Yesterday, the Los Angeles Times printed two stories that affect public-school education and those who 'dabble' in it. One was by journalist Howard Blume on the Billion-Dollar iPad scandal at LAUSD, and the other was written as an op-ed team by Eli Broad and Richard Riordon, two of our always-prominent LA billionaires. This tag team, who own between them the wealth of a small nation, self-describe their activities, generosity, and community spirit, as the most major of philanthropists. It seems to be a rationale of why the majority of us should love, cherish, and probably obey, America's billionaires. This self-serving op-ed comes on the heels of the Times finally allowing Blume to recently print truth about what is happening to taxpayers, students, parents, and generally, public education in our community. It was at very least a 'quid pro quo' day at the Times, with the powerful billionaires getting their half page of self-aggrandizing space, and the rest of us getting to read some accurate information about the farce Supt. Deasy, Eli Broad's chosen/mandated guy, has once again perpetrated on us all.
Today, we get more bad news, but now about LAUSD School Board President, Richard Vladovic, regarding charges that not only were made 13 years ago on his management style, but that were carefully reviewed some months ago, and found worthless. Although today Vladovic apologized to the Board for some things said in anger. So why bring this up again now?
With the amazing behind-the-scenes power that Broad and Riordon have with their battery of O'Melveny and Meyers legal team, and their best-in-the-world Public Relations team, they seem certainly to be able to join with Deasy to create a new 'spin' to deflect We, the People, from focusing on the huge waste of our tax money and the ongoing deficiencies of their chosen Superintendent Deasy. The possibly sweetheart iPad deal made for the over-retail-cost Apple iPads, with Deasy having been entangled with Apple both as a stockholder and as an employee wherein Apple used him in their ads to promote the iPads; and with the Deasy/Broad resigned Asst. Supt. Jaime Aquino having worked for the British corporation, Pearson, which made endless millions with their Common Core software for the iPads, and who knows how much more secret dealing--all this should alert the public who pays the freight for all these bad decisions.
Looking purely at costs to the public, not at ethics, these fiasco deals that we now know about, and factoring in the multitude of lawsuits against LAUSD from teachers in teacher jail that are never publicized, are all costing us a fortune of our hard-earned tax money. The clear evidence of terrible management of LAUSD should certainly be obvious to all, and present the only solution--to rid the district of these managers and do a national search for managers who are not tainted by being trained by the Broad Academy to be corporate leaders rather than academic leaders of our public schools.
To add to this egregious LA nepotism, we learn today that our new Mayor, Eric Garcetti, compounds his position of appointing charter-school supporter Ms. Melendez (with her own sweetheart deal surrounding her pay check, by staying on the LAUSD payroll although working for Garcetti, to eventually have the highest level of pay for her retirement 10 years from now) to lead his Dept. of Education. And today we learn that he has appointed Mrs. Abigail Marquez (a holdover from the Villaraigosa days), his big campaign contributor and fund raiser, to be on the Construction Bond Committee (see LA School Report today for these stories, and the LA Times). This is the pseudo-advisory Committee that approved using the Construction Bond funding for the iPad's purchase in the first place. And this woman, when googled, shows no business or academic background for this appointment. We California taxpayers will be paying for the long outdated and obsolete iPads, with big interest, for the next 25 years as we pay off the Construction Bond. In addition, the new mayor's wife worked with/for Reardon some years ago to implement his charter schools. It does not take genius to figure this out, but it makes you wonder if only highly educated people with proven business acumen, and no personal axes to grind, should have oversight of our tax money, rather than rich housewives who get political perks for their donations to legislators.
Many folks will certainly be looking into the business connections of all these interrelated elected, appointed, and just plain uber-rich overlords who are mangling public education with the goal of turning our system of universal free education into a big free-market investment opportunity. (Suggest everyone read the Tilson Blog Site to see how this hedge-fund manager is working to this end ...all of this info herein can be found online.)
We must also keep in mind how the input of our former Mayor Tony Villaraigosa (an outspoken lover of charter schools, and soon to be a candidate for Governor of California, who now works for the questionable pyramid-run company Herbalife while his longtime pal Fabian Nunez works for charter-promoter Michelle Rhee whose husband is Mayor of Sacramento where they closed 23 public inner-city schools this year), whose cousin is now Speaker of the House in Sacramento, factors into all this. Tony saw to it that his billionaire contacts like Bloomberg and Murdoch sent considerable millions to influence the last LA School Board elections, to get pro-charter school candidates elected. That failed when Steve Zimmer and Monica Ratliff beat the billionaires, proving that you can't fool all of the people all of the time.
It is seems like a game of Monopoly. Who owns "boardwalk" ...who owns our public schools????
So, America, who says Los Angeles, and California, cannot compete for the dirtiest, most nepotistic, politics award?