LAUSD iPads and the Will of the Voters: Just the Facts, Please
Commentary by Public Policy Educator, Ellen Lubic, Director, Joining Forces for Education
Today, Diane Ravitch posted on her website an article on the LA Times editorial which once again lambasted the Board of Education for micro managing the ‘poor beleaguered’ Superintendent of LAUSD, John Deasy. The title of Diane’s writing is Putting Bureaucrats First. Evidently the LA Times does not understand the representative form of government in which we live, whereby We, the People, elect a School Board to represent us, to work in our behalf, in governing our school district by hiring and overseeing the senior administrator, the Superintendent of Schools, in this case the highly charged and highly paid John Deasy, maker of terrible business decisions which may well bankrupt our school system. It is Deasy who reports back to our School Board for they are his bosses, as we, the voting public of taxpayers, are theirs.
Many of us have watched, and even been in the midst of, this dance of death that is public education leadership in Los Angeles, with all the many power players such as the major privatizers-for-profit like Eli Broad, Rupert Murdoch, the Waltons, Bloomberg, Gates, and those other billionaires who interfere with the democratic election process by pouring millions of their dollars into out-of-state school board elections in order to get their selected toadies elected. These are the same intruders who create ‘media spins’ that bypass whirling dervishes in their dizzying absurdities, as witness the Oct. 29 photo-op concocted ‘phony public’ collected by their PR and law firm reps, their highly paid organizers and ubiquitous ‘suits’ Ryan and Rose mentioned below.
So the stage is set for the months of angst regarding the potentially
sweetheart deals for iPads contracted for above-retail price, without keyboards nor WiFi, nor plans for loss or damage, for 650,000 LAUSD students, and the elaborate rationales from a “civil rights issue” by Deasy, to “they are not that expensive and did not go over budget” as claimed last week by the scapegoated Jaime Aquino.
It was clear from the ‘surprise’ Aquino resignation some months ago that Jaime would be the sacrificial goat, not lamb, in this scenario. He was assigned to fall on his own petard for the farce that is LAUSD’s, Deasy and company, so poorly conceived decision to spend a huge amount of taxpayer money to give iPads to every student in this vast district.
At this point, only Board member Monica Ratliff has the good judgment and guts to stand up for what is correct and say, ‘hold it, and let’s wait and see how things go’ before throwing more taxpayer money at this over-priced tech event.
Every taxpayer in our State should be emailing the Board to follow Ratliff and not throw good money after bad. Let’s have some time to let this fiasco shake down.
Yet today Sacramento announced that it has sent us, and other districts, all the rest of the windfall taxpayer funding to all be used to implement the very questionable, not longitudinally tested, Obama/Duncan mandated, Common Core system which educators all over the U.S. are lambasting for the many errors in the material, for the pressure of extensive testing from kindergarten though high school. Trained therapists are horrified at the children who are falling apart from the pressures of all this testing, children who experts say will never love learning for its own sake due to this stress, but will learn mainly to hate school.
And of course, there is the constant trumpeting from the LA Times which always reacts the same way, first with some few articles that may, or may not, show the problem, but repeatedly with the unidentified editorial writer blaming the Board for the mistakes of the administrators. They conveniently forget that the Board that supported Deasy in this fiasco is now a different makeup after the last election. But still many of the Teacher 5 members are not being rational in their support of Deasy and Eli Broad, the mastermind behind most of the actions at LAUSD.
Back to Aquino, who when testifying in front of the Board last week on the costs of the iPads and the faulty planning, consistently called the uproar from the community who pays all these bills, “NOISE.” That is the Deasy/Aquino/lawyered up ‘spin’…we who pay the bills should not be heard for all we are doing is generating NOISE. This disrespect for the ‘real public’ is outrageous.
The ‘scam public’ bussed in for the Oct. 29 Board meeting, which was carefully choreographed by Ryan and Rose of United Way and Parent Revolution, was such an obvious set up which I witnessed personally from spending the day in their midst, and observing them. And yesterday, Ben Austin, who is their highly paid PRev leader, (financed by the Walton Family Foundation and Eli Broad and other billionaires), wrote his spin on HuffPost. His story diverges 180 degrees from those of us who were there and witnessed the undemocratic outcome of too much power in the hands of these self-entitled oligarchs (and their top law firms too) who paid everyone of the participants to show up and do their phony dance to the tune of money, money, money. And the Board let it all happen…even seemed to condone and endorse it.
This is how fascism grows when too few have all the money and it buys all the power.