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Backfire! How Teacher Union Leaders Helped Tuck & Green Dot Charters Push Their Agenda
by Steve Zeltzer
Tuesday Nov 6th, 2018 10:09 AM
Marshall Tuck, the former Green Dot Charter School operator received support for the school chain from the AFT leadership including AFT president Randi Weingarten. Weingarten and UFT president Mulgrew lauded the school change and supported the deregulation of public education for these charter schools.

How Teacher Union Leaders Helped Marshall Tuck And Green Dot Schools Push Their Agenda

California School Superintendent Marshall Tuck Came Out Of Green Dot Public Charter schools in Los Angeles Which Was Set Up With Support Of AFT President Randi Weingarten


By Steve Zeltzer
Host of KPFA WorkWeek Radio

The most bitter and hotly contested race in California’s 2018 election cycle is the fight between Democrat politician Tony Thurmond and former charter operator at Green Dot Public Schools Marshall Tuck who are running for State Superintendent of Education. Over $45 million has already been spent with the majority of money coming from billionaires including the Reed Hastings of Netflix, Eli Broad, Carrie Walton Penner, daughter of Wal-Mart's board chairman and the California Charter School Association CCSA. Their open goal is for full privatization of public education by charterizing all school districts.

They have also been spending millions of dollars on ads touting the support of Tuck by former president Barak Obama and his Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Duncan in his Tuck ads says he will continue the work of making education better.

This is not the first run for Tuck who was a Wall Street Soloman Brothers bank and then decided to get into the education business by heading up the Green Dot public charter school chain in Los Angeles. He ran in 2016 and I interviewed him about why he was running. He said he wanted to make education better to allowing school districts to get rid of teachers easier and also supported the right of the billionaires to run the public funded charter school system.

Greed Dot Charters, AFT Randi Weingarten and Steve Barr

The AFT leadership welcomed the establishment of the Green Dot chain and their collaboration with business entrepreneur and Green Dot founder Steve Barr. Barr had become friends of Netflix billionaire and major player in the California Charter School Association. He also helped funded the 2002 Proposition 39 which allowed a massive expansion of charter schools by requiring that school districts approve them regardless of the financial impact. It also further deregulated oversight and allowed co-locations of charter schools into public school sites that has had the effect of wrecking community public schools.

“The UFT-Green Dot contract is rooted in the belief, held by the union and Green Dot, that establishing a collaborative and respectful labor-management environment in schools is essential in supporting the quality of teaching and learning.

"Green Dot has had great success in working with the unionized teaching force in Los Angeles, and we are looking forward to continuing our partnership with Randi Weingarten and the United Federation of Teachers in New York," said Green Dot Public Schools founder and chairman, Steve Barr.”

Weingarten has supported charter schools and even likes to argue that in addition to running the AFT as president she runs her own charter school in New York.

AFT president Weingarten and the NEA leadership had also supported an organization called Teacher Union Reform Network T.U.R.N.

The organization was to establish collaboration and collusion between management and the union. In fact, it was also funded with $10 million by the Eli Broad Foundation which has been a leading force nationally in training superintendents to push charters and privatization.

“On April 5, 2001, Eli Broad announced his Foundation was donating $10 million to TURN to foster labor/management “collaboration”. In 2009, Broad invested $2 million in TURN, “a network of National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers locals”.

Obama’s Arne Duncan also helped support TURN and this corporate operation was pushed through the public education system.

This collaboration and collusion with the very billionaries who were organizing to destroy public education through charters was heavily encouraged by the leadership of the AFT when Randi Weingarten even invited billionaire charter supporter and funder Bill Gates of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to the AFT Seattle convention in 2010. He was booed by some delegates but Weingarten completely defended her invitation to this union buster who also supported and funded the “common core”.

Set-up Of The Green Dot “Public” Charter School Chain

The Green Dot charter school chain was set up in 1999 by charter operator Steve Barr In New York and closely worked with Randi Weingarten who at that time was president of the United Federation of Teachers UFT.

Former AFT deputy director of organizing Sean Richmond in an interview in 2003 at the Netroots conference in San Jose argued in fact that the Greendot schools were good schools.

The AFT also differentiated the GreenDot chain of schools with the Gulen charter schools like the Magnolia chain arguing that they were very different particularly because they allowed unionization of the schools and allowed the teachers to have discussion with the management about curriculum.

They also supported the “common core” but wanted to make it better

In 2009, Weingarten also worked closely with Steve Barr to make charter schools “laboratories for a new kinds of labor management relations”. She supported weakening teacher tenure and substandard contracts in the New York charter schools which ended up setting up a two tier public education system de-professionalizing the profession. Another pole of this attack on public education was the support by these charter operators including Steve Barr and Tuck for Teach For American. TFA which the Obama administration and charter supporters like the Gates Foundation have funded brings in young teachers recently graduated from many Ivy League colleges to teach for a couple of years and then leave to either set up charters or go on to other work. This has also financially incentivized struggling school districts to get rid of senior teachers who are more costly and replace them with staff paid significantly less and of course with no real background and training in education. The students have paid the cost with untrained teachers and harmed the education profession.

UFT President Michael Mulgrew’s Close Ties To Steve Barr

In an article in the New Yorker magazine the relationships between the New York AFT-UFT and Barr was illuminated.

“Barr and Stein described a close friendship that has formed between Barr and UFT President Michael Mulgrew — and also between Stein, Mendel, and Leo Casey, the union’s resident big thinker and vice president.”

“We met for breakfast and we ended up almost going to lunch,” Barr said of his first meeting with Mulgrew three months ago. He said that he found Mulgrew to be extremely thoughtful about the future of the teaching profession. The two spoke about how to reconfigure schools for a changing workforce, he said.

In 2012, Barr continued his collaborative work with a partnership with teacher leaders within United Teachers of Los Angeles UTLA and the Los Angeles Unified School District to create teacher-designed hybrid learning pilot schools in Silverlake and West Los Angeles, and the scaling and oversight of Green Dot New York, a school founded by Randi Weingarten and Steve Barr.

Los Angeles education research Robert D. Steels reported that the protection of teachers at the Los Angeles Green Dot schools run by Marshall Tuck was non- existent and no teacher in his research had ever been protected by the charter union contract which he calls a yellow dog contract.

Barr was also was profiting handsomely from his charter operation that was set up in Los Angeles. “On the 2008 990 forms of both Green Dot and Los Angeles Parent Union/ PR (PR was not listed as a name until 2008), the two groups continue to share a common address: 350 South Figueroa Street in Los Angeles. On the 2008 PR 990, Steve Barr is listed as the “principal officer.” That same year, Steve Barr was paid $198,855 as a Green Dot board member—not as executive director/CEO. In the listing of board members and employees, the title next to Barr’s name is written in all caps—BOARD MEMBER—as though it were written another way first and later changed. And oddly enough, Barr is the only “board member” working 40 hours a week and earning a salary.”

Barr also linked the Green Dot New York to their plans in Los Angeles.

"Green Dot has had great success in working with the unionized teaching force in Los Angeles, and we are looking forward to continuing our partnership with Randi Weingarten and the United Federation of Teachers in New York," said Green Dot Public Schools founder and chairman, Steve Barr.

Although Barr left Green Dot in 2012, he has remained involved in education. He founded Future Is Now where Tuck was CEO, and it supposedly organizes teachers to become leaders in changing schools which is code for more charters and privatization. He has also partnered with United Teachers Los Angeles to create schools and helped to build Green Dot New York, now University Prep, with Randi Weingarten

The greasing of the way for the Green Dot schools in Los Angeles with the support of the AFT and UTLA which also supports charter schools helped Tuck get a foot in the door and a virtual free ride from real oversight.

Green Dot has since grown to 18 schools in Los Angeles and according to Tuck massively improved scores at the schools.

The reality however according to public education advocate Skeels was the opposite. According to Skeels the percentage of graduates that were able to go forward with higher education was scandalous.

The California Teachers Association, UTLA, CFT and California AFL-CIO have of course known for many years the real record of Tuck. In his run against former State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson in 2016, it was clear that Tuck was being positioned by the billionaires and charter industry to become the next school superintendent.

In the latest funding report for the 2018 election, $500,000 came from Carrie Walton Penner, the daughter of Wal-Mart's board chairman and a charter school supporter and $1.4 million from Eli Broad, who previously donated money to defeat California's Proposition 30, which increased taxes to give more money to schools.

One of the ideological contradictions that have led the CTA, CFT to not educate their membership and the public about the real role of the charter industry and the billionaire union busting is their own position that they accept the principle of public money going to privately controlled schools in California and country.

The UTLA has even had charter school operators on their Executive Board and the UTLA leadership opposed an initiative in 2016 to repeal the charter school law because it would have made it more “difficult” to organize the charter schools.

The CTA and CFT have also allowed co-locations to proliferate throughout the state with no statewide education campaign against these school wrecking operations that were put in place by Proposition 39. This proposition which was funded by Reed Hastings with $3 million and the California Charter School Association was also supported by the CTA and CFT because it lowered the percentage to pass school bonds in California.

The CTA and CFT have also refused to support the NAACP initiative to put a moratorium on the charter school industry in California. After a study by the NAACP that the charter industry was further segregating public education and also siphoning off public funding from public schools to privately run charter schools the NAACP changed it’s position.

Gavin Newsom the candidate of the Democrats and the likely new governor in California has according to the CTA also not called for a moratorium on charter schools.

“In his speech Tuesday, Jed Wallace, the association’s president, said Newsom had effectively adopted some teachers unions’ positions on charter schools, which includes calling for a moratorium on further expansion in the absence of more oversight. The California Teachers Association, however, says that it has not called for a moratorium on more charter schools in the state.”

They continue to pressure to make the charters more transparent by legislation in Sacramento and many of the bills have been vetoed by charter operator and governor Jerry Brown. They also have refused to fight for a cap on charter schools in California. The Massachusetts Teachers Association got a cap on charter schools which was successfully defended in an effort by the charter industry to repeal.

One additional result of the growing number of charter schools is the undermining of the entire public school pension system. Most new charters put their teachers into 401ks instead of in the California State Retirement System CALSTRS. This is now allowing Governor Brown and anti-labor forces to “restructure” the public pension system cost shifting more costs to the teachrs and public workers and pushing more 401ks instead of a defined benefit pension system. The CTA and CFT which have members on CALSTRS have refused to educate their members as well about the systemic threat to their pension system and the use of this by the Democratic party politicians to attack all public pension benefits.

Governor Brown who is also an operator of two military charter schools in Oakland where he previously was mayor has also appointed charter school operators and privatizers to the Commission on Teacher Credentialing CTC and the California State Board of Education which continues to approve nearly every charter school that has been rejected by local school districts and county school boards.

The CTA has also joined with the Tuck supporters and billionaire funded EdVoice to support West Contra Costa Board president Val Cuevas. Cuevas is supported by Pro-public charter chain Steve and Susan Chamberlin who run Education Matters Political Action Committee and other charter funding front organization. Chamberlin who also builds charter schools non-union gave more than $3 million to the West Contra Costa School District to put more TFA staff in the school district.

Cuevas is also supported by Go Public Schools which has pushed the expansion of charters in the Oakland Unified School District and placed their supporters on the school board.

The CTA and UTR president Demetrio Gonzalez is also supporting Val Cuevas.

One has to ask why the CTA/UTR would be joining with the charter school industry and Tucker funders to support Cuevas. Cuevas in her day job works for the Silicon Valley Community Foundation which has funneled millions of dollars to KIPP and other charters in Northern California.

When the UTR passed a resolution to educate teachers and the public about charters and privatization the president Demetrio Gonzalez made sure to eliminate the chair of that committee and eventually eliminate the union committee.
Gonzalez was also the former campaign manager of Cuevas in her 2014 campaign. In that campaign no personal compaign finance statement was issued and the entire funding of her campaign came from the charter industry through “independent expenditures”.

The use of “independent expenditures” to allow unlimited funding by the charter industry billionaires has exploded in California and through the country.

The failure of the NEA/CTA and AFT/CFT to seriously educate their own members and launch any ongoing political education campaign against privatization in California and nationally may result today in the most open union busting privatizer funded directly by these billionaires who will be in charge of the California public education system. While they continue to spend tens of millions of dollars on Democratic politicians who support charters, they have refused to seriously build an anti-privatization movement to seriously confront the privatizers.

This should be a warning to all teachers, parents and the public of the growing threat to the survival of public education in California and nationally.
§Marshall Tuck Supported LAUSD Corrupt John Deasy Along With Broad
by Steve Zeltzer Tuesday Nov 6th, 2018 10:09 AM
Marshall Tuck did damage control for the corrupt LAUSD superintendent John Deasy who colluded with Apple Inc. and Pearson on rigged contract bidding of over $1 billion. The LA DA refused to prosecute and Deasy went back to work for Eli Broad to "train" more charter operatives.
§Democrats Support Eli Broad And Education "Reform"
by Steve Zeltzer Tuesday Nov 6th, 2018 10:09 AM
Eli Broad and Biden had a benefit for Diane Feinstein who has supported privatization of public education. Her husband Richard Blum who was appointed by CA governor Jerry Brown has pushed privatization of the UC pension system to benefit himself personally.
§Charter Expansion Leads To Decline In Public Schools Quality
by Steve Zeltzer Tuesday Nov 6th, 2018 10:09 AM
The expansion of charters pushed by Tuck and the billionaires has lead to a decline in public school quality but has increased profiteering by the billionaires who fund the California Charter Schools Association CCAA and fund pro-charter candidates like WCCSB president Val Cuevas who is backed by the charter millionaires and billionaires along with the UTU president Demetrio Gonzalez and the CTA leadership.
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AFT's NY UFT Under AFT Randi Weingarten & NYC Green Dot Charter Announce ContractAFTTuesday Nov 6th, 2018 12:14 PM

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