Saturday, January 29, 2011

Banana Republic PSC Elections Camino Nuevo Corporate Charter Style

"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"

When democratically elected community members, parents, and teachers comprise the board of directors for a school, then we can begin to speak of social justice.
How do you subvert democracy?

Start by stuffing the ballot box. Burgeoning Corporate Charter Voucher Empire Camino Nuevo chartered buses and buses full of outsiders to vote at CRES 14 PSC advisory on both Thursday and Saturday. We community activists caught them today, as the above photo attests. Camino Nuevo also enlisted the help of dozens of paid staffers from the vile poverty pimping 501C3 Families That Can (FTC), run by the reactionary right-wing businessman Antwaune Goode. The FTC staffers assisted the CNCA people in trying to convince voters to hand CRES 14 over to their private corporation.

CNCA's enforcer Hoa Truong, A Broad Residency in Urban Education product.
After snapping the photo I approached and asked the CNCA's COO, the smug and sullen MBA Hoa Truong (yes business degrees trump education degrees at corporate charter schools) if the buses had been paid for by Philip Anschutz or Eli Broad (Truong is a Broady by the way [1]). He snarled no. I then said "they better not have been paid for out of my property taxes." He retorted, "I can assure you they weren't." While Mr. Truong didn't volunteer the identity of who paid for the busses, we can guess it might have been one of their plutocrat donors, one of their obscenely wealthy board members, or given their own bloated six figure salaries, perhaps even Ana Ponce or Hoa Truong themselves [2].

Later in the day a churlish woman from the infamous California Charter School Association (CCSA) overheard us talking about the buses and interjected that they were only busing in parents from the attendance area. When we asked her how she knew that, she said "I just know." Then she said "UTLA did it last year." I was within earshot of the conversation and shouted, "you mean Green Dot" referring of course to the buses they hired for their former proxy group LAPU/Parent Revolution last year. Come to think of it, Para Los Niños did the same last year too. Of course the CCSA woman was lying outright, but doing anything to increase their clients' market share is what the CCSA exists for in the first place. Given CCSA's Jed Wallace dubious distinction of being a pathological liar, so it isn't surprising his employees follow suit.

According to the CCSA's fact free website:

Some volunteers, often parents of children attending the charter school and members of the community, serve on schools' governing boards. Every charter school is required by law to have a board of directors that is ultimately responsible for what the school does.

Really? Sign me up Jed ol' boy! I'm not aware of a single Charter Management Organization that allows community members on their unelected board of directors. CNCA's board is a perfect case in point. In 'Social justice hedge fund managers' and 'social justice investment bankers' at Camino Nuevo? I enumerate excerpts of the titles and experience comprising their unelected board. Charter schools claim to be public schools, but the only thing the do related to the public is take public money. Back to CNCA, like I wrote recently on Dissident Voice:

While several of these well-to-do CNCA Board Members have found crafty ways to make money off of education, not one of them is an actual educator, and none of them have been teachers or principals in a K-12 setting. Furthermore, for an organization that claims community roots, there sure doesn't seem to be anyone representative of the community on that board. If they are to wrest CRES 14 from the public, we will have no input over how the school is run.

CNCA has nothing like School Site Councils or Governing School Councils found at public schools. Parents, students, teachers, and community members will have to be content with the decision making of the wealthy elitists discussed above.

Of course, PSC was designed from the outset to skirt democratic processes and true self determination of communities. It pits community volunteers and overworked teachers against Charter Management Organizations with huge marketing and advertising budgets. It pits small member funded organizations like Coalition for Educational Justice against plutocrat funded 501C3 privatization organizations with multimillion dollar budgets. [3] It pits the community against each other, and causes false dichotomies all around. Neoliberal poster child and Gates Foundation employee Yolie Flores, like all right-wing reactionaries, has always demonstrated a "profound hatred of democracy," [4] and her brainchild, PSC proves that beyond any doubt.

We fought the good fight to try and keep CRES 14 a public school. While we hope we won the advisory vote, that alone isn't enough. First off, CNCA's well heeled Ana Ponce is very close friends with both LAUSD Board President Monica Garcia and Vice President Yolie Flores. Secondly, as we learned with 93% vote last year to keep the very exclusionary corporate charter Para Los Niños from seizing part of Evelyn Thurman Gratts Elementary School, the advisory vote is just that. The privatization wing of the LAUSD board gave the school away to the corporation anyway. We also have to remember that LAUSD itself is rife with paid employees of the the Broad/Gates/Walton Triumvirate whose sole role at the district is to facilitate privatization and assist the corporate charter-voucher sector:

Private money is paying for key senior staff positions... raising questions about transparency and the direction of reforms in the nation's second-largest school system. — Howard Blume (Los Angeles Times Education Staff Writer)

The PSC advisory vote was designed to give us the appearance of democracy. If we vote for the public school, the board can give it the the charter and say "they submitted a better plan." If the public school looses, they say, "see the community wanted the charter." Real democracy will exist when every school is run democratically by the communities, not by plutocrats on unelected charter boards, and not by bureaucrats at Beaudry.

We can only hope the CRES 14 will become a public school run by Local District 4 and Echo Park Community Partners Design Team Plan. For those that missed out on the voting there is an online petition and physical petition to keep the school public!

[1] Broadies are graduates of the plutocrat's privatization boot-camp — The Broad Residency in Urban Education. It's sorta like the School of the Americas for poverty pimps and privatization pushers. Please see THE BROAD REPORT for the best coverage on this. I'd prefer to call them Broadytes, since it sounds appropriately like troglodytes.
[2] See note six (6) in Crafty Camino Nuevo Charter Charlatans for Ponce's ability to stack major paper at the public's expense. School privatization pays very, very well.
[3] Examples: Parent Revolution, Families in Schools, Alliance for Better Communities, Families that Can.
[4] I'm filching the phrase "profound hatred of democracy" from the distinguished Dr. Noam Chomsky. I'm quite sure he would approve of my use of it here.
[5] I know there's no five, but I could resist reminding everyone that the foppish millionaire from Benedict Canyon, Ben Austin, was thrown off the State Board of Education.


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