Sunday, January 31, 2010

March 4 National Day of Action to Defend Education

March 4 National Day of Action to Defend Education


Advocating Public Education Roundup 10W04

Save the Dates February 9 and March 4, 2010 Save Public Education

CMO Corporate Charters discriminate against SWD, Special Ed, and ELL students!This roundup has been a long time coming. Family illness, writing deadlines, and other commitments/obligations have kept me from keeping up with the blog the way I should. With the incredible onslaught by the corporate charter industry against our communities, it seems as if we social justice advocates are loosing ground every day.

Before beginning, I want to express my condolences to UTLA's Julie Washington and her family for the tragic loss they just suffered. Anyone wanting to contribute to the Educational Fund to help with Ivison Washington's daughters' college fund, please let me know and I will provide you with the appropriate contact information.

We also lost social justice educator and activist Howard Zinn. I will write about that in a separate post soon. But I figured this quote needs constant repetition, especially in the current dystopian "world according to Eli" education atmosphere we're struggling against. "I wanted students to leave my classes not just better informed, but more prepared to relinquish the safety of silence, more prepared to speak up, to act against injustice wherever they saw it." — Howard Zinn

First off, right wing reactionary DFER/DLC corporate elitist filth Arne Duncan was recently interviewed. Mocking the deaths, destruction, diaspora of people of color, gentrification, and widespread misery Hurricane Katrina caused, Duncan had this unconscionable thing to say about schools in relation to Katrina: "best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans." That such a monster is Secretary of Education goes way beyond the pale — Duncan is a throwback to Generalissimo Francisco Franco. Diane Ravitch's take is a little less critical of the well heeled Harvard businessman than I am, but even her measured response captures the inappropriateness of Duncan's schadenfreude.

The Educational Justice blog introduces California majority rule initiative. If we had laws that served the people of California instead of corporations, put people before profits, and actually funded education the way the ideologically bankrupt billionaires bankroll their corporate charter school projects, then we wouldn't need to try to save public education from insatiably greedy CMO executives like Judy Burton, Steve Barr, Jed Wallace and Ben Austin. If we had a majority rule budget process, we'd be able to spend money on the important things, and keep those funds out of the hands of those who deserve it the least. You can bet your bottom dollar Ben Austin will campaign against this and anything else that threatens the privileged status of he and his fellow plutocrats.

People might want to start planning for an afternoon with Diane Ravitch in April. From the UCLA SMP site "She will be speaking about her soon-to-be-released book The Death and Life of the Great American School System. She will also engage in a conversation with Professor Mike Rose, and take questions from the audience."

Following in master thief Steve Barr's footsteps, is KIPP = Knowledge Is Perpetrator Program. Jim Horn's KIPP Joins Charter School Corruption Nationwide with Six Figure Embezzlement Scheme gives a short introduction to a mainstream media piece looking at what has become commonplace now that corporations, entrepreneurs, and right wing zealots take over what used to be public institutions — malfeasance! More CMO Charter Charlatans caught pilfering public and kid's money! Couple accused of embezzling from Chandler charter school, and here's one Ben Austin constantly accuses public school teachers of as part of his ongoing fear tactics and union bashing, but it's a charter school teacher engaging in inappropriate behavior. We know in Jason Song and Ben Austin's world, only public school teachers are very bad people™ (especially those scary unionized ones). Too bad none of the politicians pushing school privatization down our throats can speak to the high level of embezzlement and other scandals associated with charter schools. Maybe Randite and social injustice filmmaker Jaemin Yi can find a way to put a creative spin on all these CMO corporate charter embezzling schemes. He seems to have a knack for making ugly lies pretty.

Don't Forget South Central (DFSC) asks if Villaraigosa privatization allies on LAUSD board like Yolie Flores Aguilar, Inc. will be denied tenure over the missing $200 million dollar scandal. The wise @avalonsensei also pointed out "21 charter schools applied for district campuses, with only one charter operator applying for an existing, failing school."

Dr. Danny Weil asks is Green Dot 'Public' Schools using their non-profit status illegally? Bath tub gin from the PR astroturf organization.

Lastly charter-voucher corporate values in action. Texas edreform camp wants to eliminate Cesar Chavez from school texts.


14 of 15 Green Dot schools are "failing," by Parent Revolution's definition

"The lowest-performing, based on test scores, is the large Green Dot chain." — Los Angeles Times

Privatizer Marco Petruzzi. Stand up to Green Dot's corporate charter-voucher racismCaroline Grannan's brilliant 14 of 15 Green Dot schools are "failing," by Parent Revolution's definition article points out that neoliberal darling Ben Austin's capricious standards for failings schools, when applied to his employer's schools, leaves only one of them considered "passing." Lacking a way to refute facts, several right wingers attacked Caroline Grannan over her article. I had this to say:

The reason these "rumors" persist is that so many parents from Garfield High School (GHS) have made the charges. I've personally had a score and a half of parents from Garfield tell me they were offered money, gift certificates, or other compensation. However, when I asked them for proof they were unable to produce anything worthwhile other than t-shirts. I been informed by an even larger number of parents that Green Dot/LAPU/Parent Revolution's Mary Najara, would go to their churches after the Misa, approach monolingual Spanish speakers with English petitions and tell them to sign it if they wanted their children to go to college. Ironically, after all of Green Dot's mendacity and shady manipulations, they abandoned Garfield High School in the end to chase after a shiny new building paid for by hardworking taxpayers.

While Ben Austin's reactionary sycophants take misguided shots at Caroline over these rumors, we need to ask why they are so persistent. Given Green Dot's other organizing incidents, like those documented here, and the ongoing conflict of interest with Ben Austin's two jobs (City Ethics Case # 2010-36), could it be there's more than meets the eye? Let's follow the money. What's more likely; that a self-serving Beverly Hills [1] lawyer, whose ongoing employment, bonuses, and future are tied to increasing Green Dot Corporation's market share might bend or break rules, or dozens and dozens of parents and students are liars? I'd wager the former and not the later.

Given the abject performance of most of Green Dot's campuses, if Austin was genuine, he'd have his blue shirts petitioning parents at the Animos. I guarantee that'll never happen. The cavalcade of corporate CMO charter executives are only interested in parent involvement up to the privatization conversion. Then parents learn they aren't welcome to the secret board meetings held by unelected boards packed with plutocrats. So much for parent power, choice and accountability or really caring about kids. If Green Dot spent as much time fixing their own failing schools as they did on hostile takeovers, they might actually help children.

[1] More accurately an exclusive gated community in the most coveted part of Beverly Hills — Franklin Canyon. We all know about how Beverly Hills loves parent choice (read Jim Crow), they choose to throw out all children who don't live in Beverly Hills. But the wealthy west-side isn't about segregation at all — rIght Bill Grundfest?


Leonard J. Martin for Superintendent of Public Instruction

We need to end the privatization and "restructuring" of our schools. — Leonard J. Martin

Leonard J. Martin for Superintendent of Public InstructionLeonard J. Martin is a progressive candidate trying to get on the ballot for Superintendent of Public Instruction to run against bought off corporate lackeys like Sen. Gloria Romero whose extreme right wing privatization agenda would have made even Generalissimo Augusto Pinoche blush. Social justice activists, public education advocates, and progressives should check out Mr. Martin's site and his refreshing respect for students, parents, AND teachers. Mr. Martin has staked out progressive positions on the following platform points:

  • School Financing
  • Privatization and Restructuring
  • Health and Safety
  • Standardized Testing and Bilingual Education
  • Politicians Taking Over Schools
  • Military Recruitment in Schools
  • Commercialization and Fundraising
  • Yearly Conference


Monday, January 18, 2010

Dr. MLK Jr.: Struggling Not To Lose Him

Click if you can't view the video.

Activists, including the incomparable Brian Jones, speak to the real legacy of Dr. King.


Monday, January 11, 2010

Where's the crocodile tears for the undocumented now Garcia, Flores-Aguilar, Melvin, Casillas, & Sanchez?

"We have our cake, and are eating it too." — Eli Broad (Predatory Pseudo-Philanthropist & Charter School Backer)

Defend our communities from the corporate charter fear campaign led by Alliance for a Better CommunityReading the Association of Raza Educators' open letter to Peoples College of Law and observing how even formerly progressive institutions will support immigrant rights in word, but not in deed. A.R.E. was right to call out P.C.L. on this incident of discrimination against the undocumented.

Notice too, the corporate friendly opportunists Monica Garcia of LAUSD, Yolie Flores-Aguilar of LAUSD, Veronica Melvin of Alliance for a Better Community, Maria Casillas of Families in Schools, Jarad Sanchez of Alliance for a Better Community, Mary Najara of Green Dot Public [sic] Schools/LAPU/Parent Revolution, and Gabe Rose of Green Dot Public [sic] Schools/LAPU/Parent Revolution—who crowed about civil rights and immigration when it fit their corporate privatization and union bashing agenda—are now nowhere to be found when actual incidents of civil rights abuses occur. Didn't LAUSD President Garcia make an impassioned speech about civil rights on November 11, 2009? Where is she now? I guess Steve Barr, Antony Ressler and Marco Petruzzi didn't call her up and tell her how they wanted this handled. I wonder why? Maybe the 501c3 crowd can make up another phony flyer and blame it on UTLA again.

Since Garcia, Flores-Aguilar, Melvin, Casillas, Sanchez, Najara, and Rose only care about the issue of immigrant rights as it pertains to continuing the flow of money from their reactionary right wing benefactors like the Broad Foundation, Annenberg Foundation, Walton Foundation, and Gates Foundations into their non-profit cash cows; it's no wonder there hasn't been a peep out of the very same people who had the nerve to stand in front of UTLA and slander the hard working women and men who teach children in our communities. Maybe one of you can write to me and explain what it's like to place profit before principles.

Hope all the lunches, donations, and benefactors you've garnered through your association with the well heeled Corporate CMO Charter Voucher Establishment have been worth your dignity.

Advocating Public Education

Robert D. Skeels




privatization = segregation, immigrant rights = workers rightsJanuary 8, 2010

Dear Peoples College of Law,

The Association of Raza Educators (A.R.E.) applauds your efforts to "bring legal resources to under-represented communities and train legal advocates to secure progressive social change and justice in society." [1] Furthermore, we are pleased to hear that progressive attorneys and advocates for the disenfranchised have come from your ranks. We embrace your stated goals of recruiting progressive law students who "have demonstrated a commitment to progressive social change."

However, we have received notice that an otherwise qualified student is currently denied admission to your school by virtue her immigration status. The Association of Raza Educators implores you to open your admissions to all students, regardless of immigration status, and pro-actively recruit working class, raza students who demonstrate not only progressive politics but a true commitment and record of advocacy for the rights of the disenfranchised.

There are an estimated 65,000 undocumented students that graduate from U.S. high schools each year, the bulk of whom have lived in the country for more than five years and are of Latino/a descent. Federal funds are denied to them, as are the majority of private scholarships. Yet a select few of these students, assisted by AB540 in California, have navigated through higher education, are now graduating, and seek to further their studies as social workers, teachers, attorneys, doctors, etc. Moreover, in your current admissions application, these immigrant students, despite being fully qualified and aligned with PCL's progressive mission, are denied admissions to PCL. Despite official PCL statements such as, "At the present time we are only able to take permanent residents, green cards or social security numbers," [2] or "All students at PCL as well as every other law school in California must register with the California Bar as a law student and this requires the student to have a legal right to be in the US," [3] undocumented students are, however, permitted to attend other accredited and unaccredited law schools and are doing so in increasing numbers. [4]

After repeated attempts by A.R.E. members and others to bring this issue to the PCL Board, the Association of Raza Educators now demands that this student, and others who may have been denied admissions to PCL, be formally notified that admissions to the Peoples College of Law is open to all students regardless of their immigrant status. Further, given the unsubstantiated statements by PCL Board members regarding why they cannot admit undocumented students, we are requesting that a letter of apology be written immediately to this student. Finally, we strongly suggest that PCL Board members and admissions staff receive cultural sensitivity training in working with undocumented students. We have every reason to believe that the way the situation is being handled, and the way PCL representatives have interacted with this student, discount the psychological terrorism that undocumented immigrants repeatedly encounter with school administrators and officials who many times do not understand their situation nor are looking out for their interests.


The Association of Raza Educators, Los Angeles Chapter

[1] General Information About Peoples College of Law.
[2] Formal email response by Interim Administrator to prospective applicant asking about the Social Security Number requirement on the Peoples College of Law admissions application, dated June 24, 2009.
[3] Formal email response by PCL Admissions Committee representative, dated September 22, 2009.
[4] The pretext that undocumented students are not allowed to take the California Bar is unwarranted, given the California Bar's official statement that "there is no requirement of citizenship or residency" to practice law in California. See


Friday, January 01, 2010

Re: Austin's 'Put power over California's schools in hands of parents'

From: Robert D. Skeels
Sent: Wednesday, December 16, 2009 9:19 AM
Subject: Re: Austin's 'Put power over California's schools in hands of parents'

Editorial Staff:,0,3809285.story

Charter-voucher charlatan Ben Austin drops the 50% lie yet again!Anyone wonder how much power Green Dot/LAPU/PR has? The Los Angeles Times has rejected countless op-eds criticizing the charter-voucher establishment from people like Prof. Shaffer, myself, and others. However, when charter-voucher power-broker Ben Austin wants to vent about not being able to subvert democratic processes in Sacramento, he has no trouble getting published.

Moreover, the usual fact checking editors subject op-eds to are not applicable. Austin gets away with blatant lying when he says "50% of kids in L.A. public schools aren't graduating" once again, despite the fact the the Los Angeles Times has recently printed the truth about this outrageous erroneous statistic. ( In the biased, overtly pro charter-voucher Los Angeles Times Austin can play fast and loose with the facts. I'm not accusing the Los Angeles Times of scare tactics here, but why isn't Austin held to even a modicum of honesty?

Moreover, no mention that Parent Revolution is a subsidiary of Green Dot? No mention that Austin is also an Assistant City Attorney? He can get away with saying "I've been advocating school reform for years" (more like 19 months), without mentioning his six figure salary as compensation for doing so?

I'm certain that if any of us in the progressive pro-public education community submitted an op-ed criticizing the "corporate charter trigger" language that Green Dot sycophant politicians like Sen. Gloria Romero are trying to sneak in, it would be promptly rejected.

I understand Eli's money stacks the deck in the corporate charter-voucher establishments' favor. I understand the Los Angeles Times has little interest in presenting all sides of these issues, but could you at least insist corporate hacks like Austin tell the truth in their bombastic fact-free rants?