Friday, February 11, 2011

Wing-nuts stalking my brother? Oops, a tactical mistake.

There's a tiny group of right-wing crazies in Michigan called the Education Action Group. EAG claims it's all about "school choice." But for them, choice is merely a code word for privatization, anti-union, and anti-teacher politics. While they're tiny, as you might expect, they are heavily funded by a rich and powerful bunch of conservative types who group around the Mackinac Center for Policy Research. EAG serves as the Center's hired attack dogs, used against teacher unions and even spying on individual teacher pro-union activists. One of those they're currently stalking is my brother Fred. Ooops, a tactical mistake.

Fred is a veteran elementary school art teacher and a damn good one. He's well respected by his colleagues and has represented them for two terms as their elected local union president. Fred is also a long time social-justice, civil rights, anti-war and union political activist. He's very open about his political views and makes them known to all who are interested on Fred Klonsky's Blog. You can also follow him on Twitter.

The other day, the district supt. informed Fred that someone named Ben Velderman had filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request demanding to see all of Fred's work emails. There is nothing specific about their request. It's just a fishing expedition and job harassment reminiscent of Joe McCarthy's tactics back in the '50s.  And there's good reason for the similarity. Venderman works for  EAG founder Kyle Olsen. Olsen is a disciple of McCarthy and a pal of new McCarthyites like Glenn Beck and Andrew Breitbart.  He is a contributor to Breitbart's blog,, Fred is actually in very good company. Olsen, Beck and Breitbard are currently cranking out vicious attacks on liberals like the  renowned sociologist Frances Fox Piven. Previous targets include civil rights hero Shirley Sherrod and President Obama.

Knowing Fred as I do, there is no chance in the world  that he will be dissuaded  from his social-justice efforts or from the way he teaches his kids. If you want to know more about his teaching methods, read this letter to Velderman in response to his stalkers, written by film maker and Columbia College prof, Jeff Spitz. Fred's classroom work was featured in a Spitz film. In fact, I kind of feel some pity for Olsen, Velderman and their gang now that they have pissed off my brother. But as Fred points out, the real purpose of McCarthy-style bullying attacks is to intimidate other teachers and spread fear.

But I think we can turn that around. If you would like to respond to Velderman or Olsen and tell them what you think of their attack on Fred or on other educators, you can reach them at the Education Action Group Foundation, Inc at 213-733-4202. Velderman's email is Please copy me on any missives to EAG so I can post them here.


  1. I called and left Olsen a message since he wasn't available at the moment. Sorry it's not printable.

  2. How does one file a FOIA request?

  3. Q: What do you do for a living Mr. Valderman?
    A: Mr Olson pays me to read teachers' emails to see if I can find any dirt on any of them.


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