Monday, February 28, 2011


Like the Whos, getting louder and stronger and bolder!
The Cat in the Hat and Old Geisel himself
would be pleased as Horton to see books off the shelf
to celebrate Birthdays and Reading and such
but more important than that, more important-- much, much--
to see folks stand together, like the Whos, shoulder to shoulder
Getting louder, pissed-offer, and stronger and bolder
in defense of our schools and our kids' education
and declare We're the Wealthiest of States - among Nations!
Top Spending for Prisons! 48th for our schools?!!
It's time to make changes to ridiculous rules!
Tax the oilers, the polluters and the corporate wealthy
Spend the money to make our kids' futures look healthy.
Time to confront the gov'ner, the Once-ler, the Rul-ers
Fight for the rights of our collegers and pre-schoolers.
Tell them all that we've HAD it with public school sadness
We're together to oppose this cut-to-bones madness!
Parents, students, administrators, community, teachers,
Pack the buses, the highways, the aisles and the bleachers!

By Toni Morozumi, California public school teacher (Oakland Unified School District)

NOW:  Visit Educate our State and take action!

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 2, 2011: In the morning, join your children’s teachers on the picket line at your local school; in the afternoon, join the protest and teach-in at Oakland’s State Building at 1515 Clay Street.

THURSDAY, MARCH 3, 2011: Watch Diane Ravitch on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.


Thursday, February 24, 2011

"American Workers Vs Multi-Billionaires"

FROM YOUTUBE: "American Workers Vs Multi-Billionaires" was filmed on location in Madison, Wisconsin, where thousands of hard working Americans came together in unity to fight back against a Governor bought and paid for by Billionaires to break up Unions and deny workers collective bargaining and a living wage. "American Workers Vs Multi-Billionaires" was produced by Cynik Lethal and directed by Paradise Gray.

Scott Walker works for multi billionaires
John Boehner works for multi billionaires
while corporations get billions in welfare
and millions in this country been out of work for years

Sarah Palin works for multi billionaires
American workers vs multi billionaires
they wanna end social security and medicare
while millions in this country don't have a dime to spare

Can main street get a bailout
Tell the president our checks weren't mailed out
Tell the house of representatives and senate
And whatever business got the stimulus and spent it
Now they getting record profit that's tripling with no limits
But they cutting jobs and unemployment benefits have ended
How we gone live with no income coming in
And the little help we get is cut from the budget then
What's the role of government
Do workers stand a chance if multi billionaires are running it
Oh now you worried bout the deficit and cutting it
But when them banks needed billions you had enough for them.
Them car companies you had bucks for them
2 wars rebuilding 2 countries guess we stuck with them
the average citizen just ain't lucky then
cause we be getting pimped so I guess we getting fucked again

Rush Limbaugh works for multi billionaires
Bill O'Reilly works for multi billionaires
while corporations get billions in welfare
and millions in this country been out of work for years

Sean Hannity works for multi billionaires
Crazy Glenn Beck works for multi billionaires
they wanna end social security and medicare
while millions in this country don't have a dime to spare

When did the American worker become the enemy
Why is wanting a living wage such a penalty
What happened to justice and liberty
These billionaire haters wanna crush us literally
On the box is Murdoch and his foxes
And if you watch it you might as well be an ostrich
They terrorists cause they hold facts hostage
24 hours straight of we hate what Barack did
If you want to unionize your a communist
But if you buy a congressman they just call you a lobbyist
It's so obvious but here's where the problem is
they act like regular Americans but they sloppy rich
Why you think they wanna cut taxes
cause every single one of them in the higher brackets
This ain't white or black it's class warfare time for action
Just look at wide the gap is

American workers vs multi billionaires
The middle class vs multi billionaires
while corporations get billions in welfare
and millions in this country been out of work for years

Rupert Murdoch is multi billionaires
the Koch brothers are multi Billionaire
they wanna end social security and medicare
while millions in this country don't have a dime to spare

Additional Reading

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Federal investigation into the Gulen Movement’s charter schools

REVISED ON 3/9/2011

An article exposing a federal investigation into the Gulen Movement's involvement in charter schools (>30,000 students) has just been published in Il Sole 24 Ore (considered to be The Wall Street Journal of Italian newspapers): Un imam alla conquista degli Usa.

Yet still, the U.S. public remains uninformed about this whole situation because the American press has revealed very little to them.

Here are excerpts from a translation previously posted at

An imam in the conquest of the United States -
by Claudio Gatti  -  Il Sole 24 Ore (Italy)
February 20, 2011

...Il Sole 24 Ore has been able to determine that for months, the FBI, Department of Justice and Department of Education have been investigating the possible illegal use of these education funds, a criminal conspiracy, extortion, and violation of immigration laws. "The suspicion is that, behind an educational effort, there is a giant conspiracy" a federal officer, requesting anonymity, explained to our newspaper. "The plan is as simple as it is brilliant: to use public funding for schools to educate a new generation of Americans favorably inclined to Turkey and thus indirectly to the Gulen movement, and also to spend some of that money to fund foundations and cultural centers."

Federal authorities have identified at least 120 schools opened in recent years by the movement in some twenty U.S. states, all charter schools, which are outside the loop of public education but financed by states and the federal government. Since each of these schools receives from 1.5 to 3 million dollars each year in public funds, it is a matter of hundreds of millions of dollars a year...

Gulen declined to answer our questions, but when Il Sole 24 Ore asked Beksir [sic- should read Bekir] Aksoy, chairman of the spiritual center of Pennsylvania where the onetime imam lives, if the founder has any relationship with these schools, the response was an emphatic no. And the school administrators themselves have always denied any formal relationship with the movement.

But federal authorities have documents and emails that prove the link...


Friday, February 18, 2011

Chicago’s Gulen charter school teachers (once again) escalate their efforts to unionize

The Chicago Math and Science Academy (CMSA) is one of 25 charter schools operated by Concept Schools (and HERE).* In June 2010, the school fired a pregnant teacher who had received performance bonuses but who had been trying to organize a union. This started a series of very interesting events.

Read this installment to learn about the progression of protests, the teachers’ alliances of community support, the school’s hiring of a “notoriously expensive union-busting law firm” (Q: With whose tax dollars? A: Yours), the teachers’ attempt to apply pressure to and embarrass their local Gulenist organization, the school’s consent to enter into negotiations, stalled progress, and, now, a new type of demonstration (= protests outside the work offices of CMSA board members).



Charter School Fires Teacher Active in Union Organizing
Chicago Math and Science Academy Also Challenges Teachers’ Union Rights

The Chicago Math and Science Academy (CMSA), a public charter school, fired a highly regarded pregnant teacher who helped organize a union at the school in June. The firing occurred as the school also challenged its teachers’ right to form a union.

The teacher, Rhonda Hartwell, was eight months pregnant at the time of her firing and was forced to move up her scheduled delivery to ensure it occurred before her health insurance was cut off.

“It’s one thing for the school to fight the union’s legitimacy, but it’s quite another to retaliate against a union organizer who has been rewarded with performance bonuses and was pregnant. This is about as low as an anti-union administration can go,” said Kim Bobo, executive director of Interfaith Worker Justice.

Hartwell had just received a $1,500 performance bonus, and the school had renewed her contract in April, inviting her to come back to teach this fall. Attorneys for the union filed an unfair labor practice charge against the employer…

Two-thirds of the teaching staff—well over the majority required by law—signed union authorization cards to be represented by the Chicago Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff (Chicago ACTS), an affiliate of the Illinois Federation of Teachers and the American Federation of Teachers. Chicago ACTS also represents teachers at eight other charter schools in Chicago.

Teachers and their supporters—which include local community groups, and religious, labor and political leaders—have vowed to fight what they say is a total disregard for the law by school officials…

The school cited budget reasons for terminating Hartwell, but she and her colleagues are not buying it. They assert that CMSA is hiring new teachers, and a few days before the union organized, CMSA offered all teachers a 5 percent pay raise…

AUGUST 9, 2010: Article published in In These Times:  “Chicago Math and Science Academy: Great Academics, Ugly Unionbusting.” 
A top Chicago charter school has done great things for students, but won't recognize strong teacher support for a union...

Until last year, I only vaguely knew about the school because one of my choir members, who spoke highly of the school and its teachers, attended and graduated in its 2010 class, which had a college acceptance rate of 100 percent. But the school loomed larger when it moved from its original location to a spot about one block from my house.
Although I had been inside the school once, I had never met its leadership or teachers. Nor did I know much about its philosophy. I just knew it was doing a good job. The academy, as its website touts, is one of the top three charter schools in Chicago. It’s clearly doing something right for the students and their families. But there is some weirdness here…

What neither the Concept Schools nor the Chicago Math and Science Academy websites mention is that most of the leadership is part of something called the Gulen Movement. Despite my many years of interfaith work, I was not familiar with the Gulen Movement, although what I have read about it impresses me. But there is something weird about a charter school being so closely linked to a philosophy, the Gulen Movement, that isn’t even mentioned or referred to on its website.

When I went to the school’s board meeting on July 8, I was taken aback to see a board of directors comprised entirely of men. They all appeared of Turkish, Bosnian or Croatian descent. Although I have nothing against Turkish, Bosnian or Croatian men, it does seem that a school board serving students who are 58 percent Hispanic/Latino, 25 percent African American, 12 percent Asian and 5 percent white might be well served by some women board members and board members from ethnic backgrounds the school predominantly serves.

And now for what really worries me: In the winter of 2010, the teachers began to organize a union. They were concerned about staff turnover, which they believe is related to frustrations about having little input into decisions affecting their work and teaching. They were eager to help the school’s leadership grapple with issues around budgeting, staffing and turnover. The teachers believed that the best way for them to have the input they needed and affect the direction of the school was to organize a union.

So the teachers contacted Chicago Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff (Chicago ACTS), a local union of charter school teachers and staff members affiliated with the Illinois Federation of Teachers (AFT). Two-thirds of the teachers signed union authorization cards, clearly indicating strong teacher support for having a union.

On the afternoon of June 23, the teachers announced to Principal Ali Yilmaz that they were forming a union. But right before they marched into his office to deliver the message, Yilmaz, apparently tipped off about the event, fired Rhonda Hartwell…

Chicago Math and Science Academy has hired Seyfarth Shaw, a notoriously expensive union-busting law firm, to advise it in dealing with the union. Anyone who has experience in labor issues in Chicago knows the anti-union reputation of Seyfarth Shaw. It is sad that a school facing budget cuts would waste resources in hiring a law firm to help it fight having a union. But that is exactly what is happening…

…On July 29, Chicago Math and Science Academy filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board claiming it should be covered by the NLRB and not the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board. This switch would mean that the school would not have to recognize the union, but would rather be able to insist on a board certified election. The principal told a community delegation I led on August 5 that he now believes the union wouldn’t have as many supporters with all the laid-off teachers. I’m sure he didn’t mean to imply that he laid off union supporters – but it sure sounded like it!

Compounding the ugly is the blatantly anti-union letter Yilmaz sent to parents. It is written in classic anti-union code – probably scripted by Seyfarth Shaw’s high-paid attorneys…

AUGUST 2010: Teachers and parents videotaped their attempt to meet with the school’s leadership.

NOVEMBER 1, 2010: The American teachers are aware of the Gulen Movement’s connection to their school. And so, with the Gulenist Niagara Foundation sponsoring a 2010 International Gulen Conference from November 11 to 13 in Chicago, they requested to meet with the Niagara Foundation’s leadership to express their concerns. They also sent letters to the conference’s participants informing them of the situation. Arise Chicago, an organization working with the teachers, distributes the link to an interview with Ali Yurtsever, a high-ranking Gulenist who is involved with both CMSA and the Niagara Foundation.


NOVEMBER 11, 2010: A demonstration at a dinner for conference participants being hosted by the Niagara Foundation was planned and then suspended when the Foundation “responded positively and affirmatively to what the union requested.”

Here’s the event notice
Join Arise Chicago, Chicago ACTS, and teachers from north-side Chicago Math and Science and Academy (CMSA) in taking action to recognize their union!
  • Today, Thursday, Nov. 11
  • 5:00 PM: Meet at Citizen Action Illinois, 27 E. Monroe, for pizza and to discuss the teachers’ situation.
  • 5:45 PM: Walk down one block to 76 E. Monroe (University Club of Chicago) to leaflet dinner guests (at a Niagara
    Foundation dinner – see below), hold a prayer vigil outside, and send a delegation inside with a letter requesting a meeting and action.
This is the press release about the suspension:

Subject: Community Pressure Success! Thurs. Teacher Action Suspended
Because of the work of Arise Chicago, Chicago ACTS, and all of you who pledged your support, the teachers at Chicago Math and Science Academy (CMSA) are on a path to resolving the conflict with the school.  Therefore, we are suspending tomorrow’s scheduled vigil aimed at the International Gulen Conference, sponsored by the Niagara Foundation.

Acknowledging the widespread community support, the Foundation has responded positively and affirmatively to what the union requested. Foundation leaders wrote a letter to the CMSA Board of Directors repudiating the school’s refusal to accept the NLRB ruling favoring union rights for teachers. But the letter went further and invoked Niagara Foundation's own principles of promoting dialogue, civic engagement, human dignity and workers’ rights. It cited these principles in embracing fully the right of CMSA teachers to unionize!

Foundation President Dr. Bulent Aydogan emphatically called on CMSA to:
  • Withdraw the NLRB appeal,
  • Recognize the teachers’ union,
  • Negotiate with teachers, community leaders and union leadership to resolve all outstanding issues.   
As a result, Concept Schools Inc., which operates CMSA, has agreed to meet with teachers, union and community leaders next week.  This is an exciting step toward victory for these teachers! It is the sustained support and solidarity of our community allies that makes such victories possible. Thank you to all who pledged to attend the vigil and support these courageous teachers!

NOVEMBER 15, 2010: The teachers’ “success” was announced in Labor Notes, “Chicago Charter School Teachers, with Community Support, Draw Close to Winning Union.”
A highly regarded public charter school in Chicago has leveled a series of union-busting tactics at its teachers this fall—which has been met by a community-union partnership that’s fought back…

The school is run by Concept Schools, which operates 24 other charters in the Midwest. Concept Schools is a participant in the Gülen Movement, an international, interfaith educational movement of “understanding and respect” that comes from Turkey.

But considering the progressive politics of the area, and the supposed philosophy of the school, teachers and community members were disappointed when the teachers found neither understanding nor respect when it came to their decision to organize.

When the CMSA teachers decided to begin organizing, they contacted the Chicago Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff. Chicago ACTS is a joint program of the Chicago Teachers Union and the state and national American Federation of Teachers. CMSA teachers and Chicago ACTS began meeting, often using nearby space at Arise Chicago, a local interfaith workers’ rights organization…

…When they approached the principal with a request to recognize their union, CMSA fired one of the lead organizing teachers (claiming budgetary reasons) and later filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board, arguing that the teachers should not be able to unionize because the school was not a public employer (even though the school’s own website lists CMSA as a “public charter school”).

The NLRB rejected CMSA’s claim, ruling that the school was clearly part of the public education system, meaning its teachers and staff are public employees, who have the right to unionize. Once the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board certified the union, Chicago ACTS would be able to begin collective bargaining. Or so it seemed.

School administrators filed an appeal, and community partners stepped up their support for the teachers.

When Chicago ACTS learned that the Gülen movement was having its international conference in Chicago, teachers began strategizing how to boost their campaign. The conference was being supported by several sponsors—including the Niagara Foundation, which supports the Gülen movement.

Chicago ACTS asked Arise Chicago to support a prayer vigil and action outside the conference’s opening event on November 11. Arise Chicago activated its network to turn out supporters…

Now, Concept Schools will meet with teachers and union and community leaders during the week of November 15. The vigil was called off, as the sustained support of community allies brought victory one step closer.

FEBRUARY 11, 2011: Teachers are now holding protests in front of CMSA board members’ workplaces.


FEBRUARY 14, 2011: Article published in People’s World, "'Stop breaking the law' protest tells Chicago charter school." 
CHICAGO - If Sulejman Dizdarevic were peeking out the window of his swanky law offices on Feb. 11, he surely would have been startled. There staring at him from the opposite side of the street, with bulging eyes, long nose and whiskers, chomping on a cigar and holding sacks of cash, was a giant, ugly rat.

The inflatable rat was erected by supporters of teachers at Chicago Mathematics and Science Academy in front of Dizdarevic's office, because he sits on the board of directors of the charter school that they accuse of subverting teacher's rights to form a union and violating Illinois labor law by refusing to negotiate a contract. Dizdarevic is an attorney at Belongia, Shapiro and Franklin.

"Regardless of the anti-union reasons motivating these charters, we are finding fear of transparency is the key issue," said James Thindwa, an organizer for Chicago ACTS, which is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers and now represents teachers at eight charter schools.

"In almost every case, we have discovered that schools have more money than they claim. Teachers at Civitas were told there was no money for a raise, but when an audit was done, $2.5 million was found lying around," said Thindwa…

"CMSA are saying this is a private school, not subject to state law," said Thindwa. "They walked away from the bargaining table despite the fact that this union is certified under state law. What CMSA is saying is they don't recognize the state."

Charter schools are covered under Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board and employees are required to get the support of 50 percent plus one to gain union recognition. CMSA refused to accept this and took their case to the National Labor Relations Board, claiming they were a private company not covered under the law…

Thindwa said every board member of CMSA would be targeted for pressure because they were personally responsible for the downward spiral the school finds itself in. They started with Dizdarevic; a delegation of community, clergy and academics delivered a letter to his office demanding management comply with state law.

"We told him we are not going away," said Martha Biondi, a professor at Northwestern University. "We are community members concerned about the right of teachers to organize a union, especially under the law of Illinois. It's outrageous that they are flouting the law of Illinois."…

List of board members appearing on the CMSA website on 11/9/2010
  • Yavuz Burak Canbolat - board president
  • [Dzafer] Jeff Kulenovic - secretary
  • Ali Yurtsever - board member
  • Murat Surucu - board member
  • Edip Bektas - treasurer
  • Hanefi Tiryaki - board member
  • Suleman F. Dizdarevic - board member

List of board members obtained from the school’s first Form 990 in 2003 (EIN 450532536)

  • Salim Ucan, principal
  • Clarissa Cerda, president
  • Taner Ertekin, secretary
  • Faruk Guder, treasurer
  • Leticia Herrera – member
  • Donald Jones – member
  • Ji Yong Lee – member
  • William C. McGaghie – member

Please note how the board made a transition from 3 out of 8 Turkish/Turkic board members in 2003 to 7 out of 7 in 2010. This pattern has been observed at other Gulen charter schools.


For what they're worth, here are excerpts from messages sent to me from two different anonymous people:

Person #1:
…From what I can gather, the American teachers simply want to have an equal say and equal treatment.  I believe that they are tired of having to carry the educational burden of the Turkish staff.  Again I assume this is the case within other Gulen schools, the American teachers at CMSA are required to carry a full load while the Turkish staff are permitted to have fewer classes with fewer students.  The American teachers are further required to put in more hours, while the Turkish staff are permitted to leave or choose rather not to spend extra time with the students at school.  Lastly, the teachers are tired of having the administration dictate what is best in the classroom…

Person #2 (Re the teachers' November "victory")
Based on my experience with Gulenists, they [the teachers] are premature in declaring victory.  All the school has done is agreed to meet with them.

I have also attended meetings with Gulenists, so I know how they go.  They talk and talk.  At the end of it, they do what they wanted to do all along.

The Gulenists made this conciliatory gesture to avoid the embarrassment of the vigil in front of the conference, which would have been very damaging for them.  Having got what they needed, they won't want to concede any more.

The teachers are going to be very disappointed.

…Their entire modus operandi is based on abusing teachers.  I hope to be proved wrong, but my belief is that they will never give in on this one.

Instead, they will offer the teachers some meaningless concession, which they will then retract in a couple of months anyway…

Clueless America reminds me Gulliver asleep on the beach, as the Lilliputians proceed to tie him up tighter than tight. The Gulen movement has now targeted thirty states for their charter schools. Only Connecticut, Hawaii, and Oregon have managed to keep them out, and they probably were not even aware that the charter school applicants were connected to the Gulen movement and its school-opening project.


Mr. Duncan,

What is your opinion about the rapid expansion of U.S. charter schools connected to the Gulen Movement's worldwide ambitions? You certainly must be aware of this phenomenon! A statement to your taxpaying members of the public who are unknowingly funding this situation would be welcome asap. Thanks for your response. -- P.P.

* The first Gulen charter school for Minnesota (and a new Concept School Inc. school), the Minnesota School of Science, was authorized by Minneapolis Public Schools in the spring of 2010, and is due to open in the fall of 2011.

Minnesota School of Science
Location: TBD/Opening fall 2011
Ph: 612.567.7281
Grades: K-8 (accepting K-5 only for fall 2011)
Contact: Ahmet Akyol
The Minnesota School of Science (MSS) is a college preparatory public charter school serving students in grades K-5 and will add one grade per year up to eighth grade. The program implements a proven, successful educational model created by Concept Schools...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

To Rockford, Illinois: In solidarity!

This is a piece by David Stocker of Rockford, Illinois. He sent it to me to let me know what his city is experiencing, and I asked if I could post it here. Rockford residents are distraught and enraged at what is happening to their school district. Check out their Facebook page “Wanting a Resignation of LaVonne Sheffield” (“liked” by 2,993 people as of today). 

David is just one of several people from Rockford who have contacted me over the past several weeks after discovering my blog, The Broad Report. One person wrote this: “Lavonne Sheffield (2002 Broad graduate) is running Rockford Public Schools in Illinois into the ground.” Another wrote this: “Help!!In Rockford Illinois we are suffering the "Broad Effect" with Broad Graduate LaVonne Sheffield. Rockford already has the hihest [sic] Unemployment in the State and the Highest Poverty level for Children in our District - District 205. Our local newspaper Rockford Register Star has been her ally but thank goodness we have a small paper called Rock River Times that correctly reports the going ons of this destructor [sic] of Education. We are in dire need of help.”

Last week, the co-founders of Parents Across America had the opportunity to meet each other in person. In conversation, we learned that one major thing which most of us had in common (and which was sparking our activism) was our strong negative response to what Broad-trained superintendents and residents had done, and were doing, to each of our districts. 

Oakland was impacted from 2003 to 2009 during a state takeover. Some of that history is HERE and HERE. Oakland was ripe for the taking, as Joe Williams (of DFER) informs us in the report he wrote for the Center for Education Reform, "National Model or Temporary Opportunity: The Oakland Education Reform Story." As Williams writes, Oakland's first (of three successive) Broad-trained superintendents was a "strong leader who was [placed] in a position to push reforms past foot-dragging bureaucrats [= anyone who did not agree w/the Broad agenda] in a relatively 'politics free zone' [= authoritarian and undemocratic] created by state control of the district." 

So, to the communities of Rockford, Minneapolis, Seattle, Detroit, Pittsburgh, etc. etc. etc., please know YOU ARE NOT ALONE! You are experiencing an imposed, coordinated effort to break down your public school system so it can be "transformed" it to what a hiding-from-the-public, uber-controlling, billionaire septuagenarian, pseudo-philanthropist (Eli Broad of KB Homes and SunAmerica/AIG) wishes it to be. Everyone must read Joanne Barkan's piece, "Got Dough? How Billionaires Rule Our Schools."

* * * * * * * * * * * *

The Dismantling of Public Education in Rockford, Illinois? A Meeting with the Pied Piper

A fable of old.

When I was a kid, I learned the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin, Germany.  It was a legend set in the time of the bubonic plague that ultimately claimed 30% of Europe’s population.  People came to know that the plague was spread by rats.  Hamelin’s helpless townspeople wanted to get rid of the rats. They had heard about a guy who dressed funny and had a reputation for fixing rat problems with the sound of his magic flute. Pied, means ‘wearing colorful clothes’, a common medieval depiction of the agent of death. Hamelin-town signed a contract agreeing to pay on completion of the stated task. The piper fixed the rat problem by playing the rats into the river where they drowned. The townspeople of Hamelin said to themselves, “Why should we pay him now the problem is fixed, we can have our cake and eat it too.”  The Piper pleaded with them to pay him. They laughed.  Then he threatened. “They would be sorry.” They were too busy celebrating their good fortune and cleverness. Eventually, the Piper played his other magic song, the one that lured the children, who followed him into the gaping mountain cavern, which closed behind them. The children were lost forever.  There are plenty of European legends from the Middle Ages about lost children. Parents created the myth to explain to the few surviving children why there were missing generations of older siblings. The story also contains the moral directive about paying your bills. Hence we have the term, “time to pay the piper”. Here we are.

Surprises at District Open Houses

On Saturday February 5, I went to both District 205 Open Houses with a lot of questions. Representatives of the administration couldn’t seem to come up with clear answers for example; explanations, justifications, consequences and/or alternate items that had been considered but not offered for cuts at this time. I must have heard a dozen times “ I’m sorry I can’t answer that for you, it’s not my realm of expertise, but I’ll ask someone… if you can just wait here.”  

One person was both more frank and better informed. So I decided to follow this man all day and keep on asking my questions. His name is Shannon Bingham of Western Demographics Inc. a consulting firm based in Denver that, according to their website, specializes in both “developing and consolidation” (read; dismantling) school districts.  They have provided consulting services to more than 179 districts and communities including 5 years of work for Superintendent Sheffield while she was in Detroit. This would make Bingham and his company experts whose perspectives, however unpalatable, might be extraordinarily valuable to us. He does not need to protect an elected position or political patronage. His calendar is full of clients. He is not swayed by our passion or agenda. We (or say a Board) tell him what outcomes we (they) want, he studies the facts and figures and writes his recommendations on the wall. It is our choice to believe it or not.

Bingham described himself as a “hatchet man” whose job it is “to make sure when the district writes a check to a teacher, the teacher can go to the bank and cash it.” It is not central to his concern if the teacher can or cannot make a living on the amount of the check. But it becomes his concern when our seasoned teachers with many years of experience are more costly to the district than younger teachers, based on health care costs and on seniority pay.  Implying that we have a more open process than elsewhere, Bingham offered that in some of his districts, “these kinds of cuts, implemented by appointed or elected Boards are not aired at public hearings at all.”  I guess we are lucky.

Among other services, Western Demographics offers strategies to help districts: redraw boundary maps, close schools, reduce, consolidate and present these changes to the public. These days, we hear the word ”efficiencies” repeatedly, that is because efficiency seems to be the premise of Western Demographic’s contract with District 205.

Yet, Bingham was quick to point out that whether anyone agrees with his statistical analysis is no longer the issue. The expected economic recovery is not happening.  Changes are here and will continue whether anyone likes it or not.  Present deteriorating trends in our state will continue, and are likely to worsen for 5 or more years. Items on the school district cut list that are not accomplished this year, will be back again next year and the next as Illinois races to the bottom. As parents, can we agree with a set of proposals that will certainly destroy the character of our school district?

Bingham told me. “Rockford is about the most unfriendly community I have ever visited.”  He said,  “While all Illinois districts are affected by the bankruptcy of the state, an historic lack of planning by this district is at the heart of the severity of Rockford’s circumstances.”  With a smile, he declined to comment when I asked whether the administration itself had compounded the divisive and polarizing climate here. He told me his year in Rockford has been marked by peoples’ attempts to malign his reputation, and alienate his other clients who had been contacted through his website.

An elementary teacher commented that lacking substance and rationale and a valid oral presentation, the display board effort would “rank below a C for a sixth grade project.”

Let’s take attendance.

I applaud Board Member, Jeanne Westholder's attendance and I appreciate her willingness to field tough questions, although she could only echo the stark realities facing kids, parents and teachers.  Our superintendent, LaVonne Sheffield was not present. Readers can check the Register Star blog for the list of meetings she has lately missed. Sadly, none of our state representatives were present to explain the failures of the State of Illinois in fulfilling its obligation to fund education for our children. The State of Illinois owes us more than $15 million for last year alone. US Congressman Donald Manzullo’s office recently wrote to me on this issue saying the ball for our education problem is not in Don’s court. Rockford’s Mayor? Not present.. Read; Big Fat Dirty Lie. Were any of our City Council present? No. Administrators?... Present but they apparently misunderstood the assignment.  Media: Absent, but for one TV station.

These people were all truant on Saturday as the community faced the extent of the collapse of our public education system.  I saw lots of teachers, parents and grandparents.  You might ask; were the REA leaders present? They were not. However it is an Excused absence, they were working on an independent audit of the ‘bogus” 205 budget. But amazingly in their absence, we were told by a district representative that REA helped to compile the list of cuts as part of the Education Committee.

And you, dear citizens of Rockford, you can be excused if you were filling out your unemployment forms, helping a sick child, or cooking dinner at a food pantry, or working a second shift, or if you missed the invitation.  Don’t worry. I was able to go.  And I took notes because I know you would want to know what I learned.

Concessions, Cuts and Consequences 101

Here are the notes I took for you. Spending the day with Bingham, I tried to reconstruct his comments as best I could. I’ll tell you what we and our children stand poised to loose:

Parents pleaded with administrators to tell them why 7 top performing schools and various programs of proven merit are slated for closure.  I saw parents in tears. A retired policeman said, “This is outrageous.” Bingham asserted, “Merit was not part of the criteria for closures.”  He said, “We are tasked here with removing all the lights and decorations from the Christmas tree. The future of public education will be a bare tree affair. Expect math, reading, social studies, to state standards, a bit of the arts and that’s it. And if you are not willing to walk to the nearest school, you will not get an education.”

Teachers learned this week, there is a further list of threatened cuts that includes the elimination of all district librarians, social workers, ACE, CAPA, language immersion, guidance counselors, assistant principals, and more….a total of 130 additional jobs will be cut, declares the superintendent in a January 28 email, if the community and teachers balk at any of the first tier cuts AND if teachers fail to yield contract concessions. This powerful lever threatening our teachers was not illustrated on the nifty display boards. There was not a list of expected concessions.  The second list was also a surprise to Bingham who said that the “second tier of proposed cuts was not revealed to me until two days ago.”  Wow!  District apologists were quick to say these are all still options being explored. Bingham was not so circumspect.

So let’s get it straight.

Remake all boundaries. Close 7 campuses. Unscramble the costly egg of bussing.  AND Teachers must agree to steep concessions or else the Board will strip from our district everything that might have given our children a leg up in life. Huh?  I thought I was supposed to bring my critical thinking skills to the meeting and I could not figure out how any of this could possibly be the teachers’ fault.

Language Immersion, Montessori, Gifted, CAPA, ACE, librarians, social workers, all day preschool, alternative campus for kids in crisis…these are now the Christmas tree decorations we cannot afford. What will become of our children? When pressed, Bingham acknowledged that under this plan, 2/3 of our district’s kids can expect to be moved to new locations, though he also said studies show that changing schools sets childrens’ success back. 

Attachment and Awakening?

A few people have been startled out of their complacency. Well-intentioned parents and teachers think that Save Our School petitions and school spirit tee shirts will forestall the inevitable. But, as Bingham characterized it, “this is a pattern I see a lot, people are still attached to their specialty programs that have a very limited place in the new financial reality of public education.” PTAs that enter the competition this week to see which program will survive one more year are also missing the point.  In a second letter I will share some of the stories illustrating the harm of these cuts and concessions, maybe you, dear reader, can send your stories to this paper as well. We know the state was supposed to help us and they didn’t.  How will this effect you and people you know?

Where does this lead us?

Guess what else I learned, Bingham’s firm also specializes in presenting Charter School implementation plans to districts, expecting a “market position of up to 30% within 5-10 years”. Obama’s Education Secretary, Arne Duncan believes privatization of the public school system is the remedy. Within the first year and a half of her tenure, Superintendent Sheffield opened three charter schools in Rockford… depopulating any of the seven schools slated for closure? More later on the charter school movement in America.

Toto pulls the Curtain: The Eli Broad Agenda

Okay, I took notes for you, and I also did some research and there’s more to share!

Our superintendent came to us as a graduate of the Eli Broad Superintendent’s Academy, (BSA) started in 2001. BSA is very interested in placing its graduates in urban areas where opposition to its goals is not organized.  (Careful now, do not confuse B-O-A-R-D with Eli B-r-o-a-d, rhymes with “road”)  BSA was started by one of America’s newest billionaires, Eli Broad who received $18 billion for his overvalued real estate development company from AIG (remember them?). This took place just a few years before a bankrupt AIG went to the US government for an $80 billion bailout to cover its issue of illegal and shady policies to derivative traders.  Many communities in America have become alarmed about the Broad Agenda and have been trying to throw off both the graduates of the Broad Academy and the consequences they bring. Here’s the link  Interested readers should visit the website to see Superintendent Sheffield’s and other graduates’ progress on the Broad Agenda. Do it now. It’s four clicks of a keyboard to get there, if you have any kids in high school have them do a senior project on this. If you are a riffed educator looking for a topic for a bestselling book, or any M Ed candidates who have not yet selected a thesis topic….you go!

Media and Board Smoke and Mirrors

The media have focused on personal sniping and teacher-blaming. This has taken our eyes off the more important issues.  Did you know that Sheffield’s Director of Information is a former manager hired from the Register Star? Did our Board understand the kind of things she might do?  Have they fully educated themselves about what has happened in other districts under Broad graduates in positions of power? Is our teachers union at risk? Is our confidence in our own public education under attack? Did the Board fully understand in the Broad Academy’s agenda. Should our education system become prey for venture capital the way homeowners were? Let’s find out. As the open houses showed, there have been efforts to misrepresent, mask the agenda and thwart opposition.  Does the position of our teachers’ union appear any different under this light? More about the union in an upcoming letter.

People Get Ready…

Our district is moving rapidly on a specific agenda. To the list of those community leaders who were absent from the open houses, okay, these notes are for you too and now you can help us all do the right thing.

We feel that our district moving rapidly on a fearsome agenda that seems to be led by outside forces beyond our control. Because we fear for our children, some of us are tempted to become combative, ready to flash at the sidebar issues, to be anonymously vulgar on the Register Star blog, and to point fingers everywhere. We must resist this. Resist targeting the teachers. Resist saying “my school, my PTO, my kids teacher” and say “our schools, our PTOs, our teachers and our community”. People who have targeted the consultant, merely a tool of the administration, are focused in the wrong place.  Resist efforts to polarize, divide and conquer. Resist anyone who plays the race card. Rockford paid that piper years ago.

Sending out glossy promos earlier in the year, Sheffield talked about our kids finding their place in the global economy, complete with a quote from Sam Walton. I wonder what kind of jobs we might be able to offer now that Rockford manufacturing can get the parts made more cheaply by child labor in China. Are we content if our kids just show up and manage to make it through high school with a bare tree of an education? Resist the degradation of Rockford education.

With cuts like these, who needs Rockford?

Okay, I gave you the notes. There will be a pop quiz. Do your own research, study the facts, find each other and come to meetings prepared. I know you are busy people so don’t waste time.  Contact those absentee persons and call them to accountability.

People of Rockford, when you address the Board, you should know this too. As Bingham told me, “Forums are useless. Hurt people get worked up and have their two minutes at the microphone and nobody listens. The Board reads magazines and waits for it to be over so they can go do what they were going to do anyway.”

What will keep those who can from fleeing the district and the city, leaving behind the impoverished, the unemployed, the aged and the incarcerated? What kind of jobs will our kids be looking at? To make this degraded system work, we will have to accept an education system that will teach kids to show up and do as they are told. They will be rewarded with access to enough consumer debt to remain enslaved in the game but never given the keys to the franchise that holds them down. That’s a fairly significant decay in our aspirations for our kids. How is this working for you?

Could it be that the disease infecting the educational system actually benefits some parties?  Are real causes so discomforting that we focus what outrage we can muster on symptoms, We should deal with the real reasons public education is dying?  I can tell you what it is not; if we consider for a second the public education spending per child in other developed nations, we can see that the problem in the US is not wasteful spending nor is it overpaid teachers. Our minds and our priorities should be refocused. How can the Board and the Education Committee claim legitimacy without risking accountability?  

My opening analogy fails here because unlike Hamelin of old, we in Rockford, have witnessed many pipers over the years, and in actuality it is the Board and the parents who have been led off in distraction, leaving our children at risk to plagues of ignorance, wage slavery and debt peonage.

Thank you for your frankness Mr. Bingham. I do not doubt your expertise at $1000 per day ( While our problem is not your fault, someone forgot to tell you what it is we really want for our kids. So your suggestions look more like chopping down the tree of life.

After Saturday, I suggest we pay off the piper and rise up.

Upcoming letters about:
The Local Union gets Set up.
Chartering a Course of Destruction for US Education
Marginalizing Behaviorally Challenged Kids and Outsourcing the Discipline Code
Why Obama wants the Military Back in Schools

Send me your thoughts at

David Stocker is songwriter and an independent teacher who has won arts grants in excess of $150,000 for district 205 students, and has presented in twenty three of Rockford’s schools. In spite of the collapse of the state arts matching funding his Origins of Music curriculum is active locally at Montessori Private Academy, Page Park School, and Haskell Academy. He is an event coordinator and co producer of the programming for International Day of Peace. This month, David received a Golden Apple grant for work at Page Park School. He is married to a 205 teacher in a school that is slated for closure. He has had children in district 205 for 17 years and presently has a son in an award winning school slated for closure. He wishes he had been kept busy as an artist and not given the chance to open his mouth.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Grannan: Powerful “Parent” Trigger operators target vulnerable school; attack misfires

Guest post by Caroline Grannan -- P.P.

The current hot story in education reform is California's Parent Trigger law and its deployment against high-poverty McKinley Elementary school in disadvantaged Compton, near Los Angeles.

The simplified description of this law, which the state Legislature passed last year, is that it mandates radical change at a school if petitions are turned in bearing the signatures of more than 50 percent of the parents at the school (and for middle and high schools, of parents at feeder schools, a situation undoubtedly as unwieldy as it sounds).

In the McKinley Elementary situation, as with other complex education reform issues, reading through the press coverage may cause dizziness due to the conflicting perspectives. Here's a clear-eyed summary from a recent Los Angeles Times editorial (Jan. 29, 2011):
The first parent trigger petition, at McKinley Elementary School in Compton, offered an example of how the process shouldn't work. The signature drive was held in secret, to avoid a backlash from the school, but with the decision pre-made for parents that the school would be taken over by charter operator Celerity Educational Group. There was no public discussion of parents' options or rights. McKinley is not a school that has resisted change; though low-performing, it has dramatically raised test scores in recent years. Some parents complained afterwards that they didn't understand the petition they were signing; others accused school personnel of threatening and harassing them to get them to rescind their signatures. Meanwhile, the school district has set up a process for verifying the signatures that is harder on parents and more intrusive than is reasonably necessary.
As the Times account indicates, this Parent Trigger was deployed not to empower the McKinley parents, but rather to turn McKinley over to a pre-selected charter operator. This Parent Trigger drive was initiated not by the parents but by Parent Revolution, an organization founded by the Green Dot charter school operator.

The Parent Trigger law squeaked through the California legislature last year, sponsored by departing state Sen. Gloria Romero. (Romero was running unsuccessfully for state Superintendent of Public Instruction; after being defeated in the primary, she was hired by Democrats for Education Reform, which promotes charter schools, privatization and other currently vogueish education panaceas.)

The Parent Trigger was conceived by a group called Parent Revolution, formerly known as the Los Angeles Parents Union. It's no secret that the organization was founded by the Green Dot charter school chain, though occasionally there's a halfhearted effort to portray Parent Revolution as a “grassroots” parents' group.

The Los Angeles Weekly, a fiery, right/libertarian “advocacy journalism” practitioner, has taken a fervent stance in support of Parent Revolution and its Parent Trigger campaign against McKinley Elementary. The Weekly's detailed coverage is invaluable for following the course of events – not just despite but because of its fierce backing of the Parent Trigger and because of its contemptuous treatment of McKinley teachers, the McKinley PTA and anyone else who might question the Parent Revolution operation.

For that reason, the Weekly's description of Parent Revolution's wealthy and powerful backers carries far more weight than mine would:
Parent Revolution, with 10 full-time staff members and a $1 million annual operating budget, is funded by blue-chip philanthropic endeavors, such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Wasserman Foundation, the Broad Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation.
Parent Revolution looked for a vulnerable school in a vulnerable district to target with a Parent Trigger campaign, and then sent paid organizers out into Compton to knock on doors in search of McKinley parents. An actual parent-led effort wouldn't require paid organizers to cold-call door-to-door in search of parents at the school, it should go without saying. The L.A. Weekly:
Parent Revolution decided to focus on McKinley Elementary School and approach parents there after researching the worst school districts in California. … (Parent Revolution's paid) field organizers have canvassed a large chunk of the 10-square-mile city of Compton, knocking on hundreds of doors, walking its sidewalks and driving its streets, asking people if their children attend McKinley. … [Organizing director Pat DeTemple] set up a computer program to track trends in the progress of his staff's work. Once a parent signature was obtained, DeTemple input that parent’s address in the program, and a green dot appeared on a digital map of Compton. If a particular block in McKinley Elementary's feeder area showed no green dots, he'd ask one of the five salaried organizers to make a follow-up visit to the block.
After the Parent Revolution operatives had collected sufficient signatures, the petitions were delivered on Dec. 7 to Compton district officials in a professionally staged, photo-op PR event, attended by reporters from the Los Angeles Times and New York Times, and staffers representing Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. The Weekly describes the well-orchestrated scene:
The crowd — including parents, children and reporters from The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CNN, local TV channels 2, 4, 7, 11, radio news stations KPCC and others, as well as aides to U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa — then clambers into two yellow buses and arrives at Compton Unified School District headquarters on Santa Fe Avenue.

There, [McKinley parent Ysmenia] Guzman hands over a book of parent signatures to acting superintendent Karen Frison ... who is waiting outside the building flanked by several school district police officers. …

Guzman holds the receipt [for the signatures] in the air and several parents and their children cheer and began chanting, "Yes we can! Yes we can!"
The Parent Trigger law allows the petitioners to choose one of four options: Close the school entirely; replace the school with a charter school; replace the principal; or fire the staff and reorganize the school. The McKinley Parent Trigger operation was based from the beginning on only one of those options – replacing McKinley with a charter school. The charter operator , the Celerity Educational Group, was pre-selected by Parent Revolution. The L.A. Weekly:
Around the same time that Parent Revolution was researching Compton Unified, Celerity was looking to open a school in the stubbornly anti-charter district. The two organizations found each other.
The process has drawn criticism as the signature drive was quiet and low-profile. There were no open meetings, presentations of the various options the parents could have chosen, discussions with the school district, opportunities for debate and rebuttal, or the usual messy interactions of democracy.

One of those messy interactions did transpire a week later, on Dec. 14, at a Compton Unified School District (CUSD) board meeting. Again, the L.A. Weekly was there and live-blogging – and described “hundreds of angry parents – many of whom say they were tricked into signing the Parent Trigger petition.” Again, this description comes from an outspoken supporter of the Parent Trigger petition. This significant event has gone almost entirely unremarked upon, with the storyline from Parent Revolution being that a few individuals manipulated by the McKinley PTA or deceived by scheming teachers have voiced opposition.

Excerpts from the Weekly's account of the Dec. 14 meeting, which it describes as “packed” with 200 to 300 people: 
We're reporting live from the CUSD board meeting, packed with press and hundreds of angry parents -- many of whom say they were tricked into signing the Parent Trigger petition without understanding its gravity.
Above all, the air is buzzing with confusion. …

More and more, the crowd reveals itself as anti-Parent Trigger. The only speakers who get a positive reaction are the ones defending CUSD. …

Another man rouses parents: "How dare they come here and say not the whole truth? If we look at charter schools, we know what they are about. They are about the dollar."

… the crowd chants, "COMPTON! COMPTON! COMPTON!" Someone waves an "I [Heart] Compton" shirt above his head.

It seems the concept of a charter school has now become the antithesis of hometown pride. … One mother, who rushes out the side door before we can ask her name, says she was approached at her job twice and forced to sign the petition, y "yo no quise fimar" (I didn't want to sign). Parent Kirk Douglas Brown says he signed the petition, but now wants to publicly revoke his signature.

A strong localized defense begins to arise, based on the sentiment that "outside interests" like Parent Revolution, Celerity Educational Group and even L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa are coming in and "telling us what to do with our city."
… There's a new civil war …
Outside the Weekly's report, this meeting and the crowd of protesters opposing the charterization have gone entirely unnoticed in the national conversation about the Parent Trigger.

Here's an outline of the further plot twists in this strange saga.

·         Both the state Board of Education and then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger made public accusations of harassment and intimidation in the Parent Trigger brouhaha, and directed the state Attorney General's office to investigate.
o        The accusations were intended to paint the McKinley teachers and PTA members as the harassers, intimidating parents who had signed the petition. The press got understandably confused, and some accounts (including the Los Angeles Times') described the charges as accusations that the signature-gatherers were the harassers.
§         (Parent Revolution and the L.A. Weekly have repeatedly painted the PTA as some kind of operation of what public-education opponents call the “blob,” though school PTAs consist entirely of parent volunteers and teachers.)
o        Ben Austin, who is the hired Executive Director of Parent Revolution, was a member of the state Board of Education at the time that it made those charges. Austin is no longer on the state board.
o        Gov. Schwarzenegger has been replaced by newly elected Gov. Jerry Brown, who has a very different attitude from Schwarzenegger's about education reform.
o        Austin's then-colleagues on the state Board of Education were highly supportive of charter schools and the Parent Trigger. Jerry Brown replaced a number of them as soon as he took office, and the state board is no longer likely to be an automatic booster.
o        Nothing more has been publicly heard about any investigation process by the state Attorney General's office.

·         “Parents,” or rather Parent Revolution, in a blaze of publicity, reportedly filed charges with the U.S. Department of Education accusing some teachers of harassment for such behavior as supposedly badmouthing charter schools to children.
o        It hasn't been made clear what the USDOE's investigation process is, what the charges or penalties would be, whether the charges are against the school or individual teachers, whether the teachers would get due process, whether they need legal representation and have to pay for it themselves, and so forth.
o        Post-blaze-of-publicity, nothing further has been heard of that move.

·         The Compton school district, winging it clumsily, tried to create its own verification process for the petition signatures, sending certified letters to the school parents directing them to come in person to the school during a specific period to confirm their signatures. This prompted widespread outrage from Parent Revolution and its supporters.
o        There is no language in the Parent Trigger law regarding verifying petition signatures. The district – caught by surprise, without guidance and under highly publicized attack by the powerful Parent Revolution – devised a poorly thought-out process.
o        The district recanted most of its required process after the outcry; despite some coverage, it's utterly unclear what transpired. As questioning voices have asked, should a school district hand the keys of a public institution over to a private operator, no questions asked, upon receipt of an unverified list of names?

·         Parent Revolution announced that two major law firms would be representing it against Compton Unified – pro bono. It was not clear whether the firms, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher and Kirkland & Ellis, are aware that they're donating their services for free to a billionaire-funded operation that could well afford to pay their standard fees – and representing it in an assault against a challenged, high-poverty school district.
The Compton Unified School District held a meeting to discuss possible plans to merge McKinley Elementary with another nearby school – that is, close McKinley. Details were not clear. This plan was met with outrage by Parent Revolution, though that setup is one of the options parents may choose under the Parent Trigger.
That was the situation at the point where the L.A. Times – whose initial coverage of the McKinley situation was favorably inclined toward the Parent Trigger, and whose coverage of charters and Green Dot has been largely positive and uncritical -- stepped in with its possibly game-changing editorial of Jan. 29.
Most important is a public process. The petitions amount to elections; they force dramatic changes up to and including transferring the school to charter operators. Parent trigger must not become a means for private charter groups to get free school buildings through secret proceedings.

The McKinley experience shows that in order for the parent trigger to fulfill its potential, tinkering alone won't do. Regulations by the state Board of Education, which were suspended after Gov. Jerry Brown appointed new board members, fall short as well. It will take new legislation to correct the gaping inadequacies of the first law.

One other tidbit about the Parent Trigger: There is a previous school where an effort has been underway – Mount Gleason Middle School in Sunland, near Los Angeles. A former parent at the school launched the effort, working with Parent Revolution. The parent has said that there was no support for charterizing, so she just wants to get the principal replaced. After a Feb. 14, 2010, article in the Los Angeles Daily News, that effort has been low-profile.
Parent Revolution isn't talking about Mount Gleason at all now. Why? My guesses:
·         Parent Revolution is only interested in efforts to charterize.
·         The effort is gaining no traction.
·         It's a little embarrassing that the parent behind the effort – as a former parent at the school – is herself not qualified to sign the petition under the Parent Trigger law.
My own view on the Parent Trigger is that it's entirely unworkable – that it's guaranteed to cause damaging conflict in a school community that will only do harm to the community and its children – and that this should be evident to anyone who has been part of a school community.

The “civil war” at McKinley bears out my view, though it's a wilder ride than anyone could have predicted. The Mount Gleason situation actually doesn't back up my opinion, as it sounds more like a quiet fizzle.

Numerous commentators are hailing the Parent Trigger. It's beloved by the free-market far right, those who would like to see public schools eliminated and education fully privatized – big supporters include the Wall Street Journal editorial board, National Review and the Heartland Institute. (That conflicts confusingly with the ongoing efforts of Parent Revolution to compare itself to heroes of the labor movement and the civil rights movement, and to emphasize the Democratic Party insider background of its top staff.)

I wish the best to the students and families at McKinley Elementary in Compton. It's quite clear that the Parent Trigger is not in their best interests.