Sunday, January 26, 2014

Michelle Rhee and Education Reform

 I am SO not a fan of Michelle Rhee.  I guess I have an aversion to people who profit off of the destruction of our educational system.  Yes, I am a public school cheerleader.  Unlike Ms. Rhee. MY CHILDREN go to public school.  And, here in my Whitebread section of Los Angeles County, our districts (Lowell Joint School District, Fullerton Uniion High School District) are pretty good.  And the district to the east of us (East Whittier School District) is really good.  Both districts are high on middle class, middle income families.  But, the district to the west of us, a good district, has a higher rate of low income families.  Our high school district has some of the BEST high schools in the country.  Troy High School and Sunny Hills High School in Fullerton, California, always rates in the top one hundred high schools in the nation.  And our high schools rate in the top five hundred in California. In fact, California has some of the very best high schools.  So, I know of which I speak.  My community has schools that run the gamut from low income to very wealthy.

Yet. Ms. Rhee and her, ahem, "non-profit" group Students First, which should really read "Billionaires First", since most of her donors are people like the Walton family, the DeVoe family (Amway), the Gates', the nauseating Koch brothers, Eli Broad and his wife,  Andrew Tisch, Ron Packard of K-12, Rupert Murdoch and many other unnamed donors, since Students First does not disclose their donors, were instrumental in the dreadful 'Parent Trigger Law".  Ms. Rhee sends in (whom I believe) her little henchmen group, Parent Revolution (who also doesn't disclose their donors), who then goes into very poor communities to scare the living crap out of parents, usually people who's first language is NOT English, tell them how if they vote out their horrid principal and teachers and vote in this really fandabulous charter school, they will get a whole host of goodies (they promise things like computers, iPads, new books, blahblahblah) and that their kids will just SOAR in education! They also get a small group of parents in the community to lead the crusade.  Then, they bring in for-profit charters.

Yes, there have been rumors of misdeeds by Parent Revolution, including paying the small group of parents to lead the "revolution".  Many of the parents against the conversion of Desert Trails Elementary have said that Parent Revolution "hired" the two parent leaders in the Adelanto school district, where the "Parent Trigger" law had it's most publicized case.  According to this article, one of the mothers, who was part of the parent committee, was really an employee.  Many of the parents felt pressured by Parent Revolution.  Many felt they were lied to and tricked into signing petitions.  And, when they tried to rescind their signature, the court told them no.

It has just been horrible for this community and has left it incredibly divided, with neighbor against neighbor and former friends now enemies.  And it hasn't died down. Two of the moms who were against the parent trigger law and changing their school are now being accused of vandalizing the school. (I find it very interesting that Parent Revolution has stepped up for the two women claiming they are being harassed by the two anti-charter moms)  And the promises made by the new for-profit charter seem awfully lofty for a school with kids that come from impoverished backgrounds, who's first language is not English.

What I find tremendously pathetic is that when the school was a regular public school, it couldn't get money for basics.  But, with a for-profit, they get the fancy equipment but how much good will it do?  The charter that took them over (supposedly non-profit but that term has become meaningless) claims that Desert Trails has a "similar demographic" as the school they run in Hesperia.  Really?  Here are some facts..... The Great Schools website tells a very different story. At La Verne Prep, their student population is almost evenly split between non-Hispanic white and Hispanic. The median income in Hesperia is $43k for a family of four with fourteen percent living below poverty level.  For Desert Trails Elementary (now Prep), it was SIXTY-SIX percent Hispanic, with only FIVE PERCENT non-Hispanic white.  The median income for a family of four in Adelanto was $35k with TWENTY-FOUR PERCENT living below the poverty line.  Hesperia had sixteen percent of households led by a single-mother. Adelanto had nearly TWENTY-FOUR PERCENT of households led by single mothers. Do you call that “similar demographics”? Charter schools, under these conditions, is the equivalent of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Study after study has shown that POVERTY is the biggest problem facing education. Kids who are poor don’t have the same foundations that kids who are comfortable have. Financial stress plays the biggest part in “failing schools” and no amount of iPads and computers will fix it. I know my opinion will not go over well here but it needs to be said. These kids are poor. For many, English is not their first language. I don’t see Parent Revolution working to help with poverty issues. All I see is them tearing a community apart and, for what? Something that won’t help.

Adelanto was not the first attempt on the part of Parent Revolution.  Compton was a high profile target.  While I was doing research, I found Parent Revolution's 990 income tax forms (this is a .PDF) and found in the 2009 return that STEVE BARR was listed as Chairman of Parent Revolution.  He was also the founder of Geen Dot....a private charter school company.  He left Green Dot in 2009.  Again, the funding

And now, Michelle Rhee and her evil minions are taking their destruction to a new level.  Yes, The Mistress of Doom wants to use the court system to break the teacher's union here in California.  She married the Mayor of Sacramento, so I guess we are her guinea pigs (lucky us!)  She is not satisfied ruining a small community in the desert.  Now she is going Big Game Hunting!  Will someone give this woman a chew toy?

Oh, and some info on dear Michelle.  First, she's what I call, a "born on third" gal.  You know the old saying about being born on third but you think you hit a triple?  That's Michelle.  HER daddy was a doctor.  She went to a nice PRIVATE prep school, then onto Cornell, then Harvard.  Well, she DID go to public school for elementary.  Maybe that's what scarred her for life about public schools. Yes, she was a teacher, for three LONG years.  Yes, she was Chancellor of the Washington DC schools.....we she left in a cloud of "eau de scandal", with rumors flying about administrators altering test booklets with erasers and Number Two pencils, among other things.  Oh, and apparently, public schools are just not good enough for Ms. Rhee's offspring.  They live in NASHVILLE with their father (who, ironically, is head of the Tennessee public education system, who is also out to destroy public education and go to a very chi-chi prep school at $27k a year. I guess when you make $35k a speech, it's not an issue.  

So, here we are......we have this megalomaniacal woman who wants to destroy public education because it was never good for her and hers, who actually PROFITS handsomely from it's destruction and people still think she is for "education reform".  They don't see that the uber-wealthy are funding this endevour, not because they care about kids but because they have found a fabulous new way to add to their billions.  I just will never understand how people will continue to vote against their own best interest (yes, I know, a tired, old saw but a very relevant one) and will continue to listen to the music of the flute played by the one percent.  If people actually read the story of the Pied Piper, he did not save the children.  Like the greedy corporate community of today, the Pied Piper took the children because the people of Hamlin stopped paying him.  And, that's what is happening now.  Except, we are the children, not the rats.

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