Friday, December 21, 2018

Blue-State Revolt in California - Dems Slammed for Ed Deform - Jacobin

2019 is shaping up to be another year of fiery teachers’ strikes. And this time, they won’t only be targeting Republicans....
Huge class sizes, low per-pupil funding, rampant charter schools, over-testing, a lack of counselors, nurses, and librarians — these are the fruit of years of Democratic rule in the city and the state capitol. “Corporate Democrats are getting money from the same billionaires and corporations as the Republicans,” explains United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) Secretary Arlene Inouye....
I met Arlene a decade ago in LA and it is good to see her being the person for the union to articulate their goals. 
For Inouye, “this is a struggle to save public education; the existence of public education in our city is on the line.” It’s also a struggle over the future of the Democratic Party. Los Angeles is a microcosm of, and a major front in, a larger national battle that has pitted working-class insurgents like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez against the business-bought Democratic establishment. Though school privatization today is currently associated more with Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos, Democratic Party leaders have been just as responsible for the decimation of public education over recent years. And from Colorado to New York, top officials of the Democratic Party continue to promote the charter school agenda.
I love the hits on the Dems. An excellent article in Jacobin with lots of analysis on the upcoming UTLA strike on Jan. 10.
My right wing anti-union pal Mike Antonucci has been paying attention to the LA situation for a long time. He thinks they could just bargain this out. He misunderstands social justice movements - they are not about just bargaining but about transformation - and reversing the attacks of the ed deformers. The royal battle for the LA school board where billionaires have poured enormous money into these races is part of the equation here. You can't separate the attack of ed deformers on teacher unions by using charters from the reasons for the strike.
Elected in 2014 with a mandate to transform the union, the new UTLA leadership has spent the last four years preparing for this battle. Rather than sticking with the labor movement’s self-defeating reliance on electing and lobbying mainstream Democrats, the union has consciously upheld the militant spirit of the 2012 Chicago teachers’ strike and the recent red state rebellions.  
So far the leaders of the UTLA for the past 4 years have been on the ball. I also met the union leader Alex Caputo-Pearl a decade ago -- he has a great handle -- he was in the first class of Teach for America and really gets the ed deformers. I do not believe UTLA is run by a caucus like CORE in Chicago -- I think they put together a broader coalition -- perhaps there are lessons here. We'll see how the strike works out.


Blue-State Revolt
It's official: Los Angeles teachers just announced they are going to strike on January 10. They’re challenging not just public education privatizers, but the Democratic Party establishment.

https://jacobinmag.com/2018/12/los-angeles-teachers-strike-union-california?fbclid=IwAR3eAuYgpod9qYEulV4TE7riC4VXsI8U5kP_aan8fRyDSQwe2fixtv2IJ2o

After months of contract negotiations, Los Angeles teachers have announced that, unless the LA school district leadership gives a dramatic set of last-minute concessions, they will begin a strike on January 10. The stakes of the struggle could hardly be higher. In the second-largest school district in the country, educators have thrown down the gauntlet against the forces of big business, gentrification, and privatization — including those within the Democratic Party.
The teachers’ revolt sparked by West Virginia has now spread to the “bluest” state of them all, California. LA’s schools show why the crisis of public education can’t be blamed only on Republicans. Huge class sizes, low per-pupil funding, rampant charter schools, over-testing, a lack of counselors, nurses, and librarians — these are the fruit of years of Democratic rule in the city and the state capitol.
“Corporate Democrats are getting money from the same billionaires and corporations as the Republicans,” explains United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) Secretary Arlene Inouye, “so essentially all public educators in this country are targets.” In Los Angeles, deep-pocketed pro-charter ideologues recently installed Austin Beutner — a billionaire investment banker with zero educational experience — as superintendent. Their plan is straightforward: drastically downsize the school district to push students into privately run charter schools.

Despite the fact that the district is sitting on $1.86 billion in financial reserves, Beutner has refused to meet the union’s basic demands for lower class size, more school resources, and charter accountability, since such improvements would undermine his privatizing mission.

For Inouye, “this is a struggle to save public education; the existence of public education in our city is on the line.” It’s also a struggle over the future of the Democratic Party. Los Angeles is a microcosm of, and a major front in, a larger national battle that has pitted working-class insurgents like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez against the business-bought Democratic establishment.

Though school privatization today is currently associated more with Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos, Democratic Party leaders have been just as responsible for the decimation of public education over recent years. And from Colorado to New York, top officials of the Democratic Party continue to promote the charter school agenda.
Los Angeles is no exception. Austin Beutner may look and act like the evil villain in a children’s movie, but like most of the enemies of public education in Los Angeles and California, he’s a liberal, a longtime party funder, and a proud Democrat.
So are Nick Melvoin and Kelly Gonez, the swing-vote school board members who rode into office last year in the most expensive school board race in US history; billionaire charter school backers like Eli Broad and Reed Hastings made over $9.7 million in contributions to ensure their election. Both Gonez and Melvoin worked in the Obama administration and are supported by Arne Duncan, Obama’s infamously anti-union, pro-charter secretary of education.
On a statewide level, California’s Democratic governors and legislators — who currently have a supermajority in Sacramento — have done little to stem the tide of privatization. Nor have Democrats taken steps to fully fund education by pushing to reform Prop. 13, the regressive anti-tax policy that has gutted state coffers since 1978. As a result, to quote UTLA president Alex Caputo-Pearl, “California, supposedly the pride and model for the Democratic Party, is at forty-three out of the fifty states in per-pupil funding.” Unsurprisingly, Los Angeles isn’t the only city in California on the verge of a teachers’ strike — Oakland educators will very likely be going out in early 2019 as well.

At best, the Democrats have upheld the status quo. But in California, and across the nation, the status quo is no longer tolerable for millions. LA’s strike — like the popular upsurge around Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez, and their calls for Medicare for All and a Green New Deal — suggests that working people want a break with neoliberal austerity and are even willing to take drastic action to make that break happen.
Elected in 2014 with a mandate to transform the union, the new UTLA leadership has spent the last four years preparing for this battle. Rather than sticking with the labor movement’s self-defeating reliance on electing and lobbying mainstream Democrats, the union has consciously upheld the militant spirit of the 2012 Chicago teachers’ strike and the recent red state rebellions. “I’ve been blown away by what we’ve been able to organize,” said Rosa Jimenez, a teacher in LA’s Koreatown and a parent of a fifth grader. “We’ve been working so hard, for so many years, to get to this point.”
Winning won’t be easy. Superintendent Beutner is the mouthpiece of powerful economic and political interests — and he shows no signs of backing down. The powers that be understand that a victorious strike in Los Angeles could detonate a wave of similar actions in blue states across the nation. The spread of this kind of labor militancy would not only threaten their plans to downsize public education — it would also give unprecedented popular leverage to the electoral insurgency headed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders, the only potential presidential contender to have consistently supported the strike wave.
There’s no way to predict today how these battles in Los Angeles and beyond will unfold. One thing does seem clear though: 2019 is shaping up to be another year of fiery teachers’ strikes. And this time, they won’t only be targeting Republicans.



1 comment:

  1. I know folks that teach in LA and it’s incredibly bad. The thing a lot of us die hard Democrat’s have to come to terms with is that our party is as repugnant as the GOP, and in some ways worse. I’ve decided to register as an Independent for the new year. Great post.
    Jim

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