Thursday, August 28, 2014

Schools Los Angeles Students Deserve (SLASD) August General Assembly

Schools Los Angeles Students Deserve (SLASD)

Schools Los Angeles Students Deserve (SLASD) General Assembly

Thursday, August 28, 2014
Southern California Library
6120 S. Vermont Ave, Los Angeles CA 90044

SLASD five focal areas (the first four are part of the proposed School Board Motion):

  1. Offer critical thinking and creative classes like art and ethnic studies instead of test prep classes
  2. Provide support staff and services for students - nurses and college counselors
  3. End all school destabilizations like reconstitutions
  4. Develop a real community-driven budget for the district
  5. Implement real community-driven Transformative Justice (not punishments and criminalization) in schools


Saturday, August 23, 2014

UTLA Bilingual Education Committee PSA: LAU V. NICHOLS

40th Anniversary of the Supreme Court Decision on Rights of Linguistic Minorities by Robert D. Skeels

40th Anniversary of the Supreme Court Decision on Rights of Linguistic Minorities

In 1974, the attorneys for Kenny Lau and 1800 Chinese speaking students sued the San Francisco School District on the grounds that these students were not receiving equal access to an education by virtue of their inability to comprehend English. The unanimous decision of the US Supreme Court - "Under state-imposed standards there is no equality of treatment merely by providing students with the same facilities, textbooks, teachers, and curriculum; for students who do not understand English are effectively foreclosed from any meaningful education. Basic English skills are at the very core of what these public schools teach. Imposition of a requirement that, before a child can effectively participate in the educational program, he must already have acquired those basic skills is to make a mockery of public education. We know that those who do not understand English are certain to find their classroom experiences wholly incomprehensible and in no way meaningful."

The attorney for Kenny Lau and 1800 Chinese students in San Francisco successfully argued that "Taking people who are the same and treating them differently is one type of discrimination but taking people who are different and treating them the same, is subtler, but, is equally discriminating."

Language Rights are Civil Rights protected by the 14th amendment to the US Constitution

UTLA Bilingual Education Committee PSA: LAU V. NICHOLS


K12NN Wire: Marshall Tuck run schools SAT scores remained flat, some even declined

First published on K12NN Wire on August 22, 2014

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

Marshall Tuck's campaign literature claims "Marshall has run two of California's most innovative school systems, improving… student achievement levels in tough neighborhoods" However, achievement data from the schools he ran at both Green Dot Charter Corporation and Partnership for Los Angeles Schools gives lie to Tuck's latest outrageous claim.

Marshall Tuck run schools SAT scores remained flat, and some even declined

The following excerpt from Marshall Tuck’s Legacy of Bigotry and Failure further illuminates the major issues with SAT and remediation rates at Tuck run schools:

Animo Inglewood Charter High School’s SAT scores under Tuck bear out the dismal showing on the CSU proficiency exams. Cohorts that would have started as Freshmen under Tuck (i.e. years 2002 though 2007) and taking their SAT in the Junior years would span from 2004 to 2010. Here are the Average SAT Composite (Verbal/Math/Writing) scores from 2005 to 2011: 1,153, 1,215, 1,267, 1,172, 1,199, and 1,290. Not once during that span did the percentage of students scoring at least 1,500 ever exceed 19.6 percent. 1,500 is considered the minimum threshold for college readiness. As a frame of reference, the SAT Composite Average for Freshmen accepted to UCLA was 2,052. Again, none of this is to blame or disparage the hard work of those students, but instead to expose Tuck and his ilk’s lies about college readiness.

Having to take remedial high school courses after arriving at the university is also very demoralizing for students. Many end up dropping out. The California State University tracks the number of matriculates that make it to their second year. Tuck’s Animo Inglewood Charter students had a CSU drop out rate of 55 percent in 2008. That same year saw the Tuck managed Animo Leadership Charter students drop out from the CSU at a staggering 68 percent! A former Green Dot Los Angeles Parents Union (later Parent Revolution) staffer told me a number of very sad stories about how he got to know several Green Dot students that served as interns under him before graduating high school.

It's time to "get the Tuck out" of education.


K12NN Wire: John Deasy’s MiSiS cRiSiS shocks LAUSD’s conscience

First published on K12NN Wire on August 17, 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

The LAUSD MiSiS cRiSiS is Deasy’s Disaster.

Los Angeles Unified School District's (LAUSD) Superintendent John Deasy's job was to insure that the My Integrated Student Information System (MiSiS) would be ready for roll out when the school year began. But instead of doing his job, he was "busy" testifying on behalf of right-wing millionaire David F. Welch against his own school district and stabbing the education professionals he is supposed to collaborate with in the back with his outrageous lies on the witness stand. That is, of course, when he wasn't pushing his failed Pearson, PLC Common Core iPad plan, and using District 3 Board Member Tamar Galatzan as a proxy to attack reasonable taxpayer oversight in the person of Stuart Magruder.

Let no one say that Deasy isn't earning every penny of his $.36-Million salary when attending lavish buffets with the likes of United Way of Greater Los Angeles' Elise Buik and the board members of Welch's Students Matter. Any man with a limousine driver is far too important to do his actual work, even if not doing it means throwing the entire district into chaos. Surprisingly, the Deasy sycophants in the corporate media like the Daily News are chronicling his latest epic failure: LAUSD in crisis over its new MiSiS computer system. Maybe he'll get some praise for his MiSiS mishandling on his fellow LA Fund board member Jamie Alter-Lynton's blog, but in the reality based world such Fox-News-like spin is of little value.

It's more than likely that in his accustomed fashion Deasy will try to blame his latest boondoggle on others. After all, this is the same Superintendent who deceitfully (along with opportunist Mark Ridley Thomas and erstwhile Board candidate Alex Johnson) tried to blame Beaudry's Mark Berndt coverup on Dr. George McKenna, despite the hard fact of those events happening long before McKenna was on the scene. This is the same Superintendent who pinned the Pearson iPad flap on Dr. Jaime Aquino, and then cried crocodile tears when his subordinate ended up resigning in disgrace. So who will Deasy blame his MiSiS cRiSiS on? Perhaps that's why Deasy's second staunchest supporter on the board, Tamar Galatzan, was quick to try and abdicate any responsibility for holding John Deasy accountable. One of her opponents in the upcoming election for the LAUSD District 3 seat astutely pointed out that if it isn't in Galatzan's job to hold the man she championed to be hired accountable, then whose is it?

However, when discussing MiSiS we need to squarely put the blame where it belongs — on Deasy. The Greeks have an idiom about how the "fish rots from the head." Instead of testifying for forces sworn to destroy public education, Deasy should have been earning his staggering salary by doing his job! The MiSiS cRiSiS is Deasy's Disaster.

Broad Superintendent Academy graduate John Deasy never taught at a public school, but he was an executive for the Gates Foundation.


Schools Matter: Marshall Tuck's staunchest supporters are unabashed Ayn Rand votaries

First published on Schools Matter on August 23, 2014

"There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs." — John Rogers

I'm frequently accused of hyperbole. The charge might merit some consideration in a context other than the struggle against neoliberal corporate education reform. The truth is that these reformers often exceed my imagination for absurdity. Here's an example to file in the truth is stranger than fiction section. Consider the following tweet shilling for Eli Broad's Urban Residency graduate Marshall Tuck (who favorited the tweet, by the way):

I'm not sure if I had seen Davidson's or his organization's names on, or if it was the melodramatic "the nation is watching" that raised a red flag, but I decided to dig a little more. Within seconds on their site, while fighting through the revulsion of seeing arch-reactionary buzzwords like "meritocracy," "entrepreneurship," "competition," and "individual responsibility," I noticed a pull quote on the lower left, just under the menus. A noxious quote from libertarian fantasy writer Ayn Rand.

A noxious quote from libertarian fantasy writer Ayn Rand

Gen Next's "Core Issue Education" tab reveals the prototypical neoliberal corporate education reform program, ending with this disgusting jingoistic gem: "it is imperative that we produce students who are prepared to compete in a global economy and ultimately help maintain U.S. dominance in the 21st century." If that's one's starting point for the purpose of education, it's no wonder that they — like Tuck — get every single issue wrong.

I recently wrote about how one of Tuck's fellow Broad Urban Residency alumni, Dan Chang, has recently begun funding Tuck with the SuperPAC he started originally to fund erstwhile Los Angeles Unified School District candidate Alex "ALEC" Johnson. Chang, who fought vigorously against the changing of Green Dot Charter School Corporation's program of indoctrinating students in "a belief in the values of democracy and capitalism," also suffers from that problem that most right-wingers have — a difficulty understanding that their heroes John Galt and Howard Rourke are fictional characters (and loathsome ones at that).

Many of Tuck's "true believers" are self-absorbed Silicon Valley tech industry types. Ann Friedman profiles their type, and also makes the Ayn Rand connection:

"The tech world presents an interesting case study. While some big employers and conferences could institute bro-deterring policies, it’s more like a culture than a corporation. It’s got a widely acknowledged race and gender problem: The Titstare dust-up is just the latest example in a series of sexist incidents. And, like so many college dudes who totally dug The Fountainhead, tech leaders tend to share a belief our culture is a meritocracy and that caring about diversity is antithetical to producing good work — which means that the industry’s bro problem is self-perpetuating. “The Valley,” said Gawker editor John Cook in a recent Times piece about the blog Valleywag, “is a target-rich environment for someone who is looking to expose profligacy, ego and self-regard.” All hallmarks of bro culture."

Amusingly, Davidson's attributing "real leadership on education in CA" to Tuck is actually more chimerical than the fanciful heroes of Rand's trashy novels. At the end of the day Rand, despite all her railing against collectivism, took both Medicare and Social Security payments, since she couldn't live on her right-wing fantasies. Tuck, Chang, and Davidson would do well to learn from their idol's humbling lesson.

The late Gore Vidal once wrote "Ayn Rand's "philosophy" is nearly perfect in its immorality…" We might say that neoliberal corporate education reform is just as perfect in its immorality as well.


Thursday, August 21, 2014

We want legalization for all!


Join us on Saturday, August 23 at the Salesian Family & Youth Center to demand LEGALIZATION FOR ALL! This event will feature speakers specialized in organizing to promote migrant rights and the struggle for equality for Central Americans and self determination in the Chicana/o struggle. Event is free. Food, music, will be available! Come out to this community forum to discover the ways YOU can become part of this movement!

RSVP here: Facebook Event


SKrashen: Opposition to the common core

SKrashen: Opposition to the common coreSent to the Washington Post, August 20, 2014

The Post has reported that according to a recent PDK/Gallup poll, the "Common Core educational standards are losing support nationwide" (August 19). The poll asked those opposed to the Common Core why they were opposed, giving them several possible reasons.

The options did not include the reasons many educators oppose the Common Core: There is no need for a radical change in curriculum or testing. Substantial improvement will come only when we deal with the real problem: Poverty. When researchers control for the effect of poverty, American test scores are near the top of the world. Our unspectacular overall scores are because the US has the second highest level of child poverty among all 34 economically advanced countries (now over 23%, compared to high-scoring Finland’s 5.4%). 
Poverty means poor nutrition, inadequate health care, and lack of access to books, among other things. All of these negatively impact school performance.  Instead of protecting children from the effect of poverty, the common core is investing billions in an untested curriculum and massive testing, despite research showing that increasing testing does not increase  achievement.

Stephen Krashen
Professor Emeritus
University of Southern California

original article:


Monday, August 18, 2014

Robert D. Skeels guest appearance on MPC Presents The Blk Grrrl Show! 08-14-14

Be sure to watch the whole show, I speak truth to power from the 5:45 to 34:15 marks. Host Teka Lark Fleming had us discussing the recent LAUSD District 1 election. I mention 2014 LAUSD Special Election third place finisher Sherlett Hendy Newbill's brave defense of Dorsey High School from the privatizers, and the Honorable José Lara's Ethnic Studies resolution in ERUSD. We tackled a range of topics regarding neoliberal corporate edreform, and the resistance against it.

Her other guest, artist Lili Bernard, was so compelling, that I sat in the studio to watch her interview. I have high hopes that this show will continue to speak truth to power and educate the community.


40th Anniversary of Lau v. Nichols Decision: A National Conference on the Rights of Linguistic Minorities

40th Anniversary of Lau v. Nichols Decision: A National Conference on the Rights of Linguistic Minorities

40th Anniversary of Lau v. Nichols Decision: A National Conference on the Rights of Linguistic Minorities

40th Anniversary of the Supreme Court Decision on Rights of Linguistic Minorities by Robert D. Skeels


Sunday, August 17, 2014

K12NN Wire: Dan Chang’s dark money SuperPAC now switches to funding Marshall Tuck

First published on K12NN Wire on August 15, 2014

"We have our cake, and are eating it too." — Eli Broad

Dan Chang's SuperPAC, formed to support erstwhile LAUSD candidate Alex "ALEC" Johnson, is now funding a new astroturf group to get his fellow Broad Urban Residency alum, Marshall Tuck, elected to the California State Superintendent of Public Instruction seat. Using the wonderful astroturf name "Parents for Marshall Tuck", we can be sure that no authentic parents are running the Independent Expenditure (IE) funded by Chang's Great Public Schools Los Angeles PAC. The new astroturf group's twitter is, you can access their website from there.

Corporatists Dan Chang and Marshall Tuck
Broad Urban Residency graduates Dan Chang and Marshall Tuck combined have zero hours experience teaching in a public school classroom."


K12NN Wire: Alex Johnson, who ducked my interview and at least six candidate forums, asks why Dr. McKenna won't respond to the Deasy School Report?

First published on K12NN Wire on August 11, 2014

He has dodged multiple requests for policy positions, undoubtably because he is a hand puppet for the neoliberal corporate education reformers. — Robert D. Skeels

Neoliberal corporate education reform candidate for Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Alex Johnson holds a Juris Doctor, while I am merely a first year law student. That said, I've already learned that one doesn't respond to factual evidence with spurious rumors and outright lies. Johnson somehow never learned that lesson. To wit, in response to my carefully documented list of his recent donors, Johnson made the mendaciousness and shameless claim that the Reverend Jesse Jackson took money to endorse Dr. George McKenna.

Learning nothing from that experience, Johnson responded to the viral article calling him out on his Jackson lie by implying that Dr. McKenna refuses to go on record with his stances on issues:

Absurd on its face, Johnson's latest statement is problematic in several regards. First, Johnson is not really in a position to talk. I spent roughly ninety days calling, emailing, and tweeting to Johnson, pleading for an opportunity to interview him on his policy positions. The opening quote in this essay is the result of those efforts. Moreover, Johnson missed no less than six community forums during the primary election, including:

April 14, New Frontier Democratic Club
DWP Community Room
April 19, Committee For New South LA
West Adams Church
May 8, Black Parent Union
Betty Hill Senior Center
May 12, California Community of Elders, reparations United, council of Black Political Organizations and ACCE Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment
Vision Theatre
May 15, Dr. MLK Cultural Committee
Holly Park Center Gardena
May 19, South Los Angeles Area Neighborhood Council
Angeles Mesa Elementary School

The one forum I did see him at (USC), all he could manage to do is spout meaningless platitudes and parrot California Charter School Association talking points. He sounded vapid and vacuous, as do most school board candidates lacking pedagogical backgrounds; candidates who view LAUSD as a stepping stone to higher office.

Jamie Alter-Lynton's Deasy (LA) School Report
Jamie Alter-Lynton's blog byline should read "what Deasy wants you to think is really going on in LAUSD"

The second issue is that the link in Johnson's tweet is to the notorious Deasy School Report*, an anti-public education blog created by Jamie Alter-Lynton, a wealthy reactionary who sits as a board member on Superintendent John Deasy's LA Fund slush 501c3. Alter-Lynton, sibling of corrupt charter cheerleader Jonathan Alter, practices Breitbart style "journalism" — feeling that outlets like the LA Times and LA Daily News weren't planted in the the neoliberal corporate reform camp firmly enough. Her Ayn Rand leaning views on the public sector are second to her almost maniacal hatred of working class schoolteachers. One can really gauge Alter-Lynton by her letting go of both Alexander Russo and Hillel Aron. Neither of those writers would ever be accused of supporting public schools or saying anything positive about teachers, but they weren't willing to pursue the white whale with Alter-Lynton's Ahab-like vengeance.

The distinguished Dr. George McKenna owes nothing to Alex Johnson, the Deasy School Report, or Jamie Alter-Lynton. He is right not to respond to her constant badgering and attention seeking. The best thing we could all do is allow Alter-Lynton's me-too-reformer blog die a deserved death of obscurity by not visiting or linking to it.

* Properly "LA School Report," but most activists don't call it by that very misleading name.


Appearing today on Dr. James Miller's The War Report on Public Education

Sunday, August 17, 2014 at 14:00 (2:00PM)
The War Report on Public Education
Host: Dr. James Miller
Guests: Karen Wolfe and Robert D. Skeels

We'll be discussing the results of the LAUSD Special Election held on August 12, 2014. Highly regarded professional educator Dr. George McKenna won despite being attacked and outspent by anti-public school billionaires and charter industry moguls.

The War Report on Public Education!


Thursday, August 14, 2014

AALA: George McKenna, AALA-Supported Board Candidate, Wins Election!

Reprinted from AALA Update on August 18, 2014

AALA extends congratulations to Dr. George McKenna on his election to become the Board of Education Member representing District 1. Dr. McKenna is filling the seat that has been vacant since the death of Marguerite LaMotte in December 2013. This marks the fifth AALA-endorsed candidate to win a seat on the LAUSD Board. Dr. McKenna joins fellow AALA- supported colleagues Bennett Kayser, Mónica Ratliff, Dr. Richard Vladovic and Steve Zimmer.

In an election that pitted a veteran educator against an inexperienced politician, with only eight percent of those eligible voting, it is noteworthy that the deep pockets/outside interests were again unsuccessful in their bid to control the outcome. This is, fortunately, becoming a trend in the LAUSD Board of Education races. So-called education reformers and charter school advocates from around the country have poured millions of dollars into these local campaigns in an effort to privatize the second largest school district in the country. It is a testament to the influence of local administrators, teachers, other employees and community groups that voters were not swayed by all of the glossy, negative campaign material distributed by Dr. McKenna’s opponent.

It is unfortunate that young, inexperienced political aspirants are being used to further the interests of corporate reformers. We have seen this in the last three Board elections, most notably, with the election of AALA-supported Mónica Ratliff and Steve Zimmer, who were both opposed by candidates who had little experience or knowledge, but lots of money from Independent Expenditure Campaigns. In this current election, George McKenna spent about one-fourth of the amount that his opponent expended, yet he was able to maintain nearly the same solid showing that was garnered in the primary. Let this be a lesson that the voters of Los Angeles will not succumb to the smear campaigning that is fueled by donations from those who do not live in the community, have no children in the schools and no vested interest in improving the lives of the students of LAUSD.

Dr. McKenna will immediately assume his position on the Board of Education, while at the same time begin a campaign for reelection in the spring. We look forward to working with him and know that he will be a voice for the students, parents and employees of the District. As we begin a new school year, we are pleased that Mrs. LaMotte’s seat at the Board table will now be filled. The new Local Control Funding Formula has brought additional revenue to the District, as well as more accountability. The expenditure of the new funds must be scrutinized and used for the children it is supposed to target. We must not only focus on their instruction, but also their safety and well-being. AALA continues to seek a reduction in administrators’ cumbersome workload, including the time-consuming teacher evaluation system currently in place. Stringent oversight of the Common Core Technology Project and the implementation of the MiSiS data system are needed as both initiatives move forward. We know that Dr. McKenna will hit the ground running. We welcome him back and look forward to working with him.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

RIP my dear friend Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte, we defended your students from profiteers!

RIP my dear friend Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte

I was crying during Congresswoman Maxine Waters' speech on Monday night. She was so right when she said that she and so many other people let the late, Honorable Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte down. LaMotte alone stood against the so-called Public School Choice (PSC) resolution and other vile privatization movidas. LaMotte alone took on poverty pimps Yolie Flores-Aguilar and Monica Garcia when they had to unmitigated gall to stand with that monster Maria Casillas and lie about UTLA. I always had LaMotte's back. I always sent her vital information to fight against the privatization pushers. Tonight we defended her legacy!

¡Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte, Presenté!


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Alex Johnson told KNBC's Conan Nolan that he would conduct himself on the LAUSD Board the same way he ran his campaign. In other words…

Alex Johnson told KNBC's Conan Nolan that he would conduct himself on the LAUSD Board the same way he ran his campaign. In other words…

"Our community has never witnessed an outrageous smear campaign against a candidate such as the Alex Johnson Campaign is waging" (Congresswoman Maxine Waters)

"Johnson… is employing unconscionable smear tactics" (Larry Aubry, The Los Angeles Sentinel, 25 Jul 2014)

"nastiest smear campaign money can buy" (Betty Pleasant, CityWatch, 22 Jul 2014)

"suggests naivete about what it takes to significantly improve perpetually struggling schools" (Sandy Banks, LA Times, 25 Jul 2014)

"characterization also is misleading" (Howard Blume LA Times 3 Aug 2014)

"Alex Johnson… and the charter schools along with their billionaire puppet masters are really saying is we have to hurt the children to protect the children." (Celes King IV, CityWatch, 20 Dec 2013)

"scurrilous" (Jim Newton, LA Times, 27 Jul 2014)

"Alex Johnson… taken a page right of the Republican play book" (Earl Ofari Hutchinson, The Hutchinson Report News, 29 Jul 2014)

"There's a word to describe this type of dirty campaigning: SHAMEFUL!"  (Danny J. Bakewell, Jr., The Los Angeles Sentinel, 24 Jul 2014)

"Alex Johnson and some of his backers has distracted attention" (Howard Blume LA Times 3 Aug 2014)

"wildly out of context" (Jim Newton, LA Times, 27 Jul 2014)

"smear by the Johnson camp" (Dianne Lawrence, The Neighborhood News Online, 3 Aug 2014)

"constant stream of mendaciousness and shameless from Alex Johnson" (Robert D. Skeels, solidaridad, 10 Aug 2014)


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Schools Matter: Vile opportunist Alex Johnson's shameless accusations of paid Rev. Jesse Jackson endorsements

First published on Schools Matter on August 10, 2014

I would say Marguerite is turning in her grave, but her family hasn't even had time to bury her before the very forces she fought against on the Board and political opportunists are seeking to harm the schools and children she fought so passionately to protect. — Celes King IV

Alex Johnson's latest lie libels Rev. Jesse Jackson, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, and Dr. George McKenna

Tuesday, August 12, 2014 there is a special election in Los Angeles. It is critical in that it is for the District 1 board seat on the nation's second largest school system, Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). As the runner up in the 2013 LAUSD District 2 election, I reached out multiple times to the Alex Johnson Campaign early on — only to be ignored. The idea of the plutocrat class (read Eli Broad et al) installing another one of their rubber-stamp policy makers is of grave concern. I wrote this about Johnson back in mid-April:

He has dodged multiple requests for policy positions, undoubtably because he is a hand puppet for the neoliberal corporate education reformers.

After months of his stonewalling, I received a pair of tweets from the official Alex Johnson Campaign account the weekend before the election. Here is the tweet of interest:

I don't know which is more revolting and repugnant: Alex Johnson's continued besmirching of Dr. George McKenna, or his vile statement that civil rights luminary and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, would take money to endorse. Either way, libel of this magnitude is breathtaking.

While I was focused on Johnson's ongoing smearing of Dr. McKenna, it was my fellow education activist Ingrid Villeda that astutely pointed out the implications of the latter issue. Moreover, in plumbing all new despicable depths, Johnson is attacking Congresswomen Maxine Waters, who sponsored a community celebration with both McKenna and Jackson.

The constant stream of mendaciousness and shameless from Alex Johnson's camp has been covered by numerous Los Angeles media outlets. Notably, even anti-public school hack Jim Newton of the Los Angeles Times took issue with with Johnson's lies calling out a "scurrilous piece of mail" sent by his supporters. Neoliberal corporate education reformers really have to be beyond the pale to earn a scolding from Newton.

I've written a number of exposés on Johnson over the past months, but I have an inkling that the last piece in this list is what really irked them into responding.

Given Johnson's aversion to truth, it's no wonder he reacted the way he did. Let's hope the the huge charter and plutocrat funding that both Johnson and his backer, Mark Ridley Thomas, have behind them doesn't fool the voters in LAUSD District 1. Johnson's vicious attacks on Jesse Jackson, Maxine Waters, and George McKenna are reprehensible!

UPDATE: it looks like the Johnson campaign is beginning to delete all of their vicious accusations. It's clear his ZERO integrity matches well with his ZERO background in education policy and pedagogy. H/T to the Daily News reporter for catching this.


Friday, August 08, 2014

Join Congresswoman Karen Bass at a fundraiser for Dr. George McKenna for LAUSD

August 10, 2014 Dr. George McKenna Fundraiser (with Guest Congresswoman Karen Bass) by Robert D. Skeels


This Thursday I'm a guest on MP Chronicle's The Blk Grrrl Show! Talking LAUSD elections

MP Chronicle's The Blk Grrrl Show!

Thursday, August 14, 2014 at 19:00 (7:00PM)
MP Chronicle's The Blk Grrrl Show!
Host: Teka-Lark Fleming
Guests: Lili Bernard and Robert D. Skeels

The Blk Grrrl Show talks to Robert D. Skeels about the future of public education. Are charters just trying to help or are they trying to break one of America's few universal supports and we'll talk about the results of the LAUSD D1 Election! We'll also being speaking to Lili Bernard about about Kara Walker's work 'A Subtlety’ when race and gender is the topic is the artist responsible to explain their work? And who are these artistic critiques for?


K12NN Wire: Is there any billionaire, charter profiteer, poverty pimp, or right-wing ideologue that Alex Johnson won’t take money from?

First published on K12NN Wire on August 8, 2014

In calling for a special election, what Mark Ridley-Thomas, Alex Johnson, Rev. Tulloss, Corri Revere, and the charter schools along with their billionaire puppet masters are really saying is we have to hurt the children to protect the children.—Celes King IV

Poverty pimp Alex Johnson puts profits before pupilsWe've looked at some of Alex "ALEC" Johnson's funders during the primary election in The case against Alex Johnson. We looked at one of his prominent Independent Expenditures (IE) in Alex Johnson's corporate SuperPAC run by Eli Broad's Dan "students must pledge to capitalism" Chang. The latter article is even more important when we read that reactionary anti-public school operative Michelle Rhee and her right-wing funded "Students First" political organization donated dark money directly to Chang's SuperPAC for Johnson:

We've also collected together a compendium of articles about Johnson vicious smear campaign of lies against the distinguished Dr. George McKenna.

Here we will look at a few of his financial contributors in this round of fundraising.

This was the Caprice Young contribution. While she herself is extremely problematic, the fact that she's working for the right-wing Laura and John Arnold Foundation was even more tantalizing. Arnold was the hedge fund manager who walked away with billions during the Enron scandal. The reactionary couple use the money to forward their extremist policies of union busting, pension looting, and school privatization. The Arnolds were exposed by journalist David Sirota. Their foundation has made direct contributions to the Independent Expenditures (IE) supporting Johnson.

Megan Chernin works as the President/Chair of John Deasy's LA Fund 501c3 NPIC, and is a board member on the beleaguered LA's Promise EMO. That her and four other family members were each in for $1,100 contours the class issues of fundraising for LAUSD elections. There's also persistent rumors that she is a high-ranking Scientologist (OT7), which (if true) would explain why she's able to land Tom Cruise every year for her EMO's gala fundraiser.

People forget that Eli Broad got tens, perhaps hundreds, of millions of dollars in Troubled Asset Relief Funds (TARP) during the 2008 bank bailouts for his preferred stock in AIG. The exact figure is unknown since TARP accounting was kept secret from the public. Nevertheless, he's been able to use taxpayer money to fund his efforts to privatize and corporatize schools.

Paying herself a whopping $270K in taxpayer money a year, Vielka Macfarlane is the vile woman who, in collaboration with Ben Austin, made a failed attempt to pull the so-called "Parent Trigger" on McKinley Elementary School in order to increase her charter chain's market share. Moreover, she's the monster who fired teachers for reading a poem about the death of Emmett Till—she and her administrators claimed that Till deserved it. "We don't want to focus on how the history of the country has been checkered but on how do we dress for success..." — historical revisionist and Celerity CEO Vielka McFarlane on why she insists on hiding the history of Emmett Till's brutal murder at the hands of white supremacists.

I was sent this list of folks headlining Johnson's next two fundraisers. Aside from the fact that most are well heeled oligarchs, it's amazing how the executives of the lucrative charter school industry will go to any length to try and secure a board member who will keep the revenues flowing. The late Celes King IV's observation that "Not even before Marguerite’s body was cold, the California Charter School Association was busy lobbying for a special election" was sadly just a precursor to the astonishing greed the corporate charter school sector has shown throughout this election.

Allison Bajracharya California Charter Schools Association
Andrew Bogen Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher, firm that does pro-bono for much corporate edrefom
Judy Burton CEO of Alliance Charter Corporation
Danny / Zoe Corwin California Charter Schools Association / USC Rossier edreform
James Dwyer
Philip Farha
Glenn Gritzner Anti-public school activist with direct ties to school privatizer Fabian Núñez
Samantha Martinez
Marco Petruzzi CEO of Green Dot Charter Corporation
Ref Rodriguez Charter school developer with PUC Corporation
Rich and Rachel Rogers
Lindsay Sturman and Ben Paul
Ron Stone
Gene Straub
Irene Sumida Fenton Avenue Corporate Charter School
Ann Wexler
Caprice Young CORO, corporate reformer, former LAUSD Board member, currently with the Laura and John Arnold Foundation
Megan and Peter Chernin President/Chair of Deasy's LA Fund and also on LA's Promise board
Virginia and Austin Beutner Billionaire who ran for mayor, anti-public school activists
Carol and Frank Biondi
Rebecca and Troy Carter
Leah and Sam Fischer Financial supporters of the Gabriella Charter Corporation
Areva Martin Charter school industry

We need a board member who will represent everyone, not just the financial interests of the charter school sector and the ideology of the 1%. We need Dr. George McKenna!


Schools Matter: Odds and Ends, first week of August 2014

First published on LA Schools Matter on August 05, 2014

The main difference between the Gates Foundation funded Common Core and Dr. Maria Montessori's method is this: Montessori did not create educational theories and then try them out on children. She did the opposite. — Jeffrey Katz

It's been a very busy summer. Here in Los Angeles we're faced with a Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) school board special election to replace my dear friend, the late Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte. I've been super busy working on the campaign to elect Dr. George McKenna, working on projects around the house, and preparing for my first semester of law school — which starts in a couple of weeks. The LAUSD race is critical, the billionaires have spent millions and brought in Michelle Rhee to support neoliberal corporate reform candidate Alex Johnson.

Feedback on SAS VAM piece

Got a great email from a reader on the Value-Added Modeling (VAM) is pseudoscience, but profitable pseudosciences persist piece. They asked to remain anonymous:

Dear Mr. Skeels,

I enjoyed your post on VAM and SAS. You might want to refute this bogus claim from SAS you quoted:

Another way to see this is that the most important factor of "current" test scores is prior tests scores and, once enough prior test scores are included in the model, the socioeconomic/demographic factors become relatively small or even non-significant, despite enormous sample sizes.

Bruce Baker does a good job of debunking this claim. I've found the same is true for [REDACTED] version of EVAAS.

ed®eformers confused as to why there aren't more teachers

Paul Bruno is a big neoliberal corporate reform cheerleader. In a post trying to scold the AFT for not supporting the reactionary edTPA test initiative, he ponders why teaching should be more, or less, professional than that of fields like medicine or law. He decries things that "complicate any efforts to reduce the profession's attractiveness or to throw up additional barriers to entry" without any sense of irony.

I let Mr. Bruno know what I saw as barriers to entry:

Last spring I had to decide between pursuing a teaching credential versus attending law school. For the former, the idea of having to complete nearly the same amount of coursework as a masters degree for a job that pays considerably less was still palatable, but Common Core and Vergara made the decision easy for me.

At least as an attorney I can go after corrupt charter school chains that discriminate against special needs students.

Corporate reformers dominating university discourse

When I found out that UCLA was hosting an event featuring poverty pimps from Green Dot Charter Corporation and their spinoff Nonprofit Industrial Complex (NPIC), Parent Revolution, I was appalled.

I'm so angry my Alma Mater is allowing these poverty pimps from Green Dot Corporation and their hideous pRev spin off do a ‪#‎NPIC‬ cheer-leading event. You too can use your degree to help privatize the remainder of the public school system at the behest of Eli Broad and Bill Gates. We can do better ‪#‎UCLA‬

I wrote on the page itself.

I'm a Life UCLA Alumni member (UCLA 2014), who has spent two decades documenting how many of these so-called nonprofits carry out the agenda of their funders. To wit, this event features two members of the school privatization project. Progressive minded Bruins might want to read this before attending the event: The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex

I have a prior commitment, so I won't be able to attend the event. If I could, I would pass out this FAQ on Parent Revolution, and the privately managed charter corporation they were spun off from—Green Dot.

Parent Revolution, Parent Trigger, and School Privatization FAQ by Robert D. Skeels


Thursday, August 07, 2014

AALA: McKenna attacked by outside political interests and a smear campaign

Reprinted from AALA Update on July 28, 2014

As the race for the District 1 seat on the LAUSD Board of Education enters its final days, AALA-endorsed candidate Dr. George McKenna is continuing to garner more endorsements (Monica Ratliff, CSEA Chapter 500, California Title 1 Parent Union, LA School Police Association) while his opponent has resorted to a smear campaign. On the day that the Los Angeles Times printed another editorial supporting Dr. McKenna, in a show of desperation, the opposing side sent out a distorted letter misrepresenting Dr. McKenna's character and leadership. While the McKenna campaign has focused on his experience, strengths, leadership and knowledge, the opponent can only respond with attacks and negativity.

The Times also reported that a new political action committee has formed to influence the outcome of the election. It is called the Great Public Schools Los Angeles Political Action Committee and is headed by Dan Chang who was the executive director of LA Fund, the nonprofit created by Superintendent Deasy to support LAUSD, as well as an executive with Green Dot and L.A.'s Promise. Clearly, this is another attempt by outside interests and charter schools to get an even stronger foothold into the District.

CSEA Chapter 500 recently endorsed Dr. McKenna and its president, Linda Perez, sent an appeal to her members and leaders of other organizations saying:

...I must also tell you that I was Dr. McKenna's secretary for a couple of years and I got to know him very well! In my humble opinion, Dr. McKenna is the only candidate worth fighting for

...Dr. McKenna is a man of integrity, honesty, passion for our students and fairness for LAUSD employees, particularly CSEA Classified Professionals. I know! I was there with him, 5 days a week. I witnessed closely his dedication and love for his profession. I saw how students from decades reached out to him to thank him for "forcing" them to become professional and honest citizens. Now I'm reaching out to you to ask you to please support Dr. McKenna so he can continue supporting our students and staff, not only in District 1 but across the District, because his contributions to the Board of Education will not only affect District 1 but the entire LAUSD.

Dr. McKenna is clearly the most qualified candidate; one on whom we can depend to make independent decisions that are in the best interests of students and employees of the District. He is not interested in furthering his political career, just continuing to pursue his passion for children and public education. If you live in District 1, it is incumbent upon you to vote. If you do not, please support the campaign by participating in the next fundraising event on July 27, 2014 (see flyer: Fundraiser.pdf), or joining with CSEA to walk the precincts on July 26 and August 2 (see flyer:


Monday, August 04, 2014

Charter Corporation CWC Mar Vista doled out 8 out of school suspensions last year—they serve Kindergarten and 1st Grade!

Citizens of the World Charter School Corporation


Friday, August 01, 2014

Upcoming radio show appearances

Most of you know that I'm a frequent guest on KPFK's Politics or Pedagogy with John Cromshow. This month I'm happy to announce I'll be a guest on some additional radio shows.

Sunday, August 3, 2014 at 14:00 (2:00PM)
The War Report on Public Education
Host: Dr. James Miller
Guests: Doug Martin and Robert D. Skeels

I'll be discussing the LAUSD Special Election being held on August 12, 2014 in which highly regarded professional educator Dr. George McKenna has been pitted against a complete neophyte named Alex Johnson, whose only "qualification" is that he's backed by anti-public school billionaires and charter industry moguls.

The War Report on Public Education!

Thursday, August 14, 2014 at 19:00 (7:00PM)
MP Chronicle's The Blk Grrrl Show!
Host: Teka-Lark Fleming
Guests: Lili Bernard and Robert D. Skeels

The Blk Grrrl Show talks to Robert Skeels about the future of public education. Are charters just trying to help or are they trying to break one of America's few universal supports and we'll talk about the results of the LAUSD D1 Election! We'll also being speaking to Lili Bernard about about Kara Walker's work 'A Subtlety’ when race and gender is the topic is the artist responsible to explain their work? And who are these artistic critiques for?

MP Chronicle's The Blk Grrrl Show!

MP Chronicle's The Blk Grrrl Show!