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.


Stand up for ACORN

Manipulating the Public Agenda: Why ACORN Was In the News, and What the News Got WrongFriends,

Please forgive me that this e-mail is not personalized. However, you are receiving this message because you have been an important ally and/or true friend of our organization - and, in many cases, a personal friend of mine - over the years.

As you probably know, ACORN, one of the country's most important community organizations of low- and moderate-income people, is under an unprecedented attack by the right. While we are confident that we will ultimately survive these attacks, we currently find ourselves in the fight of our lives.

The event described below has been organized by a group of allies in order to denounce recent attacks on ACORN and on other individuals and organizations working for change, and to shift attention back to the critical issues - such as health care reform, financial industry reform, comprehensive immigration reform, and others - that our country is currently debating.

I would like to ask you to join us for this event if at all possible. And please pass on this message to anyone you think may be willing to support.

In solidarity,
John Jackson

Los Angeles ACORN


The following organizations/individuals have confirmed to attend the below event (many others pending, including several local elected officials):

Maria Elena Durazo, Exec. Secretary-Treasurer, LA County Federation of Labor
Mike Garcia, President, SEIU Local 1877 (Justice for Janitors)
Ralph Miller, President, AFSCME Local 685 (LA County Deputy Probation Officers)
Joshua Pechthalt, Vice-President, United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA)
Rev. Cecil "Chip" Murray, Senior Pastor (Ret.) First AME Church
Marqueece Harris-Dawson, Exec. Director, Community Coalition
Angelica Salas, Exec. Director, CHIRLA
Rabbi Jonathan Klein, Exec. Director, Clergy & Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE-LA)
Tim Watkins, Watts Labor Community Action Committee
Arturo Ibarra, Watts Century Latino Organization
Betty Day, Watts Gang Task Force
Marilyn Johnson, Exec. Director, SCOPE
Rev. Mark Whitlock, Christ Our Redeemer AME Church
Rev. Eric Lee, Exec. Director, Southern Christian Leadership Conference

Urgent call to action: Our brothers and sisters are under attack by well-funded corporate opponents who are clearly bent on destroying the progressive political agenda.  As always happens when working families and poor people force their way to the forefront of national discussion and change is in the air, the backlash gets fierce, ugly, and anti-American.

Please join us, a broad coalition of Los Angeles’ clergy, civic, and community leaders, at a press conference to denounce these attacks.  The press conference will take place at the home of Tommy and Debora Beard, 1544 E. 101st St., LA, 90002, on Thursday, October 22 at 9 a.m. Tommy and Debora are long-time Watts residents and local union members who saved their home of 24 years from foreclosure by organizing with ACORN.  Please RSVP to

The systematic attacks against the Apollo Alliance, Van Jones, ACORN, labor and many others are part of an insidious, coordinated campaign to shout us down and to shut us down. What we saw on the ACORN videos disturbed us all – persons in ACORN staff positions whose appalling lack of judgment has served to sully the reputation of one of America’s greatest advocates for the poor and disenfranchised. But we also know these attacks are not based on any mistakes or errors, despite what the Glen Becks of the world would have the public believe.  They are aimed at shifting media attention away from the real problems that our country is facing: the growing income gaps, the shrinking middle class, the increasing poverty and hunger, the loss of our jobs, the escalating housing foreclosures, and the absence of health care. Meanwhile, an elite few billionaires who crashed our national and global economies are living in luxury and prosperity.  We must fight back.

Throughout history, those benefitting from the status quo have used the weapon of division to undermine change that would benefit all.  Please join with us now to proclaim unequivocally, We will not be divided. These attacks have only strengthened our bonds and commitment to achieving justice. RSVP to, or call Erica Zeitlin at: 213 387-0780. Thank you!


Review: "Vietnam: The (Last) War the U.S. Lost"

Vietnam: The (Last) War the U.S. LostJoe Allen presents a history of the United States' invasion and occupation of Southeast Asia never discussed in mainstream accounts. Aside from demonstrating several major factors which combined to end the war, the book shows the importance of movements influencing and overlapping each other. This is clearly laid out in discussing the impact the civil rights and black power movements had on the nascent anti-war movement. Another important thread in the book is the often ignored account of how brutal the intervention was. The revelations on the staggering amount of ordinance dropped on the Vietnamese people underscores the degree of violence the U.S. ruling class resorts to when imperial interests are on the line.

In the struggle against the empire's current horrific occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, the lessons laid out in "Vietnam: The (Last) War the US Lost" couldn't be more valuable. From fighting the endemic imperialist racism leading to My Lai and its modern counterpart Haditha, to linking social justice struggles to the enormous costs of the war, to supporting GI resistance in practice as well as principle. If there is any overarching lesson from the book, it is that an anti-war movement diminishes in the absence of an understanding of imperialism.

Vietnam: The (Last) War the U.S. Lost
By Joe Allen, Foreward by John Pilger
Haymarket Books 2007 ISBN: 9781931859493


Monday, October 19, 2009

"Positive Psychology, Green Dot, and Barbara Ehrenreich" on Schools Matter blog

"We are giving away our schools and now we want to get rid of transparency... so we can do whatever we want in the dark of night." -- Marguerite P. LaMotte (LAUSD Board Member)

Support Parents and UTLA against Green Dot's corporate charter cash cowsThe highly regarded Schools Matter blog has published a short, but incredibly important piece entitled: Positive Psychology, Green Dot, and Barbara Ehrenreich

No wonder even some of Green Dots' staff and teachers are completely indoctrinated with ruling class ideology. This is beyond frightening, this is brainwashing.

Here are some thoughts on the Jerome Carter (a Green Dot preferred vendor) shtick:

"As a result, I must be accountable to those in authority" -- because those in authority, like AIG, Goldman Sachs, BofA, and Countrywide have shown us a paradigm of accountability.

"I will always work hard, because this is how my dreams will come true" -- therefore, I and anyone else who doesn't succeed is lazy and/or stupid. We all know how hard AIG bailout recipient Eli Broad, convicted insider trader Michael Milkin, convicted predatory monopolist William Gates III, and the Walton children worked to amass their fortunes. That's why their attempts to "reform" eduction is a "gift." Each and every one of us could be billionaires if we just internalized the phrase "my choices will determine my ultimate destiny in life!"

Instead of a sober material analysis of the economic system, societal, and systemic causes of poverty, KIPP, Uncommon, Uplift, Idea, Aspire, Alliance, ICEF, PUC, Green Dot, Harlem Success, Achievement First, Village Academy school will teach us how to "dress for success" [1] and think positive about our prospects in the midst of an economic crises created out of the same neoliberal thinking that corporate charters and voucher advocates espouse.

At least the ruling class has made an attempt to mask their ideology and propaganda with a hip, urban veneer. Public education advocates, social justice activists, and the left have a lot of work to do in order to counter this outrageous propaganda and indoctrination!


[1] In honor of Celerity's Executive, Vielka McFarlane, who in an act of self-colonization that would make Uncle Ruckus -- heck, even Bill Cosby or Yolie Flores Aguilar blush, gave us this quote in Not the lesson they had intended:

"We don't want to focus on how the history of the country has been checkered but on how do we dress for success, walk proud and celebrate all the accomplishments we've made."


Friday, October 16, 2009

ISO's Sherry Wolf on Gay Rights at Busboy's

I'm proud to be one of Sherry's comrades. In all the years I've known her, she's never failed to give the most moving, powerful, and principled speeches. Those of us who missed this one are fortunate that it was recorded for posterity. Check out her latest book Sexuality and Socialism: History, Politics, and Theory of LGBT Liberation.


Charters, Privatization, and Neoliberal Fatalism

"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"


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Code Words and Green Dot's Pandering to Westside Racism

privatization = segregation"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)

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

Several Emerson Middle School parents, activists, and teachers recently contacted me. They informed me LAPU/Parent (counter)Revolution has an "organizer" going door-to-door gathering signatures to privatize their school, this despite the fact Emerson isn't on LAUSD Superintendent Cortines' current privatization list. I asked them to describe the "organizer," expecting LAPU/PR to have committed one of their most experienced employees, Shirley Ford or Mary Najara, to a project so ideologically important to chief privatizer Ben Austin.

The person gathering signatures they described, while initially unexpected, made complete sense in the context of the class character and demographics of where the canvassing is occurring. We'll get back to this shortly.

Anyone over the age of 30 should recall phrases including "school choice" were the clarion call of segregationists and southern dixiecrats. It's no small irony that one of Ben Austin's Georgetown University Law School predecessors, Milton Korman, argued on the Jim Crow side of Brown vs. Board of Education. While the context of modern white flight isn't directly comparable to that of the segregationists, its character and motivations are the same. Let's look at the subtle, insidious racism that fuels the charter/voucher movement.

It's one thing to discuss the racism charter schools and voucher advocates like Alliance, Bright Star, and Green Dot represent in the abstract. It's quite another to demonstrate it in practice. For help with this, let's turn to an Emerson parent who is an ardent Green Dot/LAPU/PR supporter. This parent, posting anonymously as helpemerson on the LAPU/PR Emerson privatization message board, forgets they're posting in a public forum and lets the code words fly:

"I think the Green Dot priorities would be great at Emerson. The kids need more work on their character and decorum and what it means to be a good citizen." [1]

Nayla Wren of Green Dot/LAPU/PR
Mary Najera and Shirley Ford of Green Dot/LAPU/PR
Still a mystery why Green Dot choose the organizer in the top photo over their most experienced organizers in the bottom photo to work the affluent neighborhoods of Beverly Hills, Westwood, and Franklin Canyon?

Character? Decorum? No, that wasn't a Sarah Palin speech. It is however, very representative of the language employed by affluent white parents at Los Angeles schools where children of color have been or are currently bused in. In the wealthy white world of Beverly Hills, Westwood, and Franklin Canyon, phrases like "those people," and questions like "when will they stop bussing?" top the list of code words overheard by social justice minded parents and teachers at schools like Emerson and Mark Twain [2]. These racist code words employed by westside parents like helpemerson including "character" and "decorum" fit right in with the bigoted westside phrases like "culture of failure" exposed in Carolyn Jacobson's brilliant article "The Revolution of Separate, but Equal." [3]

This brings us back to the beginning of our essay, in which we were discussing LAPU/PR's choice of organizers for their westside offensive. The description people provided of the LAPU/PR petition bearer went as follows: young, thin, blonde hair, blue eyes, and female. They were describing one of LAPU/PR's newer employees, Nayla Wren. Is it pure coincidence Green Dot would prefer their blonde, blue eyed employee to canvas the affluent, predominantly white westside neighborhoods over their most experienced and seasoned "organizers," who just happen to be women of color? Probably no more coincidence than the fact that all of Green Dot's top executives are wealthy white males. Probably no more coincidence than Ben Austin calling 77% white Warner Avenue Elementary wonderful, and 11% white Emerson Middle School failing. [4] Green Dot's pandering to white flight and westside elitism is part and parcel the type of racism and segregation discussed in Jonathan Kozol's seminal works "Savage Inequalities: Children in America's Schools" and "The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America." One of the reasons Green Dot/LAPU/PR protested, but couldn't refute [5] Carolyn Jacobson's article exposing westside racism, is that when the covers are pulled off the country club elitism of Steve Barr, Marshall Tuck, Antony Ressler, Ben Austin, and Marco Petruzzi, things get ugly.

Let's be clear, the so called academic apologists for the racism and segregation inherent in charter schools and voucher programs include The Heritage Foundation, The Hoover Institution, The Cato Institute, and other far right think tanks. [6] While these extreme right organizations are completely unconcerned with racial egalitarianism or class equality, they try to make a case that markets magically fix society's systemic problems. These racist Milton Friedman cum Ayn Rand fantasies are adopted wholesale (with slight rewording) by the DLC/DFER crowd and presented as "innovation" and "reform." No wonder Newt Gingrich and Ann Coulter are on the same side as Ben Austin and Arne Duncan. Let's also bear in mind the critics of charter schools and vouchers include left luminaries like Donaldo Macedo, Jonathan Kozol, and Henry Giroux. This is why Ben Austin and Gabe Rose's specious comparisons of those opposing school privatization and vouchers to right wing health care town hall disrupters [7] are absurd on their face! Privatization and neoliberalism is the right wing position in the education reform debate, and the charter/voucher crowd represent reactionary ideas like segregation, competition, and union busting with great adeptness.

"the false generosity of paternalism." -- Paulo Freire

To those who would claim the motley assortment of business types, lawyers, and political hacks that comprise the pro-privatization camp have good intentions, but just misguided ways of executing them; and claim the reason extreme right forces happen to agree with the DLC/DFER on charters/vouchers is it's just a manifestation of bipartisan concern for children, it's reckoning time. Even if the wealthy white males on the leading edge of school privatization were really in it for their concern about society instead the money (exposed in Kozol's "The Big Enchilada"), then they'd still be exhibiting precisely what Paulo Freire describes as "the false generosity of paternalism." [8]

What's more, it isn't mere coincidence that LAUSD's sole African American board member, Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte, vehemently opposed the corporate charter choice resolution. It's been long recognized in communities of color that the underfunding of inner city schools combined with privatization represented by charter/voucher advocates is another way to perpetuate the grip of the white supremacist overclass. Let's look at how progressive African American writers view the charter/voucher onslaught. Los Angeles Sentinel's Larry Aubry said of LAUSD VP Yolie Flores Aguilar's corporate charter choice resolution [9]:

"The Public School Choice Resolution continues pattern of indifference to the plight of Black students-that is not acceptable. Parents, teachers, school boards and concerned others must work hard, and together, to guarantee a quality education for these much maligned but immeasurably deserving children."

Black Agenda Radio's Glen Ford said of charter/voucher privatization [10]:

"Outsourcing of public education only occurs in overwhelmingly Black and brown school districts, places where, like in Los Angeles, public property and public responsibility to students is put on the private auction block."

Black Agenda Report's managing editor Bruce A. Dixon's recent article should be read in its entirety, but this quote is especially cogent and to the point [11]:

"Improving education is not the goal. Privatization is the goal. The targets of school privatization are not supposedly underperforming students and teachers. The target is democracy itself. Private interests are just that – private. Turning public schools over to private interests frustrates even the possibility of democracy. Charter school apologists often claim that greater parental involvement is a hallmark of their model. But to the extent that it is true at all, it's involvement of a select group of parents, and not open to those of the entire community. Charter schools undermine what is left of community."

There's much more to explore on this topic, but for now this will have to suffice. Lest the poverty pimps and privatization pushers try and play the oldest card of colonialism, divide and conquer, check out the latest progressive statement from the Association of Raza Educators regarding charters/vouchers.

[1] I also created a screen capture, since Green Dot/LAPU/PR is famous for redacting reality. The image captures the Emerson LAPU supporter's racist code words for posterity. For some excellent articles on racist "code words" in general see:

Is the racist smear campaign working? by Brian Jones
Deciphering their racist code words by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

[2] In the case of Mark Twain, the wealthy white elite of Venice (particularly the exclusive canal neighborhood from which Green Dot's ruthless CEO Marco Petruzzi hails). It's worth mentioning Mr. 90210, Ben Austin, lives near Emerson. Cynical much?

[3] The Revolution of Separate, but Equal

[4] First exposed by journalist Caroline Grannan we also discuss this in Could you imagine Eli Broad and Steve Barr sycophants Jason Song and Howard Blume actually doing real reporting like Grannan? Now that the Los Angeles Times is basically a PR department for Broad's DFER privatization project, we will never see an honest piece out of them again.

[5] Note they state the piece is full of "disgusting and divisive lies," but provide no evidence to the contrary. In other words, since everything in Ms. Jacobson's article is true, all the country club klan at LAPU/PR can do is smear the messenger.

[6] The racist reactionary right wing loves charters, vouchers, and neoliberal phrases like school choice. They have devoted tons of ink to trying to explain how the free market doesn't perpetuate racism. Their arguments, with minor modification, have been adopted wholesale by the DLC/DFER. Here are a few of their disgusting works:

The Heritage Foundation

The Hoover Institution

The Cato Institute

[7] For feeble prose and an example of these ridiculous comparisons by the right wing privatizers trying to paint the left as right wing on this issue see:

[8] Paulo Freire Pedagogy of the Oppressed p. 54. If you claim to be on the left and haven't read Freire, you're fooling yourself.

[9] Blacks Not Part of Public School Choice Plan

[10] Outsource It! Privatize It! LA School Reform in the Age of Obama An astute comment following Ford's cogent article asks 'Isn't this just institutionalization of the "Bell Curve?"' Seems like a lot of folks see right through the racism of the charter/voucher "movement."

[11] Obama's Public Education Policy: Privatization, Charters, Mass Firings, Neighborhood Destabilization Bruce A. Dixon is a real revolutionary. Unlike those right wingers living in the 90210 zip code claiming and using the word without knowing what it really means.


Closed, Opaque and Private Meetings: CMO style brought to you by LAPU/PR


An Open Letter to Los Angeles Times Editorial Page Editor Jim Newton from Professor Ralph E. Shaffer

Greetings, Jim:

First a quotation from Sunday's editorial:

"Check out the Los Angeles Unified School District's website and you can track its encouraging progress on the new policy allowing charter operators and other outside organizations to submit competing proposals to run certain schools. When the policy was approved in August, district leaders vowed a transparent and objective process, and so far they're making good on that vow, posting updates on the website. Given L.A. Unified's history of broken promises and political motives, we're pleasantly surprised."

privatization = segregation"Encouraging progress?" "Transparent?" (Surely the next list of most overused words that Mankato State puts out will include "transparent" at the top). I guess it is "encouraging progress" if you consider railroading the dismantlement of LAUSD to be progress. Remember that the Times was upset that the board delayed the vote on the Flores Aguilar plan for a month. You couldn't wait for real transparency and a genuine public discussion. You suppressed the opposition to the plan by refusing to run opposition opinion pieces. Instead you shoved them off to the online Dust Up space where they are seen by only those readers who look specifically for them. One purpose of op-ed is to enlighten the casual reader who otherwise might not be aware of a critical issue facing the community. Readers of the Times think that only UTLA and Duffy oppose this charter grab of billions of dollars worth of property and tens of thousands of our kids.

"History of broken promises?" The promise that charters will be the answer to LAUSD's problems will in the end be the biggest of those problems. White flight from integration was the first proverbial nail in the coffin of public education in LA. Charterization will seal it.

Charterization is one reform that when undertaken cannot be reversed. I don't think you have thought of that. When the public gets fed up with the power of Steve Barr, Green Dot and Eli Broad, it will be too late to reverse the "encouraging progress." Contractual arrangements will be virtually unbreakable, except perhaps at great financial cost to the taxpayers. By then, those at LAUSD who brought on the disaster and the editorial staff at the LA Times who backed it will be gone. And the next degeneration's of Times' editors will be left to wonder how in the world decent, intelligent journalists let this happen.

Enjoy your victory, Jim. But think of what you are doing to the kids of LA by joining forces with the vultures of charterization rather than fighting for real reform in LAUSD.

Ralph E. Shaffer
Professor Emeritus, History
Cal Poly Pomona


Monday, October 12, 2009

A.R.E. Statement on Public Education in the Context of 'Public School Choice: A New Way at LAUSD'

By the Association of Raza Educators, Los Angeles Chapter October 12, 2009

privatization = segregationWE STAND FOR A FULLY FUNDED, CULTURALLY RELEVANT PUBLIC EDUCATION We believe in a fully funded and truly public education. This means that federal and state bureaucracies should be responsible for providing an adequate and quality education for every child; and that all education policies and practices be fully inclusive of the voices of all stakeholders. Public education should remain a right and not a commodity that only a select few can purchase.

A.R.E. supports culturally relevant teaching, a curriculum that fosters critical thinking in our students, and an education for social justice grounded in students' lived experience. Without these, education reforms become complicit in the reproduction of particular ideologies: students who do not think for themselves, district officials who cannot see beyond a marketizing approach to education, and teachers who are de-skilled and removed from community organizing.

OUR VISION OF REFORM We believe that education reform must be based on the principle of self-determination, where the voices of the primary stakeholders of public education-i.e. teachers, parents, and students-provide direction in the education process. Thus, all school governing bodies should include teachers, parents, and students in conjunction with democratically elected school officials. We strongly oppose the Los Angeles Unified School District's (LAUSD) hierarchical, top-down, model of leadership.

Nevertheless, we recognize that leadership restructuring is not enough. However democratic schools become, inclusion of community voices in the education process will not change the education, political, and economic realities of poor students of color. Currently, 60% of Latino/a and 56% of African-American students in LAUSD are pushed out of school and tracked into the low-wage labor market, with a significant number entering the prison system.

The LAUSD motion, Public School Choice: A New Way at LAUSD, comes about in the wake of a budgetary crisis. As a quick fix to the historical abandonment and de-funding of public education in general, district officials are completely misguided in their attempt to 'reform' the crisis of public education without (a) a comprehensive understanding of the historical, political and economic institutions that have shaped public schools, and (b) without proper input from all primary stakeholders. Absent the voices of the people, LAUSD district officials have allowed themselves to be swayed by corporate and local political interests that have made this motion possible. Absent a historical analysis of the political and economic interests that have served to undermine public education, district officials fail to understand that education reform requires a restructuring of other institutions, such as the political, legal, and economic systems geared to reproduce the inequalities that we see today.

WE STAND AGAINST CORPORATE CHARTERS Given the privatizing history of corporate charter schools [1], and how these schools apply selection criteria that exclude the participation of second language learners and students with special needs among others, the Association of Raza Educators Los Angeles Chapter opposes corporate charters and charter management companies (CMOs), such as Green Dot, that claim to offer a 'choice' for poor communities of color. Because parents in poor urban neighborhoods have been historically under-served, they are enticed by LAUSD's market 'solution' to education that purports to offer 'choice', 'equity', and 'access' to quality education through charterization and leadership restructuring.

WE SUPPORT THE ENDURING STRUGGLE FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION A.R.E. stands in support of the efforts by teachers who are working to include community voices in this struggle for public education. Although opposed to corporate charters and charter management companies, we are not opposed to the educators who are working within these schools, especially those who are developing culturally relevant and liberating forms of teaching in their classrooms. We believe that collective struggle will require the formation of new generations of student activists, and we hope that the teachers and students everywhere develop a critical awareness of the colonial and capitalist forces that are shaping public education, with the goal of forming a unified, national effort to reclaim public education for all.

[1] For a distinction between corporate and community charters, see "Report on Charter Schools (Part 1): What Teachers Need to Know About Charter Schools" produced by the Association of Raza Educators, Los Angeles Chapter, Publicity / Community Relations Committee. You can access the document at


Monday, October 05, 2009

Broad, Barr, and Board's circle of scandal and corruption


Saturday, October 03, 2009

Labor Beat: Secretary of Education Duncan - Pushing the Chicago Plan