Sunday, December 28, 2014

K12NN Wire: American anti-intellectualism more popular than ever, and why not?

First published on K12NN Wire on December 28, 2014

"The capitalists, from the start, complained that universities were unprofitable. These early twentieth century capitalists, like heads of investment houses and hedge-fund managers, were, as Donoghue writes "motivated by an ethically based anti-intellectualism that transcended interest in the financial bottom line. Their distrust of the ideal of intellectual inquiry for its own sake, led them to insist that if universities were to be preserved at all, they must operate on a different set of principles from those governing the liberal arts." — Chris Hedges

American anti-intellectualism more popular than ever, and why not?Last week I came across a two year old essay written by Professor Patricia Williams for The Guardian. I recall reading her piece some time ago (the Arizona book bannings being covered by Schools Matter as well), and reposted it on facebook with a bit of my own commentary. The post received a few interesting comments. A teacher posted the link and my commentary to the "Badass Teachers Association" (BATs) page, and to my surprise it garnered over 180 "likes" and more than 55 comments.

I believe that this is because this is a critical conversation we should be having publicly, over and over. I'm going to reproduce my commentary here, and rather than expand on it, I'll leave it to readers to add their own thoughts.

We see this anti-intellectualism in Marshall Tuck, Tom Horne, and John Huppenthal's shuttering of Ethnic Studies programs and book banning. We see it in the proliferation of adjunct professors in higher education, and the spreading infestation of predatory, for-profit schools. We see it in corporate curricula like Common Core State Standards (#‎CCSS), and the proliferation of the K-12 privatization project embodied in charters and vouchers. The war on tenure at all levels of education is further evidence. It isn't just right-wing, religious reactionaries fueling anti-intellectualism, as the demands of neoliberalism require that both critical thinking, and the institutional memory of the working class be squelched. Anti-intellectualism is a prelude to the unchallenged dominance of the plutocrat class and their corporate state. — Robert D. Skeels

Two quick things. My compañero in struggle, Jose del Barrio, had commentary I felt worth reproducing here:

"There has been an unfortunate uptick in academic book bannings and firings, made worse by a nationwide disparagement of teachers, teachers' unions and scholarship itself. Brooke Harris, a teacher at Michigan's Pontiac Academy for Excellence, was summarily fired after asking permission to let her students conduct a fundraiser for Trayvon Martin's family." — Jose del Barrio

Lastly, a perfect example of anti-intellectualism. Here's a direct quote from a racist that has been trolling me on twitter: "Professors are failures at life, thus they teach"

Yet Eli Broad, the Walton fortune heirs, Bill Gates, David F. Welch, Charles and David Koch, Richard M. DeVos, and their ilk aren't waging a war against teachers, professors, and intellectuals?


Hend addresses the repugnant "Does torture work?" question

This might be the most important tweet I've seen in 2014:


Friday, December 26, 2014

Schools Matter: Manhattan Institute extremists credit anti-racist activists with Marshall Tuck's defeat

First published on Schools Matter on December 23, 2014

"Robert D. Skeels, writing in L.A. Progressive, rips Marshall Tuck for closing down ethnic studies programs and heritage language studies programs while running the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools. He reviews Tuck’s record at Green Dot charter schools and the Mayor’s Partnership and renders a scathing judgment." — Professor Diane Ravitch

Manhattan Institute loved Marshall Tuck's support of right-wing ideas including charter schools and public school choiceRight-wing reactionary Ben Boychuk's profound disdain for public education is somewhat legendary, and his tenures at the fringe-right think-tanks Heartland Institute, and now Manhattan Institute are testament to that. When he's not cheerleading for book banning, hosting privatization forums with the Walton Foundation funded Parent Revolution and its former Executive Director Ben Austin, or solidifying the vile Parent Trigger as ALEC template legislation, he's writing political analysis for his fellow baggers, birchers, and neoliberal corporate education reformers.

Last month Boychuk penned a postmortem on Wall Street banker Marshall Tuck's failed bid in California to join Arizona's Tom Horne and John Huppenthal as an ideologically charged non-educator holding a Superintendent of Public Instruction seat. Amidst his anti-union screed Boychuk admits, somewhat surprisingly, that Tuck's wrongheaded championing of plutocrat David F. Welch's Vergara lawsuit was a major misstep. Boychuk then makes a statement that is breathtaking inasmuch as he places the blame for Tuck's loss squarely on the anti-racist crowd. My commentary to follow, but let's look at his statement and my November comment in response.

The teachers’ unions and their surrogates, such as Diane Ravitch, used Tuck’s charter school ties to paint him as a racist, a bigot, and a tool of “the power elite.” Their attacks bordered on defamation, but they worked.

Addressing his misinformed and churlish assertions regarding defamation, I responded thusly:

Robert D. Skeels November 13, 2014 at 2:47 PM
There was no need to 'paint [Marshall Tuck] as a racist, a bigot, and a tool of “the power elite”', since an honest account of his actual record did just that by itself. No one was more forthcoming about Tuck's record than I was, because as a law student I am well aware that truth always serves as an affirmative defense to defamation, and every statement I made about Tuck was a well documented truth.

I, for one, think it's wonderful that the fringe-right wants to credit anti-racists with Marshall Tuck's defeat. Even more so because corporatist Tuck would have defended, in Boychuck's words, "charter schools and public [sic] school choice." While Boychuck uses Professor Ravitch's name, it's irresponsible and inaccurate to say that she made all the comments that he credits her with. What is true, and the link he provides is a good example of it, is that Professor Ravitch was sure to disseminate all of the wonderful essays and articles about Tuck that weren't going to be published in the corporate media. The RedQueeninLA, Ellen Lubic, Cheryl Ortega, Dr. John Fernandez, Jose del Barrio, and many other social justice activists wrote about Tuck's abject record, bigotry, and veritable crimes against students.

I too wrote a bit about Tuck. In exposing his bigotry and myriad failures, I had to put up with abuse from his obtuse Hollywood supporters, some profoundly ignorant rich white guys, and even had to block some abusive Tuck supporters on twitter. One of the more intriguing critics of my work was Conor P. Williams of the right-of-center think-tank New America Foundation. My friends at PESJA forwarded me this tweet by Williams, in which he took issue with an excerpt from one of my polemics against Tuck.

Neoliberal corporate eduction reform apologist Williams rarely has anything substantive to say when confronted by facts, and here when the PESJA folks grilled him he went into derailment mode. I'd challenge him to an honest debate in which he could try to make the case that shuttering Ethnic Studies, Heritage Language Programs, and Dual Language Immersion Programs isn't racist, but he isn't the type to engage in actual debate. For example, his laughable straw man arguments against Corey Robin's brilliant 2012 essay. I would hope that Williams would be astute enough to know that Robin's point speaks to the attitudes of the type of well-heeled folks that fund Williams' employer. Williams' big paychecks (despite his persistent whining about still paying student loans), are, of course, derived in large part from the anti-public education plutocracy. By making everything about himself, he effectively deflects the conversation about the neoliberal corporate elite he works for.

Many of us worked tirelessly to keep Marshall Tuck from being elected. My first semester of law school suffered mightily until, ostensibly, after the election. With money flowing in from the wealthiest white men in the world, Tuck had every advantage except the truth. We told the truth about Tuck, and if Tuck's fringe-right supporters like the Manhattan Institute want to say that "worked", then it makes it all worth it.

2014 was a wonderful year in which bigots Marshall Tuck, Tom Horne, and John Huppenthal all lost their elections.

2014 was a wonderful year in which bigots Marshall Tuck, Tom Horne, and John Huppenthal all lost their elections.


Schools Matter: Dick Cheney's Nina Rees and the US Chamber of Charters wish you a White Christmas

First published on Schools Matter on December 20, 2014

Dick Cheney's Nina Rees and the US Chamber of Charters [aka The National Alliance for Public [sic] Charter Schools] wish you a White Christmas

"Public-sector employment, where there is less discrimination in hiring and pay, has traditionally been an important venue for creating a black middle class." — Professor Carol Anderson

Arch-reactionary Nina Rees was a long-time deputy assistant to Dick "rectal feeding" Cheney. Rees was tapped for the US Chamber of Charters (aka The National Alliance for Public [sic] Charter Schools—NAPCS) a few years back, when the lucrative charter industry needed someone adept at the same kind of public relations that spins torture as "enhanced interrogation."

Some time ago the Chamber of Charters put me on their mailing list, meaning I'm subjected to their propagandistic press releases including a recent one spinning the Ohio charter debacles as a positive. This month they've been shilling hard to get folks to attend their big June trade convention at the site where all public schools have been razed—New Orleans. Their trade show will feature Wall Street darling Geoffrey Canada, the vile individual that sacrifices entire classes of students to avoid upsetting the sensibilities of the wealthy bankers on his board.

Amid propaganda releases and advertisements, Rees sent a "holiday card" featuring, apparently, the Chamber of Charters' well-heeled executives and staff. First thing glaringly obvious in the photograph is the decided lack of melanin among its subjects. If you squint really hard, you might make out one or two persons of color in the very back of the crowd, reminding us that tokenism is still the norm in the lucrative nonprofit industrial complex (NPIC). I've included Rees' wishes for a "white" holiday above, and I may have taken some liberties to make minor edits to their text.

While there's no shortage of self-colonized types dabbling in respectability politics who are willing to work for NPICs like the Chamber of Charters, there are rarely good positions persons of color in that sector overall. Typically the top NPIC positions in the neoliberal corporate education reform project are held by wealthy whites, to wit: Rees at the US Chamber of Charters, Jed Wallace at the California Chamber of Charters (aka California Charter School Association), and Ben Austin at Parent Revolution (aka Los Angeles Parents Union). A notable exception to this rule was the snarling Teach for America alumnae who is currently married to the "hands on" Mayor of Sacramento.

Ironically, the tiny fraction of persons of color employed by the charter industry are making things worse overall in that through the aggressive privatization of public schools, they are eliminating the few remaining public sector jobs mentioned in the Professor Anderson quote at the beginning of this piece. A very White Christmas indeed from Nina Rees and the wealthy white billionaires funding the US Chamber of Charters.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Sunday, November 23, 2014: Two ways to support Ethnic Studies supporter Bennet Kayser!

Re-elect Ethnic Studies Supporter Bennett Kayser to LAUSD Board of Education

Sunday (Nov 23) Echo Parque for Bennett Kayser Precinct Walking

Join me, Robert D. Skeels, as we gather signatures for the Honorable Bennett Kayser to qualify for the ballot. Kayser's sponsorship was a key factor in the recently passed Ethnic Studies for #LAUSD requirement resolution, and he has been a force for progressive change and authentic reforms on our school board. Let's keep allies of public education on our board, let's Re-Elect Bennett Kayser for School Board! 10AM meet up at Bright Spot on Sunset Blvd.


Bennett Kayser fundraiser this Sunday 4-7 pm. sponsored by Ethnic Studies Now Coalition. Meet the sponsor of the historic resolution that passed this week! Click here and RSVP for address.

Contact me with any questions you may have!


Thursday, November 06, 2014

Schools Los Angeles Students Deserve (SLASD) November General Assembly

Schools Los Angeles Students Deserve (SLASD)

Schools Los Angeles Students Deserve (SLASD) General Assembly

Thursday, November 6, 2014
St. Marks Lutheran Church
3651 South Vermont Ave,
Los Angeles, CA 90007

(2 blocks north of the Expo line's Vermont station)

The 2014-2015 school year is our time to take concrete action together and change the educational system and bigger systems that shape it.

Our key focal areas are:

  1. Criminalization, punishment culture and push out in schools
  2. Lack of Nurses/health services for youth through schools
  3. Limited College Counselors for students
  4. Narrow curriculum because of an over-emphasis on standardized testing - lack of electives (arts music, ethnic studies, etc.)
  5. School destabilizations like reconstitutions that force an end to critical programs or push out veteran staff, especially African-American staff

Please join us as we move forward with exciting new steps and actions!

Rosa Jimenez's notes from previous General Assembly:

At SLASD's most recent General Assembly (October 2), participants forged ahead with a new student campaign, parent organizing, and coordination of teacher actions at 14 schools across LA.

The meeting was largely facilitated by students, and students led their own student-only discussion to develop their plan of action.

This week, students in at least 6 different schools across LA are kicking off a postcard petition drive to demand changes in their schools. Students from several different high schools collaborated to develop the postcards, which postcards will be delivered to the School Board in a creative action that highlights students' voices.

Parent and community organizers are in the process of reaching out to neighborhood councils & parent advisory councils, and plan to participate in UTLA parent / community forums, as well as build townhall meetings to represent the power of parents and community.

Teachers plan to support student and parent/community organizing, as well as organize co-workers at their schools sites around an understanding of the importance of building connections with parent and student communities.

Schools Present:

  • STEM Academy of Hollywood
  • Maya Angelou Community High School
  • Santa Monica College
  • UCLA Community School - Robert F. Kennedy Campus
  • New Open World Academy - Robert F. Kennedy Campus
  • Manual Arts High School
  • Dorsey High School
  • Charles White Elementary School
  • Los Angeles High School
  • Loreto Elementary School
  • Palms Middle School
  • Hamilton High School
  • Alta Loma Middle School
  • North Hollywood Highly Gifted Magnet High School

Movement Snapshot:
The Blowouts in East LA - focus on role of base-building and organizing in making the Blowouts possible

Discussion & Vote on Our Strategy & Demands for the Upcoming Period:

Approved Strategy:

  1. Student-Led Tactics Including Post Cards for the Board of Education & Escalating Actions
  2. Big Parent Meetings
  3. Small Amounts of Focused Energy to Meet with Friendly Board Members
  4. Building with Other Schools
  5. Build with Other Organizations
  6. Strengthen Communication Between Schools & Across Sectors (students with students, for example)

Approved Demands:

  1. College Counselors, Nurses, and Librarians at our schools
  2. More Elective & Art Classes and Ethnic Studies as a Graduation Requirement for All LA Schools
  3. Fewer Students Per Class
  4. Resources for School Improvement, Not IPADs for Testing
  5. Stop Reconstitution in All its Names


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Associated Administrators of Los Angeles on teacher Torlakson v. banker Tuck

Don't let the wealthy buy this election! — Associated Administrators of Los Angeles (AALA)

Associated Administrators of Los Angeles From the November 3, 2014 issue of Update

Tom Torlakson, California's Superintendent of Public Instruction and AALA-supported candidate, needs your help to once again thwart the moneyed elite who unsuccessfully tried to defeat Monica Ratliff, Steve Zimmer, Bennett Kayser and Dr. George McKenna in LAUSD's recent Board of Education elections. Did you know that fewer than 25 ultra-wealthy individuals/entities are donating millions of dollars to Torlakson's opponent to buy California's top public education post in the November 4, 2014, California election?

You are the education "expert" and people respect school leaders. They want to know your opinion regarding who they should cast their vote for in the race for State Superintendent of Public Instruction. They also want to know more about why you strongly support Tom Torlakson and not Marshall Tuck.

The stakes for public education this Election Day, November 4, 2014, are high. Here are some key points to share with your friends, colleagues, family members and casual acquaintances.

Facts about Marshall Tuck, Torlakson's opponent:

  • Tuck claims firsthand experience of running "two school systems." He worked with one school for Green Dot that expanded to 10 schools, and then with 17 Partnership for LA Schools. Becoming Superintendent of Public Instruction in California means you oversee close to 10,000 schools.
  • In his interview with the AALA PAC Steering Committee, Tuck hesitated in his support for employer-paid health benefits.
  • Tuck promotes privatizing public schools with public funds. He served as Green Dot's Chief Operating Officer and CEO of former Mayor Villaraigosa's Partnership for LA Schools, both deemed failures by Diane Ravitch. He claims that during his tenure, the Mayor's Partnership for LA Schools had high student achievement which is contradicted by the data.
  • Tuck is highly supportive of the Vergara Decision which dismantles seniority and tenure. He blames unions for the dismal conditions in schools, rather than placing the blame on inadequate funding. He told the AALA PAC Steering Committee that his first action, if elected, will be to pull out of the Vergara appeal.

Facts about Tom Torlakson:

  • Torlakson knows how government can work to help students and communities. His service at all levels of government from city council member, county supervisor, assemblyman, senator and now our State Superintendent of Public Instruction gives him the insight and experience to support all students in our public schools.
  • He campaigned up and down California in support of Proposition 30 to increase funding for public education. Without this funding we would still be in an economic recession and laying off thousands of employees.
  • Torlakson is a teacher and coach and knows our urban schools well.
  • Torlakson has provided $3 billion to reduce class size and counselor ratios by authoring the Quality Education Investment Act that provides monies to the state's most challenged schools.
  • Torlakson authored Proposition 1A that generated $9 billion for school construction which will be matched by more money locally from voters to repair our schools and relieve overcrowded campuses.
  • Torlakson championed money for Kindergarten Readiness.
  • Torlakson gained state money to supplement federal meals money for poor students.
  • Torlakson took action and set standards for Physical Education in schools.

See also: Los Angeles Administrators endorse educator Tom Torlakson, expose list of banker Marshall Tuck's funders


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Billionaire extremists spent some $10-Million pushing banker Marshall Tuck. Resist! Vote teacher, VOTE Tom Torlakson!

Billionaire extremists spent some $10-Million pushing banker Marshall Tuck. Resist! Vote teacher, VOTE Tom Torlakson!

I'm shifting gears. For over a year I've been trying to get the truth about Marshall Tuck out into the public. Watching what he and his handlers have done here in Los Angeles was tantamount to witnessing murder. Again, and again.

However, none of us can compete with the billionaires. They've dropped so much money in this race, that it would be a miracle if they don't get their way. The amount our oppressors spend will exceed $10-million. We live in a one-dollar, one-vote system. Plutocracy works like that.

I'm tired. In fact, I'm exhausted. The amount of physical, spiritual, intellectual, and emotional energy expended on trying to prevent this travesty has worn me out. My studies at law school have suffered from me being too involved with researching, writing, and organizing. At the end of the day, I know I did everything I could do to resist Eli Broad and his fellow corporatists. In seven or eight years, when people say "whatever happened to public education," I won't look back and feel like I didn't do my part to save the system our rulers are bent on eliminating.

The next week or so are bound to be depressing for public school advocates, regardless of the outcome. That said, there's a lot to be done here locally.

  • We have to pass the Ethnic Studies resolution in LAUSD.
  • We have to organize a protest of the Walton Family Foundation funded Parent Revolution conference on November 15. Ironically this privatization conference is being held at a public college—LA Trade Tech, but I'm sure Ben Austin's fellow predatory University of Phoenix allies have their sights set on that too.
  • We have to work hard to re-elect Los Angeles Unified School District's (LAUSD) Bennett Kayser, who has fought for Ethnic Studies, language programs, and other things that social justice demands.

See you all in the trenches.


Thursday, October 30, 2014: Parent and Teacher Press Conference on Marshall Tuck's real record

Parent and Teacher Press Conference on Marshall Tuck's real recordParent and Teacher Press Conference regarding the Failed Leadership of Marshall Tuck

Thursday, October 30, 2014 4:00PM
in front of
Roosevelt High School
456 S Mathews St,
Los Angeles, CA 90033

  • Come hear about the promises Marshall Tuck broke
  • The laws that were ignored
  • The programs terminated
  • The parents betrayed
  • And a top-down management style that excluded the community

Parent and Teacher Press Conference on Marshall Tuck's failed leadership by Robert D. Skeels


Monday, October 27, 2014

Los Angeles Administrators endorse educator Tom Torlakson, expose list of banker Marshall Tuck's funders

"Torlakson stresses, “Sometimes I’ll agree with the union and sometimes I won’t, but I’ll always agree with the kids and always agree with teachers on the front line.” And he takes every opportunity to emphasize that he has had actual classroom experiences that Tuck cannot claim and has always been a staunch supporter of administrators." — Associated Administrators of Los Angeles (AALA)

Associated Administrators of Los Angeles From the October 27, 2014 issue of Update

Tom Torlakson, AALA-endorsed candidate for California’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, will fight to increase education funding, fight to restore funding for science, social studies, art, music, drama and sports and fight to reduce class size. Many of you can vote now, and are urged to do so. Don’t wait until Election Day, Tuesday, November 4, 2014.

  • Support Tom Torlakson by taking these actions now!
  • Vote now, if you received an absentee ballot.

Contact five (5) friends/colleagues and urge them to vote for teacher educator, Torlakson.

Be aware that antiunion and antipension Enron billionaire John Arnold has given $300K to support Torlakson’s opponent, Marshall Tuck. Another $500K has come from Carrie Walton Penner, whose family makes its fortune running antiunion, low-wage-paying Walmart. Let’s stop the one percent ultra wealthy oligarchs from controlling public education!

From the October 20, 2014 issue of Update

On Thursday, October 10, 2014, AALA PAC Steering Committee recommended, and AALA Representative Assembly voted unanimously to endorse Tom Torlakson for State Superintendent of Public Instruction. The two candidates, incumbent Tom Torlakson and his opponent, Marshall Tuck, were both interviewed by the PAC Steering Committee. The PAC Council vote authorizes AALA to endorse and financially support its selection. Torlakson and Tuck have very different views on the condition of K-12 education in California, as explained in last week’s Update (October 13, 2014).

Slick ads and catchy messages can’t mask the fact that Marshall Tuck has received $300K from John Arnold of Enron whose mission is to end public pensions around the country. Additionally, Tuck’s campaign has received over one million dollars from local Republican Bill Bloomfield who had confronted and run against Henry Waxman who has never shied away from taking on the powerful and wealthy in the interest of democracy. Other donors to Tuck’s campaign include billionaires Eli Broad, Carrie Walton Penner and Laurene Powell Jobs.

This election on November 4, 2014, is extremely important to public education in California. AALA urges our members and colleagues to support Tom Torlakson.


Enron hedge fund profiteer John Arnold spent over $.3-million on Wall Street banker Marshall Tuck's campaign!

Enron Hedge fund profiteer John Arnold spent over $.3-million on Wall Street banker Marshall Tuck!

Hedge fund profiteer and Enron scoundrel John Arnold has spent over $.3-million on fellow profiteer Wall Street banker Marshall Tuck! Why is Arnold investing that much? He knows nobody is better at turning pupils into profits than corporatist Marshall Tuck. California’s students shouldn't be corporate revenue streams.

Vote for Tom Torlakson! | |


Re-elect Bennett Kayser to LAUSD Board of Education

Re-Elect Bennett Kayser for School Board 2015

Bennett Kayser: pro-student, pro-teacher, pro-public!

Re-elect Bennett Kayser to LAUSD Board of Education Re-elect Bennett Kayser to LAUSD Board of Education


Saturday, October 25, 2014

October 26 I'll be discussing Wall Street banker Marshall Tuck on Dr. James Miller's The War Report on Public Education radio

Sunday, October 26, 2014 at 14:00 PST (2:00PM)
The War Report on Public Education
Call in number: (888) 627-6008

Host: Dr. James Miller
Co-Host: Lucianna Sanson

Guest: Jonathan Pelto (2:00PM) Democrats vs. Democrats vs. Teachers

Guest: Robert D. Skeels (3:00PM) Experienced educator Torlakson vs. business banker Tuck, the SPI race in California

I'll be discussing how Wall Street banker Marshall Tuck is supported by anti-public school billionaires and charter industry moguls. Moreover, I'll be discussing the various violations exposed by the MALDEF and Public Counsel cause of action filed against Tuck in the context of his vicious war on students and their families.

The War Report on Public Education!

Smoking Gun! Wall Street Banker Marshall Tuck violated student and parent's civil rights!


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Schools Matter: Smoking Gun! Wall Street Banker Marshall Tuck violated student and parent civil rights!

First published on Schools Matter on October 21, 2014

"...raises significant concerns that [Marshall Tuck run] PLAS continues to disregard state law, regulation, and LAUSD policy and is failing to implement transparent and uniform procedures to ensure parent and student rights are protected." — MALDEF / Public Counsel

Smoking Gun! Wall Street Banker Marshall Tuck violated student and parent's civil rights!

Those of us who have had the great misfortune of watching Eli Broad's protegé, Wall Street Banker Marshall Tuck, operating in Los Angeles over the years have witnessed numerous nefarious activities. From Tuck's thinly veiled white supremacy, to his cutting of vital health education classes, to his gutting ethnic studies, to his overall failure as an administrator, no reasonable person would ever support Tuck, if they were aware of his actual record. Unfortunately the corporate media have had no interest in discussing what Tuck actually did rather than what he says he did. If the media were doing their jobs, there were plenty of things that they could have done some investigative reporting on. In addition to Tuck's corporate, top-down management, there were persistant rumors of California Education Code violations, civil rights violation, and more, but we had difficulty finding people willing to come forward.

Back in July, a high profile bilingual education activist sent the following to a group of us.

I know that LAUSD and PLAS, under the leadership of Marshall Tuck, had a Uniform Complaint filed against them in 2009 for their actions at Ritter Elementary School. The complaint, on behalf of the parents, was filed by the Office of the Public Counsel (OPC) in conjunction with MALDEF. The complaint was upheld, remedies were directed, but no change of procedures or actions ever took place. How can I track down the UC? Do you think I should contact the OPC and the lawyer I was working with on behalf of the parents of the students in their now defunct Dual Language Program? Any advice would be appreciated.

The last few months have seen us encounter myriad dead ends trying to obtain documentation of the successful Uniform Complaint, but once we finally got copies last weekend, it became obvious why people have been trying to hide it. The Uniform Complaint Cause of Action filed jointly by Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) and Public Counsel Law Center on behalf of families whose civil rights had been violated by Marshall Tuck is perhaps the most damning documents I've ever seen. United Teachers of Los Angeles' Cheryl Ortega has already written a piece: Marshall Tuck Betrays Latino and African American Parents, that outlines the history, background, and details surrounding this tragedy at Ritter Elementary School. Therefore, I want to look at some of the more salient points in the Uniform Complaint against Tuck.

A. Failure to Provide Notice of Placement in an English Immersion Program

Here the lawyers discuss how Marshall Tuck and his Partnership for Los Angeles Schools (PLAS) lieutenants violated state law, and cite a common law case supporting their interpretation of PLAS's violation.

B. Failure to Notify Parents of Their Right to Apply for a Parental Exception Waiver.

The attorneys outline how Marshall Tuck and PLAS ignored the California Education Code. I love how the section ends with: "...violated the parents' rights under California law."

C. Failure to Form an Alternative Language Class When 20 Waivers in a Given Grade Have Been Provided.

MALDEF and Public Counsel show unequivocal evidence that Marshall Tuck failed to adhere to the provisions of the California Education Code.

D. Failure to Provide Required Response to Waivers, to Assess Each Waiver on Its Individual Merits, or to Provide Notice of the Right to Appeal if the Waiver is Denied.

Citing numerous violations of the California Education Code, Proposition 227, and other state laws, the lawyers take Marshall Tuck and his corporate team to task for blatant law breaking. Tuck, as demonstrated above, would eliminate any program that he believed was interfering with preparation for standardized tests. Students weren't important, their test scores were. Like all neoliberal corporate education reformers, PLAS and Tuck were entirely ignorant on pedagogy. The Uniform Complaint's answer to PLAS's insistence that Dual Language Programs hurt test scores is instructive:

PLAS's response that the existing program at Ritter Elementary was not producing the desired results is insufficient. There is ample evidence in LAUSD and statewide that Dual Language Programs, when implemented by a competent school-site team, not only produce far superior results in terms of academic achievement for all participating children but result in children who can speak and write in two languages, a clear assest in our world economy, and who may also have better appreciation of cultural and linguistic differences. It was PLAS's responsibility, in keeping with its goal of creating an excellent school, to create an excellent DLP, not to abolish the existing program.

Marshall Tuck abolished the existing program.

As the Uniform Complaint document segues into the section that outlines Marshall Tuck and PLAS's ongoing violations, there's one more passage that I want to reproduce. Bear in mind that these events had been going on for over a year, and that both PLAS's executive team, headed by Chief Executive Officer Marshall Tuck, and PLAS's unelected Board of Directors had been entirely intransigent and uncooperative for that entire duration. The community, parents (and their lawyers), teachers, and everyone else tried to work in good faith with PLAS, but that good faith was not reciprocated.

Public Counsel and MALDEF expected that this year PLS would make every effort to ensure it followed state law, regulation and LAUSD policy consistently and uniformly. This appears not to have happened.

Please read the entire document to get and idea of how egregious Marshall Tuck and his cabal really were. The opening quote of this essay, reproduced from page one of the Uniform Complaint, shows exasperation with Tuck's lawlessness. Ironically, Tuck's entire campaign has centered around the abject lawsuit filed by reactionary millionaire David F. Welch. The Welch suit was designed to strip teachers of their bare modicum of protections they currently have, including their small degree of academic freedom. The suit, which used students who for the most part weren't even public school students, is being appealed, and hopefully will be overturned in its entirety. Tuck is quick to talk about the rights of students, but as it has been demonstrated, he methodically violated the civil rights of both his students and their parents on an ongoing basis.

The cretinous GOP candidate for California, a banker just like Tuck, keeps insisting (with no substantive evidence) that "Jerry Brown is betraying the children of California." Perhaps he's alluding to the two charter schools Brown has ties to. But here we have a clear, unequivocally documented case of multiple betrayals, deceptions, and malfeasance by another candidate for a different office:

Marshall Tuck betrayed parents and ignored the law!

Let's reelect State Superintendent Tom Torlakson

Smoking Gun: Marshall Tuck Violated Student and Parent Civil Rights! by Robert D. Skeels


Tom Torlakson Supports Ethnic Studies! Marshall Tuck? Well, he does that Arizona thing…

When will the age of open bigots like Marshall Tuck holding education positions end?

Tom Torlakson Supports Ethnic Studies! Marshall Tuck? Well, he does that Arizona thing…

There should be no space in education for bigots like Marshall Tuck, Tom Horne, and John Huppenthal


What do an Enron trader, oil tycoon, and Walmart heirs have in common? They're funding Marshall Tuck's campaign

What do an Enron trader, oil tycoon, and Walmart heirs have in common? They're funding Marshall Tuck's campaign


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Wall Street Banker Marshall Tuck -

Our public schools should be places where kids want to learn and teachers want to teach. Marshall Tuck has the wrong vision for California schools. He’s spent years working on Wall Street. Tuck's education is in bringing in profits on Wall Street — and so he wants to increase high-stakes testing and expand corporate charter schools. Is there any doubt Tuck will put the bottom line for his friends on Wall Street above what our kids need?


Saturday, October 18, 2014

When someone asks me "How's Law School?"

When someone asks me "How's Law School? @peoplescollolaw (img: To Aru Majutsu no Indekkusu)

Actually, there are boring classes and hellish tests that go with it.

Image: Kamijo Toma of To Aru Majutsu no Indekkusu


K12NN Wire: Marshall Tuck endorsed discredited and disgraced John Deasy

First published on K12NN Wire on October 18, 2014

Marshall Tuck endorsed discredited and disgraced John Deasy

Plagued by multiple scandals, missteps, mismanagement, and allegations of possible malfeasance, discredited and disgraced John Deasy resigned in ignominy from the post of Los Angeles Unified School District’s (LAUSD) Superintendent on October 16, 2014. Marshall Tuck, who failed miserably at both Green Dot Corporate Charters and the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, was among Deasy’s biggest cheerleaders, saying “Thrilled that L.A.U.S.D Board has decided to commit to Superintendent John Deasy through 2016” on October 29, 2013.

Marshall Tuck was “thrilled” about Deasy’s disasters including DIBELS, SAP, AGT, MiSiS, and iPadGate, all of which squandered opportunities to educate children by diverting district money to corporate coffers. What else do Marshall Tuck and John Deasy share in common besides a love of grift, and never having taught in public schools? They’re both alumni of Billionaire Eli Broad’s “academies” that train businessmen how to privatize public education for big profits.

Stop Tuck! | |

Marshall Tuck endorsed discredited and disgraced John Deasy


Schools Matter: When will the age of open bigots like Marshall Tuck holding education positions end?

First published on Schools Matter on October 16, 2014

"You give those brown kids some books about brown folks and what happens?
Those brown kids change the world." — Sherman Alexie

There should be no space in education for bigots like Marshall Tuck, Tom Horne, and John Huppenthal

California might be poised to take Arizona's crown for having an unabashed white supremacist in the position of State Superintendent of Public Instruction (SSPI). Arizona, which had back-to-back SSPI bigots in Tom Horne and John Huppenthal, apparently served as a longtime model for California based business-banker-cum-school-CEO Marshall Tuck. Horne and Huppenthal both lost their respective offices this year, but not before doing unconscionable damage to both Arizona schools, and the psyches of countless children of color.

The parallels between Eli Broad trained Tuck and the recently deposed Arizona reactionaries are striking. Take Huppenthal's stance on languages other than English:

"We all need to stomp out balkanization. No spanish radio stations, no spanish billboards, no spanish tv stations, no spanish newspapers. This is America, speak English."

Los Angeles Students and Community Protesting Marshall Tuck's racist decision to kill Ethnic Studies at Partnership for Los Angeles Schools. Photo by Robert D. Skeels.
Students Protesting Marshall Tuck's racist decision to kill Ethnic Studies. Photo by Robert D. Skeels.

Compare Huppenthal's hate speech to one of Tuck's many hostile acts against Spanish speakers when he was "CEO" of the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools (PLAS).

In the following year, we witnessed Spanish language signage on the campus disappear. Bilingual restrooms, parent center, nurses office signs were all replaced with English-only signs.

Marshall Tuck was equally responsible for removing the renowned Academic English Mastery Program (AEMP) at Ritter, a program with a nation-wide reputation for addressing the needs of Standard English Learners.

Tuck was able to accomplish in praxis the very things that Huppenthal was so keen to express in theory. In addition to these colonizers' battles against languages other than English, Tuck and his Arizona counterparts waged open war on any curricula that didn't celebrate "white supremacist capitalist patriarchy". In Arizona it was manifested as this:

Tom Horne and John Huppenthal's racist HB 2281, which, among other things, banned Ethnic Studies in Arizona schools.

In Los Angeles, it looks like this:

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.

There are certain wealthy white actors that admire how Tuck eliminated Ethnic Studies Programs. Given the growing local community movements for Ethnic Studies as a K-12 graduation requirement, Dax Shepard and Tuck's troglodyte views against these important programs are fortunately in the waning minority.

Ultimately we must remember that the Tucks, Huppenthals, and Hornes of this neoliberal era are chosen by those ruling the corporate state for a reason, and that is that they reflect the ideology of those rulers. Dr. Rodolfo Acuña writes of one such racist (Michael Hicks), who can stand in for anyone mentioned in this essay:

"He mirrors those in power who have media consultants that filter their words. They are the biggest threat to traditions of free speech that made this country different."

The names behind neoliberal corporate education reform, specifically the Broad/Gates/Walton triumvirate, are the root cause of the disease. Tuck is just a symptom. We can only hope that Californian voters see through the fortunes and lies backing him, and send him on the same path as his fellow racists Horne and Huppenthal.


@ THE CHALK FACE: Banker Marshall Tuck put student lives at risk by terminating Health Education

First published on @ THE CHALK FACE on October 15, 2014

"To reduce sexual risk behaviors and related health problems among youth, schools and other youth-serving organizations can help young people adopt lifelong attitudes and behaviors that support their health and well-being—including behaviors that reduce their risk for HIV, other STDs, and unintended pregnancy." — Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

At a time with Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) running rampant, business banker Marshall Tuck shut down all HEALTH EDUCATION classes at the schools he managed, putting students' health at serious risk. Tuck says he has a "kids first agenda," but his actions proved otherwise. When bankers run schools, students' lives take a back seat to corporate profits. Stop banker Marshall Tuck's agenda! Vote for the teacher instead.

Eli Broad-trained neoliberal operative Marshall Tuck is running for California's Superintendent of Public Instruction seat. The former Wall Street banker Tuck has never taught a day in his life, and has no background in pedagogy or child development, but he is financed by the corporate education plutocracy. Despite being the most profoundly unqualified candidate for the office, this backing by reactionary billionaires has made for the possibility of him being elected. The doting corporate media has recklessly ignored the dismal performance of the schools he managed, the astonishing remediation rates of students he claimed were "college ready," his racist shuttering of Ethnic Studies programs, and his closure of Heritage/Dual Language Programs. All in all, Tuck's record has been one of failure and bigotry.

Around this time of year in 2012, when I was running for school board at Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), a community AIDS group reached out to me and explained an urgent situation with health classes. According to them, The Partnership for Los Angeles Schools (PLAS) administration, namely Marshall Tuck, wanted to use the funds for health classes on some software project to improve math scores. I can't say for sure if that last part is accurate, but according to a Tuck quote (reproduced below) in the Los Angeles Times, there is some credence to the statement. Regardless of the exact reason, we know for fact that Tuck eliminated all health education classes from PLAS when he was their "CEO." That callous act by Tuck is not in dispute.

It's really unsurprising that business banker Marshall Tuck would deem wringing a few more Average Yearly Progress (AYP) points out of students more important than their very lives. However, I had forgotten about this whole narrative until recently when I happened upon a "California: #2 in Syphilis Cases" sign on a bus bench by my law school. It reminded my of Tuck's vacuous ‪#‎CAbytheNumbers Twitter ‬campaign where he rails against the state of California schools (not mentioning his were among the absolute worst of course). The Tuck campaign tweets banalities like: "#1 in wine production, #45 in education. CA is a great state. It's time we had great schools." Suddenly I remembered that he had shuttered all health education at PLAS, and I knew I needed to tie the concepts together. The above meme image is the result of that epiphany.

From the May 20, 2012 Los Angeles Times:

Schools also are supposed to teach such topics as nutrition, safety, mental health awareness and about drug, alcohol and tobacco abuse. But generally there's no penalty for skipping these topics, and experts believe many have long done so.

PLAS was one of a number of Los Angeles schools (mostly also privately managed charters) that dropped health classes altogether. John Deasy wanted to follow suit, but the elected LAUSD school board prevented him from doing so. PLAS has an unelected board, and hence no one to protect students and community from unilateral decisions by corporate executives like Tuck. When the Times questioned Tuck on his imprudent decision, he responded:

"Less than 10% of our kids are at grade level in math," said Marshall Tuck, head of the mayor's Partnership for Los Angeles Schools. "If you don't get them caught up early, they're going to fall further behind. All of us are forced to make really difficult decisions." [emphasis mine]

Difficult decisions indeed. Note that his vapid statement includes the focus on math scores, just like the organization that contacted me about the PLAS situation said. Bear in mind that PLAS gets millions in extra funding from right-wing billionaires like Richard Riorden, Eli Broad, et al. They could easily budget both health and math, but corporate priorities like Common Core State Standards have made it clear that students aren't the focus, only their scores are. Oddly, Tuck's priorities didn't seem to help. For example, both math and English scores declined at Tuck run Figueroa Elementary School from 2012 to 2013, after health had been jettisoned for math.

He claims school improvements, but Marshall Tuck run Figueroa ES scores DECLINED over 2012-13!

Of course, anyone actually involved in the teaching of students knows that health is a far reaching topic, something lost on investment banker Tuck and his supporters:

"Health is probably one of the only classes in the entire curriculum that is about kids," said longtime Birmingham High health teacher Wayne Sink, who's retired but still volunteers at the school. "It is all about their lives and what is going on about diet, nutrition, puberty, sexuality, dating — all those things they were going through. It's vital."

Health classes are vital. I want to conclude using the prose I wrote for the meme itself, I think it sums Marshall Tuck up quite neatly.

At a time with Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) running rampant, business banker MARSHALL TUCK SHUT DOWN ALL HEALTH EDUCATION CLASSES at the schools he managed, putting students' health at serious risk. Tuck says he has a "kids first agenda," but his actions proved otherwise. When bankers run schools, students' lives take a back seat to corporate profits. Stop banker Marshall Tuck's agenda! Vote for the teacher instead.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Network for Public Education Endorses Historic Ethnic Studies Graduation Requirement for LAUSD for LAUSD"Remember that consciousness is power" — Kochiyama Yuri

The Network for Public Education just released the following in support of ethnicstudiesnow's historic resolution to make the successful completion of an A-G approved Ethnic Studies course a high school graduation requirement in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD):

As the President and Executive Director of the Network for Public Education, we write to you today in support of access to Ethnic Studies courses for all Los Angeles high school students. As such, our Board of Directors unanimously adopted a resolution that reads as follows:

“The Network for Public Education recognizes the value and importance of Ethnic Studies courses for high school students. Well-designed ethnic studies programs have been proven to have very positive social and academic impacts. Such courses validate the myriad of cultures that exist in our country and amplify the voices of those that are often marginalized.  Ethnic Studies courses create opportunities for all students to begin to perceive cultural similarities, accept cultural differences, and to sense their position within a wider American community.  We support efforts to ensure that all students in the Los Angeles schools have access to such courses.”

The Network for Public Education is an advocacy group whose goal is to fight to protect, preserve and strengthen our public school system, an essential institution in a democratic society. Our mission is to protect, preserve, promote, and strengthen public schools and the education of current and future generations of students.


Diane Ravitch
President, Network for Public Education

Robin Hiller
Executive Director, Network for Public Education

The Network for Public Education


Monday, October 13, 2014

Ethnic Studies Rally at LAUSD 14 October 2014

Ethnic Studies Rally at LAUSD 14 October 2014


Thursday, October 09, 2014

The Trinational Coalition protesting Guerrero student murders at the Mexican Consulate in Los Angeles

The Trinational Coalition protesting Guerrero student murders at the Mexican Consulate in Los Angeles

For details on the protest and its demands, see this earlier post: Trinational to protest student murders in Guerrero on October 8th. Consider joining the Trinational Coalition in Defense of Public Education.


Please sign the petition.


Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Schools Matter: LA Times will support John Deasy so long as their customers are corporate advertisers, rather than LAUSD schoolchildren

First published on Schools Matter on October 03, 2014

I was interested in the fact that the scandal over Deasy's PhD hit the headlines at the same time he was hired by Gates. His financial connections with Robert Felner date back to his Santa Monica days — Susan Ohanian

Plutocratic priest of privatization LAUSD Superintendent John DeasyReaching dizzying heights of comedic apologetics for beleaguered Broad Superintendent Academy graduate John Deasy, the Los Angeles Times has penned daily editorials and articles pleading the public to pressure our elected school board into laying down and ignoring Deasy's latest batch of failures. Like any first year law student I've been very busy. Too busy to respond to all of their wrongheaded propaganda, but today's editorial forced me to divert my attentions. I responded thusly:

Another breathtakingly mendacious editorial by the stenographers of plutocracy—also known as the Los Angeles Times. Ignoring the vicious attacks on our elected school board members, and the poisonous vitriol towards our working class teachers this ham-fisted screed metes out, let's look at some of the lies of omission regarding the individual who was ignominiously run out of both Prince George's County and Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School Districts.

Putting aside Deasy's relationship to convicted felon Robert Felner, and the concerns regarding the irregularities of Deasy's academic credentials, here is a "greatest hits" list of Deasy's tenure at LAUSD.

  • Implemented costly and academically discredited DIBELS®, a product of a company called the Dynamic Measurement Group, which is neither State nor Federally mandated.
  • Squandered an additional $18 million on SAP consultants to fix issues that happened under his predecessors, rather than demand contract performance from original deal.
  • Spent countless millions implementing his widely discredited VAM/AGT scam, a pseudoscience that recently saw even the American Statistical Association release a scathing report about.
  • Deasy's callous and improper handling of the Miramonte scandal.
  • The MiSiS disaster, which any competent administrator would have avoided. Even the somewhat conservative AALA severely criticized Deasy's many missteps on this.
  • The unethical, improper, and possibly illegal handling of the Pearson plc and Apple Inc. contracts. The details of which could result in indictments.

Any one of these would have ousted a Superintendent, but because Deasy has Eli Broad immunity, He has been able to avoid termination, and perhaps even criminal prosecution. It's time for this reign of incompetence to end.

Dr. Cynthia Liu, of K12NN fame, had some additional Deasy "hits" that I failed to list. They are reproduced here.

Two things from K12NN if you're writing to the LA Times to urge that Deasy resign:

Examples of gross incompetence by Deasy: 4th largest CA school district Fresno USD conducted an external FCMAT tech review of their district's needs before embarking on any new purchases or upgrades. Second largest CA school district, San Diego USD, did its own year-long tech review and spoke to teachers, parents, students, IT support staff, other school staff, and administrators about the technology strategic plan, then used a specific tech bond to fund the rollout.

The Los Angeles Times keeps insisting their obsequious support for Deasy is based on "his sense of urgency". There's a word for urgency without intelligence, reasonableness, or forethought — that word is recklessness. The last thing our school district needs is an individual whose recklessness remains unabated and unchecked. Deasy needs to resign. Now.

Plutocratic priest of privatization LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy


Trinational to protest student murders in Guerrero on October 8th

Trinational to protest student murders in Guerrero on October 8th

The Trinational Coalition for the Defense of Public Education protest of student murders in Guerrero
Wednesday, October 8, 2014 at 4:00pm
Mexican Consulate
2401 W. 6th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90057

There will be nationwide protest in Mexico about the murders and disappearance of the normalistas (students at teacher training college) in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, this Wednesday, October 8th starting at 4:00 pm Mexico City time. In Mexico, most protesters will be wearing black. The US section of the Trinational is asking that you protest at the nearest Mexican consulate or interest section to where you live. In Los Angeles, we will go to the consulate around 4:00pm. The address is: 2401 West 6th Street, Los Angeles, 90057. It’s right across from McArthur Park and the cross street is Parkview. It can be reached by the red and purple metro lines.

I’m attaching a fact sheet and a copy of the letter that the Trinational(all 3 countries) is sending which you can use as a rubric for a letter that you, your organization or union can send. The teachers unions in Ontario and British Columbia are sending letters and 3 officers from CTU have signed the Trinational letter. You can also go to the Trinational Coalition to Defend Public Education USA group for more in formation from Mexico; mostly in Spanish, some in English. Also Al Jazeera and TeleSur in english as well.

Here are the demands that are being used in Mexico:

  1. Presentación con vida de los 43 estudiantes normalistas desaparecidos.
  2. Destitución y castigo al gobernador de Guerrero Angel Aguirre y al presidente municipal de Iguala, José Luis Abarca Velázquez por su responsabilidad en el asesinato y desaparición de los estudiantes normalistas.
  3. Condenamos la  complicidad y tolerancia del gobierno de Enrique Peña Nieto con los grupos paramilitares que actúan impunemente asesinando luchadores sociales.
  4. Alto a la represión al magisterio democrático y al pueblo de México. Libertad a los presos políticos.
  5. Vivos se lo llevaron, vivos los queremos.

Rough translation:

  1. Return the 43 Normal students alive
  2. Remove and punish Angel Aguirre, the Governor of Gurrero, and Jose Luis Abarca Velazquez, the municipal president of Iguala, for their responsibility in the murder and disappearance of the normalista students
  3. We condemn the complicity and tolerance of the Enrique Peña Nieto government with the paramilitary groups that murdered the social activists with impunity
  4. Stop the repression of democratic teachers and the Mexican people. Free the political prisoners.
  5. They were taken alive, we want them alive! OR They were taken alive, we want them back alive!

It still has not been officially proven that the disappeared students are dead, so the demand is to return them alive.

In solidarity,

Accion Urgente Estudiantes Mexico Trinational to protest student murders in Guerrero on October 8th by Robert D. Skeels

UPDATE: There's a petition now.