Wednesday, August 12, 2009

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


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