Thursday, July 24, 2014



Written by The Red Queen in L.A. in her blog |

"The most curious part of the thing was, that the trees and the other things round them never changed their places at all: however fast they went, they never seemed to pass anything."


If you do not live in LAUSD’s first district, you might be excused from awareness of it, though not if you drive anywhere within that district. You’d have to be blind (inadvisable if driving) to have overlooked the gigantic – and unethical, according to the COLA elections commission – political propaganda polluting public property in proclaiming the primacy of their favorite son, hand-ordained staff-member of Mark Ridley-Thomas, Alex Johnson.

Ginormous and ubiquitous, these signs represent the might of the political machinery backing Mr Johnson, rather than, say, the size of his public support or job qualifications.

At the age of 33, Mr Johnson has accrued basically zero track record in issues educational, either politically or pedagogically or theoretically or practically. He does, however, nicely reflect his bosses’ readiness to assert opinions educational a propos of no experience or background in the matter at all, as this account of County Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, his aide Alex Johnson and chief-of staff, attests. All three politicos cheerfully admit to having never read the thoughtfully crafted 29-page opinion regarding a Culver City charter school – before rejecting outright the school board’s denial of this petition.   Without permitting the deliberations of local elected political leaders or education experts to derail their well-buttressed pre-conceived convictions, nary a whiff of public education advocacy was permitted sway. These three officials asserted their right to an unreflective, uninformed support for the rejected petition because of “a philosophical difference [with the Culver City Unified School District board president] about charter schools”.

Just so, this episode accurately encapsulates the arcane board race in LAUSD1 too. It’s about charter schools.

This is a race that has been recapitulated with its underlying distinction over and over and over again all across this nation of ours. In our local school board elections, the body politic has weighed in cumulatively not once, not twice but in the three successive school board elections against the candidates allied with the political – that is not pedagogical but political – ideology of privatizing public education.

The first of these recent elections was won by Bennett Kayser over Luis Sanchez, candidate of privatizing champion, former-Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa of the moribund Coalition For School Reform. The second of these wins pitted LAUSD board incumbent Steve Zimmer against millions of dollars corralled from across this nation, foremost among them from Mike Bloomberg, school privatizing, billionaire mayor of New York City. And most recent in the LAUSD series was Mónica Ratliff vanquishing challenger Antonio Sanchez, backed by a breathtaking constellation of corporate reformers.

Now we meet yet the latest iteration of this Borg-like incursion of corporatizers intent on subsuming our children’s schooling. Alex Johnson, having shallow education bona fides but deep political patronage roots, must be understood in that context so charmingly articulated by his padrone, as The Candidate From Charter Land. Alex Johnson may not be an educator or parent or theoretician, but his political placement enables those who seek public monies to underwrite essentially private schooling enterprises. That is, Alex Johnson derives utility by enabling charter schools and those who would champion them.

And who is it that champions charter schools in Los Angeles? Apart from the LAUSD board which has approved school charters numbering in the hundreds, rendering the westside of Los Angeles ground zero for the charter school movement? We have more charter schools here in our little ‘hood than in any other spot on the planet.

Superintendent Deasy can be thought of as Enabler Extraordinaire of the charter school movement, graduate of Eli Broad’s “academy”, installed by Antonio Villaraigosa and possibly salaried by his one-time employer the Gates Foundation, sustained by the last leg of the educational reform triumvirate, the Walton Family Foundation.

Note well and carefully: these charter schools are every bit as much a political phenomenon of the 1% as an educational one. In obeisance to neoliberalism, they are tearing apart the very edifice — literally and figuratively — of our democratic public education system.

And that is what, and really only what, this election is about. What flavor of school champion do you favor? Are you inveigled by the corporatizing reformer lining private pockets with money and expertise from the public coffer? Or do you support and extend the oft-reiterated preference of our electorate for the professional educator, one in the mold of Kayser, Zimmer, Ratliff and Marguerite LaMotte herself, represented this time around by former school superintendent George McKenna?

Who holds the intellectual needs of our young citizenry at heart? Teacher or Politician? Who protects their education as a basic human civil right rather than a monetized commodity? Who expresses the voice that we have elected time after time in recent years, the educator’s voice of concern for pedagogy?

George McKenna.

Vote for George McKenna on the first day back at school:
Tuesday, August 12, 2014.


2cents small The identity of the Red Queen in L.A. is a not very well kept secret, but I will protect it here. She is real parent at a very real Westside middle school.  ‘Real’ and ‘unreal’ being subject to Carrollian interpretation and LAUSD nonsense. Professionally a scientist, she is recovering from from a Liberal Arts Education.

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