With guest, Louder Than a Bomb poet Nate Marshall

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Ebay schools for California?

'Let the strongest survive and the weakest die...'

Silicon Valley billionaires like H-P's Carly Fiorina & Ebay's Meg Whitman represent the, new ultra-conservative face of the Republican Party in Calif. What's their vision for schools and for an economy where increasingly little is produced but information about selling stuff to each other? 

In a league with Bloomberg's race for mayor in N.Y., Whitman spent $71 million of her personal fortune to defeat another right-wing billionaire, Steve Poizner, in the Republican primary. Whitman and Poizner both favor expansion of privately-managed charter schools. Poizner, who only spent $25 million on his campaign, was a co-founder of California Charter School Assoc. Remember, he gave that racist, anti-immigrant speech at the CPAC convention back in February. Whitman, also virulently anti-immigrant, is also a big fan of off-shore drilling. She faces a close battle with former Gov. and Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown in what will be the most expensive governor's race in history. Brown also leans heavily towards charters and brought lots of resources to his favorite ones in Oakland, while neighborhood schools were left to fend for themselves. But overall, he's a lot better than Whitman. Who wouldn't be (besides Poizner)?

T-Party fav, Fiorina, who faces liberal incumbent Dem. Barbara Boxer,  is a straight up voucher supporter. In this speech from 2001 at Aspen, she even used Hegelian dialectics to justify privatization of public schools.  
"Who is your most influential business author?"I paused and said, "Hegel."

Let competition reign, give all students vouchers, and let the strongest schools prosper — and the weakest ones perish.


  1. A view from San Francisco: It's true that Jerry Brown (who himself attended parochial schools in my neighborhood) turned his back on Oakland's public schools to found and promote his two pet charter schools. It's plain to see what he learned from that, though he has yet to publicly acknowledge it.

    Brown's two Oakland charter schools (Oakland School for the Arts, OSA, and Oakland Military Institute, OMI) have struggled badly and would never have survived if he hadn't been knocking himself out raising more money than God for them. I know from friends within the OSA community that he remained very involved with the school even after he became California Attorney General, even attending parent meetings. I also know from those contacts what a total mess the school has been.

    What Brown has to have learned from this experience is that it's really, really hard to run a school (I heard him speak about the two schools before he founded them, and he made it sound like he was going to show those stoopid educators in public schools how it was done) -- and that it takes vastly more resources than state funding allows.

    Wouldn't it be admirable and principled if he would actually man up and acknowledge those things publicly? By the way, I've posted a couple of times on different local blogs about Brown's schools, and he has posted comments. At one point he tried to deny that OSA had had rough times, but he shut up when I pointed out that I had contacts there and was posting from an informed position. Now it's time for him to come clean.

  2. And here's another piece of election news from California. The candidate for state Superintendent of Public Instruction who was the darling of the privatizers/charterizers, Gloria Romero, was demolished. Two candidates who decidedly did not share her advocacy of education deform will face off in November. On paper it looks like a close vote -- each got between 17 and 19 percent -- but that's considering the other two candidates, Tom Torlakson and Larry Aceves, split the anti-Romero vote.

    Torlakson, a veteran state assemblyman, was supported by the California Teachers Association. Aceves is an educator (a superintendent from one of the districts in San Jose, a sprawling city cut up into several school districts) with no prior political experience. I looks like the pendulum is swinging and the voters chose either a working educator or the CTA pick over an anti-public-education "deformer." Now let's hope that Aceves and Torlakson get that message and try to outdo each other as supporters of public schools, teachers and kids.

  3. The end of democracy

    Without a manufacturing base, this country will no longer to maintain it's relatively high standard of living. Silicon Valley will never fill the gap. Neither will Wall Street. While these two groups grow richer and consolidate power, even in times of economic disaster for most, the public sector is gradually being eroded. That makes it easy for new billionaire class--Gates, Broad, Whitman, Bloomberg--to exert it will over schools, media, both political parties etc... without any public accountability.


Agree? Disagree? Let me hear from you.