I have to do this my way. You tell me what you know, and I'll confirm. I'll keep you in the right direction if I can, but that's all. Just... follow the money.
-Deep Throat, “All the President’s Men” (1976)
If you want to know the direction LAUSD School Board President Monica Garcia and new candidate Kate Anderson want to take the Los Angeles Unified School District after the upcoming election, then follow the money. In this case following the money isn’t difficult because there is just so damn much of it. Start with an astounding quarter of a million dollars by Eli Broad, Superintendent Deasy’s mentor and puppet master, and another quarter million by fellow billionaire, Latino media magnate A. Jerrold Perenchio, formerly of Univision. Together they pushed “their” Coalition for School Reform’s coffers to $1.5 million. Then Mayor Villaraigosa who, along with Broad, was instrumental in bringing Deasy to LAUSD, called in the really big gun by brokering a deal with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg who contributed an additional million dollars for the Coalition –money education historian Diane Ravitch called “repugnant and an affront to democracy.”
What qualifies Bloomberg to buy a Board of Education three thousand miles distant? In New York with the help of the Gates Foundation, he closed more than 150 “failing schools” replacing them with smaller schools and charter schools. Sixty percent of these “new and improved” smaller elementary and middle schools now have lower passing rates than the schools they replaced. Just 38% of the students at elementary and middle schools created by the Bloomberg administration passed the reading exams, compared with 47% of students citywide. Former NYC School Chancellor Joel Klein, who raised proficiency rates by dramatically lowering expectations, pitched in another $25,000.
Bloomberg’s schools share this attribute with Villaraigosa’s Partnership for Los Angeles Schools (PLAS), which have also been a dismal failure. Roosevelt High School was divided into seven small schools in the name of “improvement” in 2007. Only one of the seven principals had previous experience. In 2009, Roosevelt teachers gave Villaraigosa and PLAS an “F” because they saw no improvement. Now in 2013, many school and community members are in open revolt. Enrollment has plummeted. The LA Weekly, citing API scores, noted that Roosevelt made Compton Unified look like the “district of the freaking month.”
Mayor Villaraigosa called Bloomberg, “the most important voice in education reform today.” Education deform is more like it.
The Coalition for School Reform may as well be Deasy’s pocketbook. Megan Chernin, the head of Deasy's "nonprofit" group to raise money for LAUSD schools, is a major backer and the former head of charter operator L.A.’s Promise. So is Steven Prough, the current head, who contributed $10,000 personally. How good is L.A.’s Promise in keeping its promises? In 2010, 91% of West Adams Prep students were not proficient in English and 82% were not proficient in math. Manuel Arts, which L.A.’s Promise had also “promised” to turn into a Garden of Eden had astoundingly high non-proficiency rates of 97% and 90% respectively in 2010. Their achievement rates seem inversely proportional to the glossiness of their marketing brochures.
Jaimie Alter Lynton donated $100,000 to the Coalition. She, like Chernin, is on the board of Deasy’s fundraising nonprofit group. Lynton also launched L.A. School Report which is basically dedicated to extolling and promoting Deasy and electing both Anderson and Garcia while simultaneously denouncing the teachers’ union as the protector of pedophiles.
Kate Anderson has called Deasy “the best superintendent this district has had in decades” and wants to make all schools as “great” as New West Charter School. New West is 62% white and Asian, 24% Latino, and 12% Black. Only 11% of its students are on free or reduced lunches. It boasts not a single English Language Learner in the entire school. Special education statistics are unavailable for some mysterious reason. Let’s make all schools just like New West Charter School.
You want to know about Monica Garcia and Kate Anderson? Just follow the money.