Friday, July 24, 2009

Struggle to keep schools both public & democratic, a roundup

Support Parents and UTLA against LAUSD and Green Dot's corporate charter cash cowsGood news first! Hard working NYC teachers and parents are fighting back against charters, privatization, and mayoral control. They've gone as far as occupying the very rooms billionaire Mayor Bloomberg gave to former colleagues and cronies to open yet another corporate CMO charter. Harlem Success Academy expands further into P.S. 123 in Harlem talks about the courageous and principled stand the Harlem community and teachers are taking against the forces of privatization, gentrification, and segregation!

Hands Off Our Schools! is a series of protests being held by Harlem organizations in coalition against the privatization mentioned above. Check out their incredible demands:

  • the democratic control of schools by parents, students, educators, and community members

  • increased funding for public schools to promote small classes and quality education

These are precisely the kind of militant actions and types of demands we need to be making here in Los Angeles. Rather than letting Alliance, Green Dot, and Brightstar dictate our futures, we need to counterpose what parents and communities really want. We're tired of astroturf groups providing cover to LAUSD board members trying to sell our kids' futures to the highest bidder and lowest common denominator.

We should increase the demands on the list. First we demand we educate every child, since most EMO/CMO/corporate charters shirk at educating special needs, ESL, and children with disciplinary problems. Second we demand we desegregate our schools, we've explored the institutional racism charters perpetuate here and here. In his recent piece against charters Black Agenda Report's Editor Bruce A. Dixon said "Charter schools undermine what is left of community."

Charter teachers win a union in Chicago! Chicago Charter Teachers Score First Win. This is very exciting and even more important that it happened in Chicago. Especially in the wake of Arne Duncan's national union busting tour. The struggle against private corporate EMOs and CMOs will be difficult, since their entire goal is to take taxpayer money, educate kids on the cheap by paying teachers and employees peanuts, and then funnel surplus funds into their executive's pockets. However, while the Wall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times vilify teachers and argue they should settle for low pay and poor conditions, actual teachers are engaging in struggle.

Corporate CMOs like Green Dot have what can only be called "company unions," but the potential for their rank and file to organize against their highly paid executives exists as well. We've already exploded the non-profit myth, and mentioned how opulent Green Dot executives live in exclusive areas like Silver Lake, The Venice Canals, and Beverly Hills.

For all those charter cheerleaders claiming "school choice," and privatization leads to more accountability, democracy, and responsiveness to communities:

The charter operator argued that its unelected board of directors was not “responsible to public officials or to the general electorate.” [1]

Welcome the charter school reality! Their unelected boards make all their decisions, leading to less accountability, less transparency, less responsiveness, and no democracy.

Sad news. Take the racism of corporate charters, combine it with the empire's need to project corporate power overseas, and you get military charter schools -- Military charter schools promise disciplined education. Arne Duncan's CPS disaster also features a few of these poverty draft depots.

Lucia Laguna, a young educator from South Central had this to say about the article:

"As if charter schools weren't enough of a problem, try MILITARY charter schools in the most underprivileged and underserved communities."

She's absolutely right! The deep pocketed interests running charters never open these in Bel Air, Holmby Hills, Pacific Palisades, or Beverly Hills. Notice they never enforce the disgusting recruiter on campus component of NCLB on rich white campuses either.

Finally, the Secretary of Education is blackmailing states into accepting backward and reactionary measures to force more privatization and the pitting of hard working teachers against each other. We have a lot of work to do in terms of exposing these discredited ideas, and keeping them from applying systematized division in our communities. Why is it that CEOs and AIG executives get bonuses for abject failure, but all people can do is talk about merit pay for teachers?


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