Another Phony Republican “Revolution”

Heads up, fellow Dems:  Republicans love to talk about “revolution” when they’re out of power — and they exploit it to leverage discontent at every opportunity.

Privatizing public schools is a great opportunity.

Today I got an invitation to join a new front group, “Parent Revolution,” asking me to grab a torch and pitchfork and get busy on Los Angeles schools:

Together, we will seize this moment, drag the LAUSD kicking and screaming into the 21st Century, and make our public schools work once again for the parents and kids of Los Angeles.

You’d never guess that this is bankrolled by Republicans, would you?

Well, look out.  Underneath the Orwellian front groups that are out to trick parents into supporting their “revolution,” this is all about privatization via charter schools.  There are untold billions of dollars at stake.

You’ll see.  Just look behind the front groups.

The shill executive director of this effort is a well-known hack consultant who plays both sides, Republican and Democratic, Ben Austin. In his front group pitch, he fails to mention the fact that he’s been on the payroll for Green Dot Charter Schools for a long time.  Before that, he worked for L.A.’s Republican Mayor Dick Riordan, another privatization moneybags, and he’s been carrying water for privatizing L.A. schools for a long time now.

The hook is this seemingly democratic appeal:

Watch our video to find out how you can transform your child’s school by getting 51% of parents at your school to sign the petition. If 51% of the parents at your school sign the petition demanding a better school, we will guarantee your child a great school, in your neighborhood, within three years.

Why 51%?  Well, that’s the magic number in LAUSD if you want to privatize a public school with a charter.

Ben’s boss is, among others, Green Dot Charter Schools, bankrolled by Republican developer Eli Broad and bearded by “non-profit” status.

Who else is paying for this “revolution”?  Mostly Republicans, of course.  And anyone else who wants to make a buck off of public funds in education.  

They’re counting on people not looking too closely behind the curtain:


The Parent Revolution was started by a coalition of organizations, led by the Los Angeles Parents Union.  Other members include Green Dot Public Schools, Alliance for College-Ready Public Schools, Brightstar, and others.

1)  “BrightStar Education Group operates for-profit postsecondary education schools,” led by Republican President and CEO Jim Haga.

2)  Chairman of the board of the “Alliance for College-Ready Public Schools” is Frank E. Baxter, one of the biggest Republican donors in California.

3)  Steve Barr, the Chairman of the Board of Green Dot, has used the charter schools to drive a wedge into the LA teacher’s union.  Union-busting wolf in sheep’s clothing? Something like that.  He’s deeply involved with Republican privatization front-group Democrats For Education Reform.  More Green Dots — and more freedom to put the public dime in private hands– is what his work is all about.

Heads up, folks.

Front groups and buzz words can go a long way towards obscuring the real Republican agenda of privatization.

Please deconstruct — and expose — other efforts whenever you find them!

[Cross-posted at DailyKos.]

4 thoughts on “Another Phony Republican “Revolution””

  1. A few problems with this. First, calling charter schools ‘privatization’ of education is a little misguided. They’re public schools, free to every student who attends.  They don’t ‘skim’ or choose the best students (they’re legally barred from doing so), and charter operations such as Green Dot specifically serve communities being failed by their local public schools.  99% of Green Dot students are black or Latino.  85% qualify for free or reduced lunch. And Green Dot takes those students and sends over 75% of them to college. Those same exact students, in LAUSD, go to college at or below 10%.  So one can have a reasonable debate over charter schools and their role in public education, but if you’re going to be reasonable about it, you have to at some point acknowledge that operators like Green Dot and Alliance are doing more to close the achievement gap and stop cycles of poverty in poor, underserved, black and Latino communities than almost anyone else in Los Angeles, and possibly the country.  You have to acknowledge the realities of kids in LAUSD- almost 50% don’t graduate high school, and 11% go to college.  If you are not willing to challenge that status quo, I’m not sure how you can call yourself a progressive. (Check the results yourself-

    Second point- the Parent Revolution is not about giving everyone a charter.  It’s about giving parents a choice.  We will organize parents and empower parents to give them leverage and power with district bureaucrats.  And they will get to choose.  If parents in areas with failing schools want a charter operator to transform their failing school into one (still free and open to every student) that can send their kids to college, is that really “progressive” to tell them they shouldn’t?  The Parent Revolution won’t force a charter onto anyone- we know we can’t and shouldn’t charterize an entire district- but parents need to have options, power, and choices.  

    Third- just because there are some fair-minded Republicans who agree with an incredibly progressive goal and cause should not invalidate that goal and cause.  That’s a very silly point of view that I hope you will reconsider.

    Fourth- although empowering parents is an idea that appeals to some conservatives, the Parents Union is a very progressive organization.  Regardless of your ad hominem attacks on Ben, he’s been working in Democratic politics for over 15 years.  I was President of my colleges YD chapter, and flew to Iowa and knocked in doors in 10 below temperature to help Barack Obama win the caucuses.  So again, while reasonable people can disagree and discuss charters, parents rights, and our Parent Revolution, to cast it as some stealthy Republican takeover insults me, my intelligence, and merits a little skepticism from those reading this diary.  

    Looking forward to engaging everyone who cares about public education and closing our shameful achievement gap in a continual dialogue in the coming months and years.  

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