on Sharon Higgins standout new blog THE BROAD REPORT. Sadly he ends the piece with this comment in reference to this valuable resource: "While not exactly evenhanded – or even fair-and-balanced..." As if the manipulations of the ideologically charged billionaire discussed in Ms. Higgins blog are somehow either of the things Mr. Folsom mentions! Let's be clear, the wealthy overclass sees this opportunity to utterly dismantle and privatize what Professor David Lloyd terms "the second commons," consisting of public institutions like schools, libraries, parks, and more. These neoliberal vultures, discussed in Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, have all the resources (the state, media, finances, etc.) at their disposal. Pulling punches or watering down our message as PUBLIC education advocates would be suicidal. If anything, THE BROAD REPORT is far more even handed and "fair and balanced," than the Green Dot, Alliance, Bright Star public relations firm posing as the Los Angeles Times, and the information Ms. Higgins provides is invaluable to public education advocates and activists.

This one is scary: Bill Gates reveals support for GMO agriculture. So the convicted predatory monopolist from Redmond supports frankenfoods as well as frankenschools. CMO, EMO, and now GMO! If he or his company was ever capable of writing stable or secure code, I'd make a comment about him going back to what he knows, but given the inferior quality of his products, maybe he should just withdraw into obscurity. We'd all be so much better off!

Caroline Grannan continues finding great things to share: Is teaching a profession -- or a temporary missionary project?

My recent expose on one of Green Dot's uglier sides gets republished on the renowned Dissident Voice website: Dissident Voice : Code Words and Green Dot’s Pandering to Westside Racism.

Another Dr. Danny Weil piece looks at two of the horrors comminted by Los Angeles CMO/EMO corporate charters: Charter Schools, the repression of free speech and authoritarian autocracy: the new but old, educational reform.

Crooks and Liars has a short entitled We're Back to Faith-Based
Education - Charter Schools Will Work If We Hope They Do.