Friday, March 31, 2017

With Trump In The White House, Corrupt Conservatives Get A Shot At Re-Shaping U.S. Education


LAUSD Board President, Steve Zimmer

In many urban centers-- L.A. is one-- the Republican brand is so toxic that it's a real stretch for the party to even run plausible candidates. So the special interests and big money behind the kind of corrupt conservatism that the GOP embodies, finds its way into the campaigns of corrupt conservative Democrats-- the Republican wing of the Democratic Party. In my Assembly District last year, I was mortified to see the charter school billionaires successfully pass a repulsive Republican masquerading as a "moderate" Democratic, Laura Friedman, off on the voters by flooding the district with immense amounts of cash in the form of a deluge of deceitful communications. Today, in the congressional district next door, CA-34, the avaricious developers and predatory charter school monsters are doing the exact same thing-- flooding the airwaves with expensive false ads for Sara Hernandez, in effect, the stand-in for the Republican Party in the congressional race.

Our old comrade-in-arms, Marcy Winograd, has been warning about a similar situation in the elections in the L.A. Unified School District race. DWT readers probably remember Marcy as a brilliant progressive congressional peace candidate who did a great service for America by helping to drive Blue Dog Jane Harman-- a female Joe Lieberman-- out of Congress. Marcy has also served as a delegate to the California Democratic Party and teaches special education students at Venice High School. You can follow her on Twitter @marcywinograd. I asked her to explain why the school board race is so important to progressives everywhere.

Re-Elect Steve Zimmer Tues., May 16th-- Stop the Privatizers’ Hostile Take-Over of the Los Angeles Unified School District
-by Marcy Winograd

You don’t need to jet to DC in a pink pussy hat to flip the bird to billionaires hoping to bankrupt the Los Angeles Unified School District by turning half of the district's schools into union-busting independent charters, siphoning off state attendance funds to run a private crap shoot with public dollars.

A showdown over education privatization and de-regulation is set for Tuesday, May 16th, when voters in the San Fernando Valley, coastal Los Angeles, West Hollywood and Hollywood will decide who controls the Los Angeles Unified School District Board, a 7-member governing body that oversees 900 schools-- some 200 specialized magnets-- with 650,000 students, over 75% students of color. If the billionaire boys club-- Eli Broad, former mayor Dick Riordan, the Waltons of Wal Mart-- have their way, voters will choose a candidate who will carry their water to make 50% of LA’s public schools independent charter schools over the next eight years.

Not so fast, fat cats. LAUSD Board President, Steve Zimmer, a champion of the arts, a believer in equity for all, the guy who saved adult education and early childhood education from lethal budget cuts-- the mensch who balanced the budget is running for a third time to stop Broad’s plan to decimate the District by taking over its land while draining it of capital. Challenging Zimmer in the run-off is “Pick Nick” or the billionaire boy’s pick, Nick Melvoin, an attorney who taught for a minute in Watts until he lost his job during the recession, sued the District over its “last hired, first fired policy”, participated in a settlement, then offered to testify again in another expensive lawsuit against the District, (Oh, suing the District is so much fun, isn’t it?) this time unsuccessfully challenging its seniority commitment to get a thumbs down and cold shoulder in the Court of Appeal.

For the privatizers, it’s all about choice. I agree. Under California law, charter schools can choose to blow off much of the state education code, like caps on administrative salaries, requirements that teachers receive certification in teaching English learners, textbooks for all core academic subjects, third party vendor rules designed to thwart favoritism and corruption, and requirements that school boards be elected, not self-selected. Also in the choice column is the privatizers’ legal right to choose to plop their independent charter school on an existing public school’s property, booting public school teachers out of their classrooms to become rovers, sprinting between bells to make it to the next classroom.

According to the United Teachers of Los Angeles, independent charter schools already owe the larger district almost a half-a-billion dollars in unpaid or partially paid rental and oversight fees the District sorely needs to cover fixed district costs, such as electricity and building maintenance, as well as legacy costs; health care and debt service. To add insult to injury, an LAUSD report (2016) of the Budget, Facilities and Audit Committee, says charter schools serve disproportionately fewer severely disabled students and spend over seven times less on educating those same students.

Surely, Trump's Education Secretary Betsy DeVos-- a cheerleader for charter schools and vouchers-- will be eyeing the run-off, for as goes Los Angeles, the second largest school district in the US behind NYC, so goes the rest of the nation in the rocky terrain of education reform – or rip-off. First came the charters with their uneven-- some good, some horrific-- performance, then came the vouchers, and then came the bundlers on Wall Street, selling taxpayer-subsidized education coupons as derivatives that, like the fancy mortgage investments that went belly-up, will soon be worthless when the fly-by-night voucher-recepients shutter their schoolhouse doors after stashing their profits in a Swiss bank account.

Zimmer says he wants a robust public education system; Melvoin writes he wants a hostile take-over of LAUSD. Trump’s man Steve Bannon would call that "administrative deconstruction." Sounds more like plain old destruction.

Don't vote for the billionaire's pick. Vote for the people's educator. Re-elect Steve Zimmer on May 16th.

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At 5:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

corrupt conservatives have been flushing us education for several decades. Doesn't matter who is in the WH. Ed keeps going in the crapper.

At 11:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"corrupt conservatives" describes both the republican party (maybe less the evangelical FC) and the entirety of the democrap party since about 1982. The purity of their corruption today is probably 95%... or 190 proof if you will.

And they've ruined more than just education... but whatever.

At 12:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just waiting for the bonehead billionaires to advocate the elimination of child labor laws so that students can learn what it's like to have to work 12 hour days as a part of the curriculum.


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