is an old adage, “criminals
always return to the scene of the crime.”
That is a fitting description of the Cartel advocates for the
privatization of public education return to the White House and
Capitol Hill to reinvigorate their corporate charter takeover of the
nation’s public schools. Basically,
the Cartel has run amuck during the successive presidential
administrations of George W. Bush and Barack H. Obama.
it convinced President Obama, for the second time, to appoint one of
its surrogates as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education
(USDOE): Arne Duncan in 2009 and Dr. John King in 2015. Duncan was
employed after Obama had initially planned to choose the chair of his
education transition team, Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond, an African
American female and one of the nation’s foremost education
experts, for the position. The Cartel vetoed that choice as it felt
she was too supportive of K-12 education and the nation’s
public school teachers. Duncan guided the Cartel-developed education
bill, Race to the Top (RTTT), through Congress in 2009; it expanded
the platform for the corporatizing of public schools, getting rid of
public school teachers, and the downsizing of teacher unions.
King is even more rabid about facilitating the growth of corporate
charter schools than his predecessor and increasing federal funding
for establishing corporate charters (nearly a quarter billion dollars
during Arne Duncan’s term) to assist in that effort. During
King’s confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate’s
Education Committee last week, the Committee Chair, Sen. Lamar
Alexander (R-TN) and members Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) and Sen. Mike Enzi
(R-WY) essentially promised King a speedy and successful confirmation
vote. They were joined in this love fest by liberal senators, Patti
Murray (D-WA) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who have the political
cover of supporting President Obama’s nominee. It should be
noted that these senators and the remaining seventeen bipartisan
members of the Committee have received direct and/or indirect
campaign contributions from the Cartel in the millions of dollars
during their political careers.
the NEA and AFT appear to have given King a pass despite his vicious
assault on their members in New York during his tenure as the state
Commissioner of Education. However, since his nomination for
education secretary, King has publicly praised teachers for their
hard work as a way to blunt their opposition to his appointment, a
strategy which seems to be working as their unions have backed off.
the Cartel has doubled-down in targeting specific states and cities
to flood with corporate charters after it has set up statewide and
local infrastructures. In the 1990s, it created hundreds of advocacy
organizations to promote voucher and corporate charter schools and
other public school privatization organizing proposals throughout the
nation. The Cartel originally focused its energy on electing
Republican and Democratic governors and state legislatures who would
sign on to its specific education agenda and its broader goal to move
public services into the private sector.
there are 31 Republican governors, one Independent, and 18 Democrats
(eight of whom are influenced by the Cartel on education and
public-sector privatization policy). Republicans also control both
houses of the legislature in 31 states, and there is split party
control in 19.
1999, the Cartel established two ethnic minority-focused advocacy
groups to promote vouchers and corporate charter schools in African
American and Hispanic communities: the Black Alliance for Educational
Options (BAEO) and the Hispanic Council for Reform and Educational
Options (HCREO), respectively. Dr. Howard Fuller, a charismatic
ex-Black militant, for whom the Cartel lobbied to change Wisconsin
state law in 1991 for him to become superintendent of the Milwaukee
Public Schools (MPS), from 1991-1995, was selected to head BAEO, and
Julio Fuentes, President of the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of
Commerce, was hired as Chair and CEO of HCREO.
of these so-called minority nonprofit standard bearers for parent
choice receives any funding from their particular ethnic groups. The
Cartel uses them as fronts to advance its program in inner-city Black
and Latin communities, and it is working.
and Fuentes have established statewide and local chapters of their
activist organizations across America and have been instrumental in
turning public school districts toward becoming corporate charter
and/or voucher dominant: New Orleans, Washington, D.C., Indianapolis,
Milwaukee, Camden and Newark, New Jersey among others. Their latest
target is Newark, New Jersey where the Cartel is in the midst of
trying to unseat Mayor Ras Baraka who solidly defeated its candidate,
Atty. Shavar Jeffries, in 2014, although Jeffries outspent him by
more than 8:1. But as Baraka prepares for his 2018 reelection, he is
woefully short of money.
Baraka is “playing nice” with the Cartel’s
corporate charter allies in an effort to raise campaign funding. As
mentioned in last week’s column, Baraka sent a letter to New
Jersey Gov. Chris Christie soliciting transition funding for the
Newark Public Schools (NPS) which is experiencing a budget deficit.
A major chunk of this funding, if received, will go to Newark’s
existing and newly established corporate charters. The letter was
co-signed by Chris Cerf, current NPS superintendent, who established
most of the existing corporate charters while he was the New Jersey
Commissioner of Education from 2011-2014 through his hand-picked
superintendent Cami Anderson (2011-2016) who left under fire.
Mayor Baraka put forth a slate, comprised of mostly pro-corporate
charter candidates, for the May 2016 Newark Advisory School Board
election. In addition, Dr. Lauren Wells, the Mayor’s Chief
Education Officer, unilaterally invited BAEO to meet with a group of
pro-public education stakeholders to plan for NPS’s long-term
education future. After their protest about BAEO’s role as a
Cartel proxy, Dr. Wells disinvited BAEO. These apparently political
endeavors seem to be aimed at developing relationships with the
Cartel to ensure that Mayor Baraka continues in office.
these approaches will not work. In 2006, former Mayor Sharpe James
tried to reach out to Cory Booker (now U.S. Senator, D-NJ) whom he
had defeated in a heated 2002 mayoral race. James tried to cut a
deal with Booker in 2006 in exchange for “being left alone.”
He wound up spending two years in jail and barred from any political
activity for two years after his release.
should understand that the Cartel wants to put its own candidate in
the Newark mayor’s office, and that person is Shavar Jeffries,
who is being groomed to run again as was Booker from 2002-2006. No
amount of negotiations and genuflection will change that fact unless
Baraka devolves to complete obeisance to the Cartel. This movie has
played out in mayoral races before: Indianapolis (2015), Milwaukee
(2004-Present), New Orleans (2002-Present), Washington, D.C.
(2006-Present), Newark (2006-2013), Philadelphia (2008-Present),
Camden (2010-Present), Los Angeles (2013-Present), and in a number of
other cities as the Cartel continues its goal to privatize
substantial portions of America’s public sector.
John King, USDOE Secretary designate, will aid in this scheme.