Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ánimo Watts II

Support Parents and UTLA against Green Dot's corporate charter cash cowsNon-educators Broad, Barr, Petruzi and Austin know all about failing schools: Animo Watts #2 Charter High

Academic Performance Index (API) 494
No Child Left Behind (AYP) Missed seven of 12 federal targets for 2008,54194&_dad=ptl&_schema=PTL_EP&school_code=8822


By the way, all the information Green Dot Corporation would never want you to see is available at:

So simple, even a District 5 Board representative could use them.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Corporations 1, Communities 0, six members cave to Eli Broad's privatization agenda

Corporations 1, Communities 0, six members cave to Eli Broad's privatization agenda.

Many thanks to those who tried to add as many community friendly amendments that they could. At least one of our elected officials weren't bought off by Gates and Broad's millions.

Thank you Marguerite P. LaMotte for you impassioned and principled stand for public education. You're courage won't be forgotten!


Monday, August 24, 2009

Garfield HS Parents, Students, and Community Confront LAUSD VP Flores-Aguilar

There was palpable anger in the air at Garfield High School when parents, students, and community confronted LAUSD Vice President Yolie Flores Aguilar over her Corporate Charter School Choice Resolution. Ms. Flores Aguilar vacillated between a condescending tone toward people she felt didn't understand she was "helping them," and melodrama when anyone really cornered her on her lies and misinformation. It's safe to say she'd have a career in acting if she ever quits her day job of political opportunism and corporate servility. Ms. Flores Aguilar denied her resolution had anything to do with privatization and charters at least a half a dozen times throughout the meeting. Considering GHS has been a target of a Green Dot hostile take over for roughly a year, its no surprise Flores Aguilar avoided the using the charter word in front of the crowd of roughly 320 people at all costs. The event was organized by parents and community activists including Carlos Montes, a GHS alumni himself.

Support Parents and UTLA against Green Dot's corporate charter cash cowsSupport Parents and UTLA against Green Dot's corporate charter cash cowsSupport Parents and UTLA against Green Dot's corporate charter cash cows

Sadly Vice President Flores Aguilar repeatedly lied about her resolution when she kept insisting the community would get to choose the type of school they wanted. She didn't mention that while community input is solicited under her resolution, in the end the community doesn't make the choice at all. Arne Duncan's community meetings in Chicago also solicited input community, and then promptly ignored it.

Several current and former students really took the LAUSD Vice President to task, and she was visibly shaken by her inability to explain to her constituents why she was taking actions contrary to their wishes. A high point was when a GHS graduate from the class of 1997, who went on to graduate from Yale, asked Flores Aguilar point blank how dare she ignore the improvements at Garfield. The entire crowd stood in unison and applauded his inspired speech!

Given Garfield's history, it's no wonder they have an admirable culture of resistance. We need to carry their spirit against privatization throughout the district. We need to defend all our schools against Green Dot and other CMOs. We need to self organize and put forth our vision of education and resist the corporate vision embodied by Gingrich/Petruzi/Barr/Duncan. Could you imagine the East Los Angeles Walkouts at a campus run with Green Dot's pepper spray happy security thugs?

After Vice President Flores Aguilar's somewhat arrogant final remarks, the parents began chanting "delay the vote! delay the vote!" It's doubtful she listened, but it was a poignant way to finish the meeting.

Carlos Montes engaged in the struggle to keep Yolie Flores from increasing Steve Barr and Green Dot's bottom line


D-day plus one to save public schools

Separate is never equal. corporate charter schoolsTonight there are two important events. On the west-side there's:

Emerson Advocates
Monday, August 24, 2009
6:30 - 7:30pm
Emerson Middle School
Emerson Middle School Library (room 109)
1650 Selby Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90024

On the east-side:

Garfield Unites
Monday, August 24, 2009
Garfield High School
Garfield High School Cafeteria
5101 E. Sixth St, Los Angeles 90022

The queen of privatization herself will be there explaining why she thinks corporations know how to run schools better than educators.

We've explored the incredible situation of Ben Austin's multiple conflicts of interest before. But when I've discussed the very close connection he has with the Mayor, many people dismissed it as hyperbole. For all those who maintain Austin and Mayor Villaraigosa co-hosting the Green Dot astroturf town halls was merely a marriage of convenience, how do you explain Austin getting to post his privatization propaganda on the Mayor's exclusive official blog?

There's a great new blog called Garfield Unites. While self organizing or parents, teachers, and communities is just beginning to happen in other Green Dot takeover targets, GHS (like Crenshaw) has a long history of fighting the forces of neoliberal privatization.

Howard Blume and Jason Song <3 <HEART> <3 Steve Barr, or Why school choice plan is a bad idea for our district

I was exhausted when I wrote this during the previous weekend's education conference, so it isn't my best prose. Also, the Daily News edited a few things including the original title (A Town Hall Meeting Closed to the Townspeople) and removed a Green Dot staffer's name, but all in all it's good to see one local paper publish a dissenting view against privatization. Although the Daily News strongly endorses the privatization plan, at least they had the integrity to publish dissenting views.

Meanwhile, the Green Dot sycophants at the LA Times keep churning out gushing, servile, pro-corporate Editorials and Op-Ed in favor of corporate charter school choice. They haven't printed a single piece against it. Diane Ravitch's generalized piece on charters doesn't count. At the request of Prof. R. Shaffer, I submitted my Op-Ed to the LA Times criticizing the Mayor and Austin for their closed meetings. It was turned down immediately since the Los Angeles Times apparently has a no criticism of Green Dot policy.

As for my Daily News Op-Ed, it drew a host of comments from white supremacists, union bashers, and other tools of reaction are there for everyone to see. One comment did take me to task about the title versus the content of the article. That makes sense, but I wasn't the one who retitled it. They asked for a reasoned argument against Flores-Aguilar's plan, to which I posted my own comment reproduced here:

I think an important point to make about Flores-Aguilar's plan is that there's really only one organization with massive outside funding and a bevy of professional grant writers to present seemingly the best plans on paper in order to garner a lion's share of the 50 schools. While everyone is saying other organizations like UTLA or community groups can submit plans, how do they compete against organizations funded by the likes of Eli Broad, The Gates Foundation, The Waltons, or the LA Chamber of Commerce? Why should parents, teachers, and communities have to compete with businessmen to teach children in the first place?

We'll be handing over facilities paid for by taxpayers to unaccountable private non-profits. If LAUSD seems obtuse and unresponsive, try calling Green Dot, Alliance, or Brightstar about anything. They're corporations for goodness sakes. Their top executives aren't educators, they're businessmen. At least with traditional public schools, there's a sense of community and people are allowed on campuses. These CMOs treat public property as, well, their corporate property.

Another major problem with Barr, Duncan, and Gingrich's model is the loss of community schools. This is addressed by those familiar with the aftermath of Arne Duncan's dismantling of public schools in CPS. Barr's CMO admission typically involve lotteries, steep requirements, and other bars of entry to assure inflated APIs are typically an anathema to local children being able to attend. Since these 50 new schools were supposed to be for overflow of existing neighborhood schools, we can see where that's going. For more on how the Barr/Duncan/Gingrich model destroys community schools see: Arne Duncan and the Chicago Success Story: Myth or Reality?


The Famous GHS "web of corruption flyers" exposing LAUSD-Green Dot collaborators

Support Parents and UTLA against Green Dot's corporate charter cash cowsSupport Parents and UTLA against Green Dot's corporate charter cash cowsGarfield High School parents parents were passing these out while the community was locked out of the Villaraigosa/Austin town hall in which corporate lackeys announced their plans for Garfield's future. Obtaining a copy, I set about scanning them at once. They aren't too clear, but they're readable nonetheless.

Despite my years of research into Green Dot's nefarious connections, I didn't know some of these disgusting facts. Who knew Inner City Struggle's Maria Brenes was married to Luis Sanchez --Monica Garcia's Chief of Staff? While I could add some more items to this web of malfeasance, it's still excellent research on their part.

Click on the images to see the full size versions. The English version is on the left, y tambien en Español a la derrecha.


Friday, August 21, 2009

GHS Parents Oppose School Grab by Private Charters

Support Parents and UTLA against LAUSD and Green Dot's corporate charter cash cowsGarfield High School Parents Oppose School Grab by Private Charters: Press Conference
August 21, 2009, 3:15pm

What: Press Conference: Parents of GHS Oppose School Grab by Private Charters
When: Friday, August 21, 2009, 3:15 PM
Where: Garfield High School 5101 E. Sixth St. LA 90022 In front of main building.
Mothers and students from Garfield HS, in ELA will hold a press conference and protest to show their opposition to the LAUSD move to bid out, over 50 new schools. The angry GHS Mothers and students oppose the move to privatize their school and the newly built schools. GHS community will present their plans to mobilize and oppose the resolution of LAUSD Board member, Yolie Flores, that calls for outsourcing 50 schools. A vote on this is set for the Tuesday, Augusts 25, at LAUSD Board meeting.
Speakers and interviews with parent leaders Eduwiges Chavez, GHS parent volunteer,  Celina Martinez, GHS President Title I Committee, Teresa Robles, GHS Parent Representative District 5, Veronica Ramirez, GHS Parliamentarian Title I Committee, and student leader Mary Lopez, will speak on their opposition to what they see as a move to privatize public schools.
GHS parents demand public education, more and better parent participation in local school decisions, and governance, especially immigrant families, and changes to improve education and school conditions.
The event is endorsed by Mothers of Garfield HS, GHS Varsity Football Team, GHS Basketball Team, GHS Title I Committee, Community Service Organization and supported by hundreds of parents, students, teachers, and community members.

Contact: Carlos Montes (213) 712-0370 or Eduwiges Chavez 323-895-0532


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Aurora Ponce receives scholarship & speaks - courtesy of Cuts Hurt Kids


Professor Shaffer's Open Letter to Howard Blume on the Austin/Villaraigosa Love Fest

Support Parents and UTLA against LAUSD and Green Dot's corporate charter cash cowsProfessor Ralph E. Shaffer was kind enough to give me permission to reprint his open letter to Los Angeles Times staffer (and Steve Barr sycophant) Howard Blume over his fluff piece: Villaraigosa advocates letting outside operators bid for control of L.A. Unified schools

Were I not nearly blind I would have driven the 25 or so miles to last night's pro-Flores Aguilar plan rally featuring the mayor and Green Dot's hired shill Ben Austin. But according to paragraph 15 of your article - that was almost to the end of your piece - I would have been locked out because I oppose the raid by privateers who want to feast on public schools.

Did you not watch any TV at all yesterday before you went to that one-sided so-called "town hall" meeting? Were you totally unaware that in several genuine town hall meetings held by Senators and Representatives in various states, and yes, even one held by the president, anti-health care reform citizens were /NOT/ locked out?

Howard, if I had been writing the story the lead paragraph and the headline would have been about the dictatorial efforts of Austin and the pro-charter crowd to prevent the asking of responsible, telling questions that would have made the privatization plan look like the money-grubbing, political advancement plan that it really is.

How could you, as a responsible educational reporter, have tucked the lockout away in a spot near the end of your piece? That was inexcusable.

Moreover, you emphasized the union and Duffy as representing the opposition. Stop using the UTLA as a bogeyman. The real opposition to the plan comes not from the union but from concerned educators who know what will happen when Green Dot takes over the job that the LAUSD board is supposed to do. Did you not read the Diane Ravitch op-ed in your own paper yesterday morning? She said more eloquently than the rest of us what we have been trying to tell the LAUSD board for over a year.

Tell us, Howard, what is the "progress" at Locke that you so gratuitously slipped into your article.? Is there any progress other than safety? Discipline, you say? Are the undisciplined kids from last year still at the school? Were they the same kids who created the unsafe problem?

Please write another story, Howard, one in which you tell it like it really is regarding charters and those who truly represent the opposition to the surrender of our schools to private operators. Stop making it a "union" thing. That's exactly what the mayor and Ben Austin want you to do because it plays on a stereotype that is popular with a large segment of the public. And it makes you a shill like Ben Austin.

Ralph E Shaffer
Professor Emeritus, History
Cal Poly Pomona


The TAX POEM viral email: debunking reactionary libertarian mythology

Mary Harris Mother Jones would tell the truth about 100 years agoI first saw the so called "Tax Poem" in 2007. I've been receiving it in chain emails from people at least once a month ever since. I've received it three times in the last two weeks alone. While certainly clever to some degree, it is completely false, packed with historical errors, outright lies, and reactionary ideas. The following is what I wrote in response to the anonymous tax poem author in 2007. Feel free to send my fact filled response to anyone who has ever sent you the viral tax poem email.

Tax his land,
Tax his bed,
Tax the table
[ ...snipped for brevity... ]
Not one of these taxes existed 100 years ago, and our nation was the  most prosperous in the world.
We had absolutely no national debt, had the largest middle class in the world, and Mom stayed home to raise the kids.
What in the hell happened? Can you spell 'politicians?'
And I still have to 'press 1' for English !?!
I hope this goes around THE USA at least 100 times!! YOU can help it get there!!!!

Leaving the reactionary cum libertarian first portion on taxes alone for now, let's look at what 1907 really looked like...

>> 100 years ago, and our nation was the  most prosperous in the world.

Maybe it was for the Robber Barons. For the rest of us the turn of that century saw a continuation of the brutal working conditions from the industrialization period in the 1800's. Child labor was rampant [1], working conditions were horribly unsafe with no regulations whatsoever [2], there was no minimum wage, and workers often labored 10-15 hours a day [3]. Back in these "good ol' prosperous days," employers had private armed and/or government troops shoot and kill workers that had the audacity to ask for safe working conditions, reasonable hours, or something approaching a living wage [4].

1907 was a year after Upton Sinclair exposed the horrific working conditions endured by American workers in his landmark work "The Jungle." More than exposing employers' exploitation of wage slaves, Sinclair's book showed how little regard business has for public health. "The Jungle" played a major role in the passage of the Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act.

In 1907 San Francisco, reeling from the aftermath of the 1906 quake, had nearly 220,000 homeless with little or no access to government help. Irish, Scandinavian, German and Italian immigrants were to endure the same vicious racism and discrimination we see heaped on Latinos and Arabs today. American workers suffering through all this 'prosperity' the email author refers to didn't have to do so for long. Life expectancy in 1907 was only 47 years [5].

The decade including 1907 saw the power and ruthlessness of trusts founded by robber barons so unchecked and overreaching, Republican Theodore Roosevelt was compelled to go on a 'trust-busting' mission to try and rein in monopoly capital enough to provide some semblance of fairness in American society. Perhaps the email author was confining his discussion to the Rockefellers, Carnegies, and Morgans when he described "the most prosperous [nation] in the world." For the average working American 1907 was anything but prosperous -- it was full of oppression, brutality, and poverty.

>> We had absolutely no national debt, had the largest middle class in the world,

An astute reader would recall there was no national debt in 1999 either. As for the email author's middle class statement, unqualified as it is, this often just refers to broad sections of the working class with a small strata of professionals and petty bourgeoisie thrown in to muddle the actual class picture. I think we have painted an accurate depiction of what conditions were like for the 1907 working American above.

>> and Mom stayed home to raise the kids.

The statement is so sexist and misogynistic on its face, the author should have just added "barefoot and pregnant" while he was at it. Maybe Mommy Rockefeller could have afforded to stay at home with the kids in the 1900's. However, most working class women worked, worked long and arduous hours, and worked for much less than their male counterparts. See my notes [2-3] above for what conditions were like for working class women during the first decade of the 1900's. Of course, that hasn't changed much. In 2007 women still only earn 77 cents on the dollar for the same jobs compared to men. They still endure constant sexism and objectification in the workplace as well.

>> What happened? Can you say politicians!

Any analysis that leaves out WHO politicians serve is mere rhetorical treachery. A wise man once wrote "The executive of the modern State is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie." Understand that, and you understand the real heart of the matter.

>> And you still have to "press 1" for English!

One can only imagine the racist and reactionary aims behind the author's addition of that last line.

[1] Child labor wasn't outlawed until the passage of the FLSA in 1938. Also read about Mother Jones 1903 "Children's Crusade," fight to limit child labor to 55 hours a week.

[2] Those abhorring workplace safety laws would be well served reading about the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. I'd be interested to hear someone argue against regulations that would have prevented locking hundreds of young women in a potential tinderbox.

[3] Taking the above Triangle Shirtwaist workers as an example; these women were compelled to work 14 hour shifts for a $1.50 a week (about $30 a week in today's dollars) -- some prosperity!

[4] See the 1902 Anthracite Coal Strike, the 1903 Colorado Labor Wars, and the 1904 Dunnville Massacre.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Community Organizer Laurence Tan on Privatization

Laurence Tan was kind enough to give me permission to reprint his view on school privatization, and how it impacts communities of color and poverty like Watts. Green Dot's Animo Watts has an API of 494, one of the lowest in Los Angeles County.

"That's what my HS UCLA group was TALKIN' about at City Hall last friday. 8 out of the 9! new charters opening up by 2010-2011 are in WATTS area alone!!! leading them to claim that LAUSD has given up reform in one of the most disenfranchised/marginalized areas of the CITY by washing its hands away and allowing private corporations take over with their capitalist and exclusionary business models!!! WTFreak?!? Aug 25th is an important date because School board votes on charter decisions... we CAN NOT have a repeat of CHICAGO RENAISSANCE 2010!!! Watts youth, and youth all around deserve better!"


Report Green Dot's Ben Austin on the City Ethics Commission Complaint Form Online

Support Parents and UTLA against LAUSD and Green Dot's corporate charter cash cowsToday's closed faux "Garfield Town Hall" hosted at Catholic Charities (notably because Garfield's parents and teachers oppose Green Dot's hostile take over attempts) was the final straw. The fact that parents, teachers, and community members are being excluded from the process demonstratively illustrates the lack of democracy and accountability by CMOs. Both Mr. Austin and the Mayor should have had the courage to face all the people they are trying to disenfranchise. Our tax dollars shouldn't be used to privatize schools and devastate our communities!

Report Ben Austin at: Los Angeles City Ethics Commission - Complaint Form

Name and Title of Person Involved: Ben Austin, Assistant City Attorney
City Department Involved: City Attorney
Name and Contact Information of Witnesses: You can use my name and email

Here's what I wrote:

I am of the understanding that Assistant City Attorney Ben Austin has special arrangements with the City Ethics Commission to work part time for Steve Barr and Marco Petruzi's Green Dot Corporation lobbying arm, Parent Revolution (née LAPU). It has come to my attention that Mr. Austin is now working FULL TIME for Green Dot/Parent Revolution.

Mr. Austin is possibly violating City of Los Angeles Code of Ethics rules number VII and IX by working at a second job full time. Furthermore, as a city employee, Mr. Austin has fostered close connection with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

Mr. Austin has used this relationship to recruit the Mayor into co-hosting closed "town hall" meetings in which they are promoting LAUSD VP Yolie Flores-Aguilar's corporate charter choice resolution. Mr. Austin stands to gain financially from this arrangement as the resolution would effectively award Green Dot more campuses. This is a very precarious situation, bordering on a clear conflict of interest, and might find Mr. Austin in violation of rules IV, II and I.

I am encouraging the City Ethics Commission to investigate this immediately.

In case people aren't aware of Mr. Austin's potential conflict of interest status:
Ben Austin: The Six Figure Salary Man - Green Dot

Shame on You Mayor Villaraigosa!
Call or write the Mayor's office and ask why he is campaigning alongside Ben Austin, a city employee, who also works with a private firm which stands to gain fincially through his job with Green Dot by passage of LAUSD VP Flore-Augilar's resolution on August 25, 2009.

200 North Spring Street, Room 303
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Phone: (213) 978-0600


Green Dot Corporation's first foray for Yolie Flores Aguilar's Charter Give Away

Keep the PUBLIC in public schoolsLAUSD Superintendent Ramon C. Cortines, at the behest of Green Dot Corporation and their billionaire benefactors, opened the first of their public relations meetings to dismantle public schools last night at Griffith Middle School. Attendees mentioned that while LAUSD officials feigned neutrality, they were clearly in support of LAUSD VP Flores Aguilar's Corporate Charter School Choice Resolution.

The very good news is that the vast majority of the 200 some odd parents and community members at the "Town Hall" were unequivocally against privatization. In fact, when Cortines mentioned the Chicago model, there were people able to point out the failure of Arne Duncan's tenure there. They were also astute enough to know holding community meetings, but then ignoring their input was Arne Duncan's modus operandi.

Here's an incredible account from one of the attendees:

parents and students were wearing red t-shirts that read: "Protect our schools and community. Students + Parents + Teachers = Education. Don't Privatize Education!" and carried hand-made signs with similar slogans.

Initial written reports include one by 4LAKids Report from the First of the Districtwide Community Meetings: RE - BOARD RESOLUTION ON PUBLIC SCHOOL CHOICE

We can be sure the LA Times will be writing gushing cult of Steve Barr pieces tomorrow in response to this town hall. Especially since the Beverly Hills Barrister Ben Austin, and his BFF&E Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa are sharing the stage for a few legs of the privatization dog and pony show over the next few days.

LAUSD Board Member Marguerite LaMotte is currently the only member committed to protecting our children and communities from the onslaught of privatization demonstrated through her firm and principled opposition to this terrible resolution. We need to convince Board members Tamar Galatzan, Steve Zimmer, and Nury Martinez not to sell our kids' futures to the highest bidder and lowest common denominator. Write, call, encourage others to write and call, and then write and call again. Tell LAUSD board members to VOTE NO on Vice President Yolie Flores Aguilar's Corporate Charter School Choice Resolution on August 25, 2009. We want public schools, not corporate schools!

* Photo Credit and © 2009: Jose del Barrio.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Resist the School Privatization Tour Staring Ben Austin and his assistants the Mayor and LAUSD Superintendent

Keep the PUBLIC in public schoolsCheck here for the latest schedule, some have been moved or rescheduled.

Please show up to counter the privatization propaganda tour. Green Dot has employed the help of LAUSD Superintendent Ramon C. Cortines and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to help sell their corporate snake oil. Everyone's favorite well heeled astroturf executive, Ben Austin, has orchestrated this public relations coup in order to further deceive communities regarding corporate charters, and to provide political cover to LAUSD board members who will vote to dismantle public education on August 25, 2009.

Arm yourself, organizations, and communities with facts about why privatization isn't right for our city and be ready to let these politicians know we want to keep the public in public schools. Bring signs and flyers opposing LAUSD Vice President's Corporate School Choice Resolution. Placards and signs with messages like PRIVATIZATION = SEGREGATION are to the point. Be sure to let people know that LAUSD Board Member Marguerite LaMotte deserves the progressive community's support because of her principled stand against corporatization and privatization. If you're a teacher, please contact PEAC/UTLA for instructions. CSEA, SIEU99, and many other unions should mobilize as well.

Monday, August 10 @ 6:00-7:00pm
With LAUSD Superintendent Ramon C. Cortines
Griffith Middle School
4765 E. Fourth Street, Los Angeles, CA 90022

Tuesday, August 11 @ 11:00am-1:00pm
With Green Dot Corporation's Ben Austin and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa
Garfield Town Hall
Catholic Charities (notably because Garfield's parents and teachers oppose Green Dot's hostile take over attempts)
1307 Warren Street Los Angeles CA 90033

Tuesday, August 11 @ 6:00-7:00pm
With LAUSD Superintendent Ramon C. Cortines
Maywood Academy High School
6125 Pine Avenue Maywood, CA 90270

Wednesday, August 12 @ 5:00-7:00pm
With Green Dot Corporation's Ben Austin and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa
Venice Town Hall
2232 Lincoln Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90291

Wednesday, August 12 @ 6:00-7:00pm
With LAUSD Superintendent Ramon C. Cortines
Sepulveda Middle School
15330 Plummer Street North Hills, CA 91343

Thursday, August 13 @ 6:00-7:00pm
With LAUSD Superintendent Ramon C. Cortines
Central City Neighborhood Partners
501 S. Bixel Street Los Angeles, CA 90017

Monday, August 17 @ 6:00-7:00pm
With LAUSD Superintendent Ramon C. Cortines
Hamilton High School
2955 S. Robertson Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90034

Wednesday, August 19 @ 6:00-7:00pm
With LAUSD Superintendent Ramon C. Cortines
Gardena High School
1301 W. 182nd Street Gardena, CA 90248

Thursday, August 20 @ 6:00-7:00pm
With LAUSD Superintendent Ramon C. Cortines
Jordan High School
2265 E. 103rd St. Los Angeles, CA 90002



LA Times' Steve Lopez prostrates before Green Dot again!

Separate is never equal. corporate charter schoolsJust when you think the Los Angeles Times editors can't grovel at the feet of Steve Barr, Marco Petruzzi, and Ben Austin's lucrative Green Dot CMO Empire any more than they already have, Steve Lopez pens this disgusting diatribe: Teachers union needs to be a leader

Here's the email I fired off to him:

Mr. Lopez:

Are you still parading as a self appointed expert on pedagogy? I was surprised you actually had a lunch day free to meet with Mr. Duffy, since is seems you spend all your time dining with Arne Duncan, Steve Barr, Marco Petruzzi, and Ben Austin.

Mr. Lopez, did you actually write "I don't care whether they're charters or collaboratives, and I don't care who runs them. I only care about the quality of education and whether there's a system of accountability."

What part about EMO/CMOs run by private corporations lend themselves to accountability?

Oh, yes, is it that their obtuse accountability lies in their ability to fire teachers at the drop of a hat? Given your obvious disdain of teachers and organized labor, that makes sense. Other than that they have nothing approaching accountability. Do tell Mr. Lopez -- just how accountable are the unelected boards of Alliance, Brightstar, and Green Dot? While sucking up all our tax dollars, CMOs have no transparency or accountability whatsoever to communities, parents, or anyone else -- save their well heeled executives and nefarious benefactors.

All the while, corporate CMOs dump special education, ELL, and other "problem" students back onto real public schools to try and boost their APIs. Is that accountability Mr. Lopez? Why no scathing pieces on Steve Barr's Animo Watts having a 494 API? Why no clever articles on Green Dot having 4 schools in the lowest 35 of SAT scores in LA County? Is all your vitriol reserved for hard working teachers and unions?

So glad you don't care who runs schools Mr. Lopez, but some of us do. Unlike you, we refuse to relegate impoverished schools and communities of color to the lowest common denominator. Especially to corporate CMOs funded in large part by right wing ideologues including convicted predatory monopolists, convicted insider traders, and shady real estate tycoons. Those who really care about what's best for our children and communities are resisting the march towards corporatization and privatization.

Do us a favor before writing another servile, obsequious, Green Dot cheerleading editorial -- do your homework! Please read the recent Stanford/CREDO and USC reports on corporate charter under-performance. Look into the disaster, especially the race gap in math, Duncan and Daily created in Chicago Public Schools using precisely the methods you espouse with such gusto. Look at the money trail involved with EMO/CMO/Corporate Charters.

You should have met with me instead Mr. Duffy, I'd have at least given you something to think about before you wrote another piece to further Steve Barr's fortunes.

Robert D. Skeels


The 50% dropout lie -- a Yolie Flores Aguilar excuse for privatization

Support Parents and UTLA against LAUSD and Green Dot's corporate charter cash cowsThe reactionary right wing has repeated the lie about LAUSD's dropout rate being 50% for so long, that all enemies of public schools repeat it ad infinitum without checking their facts. Steve Barr, Marco Petruzzi, and Ben Austin cite it at any opportunity to justify their lucrative privatization scheme. Yolie Flores Aguilar and Monica Garcia have allowed it to be stated from the podium at LAUSD board meetings by paid "activists" with vested interests in Flores Aguilar's corporate school choice resolution while gushing about how great they think the resolution is [1]. Mayor Villaraigosa, while careful not to discuss any schools under his cognizance, has helped perpetuate the 50% myth as well.

While the myth has helped the privatization wrecking crew forward their money making and political advancement schemes, it is in fact just a myth. In Dropout rates improve in L.A. Unified, Howard Blume and Jason Song (Green Dot's biggest cheerleaders) detail LAUSD's at 26.4%. This is markedly down from the 31.7% of the previous year. Notice how neither figure matches the 50% figure constantly used by the corporatizers and privatizers, looks like Steve Barr and his ilk are caught in another lie. Too bad the LA Times wouldn't dream of running that story!

Dropout Rate Declines Almost 17% in L.A. Schools
Updated dropout statistics show improvement in LAUSD schools
Dropout rates improve in L.A. Unified

[1] In an act of utter obsequiousness, a woman told the Board Vice President at the July 14, 2009 LAUSD meeting that she was her "biggest fan." Yes, that Yolie Flores Aguilar, political opportunist extraordinaire, beyond unprincipled, and beholden to the highest bidders. The only thing that could have been more melodramatic would have been Ms. Flores Aguilar professing the same about Steve Barr or Ben Austin.


Friday, August 07, 2009

Social Justice Educator/Community Organizer Ron Gochez on Privatization

Support Parents and UTLA against corporate charter cash cowsRon Gochez was kind enough to give me permission to reprint his excellent take on school privatization, and how it impacts communities of color and poverty.

The state is strategically allowing the public education system to go down the tubes because that will facilitate the process of privatizing public education (K-12) as we know it. The state is trying to shed their social responsibility of providing (financing) this social service and putting it in the hands of capitalist/imperialist corporations. This kills two birds with one stone for the system!

This opens the flood gates for private corporations (Green Dot...etc), the US military and others to take direct control of "educating" our youth. This will further the process of indoctrination for the US public in general and for Raza/People of color/Poor folks in particular. This also means that with these conditions, even less people of color will graduate from high school which means that less people will have the opportunity to make it to a four year university.

This is clear evidence that local politicians are selling-out our community to the wolves (corporations) who have NO interest in uplifting our people. I hope that the teachers in Los Angeles and around the country can organize a true teachers movement to not only SAVE public education but that we fight to improve the standard of education that our youth. We need a culturally relevant education that is liberatory. Anything less will continue to be irrelevant and the majority of our youth will continue to be pushed out of the White Power mis-educational system that currently exists.

Teachers: Are we going to let these politicians sell public education to the corporations or are we going to organize and struggle? Some of us will continue to organize and we hope you'll join the movement! If not, what are you going to answer when one of your kids asks you "Mr./Ms. so what are you doing about it?"

Ron Gochez

Social Justice Educator/Community Organizer


Thursday, August 06, 2009

Resisting the blackmail of "Race to the Top," three articles

Support Parents and UTLA against corporate charter cash cowsState legislators' organization urges feds not to tie state aid to charter school policy Caroline Grannan looks at how the Education Committee of the bipartisan National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) has written the administration with as strong stance against tying "Race to the Top" funds to backward requirement which will only end up hurting students and communities.

Getting your class organized Sarah Knopp reviews a new book that looks at the class stratification in our schools. Read this piece with an understanding that this is precisely why Duncan and Obama want to blackmail schools into accepting their Orwellian-named 'race to the top' funding -- reinforcing class divisions in society. Children of the well-to-do (read wealthy and white) aren't subject to high stakes testing and route learning. It's a given that Duncan's own education included nothing like he's trying to inflict on our schools.

Does Bay Area Rep. George Miller support harming Calif. schools? One blogger thinks so Caroline Grannan explores how the blackmail portion of the so called "Race to the Top" money was carefully crafted with California in mind. There is some sense to this, in order to inflict the same failed policies Duncan implemented in Chicago Public Schools, there had to be some incentive to temp school boards into looking away from his record and to the money. Duncan's disdain for local community control and teachers unions is well documented.