PUBLIC ED IN PERIL?-That noisy rumbling sound in LA County comes from teachers who are in “teacher jail” rattling their cages at the news this week that the bought and paid for LAUSD Board of Education announced they hired Wall Street billionaire, Austin Beutner, to finally privatize the District.
This news was delivered while these accused teachers are awaiting their fate to be determined by LAUSD with possible firing without due process, which means losing all their contracted benefits, so as to save the District money.
Finally, another coup by Eli Broad and his band of billionaires, including Beutner, Riordan, Milkin, Waltons/Jenner, Luskin, the LASR - Mdm.Alter and her Sony president mate, and others. They planned this giant coup for years which emerged with their rapidly arranged development of the 501(c)(3) Great Public Schools Now, and the concurrent hiring of the two deadly efficient pros to run it.
The info came to light when Sony's Prez who is married to Mdm. Alter, had his email hacked and all their correspondence was online for the world to read. Perceptive readers found that there were secret meetings in place at various homes on the Westside to plan the takeover of LAUSD and imposecharter schools using taxpayer money to finance these essentially private schools which have no oversight, and which are totally controlled by their own Boards who set standards, curriculum, and payments to the CEO and teachers. Most astounding is that the CEO appoints his/her own Board which can be his/her family members, and they rubber stamp these directives.
Eli Broad, who devised this scheme when he started his own non-profit in 1999 and reinforced it over the years, is so hated by so many that, allegedly, in the past few years the other billionaires finally took charge and used his plan but not his name. He had stated publicly that he wanted to take over another 50 percent of the LAUSD District in addition to the 12% he already has privatized, and eventually privatize it totally with charter schools, but this was an overreach and even the local media seemed alarmed. So the “real in-group” of greed mongers has a two-fold goal: first, to create workers they will need as cogs in their industries, and second, to succeed in their drive to bust the unions -- all unions -- starting with the easiest, teachers unions, so that these new cogs from their charter schools will have no representation when they become workers and remain low pay, quiet drudges without benefits.
Eli and his Silicon Valley buddy billionaire then manufactured a lawsuit filed in Central California, Vergara v. California, and of course including negative aspects of teachers and the teachers’ union. The first go around found them winning this toxic case adjudicated by a Judge Treuwithout a jury. Governor Jerry Brown saw through this and he along with teachers and the union appealed the decision. The higher Appeals Court agreed that this verdict was not clean and they reversed the Treu decision.
Then Broad hired and assigned his infamous boys, John Deasy (who had been forced out of LAUSD and was being investigated by the FBI), and Ben Austin, (from the failing Parent Revolution group, who got this flawed law carried by ex-legislator Gloria Romero who is still preaching to her choir) to do his bidding as the ostensible “street vendors” to sweep the country with similar law suits. They got LA School Report,owned by Mdm. Alter, to transfer the self-serving online rag to the Right leaning hands of the beauty queen, Campbell Brown, and her nationally known Republican “fixer” husband, Dan Senor. Then they put Alter et al in the background and stepped up the heat for the election of BoE members who followed Eli's party line to privatize the LA County public schools.
Meanwhile, Anthony Villaraigosa, out-going mayor of LA then, Herbalife tout thereafter, and candidate for Governor now, was dancing for Broad, his puppet master, and charterizing schools with Deasy as “rapidly” as they could. The adulterer mayor, (who had cheated on his teacher wife of many years, and who admitted publicly he never would have gotten into UCLA as an undergrad without the benefit of affirmative action, and who failed the Bar Exam so many times he finally gave up) was talking all over the city about his drive to "rapidly" close public schools and turn them into charters. These talks, some even at UCLA in the Luskin School of Public Policy, can be found online.
Some of these emerged charters were/are found in the fanciest part of LA County, such as Woodland Hills and Pacific Palisades. These elitist charter schools still flourish while those in the inner cities were/are run mainly by non-educator business folks who could hand pick the students. They did/do not choose students who were/are “hard to teach,” or “special needs,” or English language learners, thereby starving these students’ real public schools of necessary services. Many of these charters have been shut down for malfeasance perpetrated by their CEOs.
Through all the years this scheme has been building, the Board’s long time elected member who is not an educator, Monica Garcia, took all she could get in the way of offers from the billionaires. They all colluded to first get Refugio Rodriguez elected to partner with her in driving the Board toward privatizing, and then in the next election, it was a clean sweep with Medvoin and Gonez who had more Big Donor money (about $14 million) to campaign with than a battalion of teachers could ever earn in a lifetime. It was only a decade before that running for LA BoE cost around $15,000. This is way beyond inflation.
Who can also forget the huge collusion between Garcia, the billionaires, the phony influx of bussed in “parents for Deasy” and the non-profit supporters, for the orchestrated street theater on Oct. 29, 2013 estimated by journalists to have cost Eli and his pals about $14,000. This is when the ignominious Board of Education voted for a new contract for Deasy, in secret meetings of course, and did not allow any public comment against his second contract even after the IPad scam costing the District a fortune using line item Construction Bond cash. All of this is documented online.
There are so many side issues like rigged accusations leading to “teacher jail” inhabited by a vast army of teachers entering their later years with many who are “of color” and are just about to have their life time benefits, said to be about $60,000 a year, like health care and pensions, vest, all taken away without due process. The Rafe Esquith case reflects more of the worst of LAUSD run by a titular Superintendent, but really run by “Broad and Company"... and now by his pal, Austin Beutner.
Take into account the push Broad and Riordan made to buy the LA Timesand their op-ed article about what selfless philanthropists they are, and shortly after, their close friend and Wall Street colleague Austin Beutner was named publisher of our local paper. All this information is online, about the real owners of our public schools, the giants of industry, the Bonfire of the Vanities guys and gals, with their names on endless buildings, who now have clawed to control the New Normal of private, unsupervised education, paid for by the taxpayers who have no input. What other industry can earn major monetary returns for “free market” investors yet have no investment by the Founders, and be only paid for by public taxpayers?
Austin Beutner, who it is said acquired his billions on Wall Street as a hedge fund manager, along with other DFER billionaires like Wesley Tillson, learned from Rupert Murdoch how vast a wealth accumulator public schooling is in America. Murdoch wrote about it being the best private, free market, investment opportunity, and Tillson and his pals started teaching their hedge fund investors how to glean fortunes from investing in “public” charter schools.
In California, the CCSA, California Charter School Association, built a sound base (partially financed also by Fetullah Gulen, the Turkish imam who has made billions with his over 150 charter schools in the United States, and with his Los Angeles schools run by Mdm. Caprice Young whom he groomed). The CCSAbecame the biggest lobbying bully in Sacramento, and they got/get whatever they wanted/want, including buying the now indicted Refugio Rodriguez a seat on the LAUSD BoE who was mentored by Monica Garcia and helped by the Latino “Voteria” scam.
As with the current BoE, the influx of mind boggling cash from these same billionaires plus Bloomberg, Petersen, and other out of state “vulture” philanthropists, bought more seats in the recent elections. They spent $14-17 million on the last election for Medvoin and Gonez to win, and rapidly the con artist Monica Garcia was appointed President of the Board when Rodriguez was finally indicted on charges involving election tampering/fraud. (He’s also being investigated for financial mismanagement of the 16 Charters he founded.) Medvoin was supported in the grandest style by the Westside wealthy; he, a young man who spent a year failing at teaching, became their current mouthpiece.
What a setup!
Now their “bought” BoE members, Garcia, Rodriguez, Gonez, Medvoin, have hired Wall Streeter Beutnerwith the help of the waffler,old time Board member, Vladovic. Only the two former teacher/administrators Scott Schemerelson and George McKenna had the cojones, intelligence, and ethical value system to vote against him. The flakes and phonies who are motivated by dollar signs are now firmly in charge at Beudry.
This week the LA Timesreported that Beutner said, "real estate owned by the District should be a money maker." It sure has been in the past when Eli sold the BoE and the District the BeudryStreet location at a huge profit.
So much is kept hidden from the public -- We, the Taxpayers, who foot all the bills for the charter schools -- regarding the blatant theft within, plus the costly mistakes made by top administrators like Deasy, Eli's favorite puppet, when he used taxpayer money to buy a billion dollars of obsolete computers from Apple and then gave Pearson an open ended contract for curriculum development and imposed MiSiS which failed, damaging students who lost their classes needed for graduation. Fortunately, Cortines cut off the Deasy contracts and recouped a bit of taxpayer money, but it all left the District on the verge of bankruptcy, which, if implemented, could have motivated these same insider billionaires to snap up the huge real estate holdings for pennies on the dollar.
So, I wonder if a Wall Street tycoon is a more reliable Superintendent of LA Schools than a proven educator? Every educator I know thinks not.
I have been writing about LAUSD for some years, yet things have gone from bad to dreadful. Every decision is made behind tightly shut doors. A few years ago, at the end of the infamous Deasytenure, many teachers, administrators, residents, and parents who represent “the public” demanded a voice in revising this disgusting “pay for play” system. They demanded an end to Blue Ribbon panels making the rules of how LAUSD should be run. But what they got was the Bluest Ribbon panel of oligarchs led by Austin Beutner, who carries the flag for his fellow greed mongers and who now has the ultimate authority to run LAUSDinto the ground. They are probably drooling at Spago's at the prospect.
It all hangs together...just follow the money.
(Ellen Lubic is Director of Joining Forces for Education, a public policy educator and journalist, RESIST leader, and an occasional CityWatch contributor.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.