Monday, August 24, 2009

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?


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