Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Ben Austin channels Sarah Palin substituting his Triggers for her Targets

There's despicable, then there's despicable, then there's Ben Austin.

Ben Austin and Shirley Ford of the Walton Family Foundation funded Parent RevolutionHighly paid school privatization advocate Ben Austin has been lashing out publicly with ever more vitriol since he ignominiously lost his seat on the California State Board of Education and his supposed moment of triumph in Compton, chronicled in Jill Stewart's trashy masseuse and porn ad pennysaver became mired in controversy and very real accusations of his organization's malfeasance.

The foppish millionaire from Benedict Canyon, Austin, and his minions like Gloria Romero, Gabe Rose, and the ultra-reactionary troll Anthony Krinsky have been attacking community members, teachers, administrators, reporters, and anyone else willing to speak truth to their power with an hereto unknown degree of hate speech. Using language that precisely mirrors that of Sarah Palin's tirades, these corporate charter-voucher sector employees have reached an all new degree of hyperbole and bombast. Like the teabaggers and Palin, their vicious attacks and language are a sure path to violence and community strife. Of course there isn't a dime's worth of difference between the DFER, CCSA, Parent Revolution and the teabaggers to begin with.

One of the best essays I've seen so far addressing this trend is Martha Infante's Words Matter on the InterACT blog. She takes on the importance of our word choices and the focuses on how the dominant narrative about teachers has taken on the same character. Of note is her closing paragraph:

As we left our board meeting, with heavy hearts, the significance of the mass shooting began sinking in. I thought about the power of words and imagery that so many throw around carelessly. I thought about words and phrases such as "trigger," "dropout factories." I think about former Senator Gloria Romero comparing Compton educators to "batterers" and wondered whether the writers of those words ever stop to think about the consequences of their prose. Has the moment arrived where enough is enough? Because it is impossible to believe that continuing down the road of uncivil, polemic rhetoric can in any way enhance or improve our educational system, on which our democracy is built.

In all fairness I am somewhat of a polemicist myself, and can be quite vicious attacking wealthy school privatization pushers and poverty pimps. The difference of course is that they hold all the cards, where we community activists have little more than our polemics. After all, in their corner they have the wealthiest people in the world, The POTUS and Secretary of Education, Oprah, the entire corporate media, high profile filmmakers, a host of astro-turf 501C3 proxies, and so on.

Back to Austin and his corporate entourage's verbal war on the community. In a recent Huffington Post op-ed entitled McKinley Elementary Parents Continuing Their Fight for Change, Austin, a man with NO SCHOOL AGED CHILDREN of his own and who lives in the exclusive Benedict Canyon region of Beverly Hills makes outrageous and inflammatory accusations towards the parents of McKinley. Namely he smears Pastor Lee Finnie, a parent of three children enrolled in McKinley ES and a member of the Parent Teacher Association. Finnie, father to a special needs child who he had to withdraw his child from a local charter-voucher school that wouldn't educate his child, found refuge at McKinley — a real public school obligated to educate every child. Not fooled by false promises that Celerity and Austin hold out about special education [1], Finnie and many other parents have resisted the hostile take over of their school by the wealthy charter interests. Austin goes so far as to accuse Pastor Finnie and the PTA of "underground, secretive, unethical, unregulated, and possibly even illegal" activities. Such unconscionable accusations are reprehensible, repugnant, and revolting.

Here are my comments that appear after Austin's unbelievably insensitive and hostile attacks on the McKinley ES community:

Not a peep about how Parent Revolution's deputy director, Gabe Rose, created a fraudulent group called McKinley Parents for Change posing as a Compton parent? Your staffer, Yuritzy Anaya admitted that to the community.

Update on the veracity of McKinley Parents for Change

Nothing on the trigger law's proposed regulations barely mentioning admitting all students within an attendance boundary, having no language discussing charters being REQUIRED to fully accommodate special education, SWD, or ELL? The closest thing appears in §4806 under "Permissible activities. LEA may also implement comprehensive instructional reform strategies, such as: ... (C) Providing additional supports and professional development to teachers and principals in order to implement effective strategies to support students with disabilities in the least restrictive environment and to ensure that limited-English-proficient students acquire language skills to master academic content;"

In other words, programs for children with special needs are entirely optional — not required. The charter-voucher industry has found yet another way out of the obligation to educate every child!

Astroturf Spawns Ever More Astroturf, Plus Parent Revolution Lies about Celerity Special Education Again!

Amidst vicious and unfounded accusations of deception and dishonesty towards McKinley parents like Pastor Finnie, there's no mention that your staff may have destroyed important documents pertinent to the Attorney General's investigation of your organization?

Seems the above mentioned incidents are "underground, secretive, unethical, unregulated, and possibly even illegal" activities being omitted from your narrative. Must be the $15,000 a month the Walton and Gates Foundations pay you Mr. Austin.

Austin and Krinsky are both close friends and fellow Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman acolytes. Krinsky noticed his BFF Austin wasn't receiving any love on Huffington Post and had to chime in. In his accustomed third grade screed he accuses the PTA of being "accessories" to the teacher unions' "nefarious agendas." He calls hard working dedicated teachers "crooks who simply won't let our [sic] children go." Since Krinksy has NO children of his own, the "our" is way beyond disingenuous, it's an outright lie.

My follow up comments to Krinsky:

So by Mr. Krinsky's "logic" the PTA, a grassroots organization where parents have actual organizing power is nefarious, while the the entirely astro-turf Parent Revolution funded by the Walton Foundation, The Gates Foundation, and in the past by the Broad Foundation, Annenberg Foundation, Reed Hastings and other plutocrats, somehow cares about the same victims that their funders' relentless pursuit of wealth and avoidance of paying taxes made poor? Hate to break this to you Mr. Krinsky, but Atlas Shrugged and the Fountainhead are fictional accounts, as is your 'logic' supporting your well heeled friends at LAPU/Parent Revolution.

For a refresher on Parent Revolution's (neé LAPU) founding, see the infamous Annenberg Document:

Green Dot Public [sic] Schools & Los Angeles Parents Union


[1] See Astroturf Spawns Ever More Astroturf, Plus Parent Revolution Lies about Celerity Special Education Again! for more on this. Also know that Celerity Educational Group farms out, or outsources, the special education and students with disabilities in order to cut costs and pay their executive's bloated salaries. This separates children from both their siblings and peers, further marginalizing them.



Anonymous said...

Brother Skeels, allow me a small correction to your polemic. You say:

“In all fairness I am somewhat of a polemicist myself, and can be quite vicious attacking wealthy school privatization pushers and poverty pimps. The difference of course is that they hold all the cards, where we community activists have little more than our polemics. After all, in their corner they have the wealthiest people in the world, The POTUS and Secretary of Education, Oprah, the entire corporate media, high profile filmmakers, a host of astro-turf 501C3 proxies, and so on.”

I would suggest (writing in the first person myself):

“In all fairness I am somewhat of a polemicist myself, and can be quite vicious attacking teacher union poverty pimps. The difference of course is that they hold all the cards, where we child advocates have little more than our polemics. After all, in their corner they have the most powerful political organization ever created in the world. We have important people on our side certainly, but in the sport of politics, we’re a middle school recreation league playing against the pros.”

If we can agree that the rich and powerful are dangerous, I welcome you and your energetic advocacy to our side of the fence where virtue shall triumph over political power, money, and ruthless deception.


Anthony Krinsky

Robert D. Skeels * rdsathene said...

Is that what you call increasing corporate market share -- child advocacy? Please Mr. Krinsky, what power do hard working teachers or their unions really have? You crow about the money unions throw around, when the plutocrats that fund your buddy, the vile Ben Austin, make more money in interest on a single given day than all the money unions have put together.

Randy Childs described your ilk perfectly recently: "These allegations come straight from Bizarro World, where the richest and most powerful people in the U.S. are cast as a plucky band of selfless rebels fighting for the civil rights of poor children of color, while dedicated and overworked teachers who can't afford a house or pay for their children's college tuition are imagined to be the greedy overlords of the old order." http://j.mp/ew0Jqv

Your ludicrous assertion that unions are "the most powerful political organization ever created in the world" would be laughable if it wasn't for the horrors created by the real powers -- imperialism, the military industrial complex, finance capital, big oil, big pharmaceuticals. Unions have power? Ha! Why was it that Goldman Sachs and your pal Eli Broad (via AIG) received billions in bailout money if the real power brokers are teachers unions. Why didn't "the most powerful political organization ever created in the world" just funnel all those TARP funds into poor teacher's salaries, after all, according to you they are an unstoppable juggernaut.

Krinsky, your bizarre thinking doesn't approach even the plausibility mark. Do you really think people consider you sane?

To suggest that working class people are rich and powerful is preposterous even for you.

The reactionary Ben Austin, aside from being a pathological liar and an opportunist, hasn't a milligram of virtue in him. There isn't a more vile, despicable, reprehensible, repugnant, and revolting individual in Los Angeles County than Ben Austin.

I'm surprised you're here reading a social justice blog, was there not enough action on the American Enterprise Institute and The John Birch Society websites for you tonight Ant?

You're a small fish, I'm after the big fish.

Anonymous said...


I respect your fight against imperialism and arrogance, I do.
But with regard to education politics, your application of these paradigms and metaphors is entirely misplaced.

The teacher unions are the Asian Carp of our education system. They have no natural enemies or opposition. Over 50 years they've collected and spent some $75 billion dollars building the most powerful political machine in our country and brainwashing teachers, their infantry. The UFT and UTLA and their ilk win in 95%+ of the elections in which they endorse a candidate. Their power delivers. Against vulnerable parents and families, their resources are 30+:1 stronger. They're the most powerful interest group in America -- and if you subscribe to the idea that we're (still barely) the most mighty country, in the world.

To attack a mensche (look it up) like Ben Austin for being powerful -- or evil -- is absurd. You're cheering for the 8,000 pound Gorilla and ought to be ashamed of yourself.

Don't get me wrong, I'd love it if Ben could draw dues from every parent in California - that might start to level the playing field. And if Gates or Broad were so powerful and interested in PU, why wouldn't they be writing $100 million checks. They should but sadly they don't. You who support the weak should be clamoring to support Ben Austin and his tiny band of parent supporters. They are virtuous if poor.

Anyway, I respect your energy and your interest in protecting the vulnerable. But be true to this mission. Teacher unions embody everything you hate viscerally in terms of money, arrogance, and power. AJ Duffy personifies arrogance.

Stick up for the poor minority kids who really need your energetic advocacy.

I told you that I was a former socialist and if I didn't care for the kids, I wouldn't be doing this. Regardless, I'm not asking for your permission or approval. Or anything really.

It's just really sad when passionate people driven by a sense of social justice are supporting for the wrong team. Your infatuation with employee ownership - you've got it in public education for sure -- is blinding.


Anonymous said...

Wow, look up the misspelled word "mensche?" What kind of ploy is that attempted reference? You should also stop having opinions about other people's kids and leave everybody else to decide their own children's fate. Isn't that the original principle of public education in a society that everyone deserves a real education and hopefully don't turn out like you.

Anthony Krinsky said...

Brother Skeels,

Thanks for posting my comment - you didn't have to.

What do you think of Randi Weingarten making $600,000/year. Is that too much?

What do you think of my incentive plan for her to make more money? Looks like a win-win to me.

It's nice that your buddy Joe is so good with Yiddish transliteration. As you know, us Jews have been some of the most ardent protectors of the common man. I count myself as part of that long and proud tradition.

With you offer to help with my sentence structure and Joe's support with spelling, perhaps I could one day be a published author! Thanks for looking out for me!

In arms,


Anonymous said...

I really think Mr. Krinsky is not smart enough to comment on educational issues. His supercilious tone is petty, but his underhanded ploy to position himself as a "champion of the common man" by virtue of incorrect grammatical usage of "us Jews" is even more offensive. ("We Jews" would be correct, but perhaps you did not receive a proper education?) By the way, Yiddish need not be "transliterated". It is written in a Western alphabet and your incorrect usage of the verb would perhaps apply better to Hebrew, but than "us Jews" would know that mensch is not a Hebrew word. Your subtle implications are not going unnoticed by "us Jews" either. I am delighted to know my comments on your spelling and grammar can get under your skin. I thought reptiles were immune.

Anonymous said...

Brother Skeels,

Thanks again for your suggestions; in so many ways you are worthy of admiration. We need your energy (and diction perhaps) on our team!

It's hard to imagine how many poor parents feel so uncomfortable with their ability to express themselves that they are too embarrassed to articulate their frustration about being short-changed by public schools. These are injuries they carry for life.

I choose to plow ahead and ignore my (hopefully forgivable) deficiencies - you are welcome to focus on them. Demonization seems to be a specialty of your cohort. Why not focus on the issues?

Anyway, your gentle criticism is a useful reminder that I need to improve my writing skills. Thanks!

In arms,

Robert D. Skeels * rdsathene said...

Mr. Krinsky, I don't mind you debating with other people here, but please don't attribute their views to me. I don't post anonymously to my own blog. If you make such specious accusations again, you aren't getting your comments posted here anymore.

No time for you sir. Here's what I'm working on right now:

Anna Ponce/Camino Neuvo article for soldidaridad
Petruzzi article for Truthout or Dissident Voice
Austin article for Dissident Voice
Rhee article for Socialist Worker

Unless you'd be willing to help with some of the research for these articles, which I know you wouldn't, you're wasting my time which needs to be used exposing wealthy frauds.

I've dedicated my life to providing those you condesendingly refer to as "poor parents" with the tools necessary for self determination and emancipation.

Here's some fun facts for you Anthony

According to the LA Time's mapping project

Ben Austin's neighborhood is 87.5% white and the median household income is $169,282.

Robert D. Skeels' neighborhood is 4.5% white and the median household income is $26,787

You should look up your neighborhood stats and post them here too Mr. Krinsky. I know West LA isn't as affluent as Benedict Canyon, but still.


According to Trulia

Ben Austin's house cost $1,210,000 (1.2 million dollars)

Robert D. Skeels' house cost $194,000 (a little less than Ben makes a year)

Did I mention Ben's neighborhood is 87.5% white?

Unlike Ben Austin and Gloria Romero, who get lavishly paid for increasing corporate charter-voucher school market share, all my work for Coalition of Educational Justice, Community for CRES14, and other organizations is strictly voluntary.

¡La lucha sigue!

Anthony Krinsky said...

Embattled Skeels,

The Jewish lawyers that stood side-by-side with Martin Luther King and enabled the civil rights movement achieve its objectives all fit Austin's profile. When those with good fortune help those with less, it is to be admired and appreciated, not despised.

Your class-warfare sickens me and only hurts those of your poor neighbors stuck in failing schools. Austin is a freedom fighter. You are a defender of educational atrocities.

In arms,

Robert D. Skeels * rdsathene said...

‎"For the truly humanist educator and the authentic revolutionary, the obect of action is the reality to be transformed by them together with other people — not other men and women themselves. The oppressors are the ones who act upon the people to indoctrinate them and adjust them to a reality which must remain untouched . " — Paulo Freire

Anonymous said...

I really wish that both of you would address the substance of each others' positions rather than attacking tone. Mr. Krinsky can you address the slick marketing of the Camino Real charter as it relates to the standardized testing results Mr. Skeels highlights? How about the lack of bilingual instruction or special ed? Mr. Skeels can you make your entirely reasonable points and ask the questions you do about the corporate influence on the school reform and charter movements w/o falling into the trap of having your polemics being the easy straw man for Mr. Krinsky to attack? Can we all not agree that LAUSD should never have let the Rodriguez settlement expire and that UTLA made a mistake in going along with that? That the teachers' unions are not the fully progressive actors that maybe we would like them to be? That both teachers and charter school operators like Green Dot have legitimate if competing visions of what education is and could be and that just maybe the actual clash might just produce a better version of public education in the future (synthesis).

Anonymous said...

It sickens me the type of raw sewage and the degree of ignorance that anthony spews from the sewer he calls a mouth. Austin is NOT a hero. As a former member of the SBE he had a chance to implement true reform and his only claim to fame is a move in which he has come to pull the emotional strings of the parents he has come to use as his puppets. Krinski must be truly evil or truly stupid to state what he has mentioned here for they reak of Kumbaya ignorance of the reality of education. Thank Goodness that Austin is out of SBE and he cannot do any more harm. He is a beast who will stop at nothing to destroy what little is left of education.

He has lied about what charter schools are expected and, lo and behold, Crecendo, a charter school was found to be cheating. Austin's Green Dot has an API much lower than that of McKinley, yet he claims to reform Mckinley? give me a break. The truth is that he attempted to preempt the reform plans that have been at the school for the past three years before they come to fruition. Of course, once QEIA proves to be a successful reform method the need for charter schools will be less.

THe truth is that Austin lied to the parents and used such lunatics in the media as Fernando Espuelas to push his evil antichild agenda. Once his lies were pointed out by the committed teachers of the school he proceeded to attempt to destroy the integrity of the most dedicated teachers at the school. How perverse! His flunkies the "parent" revolution, many of whom are paid to pose as parents in the schools they attempt to hijack, performed illegal activities such as threatening parents with deportation unless they sign the procharter waiver. Lying to parents claiming it was for beautification and painting the school, harrassing students. Yet, they shamefully come back and raise false testimony accusing the staff of doing exactly what they, PR, did! How shameful! Austin needs not be revered- he needs to be tried for libel and for treason!!!

By the way, the true reason why education is failing is not the teachers. It is that we have too many people without teaching credentials in positions of power. What the hell was Austin, who has no teaching credential doing as part of SBE? As long as jerks as Romero, Schwarzzeneger, Villaraigoza, Austin, Waltons, Gates, Rhee and Broad decide to leave education to the real educators, schools will continue to fail.

Consider this analogy, I know some neurology, but I am not a neurologist. What would happen if I were to be telling a brain surgeon how to operate on a prefrontal cortex? The patient would most likely die! Here we have hundreds of wealthy businessmen who have no teaching experience telling teachers how to do their job and pushing policies that run coutner to good teaching strategies. When their policies fail due to their ignorance, this fools are quick to blame the teacher. THey need to shut up and let teachers do their jobs.