by Duane Campbell
Corporate school “reformers” have raised over $4 million from the very rich during the last week to contribute to the campaign to elect anti union leader Marshall Tuck as Superintendent of Public Instruction in California. According the Sacramento Bee The fund includes $1 million each from Los Angeles businessmen Bill Bloomfield and Eli Broad, a major financier of efforts to overhaul public education. The Gap co-founder Doris Fisher and Laurene Powell Jobs, philanthropist and widow of Steve Jobs, have each contributed $500,000.
Incumbent Tom Torlakson is a former teacher and is supported by both major teacher unions. He supports extension of Prop. 30 taxes passed in 2012 which have restored funding to California schools after the devastation of the national economic crisis when over 30,000 teachers were dismissed in the state. Schools in other states without new taxes currently continue to reel from austerity budget cuts.
This effort by many anti – union philanthropists and a group of Democrats, to gain control of this office raised in just one week dwarfs the $2 million raised by teachers’ unions in favor of Torlakson.
Corporate advocates want Tuck in office to support the anti tenure decisions and anti teacher due process procedures of the Vergara v. California case.
The $ 4.7 million donated to Tuck comes from individuals and groups that support vouchers for schools and the privatization of public pensions.
According to the Torlakson web site, major donors of Tuck include:
$500,000 from Carrie Walton Penner, whose family made its fortune running anti-union, low-wage paying Wal-Mart. The Walmart 1% website reports that Penner’s biography includes serving on the board of the Alliance for School Choice – a school voucher advocacy group.
$300,000 from John D. Arnold, a former Enron trader and funder of efforts to persuade governments to cut public employee pensions.
$1 million from corporate CEO Eli Broad. He drew statewide attention when it was revealed he had donated $500,000 to a group with ties to the Koch Brothers to defeat Proposition 30 and pass Proposition 32.
Here’s how Parents Across America, a public school advocacy group, described Broad’s approach: “Broad and his foundation believe that public schools should be run like a business. One of the tenets of his philosophy is to produce system change by ‘investing in disruptive force.’ Continual reorganizations, firings of staff, and experimentation to create chaos or ‘churn’ is believed to be productive and beneficial, as it weakens the ability of communities to resist change.”
For background on the financing of the corporate “reform” crowd see http://choosingdemocracy.blogspot.com/2014/10/profits-for-corporate-school-reformers.html
With just three weeks until the election, Marshall Tuck does not yet know if he supports extending Proposition 30 temporary taxes. States following the austerity economic approach continue to severely cut their school funding, see for example Texas, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Georgia, North Carolina and others.
While the corporate “reform” crowd and Democrats for Education Reform are seeking to buy the race for State Superintendent , they have lost an important position in Los Angeles.
As reported in the LA Times and other sources, Los Angeles School Superintendent John Deasy has been encouraged to resign from his position. “In a statement issued jointly by Deasy and the board, on Thursday the board stated that “at this time it does not believe that the superintendent engaged in any ethical violations or unlawful acts.” Deasy has been at the center of a controversy regarding a $30 million contract awarded to Apple computer that distributed iPads to students. According to the statement, Deasy will remain “on special assignment” with the district until the end of the year.”
Deasy was the prosecution’s star witness against teachers in the important Vergara v. California trial, which in June overturned state’s laws governing teacher tenure, seniority and dismissal. The Vergara court decision is now under appeal. Incumbent Superintendent Torlakson and others have supported the appeal saying, “Teachers are not the problem in our schools, they are the solution.” Corporate financed challenger Tuck has made supporting the Vergara decision a central part of his campaign.
Note Deasy’s friends. According to Brena Iasevoli of the pro corporate Hechinger Report,
“Former Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa brought Deasy into the district with backing from billionaire Eli Broad, with the hope of growing the charter school system, confronting the teachers union, and changing the terms of teacher employment in Los Angeles
He is a 2006 graduate of a superintendent-training program funded by Broad, who favors teacher evaluations based on test scores.”
Ed Note. These are the same bakers and financiers of the campaign of Marshall Tuck for California Superintendent of Public Instruction. This post is to recognize the network of supporters for this group of “alleged” school reformers.