Sunday, July 15, 2012

Recall Monica Garcia! Picket outside LA Chamber of Commerce


Backed into a corner by a monster it helped create, LAUSD fights back against charter colocation greed

First Published on Schools Matter

Although the bungalows are used for after school programs, art classes, festivals and special education speech therapy space, according to the number of enrolled students at Micheltorena, the bungalows have been deemed empty and available for tenancy by any charter that requests them. — Lulu Wilson

Communities & Families Resisting Proposition 39 Charter Colocations The Los Angeles Times' LAUSD fights court order to give more space to charter schools highlights how the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) has asked corporate friendly Judge Terry A. Green's "court to reconsider its decision. The school system is also preparing an appeal."

This is in response to the California Charter Schools Association's recent overreach in which they were able to obtain yet another privatization friendly court ruling that allows privately managed charter corporations to norm their classrooms as low as ten students per teacher, meanwhile LAUSD public schools "are crammed with about 50 students" in some classes. Of course, Howard Blume's biased article leaves this (and many other facts) out entirely. Cheryl Ortega was kind enough to address this issue:

The article also fails to mention the issue of smaller norming and how that could affect the home school. The issue of not counting the set asides has been the practice, if not the policy, since the inception of prop 39 in LAUSD.

Green's ruling will result in neighborhood children being displaced from their own schools and a further marginalization of children with special needs. Of course, we already know the charter school industry serves fewer students with disabilities to begin with, so it's no surprise that charters don't mind displacing those children from public schools either.

I left the following comments on The Times site:

These privately managed charters only care about their revenue streams. Displacing services, or even students from their own neighborhood schools, means nothing to the wealthy executives at the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA), which continues to pull in tens of millions of dollars from right wing organizations like the Walton Family Foundation.

Meanwhile public school children are being crammed into smaller and smaller spaces, with less and less resources! The CCSA is on record for not caring about "severely disabled students, parent centers and computer labs." Californians were tricked by Prop 39, and now the fruits of that deception are coming to the fore.

Social Justice activists have fought against this charter colocation greed in communities like Echo Park and Silver Lake. What we need is create a large community push-back against the deep pocketed CCSA in every neighborhood. Any organization or law that puts revenues and executive salaries ahead of the needs of children and communities has to go!

I am proud to have been one of the community organizers who, alongside activists like educator Cheryl Ortega and many public school parents, have fought the occupations of our public schools by capricious corporate charter schools in the 90026 zip code. We exposed the illegal incursions by the Gabriella Charter Corporation and were able to convince the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council to vote against colocation by CWC Charter Corporation. We started a facebook support group for people struggling against heavy handed charters ruining their public schools called Communities & Families Resisting Proposition 39 Charter Colocations, please feel free to join.

Given the unlimited amounts of money the charter school industry has access to, it will always be an uphill struggle to battle against their efforts to undermine public education. That said, we must resist, and it's good sign to see that a school district and Superintendent renowned for kowtowing to the corporate charter sector, are, by necessity, beginning to fight back against the tide of neoliberalism and school privatization.


A reader emailed me the following yesterday. It explains a lot more about the corporate judge mentioned above.

Judge Terry A. Green, the one who ruled that charter school students have more rights than public school students, is a long time right-wing Republican donor who has given to fringe organizations like Economic Liberty PAC as well as the Bush-Cheney campaigns, the Republic National Committee, John McCain, the California Republican Party, and others like Congressman James Rogan and Senator-wannabe Bill Jones.

Go to the link and look for Terry A. Green from CA/Pasadena to see. Sometimes he is listed as Honorable Terry Green and the Superior Court is listed.

In fact, he donated $500 to the Republican National Committee just 8 months ago, perhaps after reading the party platform on charter school/school choice expansion.

Shouldn't a judge who donates thousands of dollars to organizations and individuals who blindly support charter schools recuse himself from these cases? Instead, he rules for—surprise—the CCSA!


Friday, July 13, 2012

Protesting the Mónica García Privatization Celebration Event

On the morning of Friday July 13, 2012 wealthy charter corporation heads, billionaire funded 501c3 "non-profits," and well heeled business leaders celebrated a "Decade of Corporate Education Reforms" courtesy of LAUSD President Mónica Garcia.

Community members, students, educators, and social justice activists showed up on last minute notice to let Ms. García know that her tenure has been, and continues to be, unbearable to those suffering under her neoliberal regime of privatization and school closures. Several members of United Adult Students were on hand to remind everyone that García has stolen many students' futures have closed so many of our Early Education Center, Adult Education Schools, and SRLDP programs!

The Chamber of Commerce was the perfect place for the chief school privatizer—Mónica García to join her fellow one-percenters, profiteers, privatizers, and poverty pimps, since none of them are about education, they're all about business and revenues instead. Joan Sullivan, Marshall Tuck, Angelica Solis, Elise Buik, Veronica Melvin, and a host of other charter school bandits were on hand to salute Eli Broad and Philip Anschutz's avatar.

We're fighting back.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

July 15 Recall Mónica García South Central, Trinity Park

This Sunday, July 15, 2012 from 9:00am — 1:00pm, South Central, Trinity Park, corner of Wall Street & 25th Street (3 blocks from Santee Educational Complex), 90011

Information: Vera Padilla or (323)236-0595

See the complete summer schedule

Recall LAUSD's Mónica García


Robert D. Skeels, a Social Justice Schoolboard Candidate

Robert D. Skeels, a Social Justice Schoolboard Candidate

From my official LAUSD Campaign website: Robert D. Skeels, a Social Justice Schoolboard Candidate

My name is Robert D. Skeels. Over the course of many years as an education activist and a social justice writer, I've witnessed many grave injustices perpetrated by the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) on our community. Sadly, a primary reason for this is that a majority of our current Schoolboard members were elected with, and beholden to, money from the one percent and corporate interests. Until we have a majority of social justice minded Schoolboard Trustees, we will continue to suffer from policies that don't serve the needs of students, families and communities.

This is why I am running for the District 2 Trustee seat. As an individual committed to social justice, I will stand up to the corporate interests that currently dominate LAUSD. I bring both a wealth of knowledge on education and a commitment to the principles of social justice set forth by luminaries including Paulo Freire, Donaldo Macedo, and Henry GIroux. Armed with facts and truth, I will challenge the fatalistic neoliberal narrative that currently dominates Los Angeles education policy and I will speak truth to the corporate power that dominates our schools.

I've lived in LAUSD District 2 for eighteen years. My wife and I own a home in Echo Park/Historic Filipinotown.

I need donations and campaign volunteers. Help save Los Angeles Schools from privatization.


Monday, July 09, 2012

United Adult Students Summer Celebration

The student activists of United Adult Students (UAS) held their Summer Celebration on the last day of June 2012. Through their hard work and perseverance they were able to salvage a portion of their programs despite the fact that LAUSD President Mónica García and Superintendent John Deasy were hades-bent on shutting down all of adult education and many more programs for working class peoples. The students held multiple large demonstrations, gathered hundreds of thousands of signatures, obtained resolutions from many Neighborhood Councils, garnered support from many community leaders, endorsements from politicians, and so much more. Their efforts made it politically untenable for Deasy, García and the rest of the Anschutz Four to steal their futures. The Los Angeles City Council passed an unanimous resolution supporting adult education, and unsurprisingly Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa — who postures as an 'Education Mayor' — refused to sign the resolution supporting over a quarter million working and immigrant families trying to improve their lot. While the students celebrated, they also thought of all the schools, educators, and opportunities that were lost through the missmanagement of LAUSD's resources and wrongheaded budget priorities. They resolved to continue the struggle to use our community's resources on classrooms rather than creating revenue streams from Pearson, plc.

United Adult Students of Los Angeles. The Voice of Adult Students in Greater Los Angeles.


Recall Mónica García June Press Conference

Students, Parents, and Community Activists provided an update on the recall campaign and other activities to save LAUSD SRLDP, Early Education Centers, Adult Education, and to prevent further privatization, reconstitution, and closures of our local neighborhood schools.


Schools Matter: PLAS CEO Marshall Tuck and Mayor Villaraigosa bring Arizona style bigotry to Los Angeles

First published on Schools Matter on July 05, 2012

"We had an African American woman walk up to us and say 'why do you need Ethnic Studies?', and we looked at each other and said, 'that's exactly why we need Ethnic Studies!'" — Santee Students speaking at PLAS protest.

It would be a mistake to think the absolutely tragic stream of bigoted and racist legislation flowering in Arizona is confined to Arizona alone. Sadly, one of the most egregious perpetrators removing access to ethnic studies and heritage language programs in this country isn't Michael Hicks, Tom Horne, or John Huppenthal, but a privately managed organization called Partnership for Los Angeles Schools (PLAS) founded by the vehemently anti-public education Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa.

PLAS' latest attack comes in the form of killing the only Ethnic Studies program at the culturally diverse South Los Angeles Santee High School. The announcement shook the community, given the program's popularity and importance in a community desperate to retain its identity and dignity. The following video was taken at a demonstration held in front of PLAS headquarters on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles. The protest was held by community activists in order to save both the Ethnic Studies program and the program's leader — Social Justice Educator Ron Gochez.

At the heart of the decision is a vindictive reprisal against Social Justice Educator Ron Gochez by Mayor Villaraigosa. Gochez drew Villaraigosa's ire by running for Los Angeles City Council District 9, and — as a principled social justice activist — by being a constant thorn in the Mayor's side. Gochez has been one of the activists instrumental in the Southern California Immigration Coalition and National Lawyer Guild's stand against the Mayor and his cronies seizing and selling the automobiles of undocumented peoples. We've even held demonstrations in front of the Mayor's lavish mansion. Here's an announcement of one such protest:

To protest the continued confiscation of undocumented people's cars. The police continue to use minor violations as a pretext to pull over undocumented drivers and take away their vehicles. Police have repeatedly targeted immigrant communities to establish patrols in areas that are designed not to deter traffic violations but provide a pretext for stopping suspected unlicensed drivers, including in front of schools as parents drop off their children. These stops are tantamount to racial profiling as they repeatedly target immigrants who in many instances have committed no crime.

Ultimately Mayor Villaraigosa's political payback effects not just Gochez, but his students, Santee High School, and the South Los Angeles community as a whole.

The initial decision was surreptitiously announced by one of Villaraigosa's education henchman, ex-Green Dot Schools Corporation flunky Marshall Tuck. Tuck has been PLAS' CEO since the privately managed organization began. Eliminating the only Ethnic Studies program at Santee High School is tantamount to cultural sterilization. Such politically motivated attacks are both racist and ethnocentric. PLAS' Marshal Tuck, Doc Ervin, Angela Bass, Joan Sullivan, and Ricardo Ruiz have a long history of these types of attacks on our communities.

The decision to rob Santee's impoverished students of color of their chance to learn about their culture and history follows on the heels of PLAS killing heritage language programs at two of their other schools. Four years ago they banned the Dual Language Program and the Academic English Mastery Program at Ritter Elementary School, and two years ago they banned the teaching of core subjects in Spanish at Roosevelt High School as they had had as a response to the activism of the famous East Los Angeles Blowouts in 1968.

I asked United Teachers of Los Angeles' Director of Bilingual Education, Cheryl Ortega, for full details on program elimination:

This is the first I've heard of eliminating ethnic studies at Santee, but it makes me think a lot about Tuck and PLAS banning the Dual Language Program and the Academic English Mastery Program at Ritter 4 years ago. Tuck and his people, Doc Ervin, Angela Bass and Ricardo Ruiz worked very hard to pit the Latino and the African-American communities against each other at Ritter instead of promoting unity. It was shameful.

Two years ago Marina Salas, chair of the Bilingual Ed Committee, and I visited Roosevelt HIgh, a PLAS school, at the request of the CC and the ESL teachers. They were outraged that they were no longer permitted to teach core subjects in Spanish as they had done for a generation. If an English Learner takes a math course, for instance, in Spanish, the student will receive credit for the A-G. The same student could take the math class in English and receive the same A-G credit if he/she passes the course which is unlikely because of the language challenge. So the EL student is put in a general math class which, although, is just a rigorous from a language perspective, is a lower level math class which does not generate A-G credit. So dozens of kids, many newcomers, perfectly competent to take algebra or chemistry cannot get graduation credit for those classes. PLAS has denied thousands of EL students access to core curriculum because of their limited English skills. The year before that, PLAS eliminated the Dual Language Program and the AEMP program at Ritter ES in Watts in spite of parent protests. The people that the mayor has running PLAS, Marshall Tuck, Doc Ervin, and formerly Angela Bass, are, at best, completely insensitive, and, at worst, purposely undermining the chances of student success in minority communities. I always felt that the mayor had distanced himself from the actual running of PLAS, leaving it in the hands of these people.

I would opt for they are "purposely undermining the chances of student success in minority communities." The elimination of the only Ethnic Studies program at the culturally diverse Santee is further proof of the cultural genocide that PLAS inflicts on the most needy children in Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD).

Fighting this type of sophisticated racism is just as important as the struggle against the outright ignorant racism of Michael Hicks, Tom Horne, or John Huppenthal. PLAS is part and parcel Villaraigosa and his wealthy cadre of school privatizers' pet project. For a Latino Mayor, who is on record for rightfully criticizing Arizona for it's nativist bigotry, to allow the same thing to go on in his own schools is the height of hypocrisy.

Stop cultural genocide! Contact the following and demand that PLAS retain the Ethnic Studies program at Santee High School and that social justice educator Ron Gochez be restored to his position.

Honorable Antonio Villaraigosa
Mayor of Los Angeles
200 N. Main St. Rm 303
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 978-0600

Joan Sullivan
Deputy Mayor on Education
Office of the Mayor
200 N. Main St. Rm 303
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 978-0662

Marshall Tuck
Cheif Executive Officer
Partnership for Los Angeles Schools
1541 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90017
(213) 201-2000


Schools Matter: Democrats for Neoliberal Education Reform's Gloria J. Romero's Parent Tricker days are numbered

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. — Martha Infante

As the DFER veneer for right-wing "parent trigger" laws wears off, and more and more people see the privatization agenda for what it is, charlatans like Gloria Romero and Ben Austin have been scrambling to hide or minimize their ties to right wing extremists. The good news is that it isn't working, and that aside from shills like Andi Rotherham and Alex Russo even mainstream media journalists are starting to see through what the distinguished Professor Diane Ravitch refers to as the "Parent Tricker."
My recent Schools Matter essay, Democrats for Neoliberal Education Reform's Gloria J. Romero's Parent Tricker days are numbered, looks at DFER's Gloria Romero' unconscionable attacks on the distinguished Professor Diane Ravitch.
Published 2012-07-02 on Schools Matter, please read it there and share widely.
Bonus: Open letter to Doug Tuthill of the American Center for School Choice. My response to Mr. Tuthill's insistance that his fringe right organization and colleagues differ with the John Birch Society on education policies.


Monday, July 02, 2012

Thoughts on Matthew Di Carlo's recent Shanker Blog piece on the 'parent tricker'

Barr's parent organization gave... a grass-roots visual... And his paid staffers hit the right rhetorical notes... while identifying themselves to reporters and officials only as parents. — Howard Blume (Los Angeles Times)

Shirley Ford and Mary Najara of Parent Revolution née Los Angeles Parents Union

Matthew Di Carlo recently penned a thoughtful and somewhat nuanced piece on the vile so-called "parent trigger" legislation being pushed by the school privatization industry. In When Push Comes To Pull In The Parent Trigger Debate he suggests that support for or against anti-democratic triggers is often dependent on an individual's stance on charter schools to begin with.

Interestingly, he posits that if triggers were associated with authentic reforms like class size reduction as opposed to seizing property for the lucrative charter industry, that there might be less opposition to parent triggers and other shock doctrine style swindles. I for one think that's the point. Triggers were not devised as a way to improve or help public education. They have always been a way of increasing market share for the charter sector, union busting, and have been widely embraced by the fringe-right as a pathway to vouchers and other forms of plunder and poverty pimping.

Had trigger laws been a means for democratically engaging entire communities in the improvement of their schools, I would have become their biggest supporter. Instead, they are simply another way to stuff more money into the pockets of charter executives and their wealthy associates. Here are my comments posted to the Shanker Blog, which still apparently hasn't made it through the moderation process:

I'd agree that some perspective on corporate charter trigger laws is influenced by an individual's views on school privatization and the neoliberal project in general. However, that doesn't mean that the overarching problem with triggers is the fact that they are entirely anti-democratic to put the fate of a public resource into the hands of a minority of the community. More than that, the huge amounts of money and resources expended to sway parents to triggering their school into private hands has been seen repeatedly, with corporate charter advocacy groups like the so-called Parent Revolution with it's multi-million dollar budget from nefarious funders like the Walton Family Foundation.

We can learn much about the origins and motives of groups pushing the corporate charter "parent" trigger by where the majority of its support comes from—fringe right wing groups like The Heartland Institute and The American Legislative Exchange Council.

Parent Revolution can deny their ties to ALEC and other reactionaries all they want, but they can't hide the fact that they have had deep and long-standing partnerships with ALEC members, including fringe right-wing The Heartland Institute. In addition to constant collaboration with Heartland, Parent Revolution hosts forums with them. See the following flyer from one of their events and an article discussing it:

The Heartland Institute and Parent Revolution panel on the Trigger Law

Parent Revolution's mendacious minions to appear with The Heartland Institute reactionaries

For the actual ALEC legislation crafted from Governor Schwartzenegger, Ben Austin, Gloria Romero's original bill, see:

Ben Austin, Gloria Romero and ALEC's Parent Trigger Act

Gloria J. Romero, who along with former Governor Schwartzenegger's staff, and Parent Revolution's Ben Austin, drafted the parent trigger (more aptly, tricker), is also known to work hand and hand with the most extreme forces of reaction on education issues. She works closely with members of the Koret Foundation and The Hoover Institution. Shunned by her own party, she works with teabaggers and other right-wing politicians.

Peas in a pod: Koret Foundation, The Hoover Institution, and Democrats for Education Reform

Senators Romero and Huff to Hold Education Summit

The evidence is damning, and their claims that they don't represent right-wing interests ring hollow. Bear in mind Parent Revolution was originally the Los Angeles Parents Union, which was a wholly owned subsidiary of the Green Dot Charter School Corporation. Parent Revolution's sole reason for existence is to build market share for the lucrative charter school sector. This is born out both by the comments of their funders, and by the privatization policies of their funders.

See this piece for a statement by Eli Broad on why he funds Parent Revolution:

Eli Broad pays Parent Revolution to champion charters not to empower parents!

See these documents to see the names right-wing plutocrats who fund Parent Revolution and the staggering amounts they contribute. Tops on the list, the privatization reactionaries at the Walton Family Foundation. 

Los Angeles Parents Union DBA LAPU or Parent Revolution 2010 Form 990

To be sure, "school choice" was the clarion call of segregationists. It still is. Why the Racist History of the Charter School Movement Is Never Discussed

Quick look at the "there's no money" in charters deception

I was recently asked on facebook to explain how charters make money. This is important since the charter industry has recently been trying to convince the public that they're nothing more than a charitable exercise. Here's what I wrote back to them:

Here's just a taste, but it should be enough for you to answer such inquires.

Operators like Edison make profit directly, as do most EMOs, from the difference between "services rendered" and ADA money. CMOs don't make profit per se, but they pay their executives exorbitant (confer Petruzzi or Ponce to Deasy versus number of schools and students) salaries and make additional money from special relationships with vendors (look up companies like ExED and charter operator Judy Burton's very special relationship with them). Many charter executives set up these sweet vendor deals and then go on to work for the vendors. Another big money maker is charter financing and financial services by corporations like Charter School Capital, pushed by local CMO executive Ricardo Mireles.

The most lucrative part of the charter industry however, is real estate. How big is the charter-voucher school real estate bubble? Big enough to attract big names like Goldman Sachs, Andre Agassi, Citibank, and Richard Riordan to the lucrative land grab ventures. Big enough that Gloria Romero was rewarded with a cushy six-figure job as CEO at Democrats for Education Reform in California for her servile gift the privately managed charter industry called SB 592, which hands public school property over to privately managed charter corporations. New York based vultures, like Gideon Stein, are making a fortune in brokering charter real estate (and the raising of property values via gentrification of neighborhoods through those charters).

There's also all the lucrative "distance learning," "online charters," and "blended learning" cash cows. Bill Gates and Tom Vander Ark are never far from the picture when those money making scams are at hand. In fact, the vile Vander Ark was very recently on the all white (sans one) Board of Directors from LA's Promise that is now firing all of their hard working educators, so they can hire cheaper ones. Sure that has nothing to do with profits though.