Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The L.A. Times, The Greed-Obsessed Billionaires And The Evisceration Of Public Education


-by Ellen Lubic

Why does the L.A. Times hate and deride real teachers and public schools, but love and support Eli Broad and his billionaire partners in their privatizing takeover?

In the last few days, the L.A. Times has published misleading information on the California Appeals Court decision this week denying the lower court ruling in the Vergara lawsuit, wherein a few carefully chosen students were urged to press a lawsuit to terminate teachers without due process and to change the law pertaining to what they call tenure. Also this lawsuit would serve to weaken teachers unions.

This lawsuit was contrived by billionaires David Welch, under the aegis if the non profit called Students Matter, and with the input of Eli Broad and of the Walton Family and others of the billionaire anti-public school contingent. These uber wealthy non-educators tried to prove that bad and uncaring teachers were assigned to inner city schools so as to diminish the civil rights of inner city students to a fair and equal education in public schools, and that laws should be changed to be able to fire them with no due process.

However, these same billionaires have been working toward privatizing most of Americas' public schools and turning them into "Wall Street investment opportunities" as openly expressed by Rupert Murdoch in his NY Times oped a few years ago, and also by hedge fund managers such as Whitney Tilson, who sell their clients products of investments in charter schools and other allied corporations, and hold classes for these clients on how to invest in "public" education for large profits.

This is the greatest scam in the universe and outshines Teapot Dome as a robber baron scheme. They call the schools "public" but the only thing public about them is that they are paid for by the American taxpayer public. Other than that, these charter schools have no oversight by real educators and education administrators, nor a Board of Education, but they are run on business models devised by Eli Broad and his Broad Academy, to make vast sums of money for their leaders and investors, none of whom are generally educators.

These vulture business managers fire real trained teachers with degrees in education, and replace them with low paid Teach for America recent college graduates who only get 5 weeks of minimalist training before they are dumped into classrooms in inner cities for only a short period of time, with often 50 children in a room that was built to hold 30. Many disasters occur, and students suffer.

This week one of these ersatz public charter schools was awarded $7.2 million dollars by an LA court for not having LAUSD provide them with a free site for their marginal school.  We also see Fetullah Gulen, the Turkish Imam who lives in guarded seclusion in the Poconos, running over 146 of these questionable charters all over the US, with 11 in L.A. These Magnolia Schools in L.A. are headed by the infamous charter school queen, Caprice Young, who has made a fortune in her career off these schools that use taxpayer funds with no taxpayer oversight.

As to the L.A. Times... this information is always soft pedaled by the Times reporters, and we have been told they are under the thumbs of their bosses, the editorial board, who carefully monitor and edit their reports. Focusing on Saturday, April,16, 2016, we find the reporters front page story starting off with their own Broad-directed take on this week's decision by the Appeals Court to throw out this highly flawed case. The Times, and LASR, all week kept calling this a "landmark case," which it is not.  It is a failed case of bad law based on unproven allegations and bias against teachers and their unions, but the Broadies will again file similar lawsuits for they have endless deep pockets.

Howard Blume and his writer pals follow the Broad line imposed by their Times bosses, even though they do not have the usual disclaimer on today’s front page manipulated article. Ryan Smith and Ben Austin are quoted by the L.A. Times today. They chose once again to interview and quote Ryan Smith, past hatchet man for United Way and now the darling of Marion Edelman fame and fortune, and Parent Revolution/parent trigger shady lawyer, Ben Austin, former and still hatchet man for Eli Broad and now of Broad/Welch fame and fortune, to be their voices on education issues. These two men are in the lead in the deception to steal public education in the name of their manufactured view of civil rights. These are the two who led the infamous street charade of Oct. 29, 2013 to get the equally infamous John Deasy’s (who now works for Broad fulltime) contract renewed… and wherein the pathetic LAUSD BoE danced to Eli Broad’s tune by allowing the spectacle takeover of Beaudry Street and Board Room... and then signing and extending the disasterous contract, after the multiple fiascos caused by Broad's Supt. Deasy which cost the District around $780 million in losses and payoffs for lawsuits. Deasy almost forced the District into bankruptcy.

The supportive 'reformer' language these reporters use in the their introductory paragraphs, "the nation's most generous teacher employment protections...and, the (reformers) centerpiece effort to remake schools... and, teachers' unions have flexed their muscle locally and nationally"  is egregious. These biases set the scene for the rest of the manipulation of the story.

The 'reformer players' and the Times use the important claim of civil rights to elevate the privatizing of public schools, and the firing (and teacher jailing) of teachers without due process, and with the goal to kill off unions, but they want the exclusive use of public funds in running their charter schools, all paid for on the backs of the taxpayers. Deasy testified against teachers at the Vergara trail, and at the Treu decision for the plaintiffs, he stated that he was delighted and would rush home to fire more teachers...and he did.

Today's article mentions the recent Friedrichs case which SCOTUS dropped in a 4 to 4 tie after Justice Scalia's death as a case "which could have prevented unions from collecting dues from employees who didn't agree to become members." This is not actually what the case shows...as with Harris v. Quinn (" Holding: The First Amendment prohibits the collection of an agency fee from the plaintiffs in this case, home health care providers who do not wish to join or support a union.Judgment: Reversed in part, affirmed in part, and remanded, 5-4, in an opinion by Justice Alito on June 30, 2014. Justice Kagan filed a dissenting opinion in which Justice Ginsburg, Justice Breyer, and Justice Sotomayor joined."), teachers who do not join the union are generally required to pay a small fee since they benefit from union negotiations in their behalf as well as paid members.

But how easy it is to blame it all of public educations problems on the teachers.

However, do these reporters interview some of the skid row (see San Pedro St. in L.A.) crack mothers of the thousands of LAUSD students who sleep on the hard streets every night? Rarely do these ace reporters do any in-depth investigation of how these inner city kids live lives of desperate poverty, with little food or rest, and virtually no parental supervision. There are also many poverty level parents working three jobs to try to exist, but there are thousands of others who have NO business parenting children. These students are sent to school and teachers are supposed to fill all the spaces of their wretched lives and make them math and language successes, and college-ready, too. These same expectations extend to the lives of all those of LAUSD students living at or below the poverty level which is close to 80% of LAUSD. Could Eli make this work? Could the Kochs, or the Waltons with their endless billions as the two richest families in the world? Why don't they focus on curing poverty?  Can it be because there are no fortunes to be made by curing poverty?

As to their education articles, the Times reporters seem never to interview highly respected academics like Professor Rogers at UCLA or Emeritus Professor Kashen from USC, but rather, they feature on the mendacious warriors for privatization from Eli Broad’s selected non-profits, United Way, Parent Revolution, and California Endowment. So what the public reads is deeply slanted.

This story is filled with dichotomies…it is a continuum of despair of inner city life vs. the grandest displays of wealth in L.A. The 40,000 foot mansions which could house a hundred people, but are vacation homes for the billionaires who seek to run the world are what the tour buses show off…not the tents from 1st and San Pedro stretching for miles and miles, showing the degradation and filth of the poverty stricken, a twenty minute drive from Rodeo.

When we lose a free press, unbiased media, we lose democracy. Judging by Campbell’s new gig at LASR, and by the venomous L.A. Times (plus the biased NY Times), all is lost.

Ellen Lubic
Public Policy Educator
Director, Joining Forces for Education

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