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The Lies And Sham In CA Behind Privatization Tax Initiatives 30 & 8-Vote No On Both
by United Public Workers For Action
Friday Sep 28th, 2012 7:09 AM
The labor supported California proposition 30 will end up restructuring the California constitution to further privatization of education, cut funding to social services and eliminate transparency on where public tax money is going. This proposition by the pro-charter Brown administration was probably written by the privatizers to permanently put public funds into union busting charters in California without any real regulation and control. The California AFL-CIO, CFT and CTA are telling the working people of California to support this poison pill to stop the triggers put in by the Democratic controlled legislature but they will be ensuring the destruction of public education if this passes.
Vote No on CA Prop 30:
Save Our Public Schools-
Do Not Hand Them Over To The Rich
Stop Racist Discrimination and Segregation

Prop 30 furthers discrimination, unequal access and destroys public education - A blank check to the privatizers and a shameful abuse of power.

After reading this, you will hopefully be moved to demand a rescission of the legislature’s discriminatory budget trigger cuts and demand a call for a fiscal emergency session.

Supporters of Proposition 30 are desperate for your vote. So desperate that they will completely mislead us into thinking that somehow this initiative focuses on saving public education funding. Nothing could be further from the truth, as the following will demonstrate with language right out of the text of the proposal and right out of your voter guide.

If you wouldn’t give someone unrestricted access to your bank account, then you might want to vote no on Proposition 30 as it will give school board members, community college board trustees and county offices of education board members unrestricted access to our public education tax dollars. Many of these board members are not even elected by the people. Many of these board members are personally involved in an insidious agenda to privatize and capitalize on our public education system. Shame on them.

Would these board members hire only the most qualified educators? They wouldn’t have to with “unrestricted” access and sole discretion on how they can spend education tax dollars. Yes, proposition 30 also gives these board members “sole discretion” on how they spend our public education tax dollars.

Would these board members make sure that there is funding for low income students such as tutoring programs. They wouldn’t have to with “unrestricted” access to our public education dollars.

Would these board members make sure that programs for students with special needs gets funded? They wouldn’t have to with “unrestricted” access to our public education tax dollars.

Did you know that the legislature passed a law in 2011 which transferred $6 billion dollars “annually” of our tax dollars from the general fund to local governments to pay for such things as supervising parolees? Did you know that this is the same amount that the legislature is claiming would be cut from schools if proposition 30 does not pass?

Why did they set up this threat to public education? The threat was created by our legislators because a huge amount of money is at stake for the rich. Maybe some of our elected officials care more amount their rich campaign contributors than the public at large.

Many of their campaign contributors have financial interests in the education market. One example is Pearson, the largest testing company in our country. Pearson also owns Connections Academy, the second largest online education company in the nation and they own the Penguin group and the Financial Times, among other entities and conglomerates.

Maybe our legislature forgot that they represent all the people, not just the privileged few who can donate large sums to their campaigns. We need to remind them that we the people do not take kindly to threats. Threatening public education is tantamount to threatening our democracy.

In fact Proposition 30 even ends the current state funding for the open meeting act procedures. Open meeting procedures help ensure transparency and oversight by the public as to how our public funds are spent. Prop 30 would stop paying for this- a fact not mentioned in the media. Many would consider the consequences of Proposition 30 anti-democratic, as there can be found purposeful lack of transparency and lack of oversight throughout the proposal.

For anyone who cares about equality and human dignity, you must read the following!

You will need to get your voter guide out while reading this, as you will be guided to specific references in your voter guide related to proposition 30.



It is a complete scam!!! It will “permanently” deplete the general fund so that tax dollars are allocated to law enforcement funding without any state oversight. Proposition 30 would accomplish this by amending our state constitution.

Prop 30 is not about funding public education, in fact if passed it could result in severe inequities in educational funding with consequential harm to both students and educators alike!!

Currently the law mandates that a portion of our tax dollars be set aside and be used only for specific purposes like for students with special needs or for low income students.

Prop 30 will abolish the required funding for low income students; English language learners and funding for students with disabilities!!!
The proof is in your voter guide.

Turn to pages 14 &15 of your voter guide: Read the paragraph entitled “STATE SPENDING-BACKGROUND”.

Within the first paragraph of this background section, read the last sentence…” A LARGE SHARE OF THE STATE AND LOCAL FUNDING THAT IS ALLOCATED TO SCHOOLS AND COMMUNITY COLLEGES IS “UNRESTRICTED”. Unrestricted means that these tax dollars allocated to our schools and community colleges can be spent on anything and not necessarily on any particular programs.

What does a “large share” of the funding being unrestricted mean? It means that SOME FUNDS ARE RESTRICTED by law to be used only for particular programs. These restricted funds are also known as categorical funding, which most people care about, as funds are set aside to assist those students most in need!!! Like low income students or students with disabilities!!

Keep your voter guide open and turn to page 14, second column, last paragraph entitled “proposal” (This would be the plan under prop 30); Read this paragraph. Staying on this same paragraph, now turn to page 15, and count 6 lines down, first sentence reads …..: “schools and community colleges could use these funds (from prop 30) for “any” educational purpose”….”…”the funds would be distributed the same way as existing ‘unrestricted” per-student funding”.

Again, instead of using funds for students with special needs which is required by current law, under prop 30 the board members/privatizers can use these funds to hire more consultants and displace qualified educators. The board members can decide not to fund English language learner programs, which again is required by current law, because under prop 30 all the funds would now be UNRESTRICTED.

In addition the board members/privatizers will have “sole” authority to spend our public education tax dollars anyway they want. Where do the rich want our public education tax dollars spent? They want profits- so they would like to see more public education tax dollars get spent on more consultants (aka lobbyists) displacing those pesky unionized educators; more testing; more required online classes; more software; more useless data. More money for the rich corporations and less money for student learning and for students who have the most needs- low income students; English language learners and students with special needs.

PROP 30 also makes a CONSTITUIONAL AMENDMENT. Get your voter guide out and turn to page 16; Read the “background” section.

The supporters of Prop 30 would not like the majority of the public to realize the following facts.

In 2011, the state legislature transferred the responsibility for administering and funding various programs to local governments (primarily counties).

Our legislature passed a law in 2011 transferring “about” $6 billion of state tax revenues to local government annually. (YES THAT IS BILLION WITH A “B”).

PROP 30 places into the California state constitution an amendment that would continue to deplete the general fund by maintaining the transfer of these state tax revenues that were redirected in 2011 to continue to pay for these transferred program responsibilities such as parolee supervision. Now turn to page 17 of your voter guide and read the fiscal effects of this constitutional amendment. The first line reads in part: State costs could be higher for the transferred programs than they otherwise would have been because this measure (1) guarantees that the state will continue providing funds to local governments to pay for them, (3) authorizes local governments to refuse to implement new state laws and regulations that increase their costs unless that state provides additional funds.

Now go to page 16 of your voter guide: read the background and the proposal sections. Now focus on page 16, 1st column, last paragraph; last sentence: “ the measure (PROP 30) also permanently excludes the sales tax revenues redirected to local governments from the calculation of the minimum funding “guarantee” for schools and community colleges”.

What does that mean?- this constitutional amendment permanently depletes the general fund to infinity unless a new constitutional amendment comes along- this money can never be used for calculating the minimum funding requirement for schools and community colleges ensured by current law. What does this mean? This will lead to less money in the general fund for ensuring an equitable distribution of education funding throughout the state.

This means less money in the general fund to be re-distributed to over the 1000 school districts within our state; to the over 70 community college districts within our state and less funding to the 58 county offices of education within our state.

Given the language of prop 30, the educational funding of our public education system will become more inequitable as board members are given a blank check to use our public education tax dollars.

Prop 30 will also hurt seniors, low income people and the disabled.

Now go to your voter guide and read pages 15-17 on the fiscal effects of PROP 30.

What does it all mean?- If prop 30 were to pass, there could actually be less money for many health and social service programs. Again, this would be cuts to programs for our most vulnerable people-our seniors; our low income people and our disabled people!!! This would mean cuts to programs that could affect you, or one or your friends or family members

The proof is in your voter guide.

Go to your voter guide on page 15; second column; second line down and read: “the budget plan also includes actions to constrain spending in some health and social service programs”.

And last, but certainly not least: go to page 16 of your voter guide: second column; last paragraph entitled: “ends state reimbursement of open meeting act costs”

What does this paragraph state? PROP 30 would no longer require the state to be responsible for paying local agencies for the costs of following the open meeting procedures in the Brown act!! Who is subject to the Brown act? The list includes: School districts, charter schools, community college districts and county offices of education. The same entities that Prop 30 wants to give a blank check to. Who will pay for the open meeting act procedures? Prop 30 does not specify. What does this mean for the enforcement of the open meeting act procedures? Again, not specified.

We should never allow a constitutional amendment to permanently deplete general funds without oversight, especially when many other important programs for seniors and low income people get cut!!

Prop 30 is a disgrace to humanity and millions will be left broken if passed.

Prop 30 can cause more severe budget deficits, lacks transparency and lacks oversight of our tax dollars and actually hurts public education funding for the most vulnerable student populations!!!

All one can say about prop 30 is: what an amazing spin job- unless one reads the fine print!! Do not be fooled- this is class warfare!!

We, the people are the many and they, the profiteers are the few- we must take back our democracy and it begins by saying no to prop 30!!!

Triggers cuts must be taken from the greedy tax grabbers: Pearson; K-12 Inc; charter schools and their operators; Avid center; Learn-it systems; Edsource; West-ed, Capital Impact Llc, public-private partnerships that only benefit the rich, and so-called education non-profits that suck up tax dollars like it’s cool-aid.

We, the people of the state of California must demand an end to the useless data and harmful testing. We must demand a restoration of a healthy learning environment where society as whole benefits. It is our tax dollars and we need to say enough is enough.

Public education is being purposely de-funded- the money is there but it is being funneled to the profiteers!!

Charter schools already lack oversight and Prop 30 will allow them to spend our tax dollars with sole discretion, trust them to honestly report monies spent and if there is misappropriation of funds found, the attorney general is NOT required to prosecute!! What a joke!!! Just say no! Taken right out of the language of prop 30 (page 83 of your voter guide, paragraph enumerated”(6); 2nd line down:

“a charter school (nonelected privatizers), school district (which are the school board members-many placed by Eli broad and Edvoice PAC); community college district (which are non-elected board of governors currently composed of privatizers); county offices of education (which are mostly non-elected privatizers) shall have sole authority to determine how the monies received from the education protection account are spent”

As the Broad Foundation and others continue to finance the placement of key education decision makers, Prop 30 would ensure less oversight, so the profiteers can continue to privatize public education and segregate student populations. This is a historic time- we must not let the scam artists win!!

Public education should be a quality, accessible and equitable system for all.

Prop 30 would ensure that the gap between the haves and have nots widens while eroding any sense of dignity for humankind.

Prop 30 is extremely anti-democratic as respect for democracy disappears with every section of the text.

Let’s take our democracy back, say no to Prop 30 and demand an end to the continuous flow of our public education tax dollars to greedy tax grabbers- they do not care about public education, they do not care about diversity and they certainly do not care about our most vulnerable people.

It is not an accident that the California Charter School Association supports prop 30.


The working class people and now the many unemployed people of the state of California must demand a rescission to the trigger cuts put in place by the puppets for the rich (our elected legislators). We must demand end to the constant flow of our tax dollars to the rich that see public education as a cash cow and not a system for the public good.

If there are any cuts to be made, they must come from entities that should not have received our tax dollars in the first place- the greedy tax grabbers like Pearson that are destroying public education.

The tax dollars are ours- let’s get it back to where it belongs- to help all Californians and to restore the best equitable, accessible and quality education system ever. We can do this!! Do not let those who practice discrimination win!!

And do NOT fall for Prop 38- Molly Munger’s tax initiative proposal. Munger is on numerous boards of wealthy groups that want very much to privatize our public education system. Munger sits of the board of directors of the James Irvine Foundation. The James Irvine Foundation, along with the Lumina Foundation has been funding IHELP- the Institute for Higher Education Leadership and Policy. IHELP has been responsible for initiating the destruction of our public community college system by issuing absurd recommendations that always result in discriminatory recommendations for our most vulnerable student populations.

Munger also sits on the board of Children Now with Ted Mitchell of New Schools venture fund and with Larry Mendonca of Edvoice.

Prop 38, like Prop 30 is simply another pathway to privatize and destroy of our public education system and turn it into a cash cow for the rich.

Vote NO of Prop 38!

Vote No on Prop 30!

Demand a rescission to the discriminatory budget trigger cuts which are really a scam to benefit the rich!!!

Defend and Save our public education system! JUST SAY NO AND STOP TRIGGER CUTS WITH MASS ACTION!

United Public Workers For Action
§Billionaires will benefit from Prop 30 & 38
by United Public Workers For Action Friday Sep 28th, 2012 7:09 AM
Propositions 30 and 38 will benefit the profiteers who want to destroy public education and permanently change the California constitution to allow this destruction
§Public Education under attack
by United Public Workers For Action Friday Sep 28th, 2012 7:09 AM
The California Teachers Association and California Federation of Teachers have refused to inform their members about the criminal financial conflicts of interests by the privatizers and the real affect of proposition 30. Their relationship with Governor Brown and the corporate controlled Democrats is more important than telling the truth to their members about these forces
§Proposition 30 Pushes Charters
by United Public Workers For Action Friday Sep 28th, 2012 7:09 AM
Proposition 30 supported by the California Charter School Association and privatizers will permanently institutionalize the shift of public funds into charters, consultant and profiteers.

Comments  (Hide Comments)

"A Subsidy For Charters" CA Gov Brown's Tax Initiative "Compromise"
Danny Weil, a charter education expert, journalist, former public
policy lawyer and activist discusses Governor Brown's so called
"compromise" tax initiative and what it will really mean for public
education. He calls it a "subsidy for charters" that will help further
privatization of all public education in California. He also discusses
the role of the NEA, AFT, and CFT in "lacing" themselves with
money from privatizers such as the Bill an Melinda Gates Foundation
and other "non-profit" foundations. Gates was invited to a previous
AFT convention as a special guest speaker at the same time he
and his foundation were pushing charters and privatization throughout
not just the United States but throughout the world. Weil is also author of
"Vouchers and Privatization of Education", "Charter School Movement"
Charter Schools: A Reference Handbook and Standards in Schooling In The United States
The presentation by Wiel was made in Berkeley, California on June 2, 2012
Production of United Public Workers For Action
Here are a couple of opposing views, and see the links at the bottom of the Times article:

Dueling California Measures Set to Tax Rich, Gut Unions
Jane Slaughter
September 27, 2012

Californians will vote November 6 whether to approve the largest tax hike on the wealthy in that state since 1978.
Unions say Proposition 30 is necessary to forestall further deep cuts to education and other public services.


Activists launch grassroots campaign for Prop. 30
Chris Megerian
September 27, 2012

A coalition of community groups is launching a grassroots effort to support Proposition 30 in hopes that voter turnout among young and minority voters will be a decisive factor in the November election.
Activists will hold rallies, go door-to-door and dial voters in what they called one of the largest get-out-the-vote efforts in California history. Immigrant groups will be campaigning in five languages -- including Spanish, Chinese and Tagalog –- and others plan to canvass college dormitories.
by Earl Richards
Saturday Sep 29th, 2012 2:12 AM
Brown and his backers are blackmailing Californians. Why does Brown always pick-on the most vulnerable, education and the public services? He should close corporate and commercial tax loopholes, introduce an oil extraction tax, an oil corporation, windfall-profits tax, Chevron of San Ramon, made $27 billions in 2011, paid no federal tax and received billions in tax breaks and subsidies, and trim the service-debt paid to Wall Street. These taxes have to be rolled-back. These budget cuts will prolong the recession. Brown is a corporate creature who is working for the wealthy corporations and the unions, and not for the voters who voted for him. Prop 30 will not be temporary. The High-Speed Rail project should be put on hold, until a few years after the budget is balanced.
by reality check
Monday Oct 1st, 2012 3:32 PM
there's a lot of speculation an unfounded assertions here, when there could have been a real analysis based on facts and logic, and questioning assumptions.

1. yes, the teachers unions compromised their more progressive 'millionaire's tax' measure but does that mean they support 'privatization'?

2. the author says privatizers 'probably' wrote Prop. 30. If so, who are they?

3. charter schools are public schools and most are not for-profit. Most of the charter schools in Oakland are predominantly Latino, Black and Asian. Why?

4. what is stopping the unions from setting up their own union-run charter schools, or organizing the teachers at charter schools?

5. public schools are desperate for funds, so have turned to foundations for grants, whether they are charter schools or not. does this make them 'privatizers'?

6. Pitting parents, students, teachers against each other based on whether they are in charter schools or 'traditional' schools misses the whole point: that education is underfunded, using property taxes to fund schools is a disaster, and Prop 13 needs to be repealed or reformed.

7. there was nothing quoted from Prop 30's text that connected with the assertions of the anonymous author.

8. "non-restricted" funds most likely refers to the difference between funds from taxes earmarked for education 'programs' and funds raised from bonds that are restricted to fund construction or building improvements.

9. while it is horrible that unions have accepted the notion of 'trigger cuts' and Brown is holding education hostage to a tax measure that is doomed to fail, what solutions does UPWA propose? There is nothing in the article that points to any real alternative but to vote YES on prop. 30.
by The Real Reality Check
Wednesday Oct 3rd, 2012 9:03 AM
Apparently "reality check" is unable to read the language of Governor Brown's tax initiative. The statement by UPWA is based on the actual language of the initiative. "Reality Check" is unable to respond to the specific constitutional changes that this reactionary initiative will bring about. "Reality Check" also is apparently unaware that the privatizers are running many school boards and government agencies and pushing charters while they shut public schools and open up charters with non-elected boards. This destruction of the public education system will be accelerated by this pro-privatization initiative. The education unions have been played by Governor Brown and his corporate controlled legislature by imposing "trigger cuts" if prop 30 does not pass and union officials of teachers throughout the state have also put contract language in place that requires cuts, furloughs and concessions unless this passes and this is the blackmail that "reality check" apparently agrees with.
The unions have to stop their reliance on the pro-privatization democratic party and put forward an agenda that will make California's 94 billionaires and corporations paying for this crisis. Supporting Brown's agenda will not stop the destruction of public education.
Disaster schooling The education “shock doctrine”

ISR Issue 71, May–June 2010

Disaster schooling
The education “shock doctrine”

IN A January interview U.S. Secretary of education, Arne Duncan declared, “Let me be really honest. I think the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans was Hurricane Katrina. That education system was a disaster, and it took Hurricane Katrina to wake up the community to say that ‘We have to do better.’” Yet if there is one particularly frightening example for the future of public education it lies in the aftermath of Katrina. The case of using the disaster as a way to push through the largest and quickest privatization scheme of any public school system ever attempted, was made widely known in Naomi Klein’s best-selling book The Shock Doctrine.

Three months after the hurricane hit, free-market fanatic Milton Friedman wrote in the Wall Street Journal, “Most New Orleans schools are in ruins, as are the homes of the children who have attended them. The children are now scattered all over the country. This is a tragedy. It is also an opportunity to radically reform the educational system.” As Klein points out:

Friedman’s radical idea was that instead of spending a portion of the billions of dollars in reconstruction money on rebuilding and improving New Orleans’ existing public school system, the government should provide families with vouchers, which they could spend at private institutions, many run at a profit, that would be subsidized by the state. It was crucial, Friedman wrote, that this fundamental change not be a stopgap but rather “a permanent reform.”
A network of right wing think tanks seized on Friedman’s proposal and descended on the city after the storm. The administration of George W. Bush backed up their plans with tens of millions of dollars to convert New Orleans schools into “charter schools,” publicly funded institutions run by private entities according to their own rules….

In sharp contrast to the glacial pace with which the levees were repaired and the electricity grid brought back online, the auctioning-off of New Orleans’ school system took place with military speed and precision. Within 19 months, with most of the city’s poor residents still in exile, New Orleans’ public school system had been almost completely replaced by privately run charter schools. Before Hurricane Katrina, the school board had run 123 public schools; now it ran just 4. Before the storm, there had been 7 charter schools in the city; now there were 31. New Orleans teachers used to be represented by a strong union; now the union’s contract had been shredded and its forty-seven hundred members had all been fired. Some of the younger teachers were rehired by the charters, at reduced salaries; most were not.1

In fact one of the first state actions, taken only three weeks after the storm, was to fire all the unionized teachers, disband the school board and turn the schools over to a state receiver in Baton Rouge, removing community accountability and effectively breaking the United Teachers of New Orleans. Margaret Spelling, Bush’s secretary of education, poured $24 million into New Orleans, all of which went to charter schools.2 The Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education gave control of over one-hundred New Orleans schools to the Chicago-based National Association of Charter School Authorizers, moving the process even further away from New Orleans and putting local educators and grass-roots community groups interested in reopening their local schools at an enormous disadvantage. This created a situation where in the absence of any community hearings or public debate, those well-connected and well-to-do parents or organizations with pre-existing resources and expertise were the first to respond with school proposals.
By the spring of 2006, “25 public schools had opened in New Orleans. Eighteen (72 percent) of those were charter schools, and 14 (56 percent) had established ‘selective’ admissions policies. In addition to the charter schools, the Orleans Parish School Board opened five schools in the city. In summer 2006, as families began to flood back into the city, the state conceded that it, too, would need to open and operate some schools. The Recovery School District (RSD) opened 17 state-run schools that fall.”3

This created a two-tiered education system. In New Orleans, there are no neighborhood schools that students are required to attend and there has been no oversight to assure that schools are opening where families are returning. As Leigh Dingerson commented in an article for Rethinking Schools, “Parents returning to the city have had to negotiate a complex landscape to get their child into school. Registration is handled at each individual charter school, so parents must crisscross the city (with virtually no transportation infrastructure) to research schools and register their children.”4 While the student-to-teacher ratio at the new charter schools has been capped at twenty to one, class size in some RSD buildings has ballooned to nearly double that. When the seventeen RSD schools opened in 2006, there were no textbooks, many classrooms didn’t have any desks, students were served microwaved frozen meals, and buildings were effectively militarized with security guards often outnumbering teachers.

Since charter schools can choose their student population, there have been reports of charters in New Orleans dumping low-achieving students into the RSD schools mid-year before the state’s standardized assessment was to be given.5 So while the average performance scores of New Orleans schools have gone up from their pre-Katrina level, there are enormous differences between the scores of those in the RSD and the new charter schools.6

New Orleans is the first major city in the nation to have a majority of its students in charters, 61 percent of all its students in the 2009–10 school year. Along with familiar fliers for concerts and cultural events, “posters advertising new schools are tacked to telephone poles and plastered on the sides of the city’s iconic streetcars. Charter officials have set up booths outside Wal-Mart and gone door-to-door. Last summer, leaders from one school even followed ice-cream trucks around town to recruit children and their parents. And students in school uniforms emblazoned with charter insignia—and slogans—become walking, talking billboards for the places where they learn.”7 This free-market fantasy world could only become a reality after the ethnic cleansing of the city. The Black population of New Orleans has plummeted by 57 percent. 2008 Census data showed that half of the working poor, elderly, and disabled population that lived in New Orleans before Katrina has not returned.8

The Duncan Doctrine: Neoliberalism in Chicago

Alongside the Republican restructuring of New Orleans, Arne Duncan’s neoliberal remaking of the Chicago school system stands as a chilling reminder that when it comes to education policy, the Democratic Party is not too far behind its chief rival. As Henry Giroux and Kenneth Saltman have noted, Duncan

presided over the implementation and expansion of an agenda that militarized and corporatized the third largest school system in the nation, one that is about 90 percent nonwhite. Under Duncan, Chicago took the lead in creating public schools run as military academies, vastly expanded draconian student expulsions, instituted sweeping surveillance practices, advocated a growing police presence in the schools, arbitrarily shut down entire schools, and fired entire school staffs.9
Duncan, who has never taught in a classroom and who attended private schools all his life, has been a leading corporate reformer in education. He worked as the education program coordinator at Ariel Capital Management, where a headline on a brochure for their main school, Ariel Community Academy reads, “We want to make the stock market a topic of dinner table conversation.” First-graders are given $20,000 to invest in a class stock portfolio and each graduating class is supposed to return the original $20,0000 to the entering first grade and donate half the profits to the school with the rest distributed among the graduates.10Duncan quickly moved on to become an executive of the Chicago Public Schools by age thirty-five and its CEO at thirty-eight.
Duncan headed up the Renaissance 2010 plan established by the elite Commercial Club, a century-old Chicago institution comprised of the largest and most powerful corporations in the city. With the help of the corporate consulting firm A.T. Kearny, the Commercial Club unleashed one of the most ambitious school privatization schemes since the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Renaissance 2010 called for the closing of one hundred public schools and reopening them as privatized charter schools. It was a page taken directly out of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) playbook. NCLB, passed in 2001 under the Bush administration, created a host of unattainable achievement goals measured through massive amounts of high-stakes standardized tests. Under these new, unachievable targets, schools are set up to fail and when they do the federal government swoops in and “restructures” them. Like NCLB, Renaissance 2010 targeted schools that have “failed” to meet Chicago’s accountability standards as defined by high-stakes standardized tests and turned them over to non-profit and often for-profit charters.

Another integral part of the plan is to hand control of schools away from teachers, their unions, and community residents and into the hands of the business sector. At least two-thirds of the newly opened schools will be nonunion. The Commercial Club raised $25 million from the corporate sector to close public schools and reopen them under the governance of an unelected board called the New Schools for Chicago (NSC) organization. The NSC is appointed by the Commercial Club and composed of leading corporate representatives and Chicago Public Schools executives. The “civic leaders” on what the Chicago Sun-Timesdubbed a “shadow cabinet” include the chairs of McDonald’s Corporation and Northern Trust Bank, the retired chair of the Tribune Corporation, and the CEO of the Chicago Community Trust—a major corporate foundation.11

In the absence of a hurricane to force half of the poor population out of the city, these corporate cronies have resorted to more commonplace gentrification. As Chicago Teachers for Social Justice have explained “Renaissance 2010 is not just a school plan. It is part of a much larger plan for gentrification and for moving out low-income African Americans and some Latinos from prime real estate areas, in fact from the city altogether. These are the areas where the proposed school closings are concentrated.”12

Chicago has a long history of underfunding its public housing developments resulting in rotting infrastructure and chronic infestation by rodents and insects. Public housing was made into a last resort for the poorest of the poor. Beginning in the early 2000s the Chicago Housing Authority began using private contractors to tear down the public housing developments and put up new mixed-income developments that price most of the former residents out of the community. Closing down the underfunded public school in the area and opening a new charter school is the perfect way to attract a new wealthier and whiter population to the area. As Pauline Lipman, a progressive Urban Education scholar at the University of Illinois in Chicago writes:

As public housing is torn down and new condos and luxury town houses rise up, the city and the real estate developers are removing any traces of the people who once lived there. Closing the schools and then reopening them as new schools is a signal to future middle-class residents that the area is being “reborn.” This has been a frequent theme in business and school leaders’ statements in the press. When the agenda to “reinvent” Midsouth schools was first made public in the Chicago Tribune, on December 19, 2003, Terry Mazany, CEO of Chicago Community Trust and member of the planning team, described the connection between schools and development of the area this way: “[Bronzeville’s] a great physical location, so close to the lake and downtown,” he said. “It’s a delicate balance to pull something like this off. You can’t do it just with the housing and retail development. You have to get the third leg and that’s the schools.13
Before he became the education secretary, Arne Duncan was an enthusiastic advocate for the Commercial Club’s scheme, privatizing Chicago public schools at a rate of about twenty schools per year. Revealing his corporate-minded orientation to schooling, Duncan told a room full of businessmen at the Commercial Club’s “Free to Choose, Free to Succeed: The New Market in Public Education” symposium in May of 2008, “I am not a manager of 600 schools. I’m a portfolio manager of 600 schools and I’m trying to improve my portfolio.”14
Detroit public schools: Extending the education “shock doctrine”

Now that Arne Duncan has been promoted to U.S. secretary of education he plans to use the economic crisis as a way to force the public education system across the United States down the path of New Orleans and Chicago. Nowhere is this more apparent than the city most devastated by the Great Recession. Detroit, which was a struggling city well before the crisis, has now been pushed over the edge. As theObserver reported last November, “The city has a shocking jobless rate of 29 percent. The average house price in Detroit is only $7,500, with many homes available for only a few hundred dollars.”15 A third of the city has been completely abandoned, prompting new proposals by the mayor to demolish an estimated 10,000 buildings and turn largely abandoned neighborhoods into farmland.16

The shock of the recession has provided the perfect political cover for a drastic reorganization of the city’s school system and a sharp attack on the Detroit Federation of Teachers. In January of 2009, Democratic Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm appointed Robert Bobb, president and CEO of the LAPA Group, LLC, a private- and public-sector consulting firm, as the emergency financial manager for Detroit Public Schools (DPS). Bobb, who was tasked with getting “the Detroit Public Schools’ fiscal house in order” is one of the many graduates of the Broad Residency in Urban Education program who hold high-level positions in urban school districts across the nation. The Broad Foundations began in the 1960s with the mission to transform “urban K-12 public education through better governance, management, labor relations and competition.”17

The Broad Residency in Urban Education offers young business majors a full-time, senior-level management position in a large urban school district. For two years, Broad pays half of their salary, and after that, the district is supposed to foot the bill. In a detailed look at Bobb’s business friendly background, author Danny Weil points out that “in an interview with the Detroit News, Broad admitted he contributed $28,000 toward Bobb’s new Detroit salary and moving expenses, plus hundreds of thousands for other material needs connected to Bobb’s leisure lifestyle as a carnival barker of educational privatization efforts.”18

In May 2009, Bobb’s “cost-cutting” endeavors got a boost when Arne Duncan proclaimed DPS “ground zero” for education reform because of the district’s low performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress test. In December, Bobb helped negotiate a controversial contract agreement with Detroit teachers, which requires most union members defer $10,000 in pay over the next two years.19 His new plan, unveiled in March, proposes the closure of forty-four Detroit public schools and the opening of seventy new charter and private schools. As Detroit charter school advocate, Doug Ross, outlined at a recent news conference:

The old plan said to parents, wait, be patient, give us another five years to improve the school where your child goes. This plan says, uh-uh, the waiting is over, we’re going to close low performing schools, we’re going to open new ones, and parents, now you have to take the initiative to go find the best school for your child.20
Detroit currently has nearly 70 percent of its population in public schools and 30 percent in charter schools. The new “Excellent Schools Detroit” initiative calls for a radical redistribution of Detroit’s school-going population, setting the goal that by 2015 only 25 percent of students will still attend Detroit public schools and 75 percent will go to charter schools.21
Two sides of the same capitalist coin

The essential dilemma these examples illustrate for those that care about preserving public education is that both major parties look at educational reform from the perspective of a business investor. The purpose of any investment in education is to better compete in global markets. Students are seen as passive recipients of knowledge— not knowledge for liberation or to deal with the pressing problems of the twenty-first century—but knowledge that will prepare students to enter the labor force and increase America’s economic competitiveness. These corporate reformers see creating competitive, rational individuals who strive to compete in the marketplace and become productive members of the workforce as the most important function of schooling. In their cost-benefit analyses they weigh monetary investments in education with economic gains to society. So if they don’t see an economic gain in investing in education, they won’t do it.

Under this model, students’ progress is measured by standardized tests and data collection. These policies are exemplified in the No Child Left Behind Act. Most people think of NCLB as a Republican policy because it happened under President George W. Bush. But in fact, more Democrats voted for the bill than Republicans did. In a March 2001 issue of the Democratic Leadership Council’s Blueprint Magazine, Andrew Rotherham wrote, “Mr. Bush’s education agenda is largely a New Democratic one…. The new education bill, which is regarded widely as ‘Bush’s education initiative,’ was largely written by Democratic Sens. Joe Lieberman (Conn.) and Evan Bayh (Ind.), along with other New Democrats.”22 In fact, the parts that the Democrats claim responsibility for are those that deal with accountability and school choice.

The neoliberals in both parties aim to structure government funding of education as a way to reorganize the school system to better fit the needs of corporations. This is why they support standardized tests, charter schools, merit pay, and “turnarounds” even though there is evidence these policies negatively impact education and student performance. It is not the case that the Obama administration has somehow missed the studies that prove these policies don’t improve education. While Race to the Top and the new restructuring of NCLB will most certainly fail at its stated goal of improving public education, it remains to be seen whether its real goal of weakening the teachers’ unions and further privatizing public education will become a reality. Corporate reformers led by Arne Duncan want to apply lean management to the public education system. They hope to force teachers to work longer hours for less pay and fewer benefits, and deskill the job of an educator, taking control of curriculum development from the classroom and placing it into the hands of enormous textbook and testing companies.

This system of incentives and threats that reformers like Arne Duncan are creating will devastate the public education system for years to come. It will take the active organization of teachers, students, and parents nationwide to turn the tide.

Adam Sanchez is a frequent contributor to and is currently in the teacher education program at Lewis & Clark College.

1 Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2007), 5.
2 Interview with Michael Molina, “Privatization and the Katrina solution,”Socialist Worker, May 28, 2008.

3 Leigh Dingerson, “Narrow and unlovely,” Rethinking Schools, Volume 21, No. 4, Summer 2007.

4 Ibid.

5 Ibid.

6 David Parker Jr., “New Orleans public schools: Still under water?,” Nation, May 20, 2009.

7 Alexander Fenwick, “Charter schools rise in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina,” U.S. News & World Report, December 23, 2009.

8 Bill Quigley, “The cleansing of New Orleans,” CounterPunch, March 4, 2008,

9 Henry A Giroux and Kenneth Saltman, “Obama’s betrayal of public education? Arne Duncan and the corporate model of schooling,” Truthout, December 17, 2008,

10 Joel Spring, Political Agendas for Education, From Change We Can Believe in to Putting America First, Fourth Edition (New York: Routledge, 2010), 1.

11 Kenneth J. Saltman, Capitalizing on Disaster: Taking and Breaking Public Schools (Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers, 2007), 143–44.

12 Teachers for Social Justice, “TSJ Position on Renaissance 2010,”

13 Pauline Lipman, “We’re not blind. Just follow the dollar sign,” Rethinking Schools Online, Summer 2005, http://www.

14 Giroux and Saltman, “Obama’s betrayal of public education?”

15 Paul Harris, “How Detroit, the Motor City, turned into a ghost town,” Observer(UK), November 1, 2009.

16 Interview with Sharon “Shea” Howell, Democracy Now!, April 2, 2010.

17 Quoted from The Broad Foundation Web site,

18 Danny Weil, “Detroit Teachers fight obsequious politicians, union bosses and privatizations plans,” Daily Censored, February 14, 2010.

19 Chastity Pratt Dawsey and Gina Damron, “Detroit teachers union OKs deal with school district,” Free Press, December 19, 2009.

20 “Mass closures of public schools, promotion of charters raise fears of privatized Detroit education system,” Interview with Nate Walker, Democracy Now! April 2, 2010.

21 Ibid.

22 Andrew J. Rotherham, “How Bush stole education,” Blueprint Magazine, March 25, 2002.
Obama Romney Lovefest in Attacking Public Education and Pushing Privatization And Charters "I agree with Secretary Arne Duncan, he’s -- some ideas he’s put forward on Race to the Top, not all of them, but some of them I agree with and -- and congratulate him for pursuing that."


LEHRER: Mr. President, please respond directly to what the governor just said about trickle-down -- his trick-down approach, as he said yours is.

OBAMA: Well, let me talk specifically about what I think we need to do. First, we’ve got to improve our education system and we’ve made enormous progress drawing on ideas both from Democrats and Republicans that are already starting to show gains in some of the toughest to deal with schools. We’ve got a program called Race to the Top that has prompted reforms in 46 states around the country, raising standards, improving how we train teachers.

So now I want to hire another 100,000 new math and science teachers, and create 2 million more slots in our community colleges so that people can get trained for the jobs that are out there right now. And I want to make sure that we keep tuition low for our young people.

ROMNEY: And so the question is how to get them going again. And I’ve described it. It’s energy and trade, the right kind of training programs, balancing our budget and helping small business. Those are the -- the cornerstones of my plan.

But the president mentioned a couple of other ideas I’ll just note. First, education. I agree: Education is key, particularly the future of our economy. But our training programs right now, we’ve got 47 of them, housed in the federal government, reporting to eight different agencies. Overhead is overwhelming. We’ve got to get those dollars back to the states and go to the workers so they can create their own pathways to get in the training they need for jobs that will really help them.

OBAMA: It means that the teacher that I met in Las Vegas, a wonderful young lady, who describes to me -- she’s got 42 kids in her class. The first two weeks she’s got them, some of them sitting on the floor until finally they get reassigned. They’re using text books that are 10 years old.

That is not a recipe for growth. That’s not how America was built. And so budgets reflect choices.

Ultimately, we’re going to have to make some decisions. And if we’re asking for no revenue, then that means that we’ve got to get rid of a whole bunch of stuff.

OBAMA: But as Abraham Lincoln understood, there are also some things we do better together. So, in the middle of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln said, let’s help to finance the Transcontinental Railroad, let’s start the National Academy of Sciences, let’s start land grant colleges, because we want to give these gateways of opportunity for all Americans, because if all Americans are getting opportunity, we’re all going to be better off. That doesn’t restrict people’s freedom. That enhances it.

And so what I’ve tried to do as president is to apply those same principles.

And when it comes to education what I’ve said is we’ve got to reform schools that are not working. We use something called Race to the Top. Wasn’t a top-down approach, Governor. What we’ve said is to states, we’ll give you more money if you initiate reforms. And as a consequence, you had 46 states around the country who have made a real difference.

But what I’ve also said is let’s hire another 100,000 math and science teachers to make sure we maintain our technological lead and our people are skilled and able to succeed. And hard-pressed states right now can’t all do that. In fact we’ve seen layoffs of hundreds of thousands of teachers over the last several years, and Governor Romney doesn’t think we need more teachers. I do, because I think that that is the kind of investment where the federal government can help.

It can’t do it all, but it can make a difference. And as a consequence we’ll have a better trained workforce and that will create jobs because companies want to locate in places where we’ve got a skilled workforce.

LEHRER: Two minutes, Governor, on the role of government. Your view?

ROMNEY: Well, first, I love great schools. Massachusetts, our schools are ranked number one of all 50 states. And the key to great schools, great teachers.

So I reject the idea that I don’t believe in great teachers or more teachers. Every school district, every state should make that decision on their own.

The role of government: Look behind us. The Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. The role of government is to promote and protect the principles of those documents.

LEHRER: All right. Let’s go through some specifics in terms of what -- how each of you views the role of government. How do -- education. Does the federal government have a responsibility to improve the quality of public education in America?

ROMNEY: Well, the primary responsibility for education is -- is, of course, at the state and local level. But the federal government also can play a very important role. And I -- and I agree with Secretary Arne Duncan, he’s -- some ideas he’s put forward on Race to the Top, not all of them, but some of them I agree with and -- and congratulate him for pursuing that. The federal government can get local and -- and state schools to do a better job.

My own view, by the way, is I’ve added to that. I happen to believe, I want the kids that are getting federal dollars from IDEA or Title I -- these are disabled kids or -- or -- or poor kids or -- or lower-income kids, rather, I want them to be able to go to the school of their choice.

So all federal funds, instead of going to the -- to the state or to the school district, I’d have go, if you will, follow the child and let the parent and the child decide where to send their -- their -- their student.

LEHRER: How do you see the federal government’s responsibility to, as I say, to improve the quality of public education in this country?

OBAMA: Well, as I’ve indicated, I think that it has a significant role to play. Through our Race to the Top program, we’ve worked with Republican and Democratic governors to initiate major reforms, and they’re having an impact right now.

LEHRER: Do you think you have a difference with your views and -- and those of Governor Romney on -- about education and the federal government?

OBAMA: You know, this is where budgets matter, because budgets reflect choices. So when Governor Romney indicates that he wants to cut taxes and potentially benefit folks like me and him, and to pay for it we’re having to initiate significant cuts in federal support for education, that makes a difference.

You know, his -- his running mate, Congressman Ryan, put forward a budget that reflects many of the principles that Governor Romney’s talked about. And it wasn’t very detailed. This seems to be a trend. But -- but what it did do is to -- if you extrapolated how much money we’re talking about, you’d look at cutting the education budget by up to 20 percent.

OBAMA: When it comes to community colleges, we are seeing great work done out there all over the country because we have the opportunity to train people for jobs that exist right now. And one of the things I suspect Governor Romney and I probably agree on is getting businesses to work with community colleges so that they’re setting up their training programs...

LEHRER: Do you -- do you agree, Governor?

OBAMA: Let me just finish the point.


OBAMA: The -- where they’re partnering so that they’re designing training programs. And people who are going through them know that there’s a job waiting for them if they complete it. That makes a big difference, but that requires some federal support.

Let me just say one final example. When it comes to making college affordable, whether it’s two-year or four-year, one of the things that I did as president was we were sending $60 billion to banks and lenders as middlemen for the student loan program, even though the loans were guaranteed. So there was no risk for the banks or the lenders, but they were taking billions out of the system.

And we said, “Why not cut out the middleman?” And as a consequence, what we’ve been able to do is to provide millions more students assistance, lower or keep low interest rates on student loans. And this is an example of where our priorities make a difference.

Governor Romney, I genuinely believe cares about education, but when he tells a student that, you know, “you should borrow money from your parents to go to college,” you know, that indicates the degree to which, you know, there may not be as much of a focus on the fact that folks like myself, folks like Michelle, kids probably who attend University of Denver, just don’t have that option.

And for us to be able to make sure that they’ve got that opportunity and they can walk through that door, that is vitally important not just to those kids. It’s how we’re going to grow this economy over the long term.

LEHRER: We’re running out of time, gentlemen.


ROMNEY: Mr. President, Mr. President, you’re entitled as the president to your own airplane and to your own house, but not to your own facts. All right, I’m not going to cut education funding. I don’t have any plan to cut education funding and -- and grants that go to people going to college. I’m planning on (inaudible) to grow. So I’m not planning on making changes there.

But you make a very good point, which is that the place you put your money just makes a pretty clear indication of where your heart is. You put $90 billion into -- into green jobs. And I -- look, I’m all in favor of green energy. $90 billion, that would have -- that would have hired 2 million teachers. $90 billion.

And these businesses, many of them have gone out of business, I think about half of them, of the ones have been invested in have gone out of business. A number of them happened to be owned by people who were contributors to your campaigns.

Look, the right course for America’s government, we were talking about the role of government, is not to become the economic player, picking winners and losers, telling people what kind of health treatment they can receive, taking over the health care system that has existed in this country for a long, long time and has produced the best health records in the world.

The right answer for government is say, How do we make the private sector become more efficient and more effective? How do we get schools to be more competitive? Let’s grade them. I propose we grade our schools so parents know which schools are succeeding and failing, so they can take their child to a -- to a school that he’s being more successful.

I don’t want to cut our commitment to education. I wanted to make it more effective and efficient. And by the way, I’ve had that experience. I don’t just talk about it. I’ve been there. Massachusetts schools are ranked number one in the nation. This is not because I didn’t have commitment to education. It’s because I care about education for all of our kids.

LEHRER: All right, gentlemen...