"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Peas in a pod: Koret Foundation, The Hoover Institution, and Democrats for Education Reform

"I tell you, my friends, the trouble with this whole country is that so many are selfish! Here's a hundred and twenty million people, with ninety-five per cent of 'em only thinking of self, instead of turning to and helping the responsible business men to bring back prosperity! All these corrupt and self-seeking labor unions! Money grubbers! Thinking only of how much wages they can extort out of their unfortunate employer, with all the responsibilities he has to bear!" ... "Then was revealed the New American Education, which, as Sarason so justly said, was to be ever so much newer than the New Educations of Germany, Italy, Poland, or even Turkey." — Sinclair Lewis [1]

Right Wing Reactionaries Gloria J. Romero, Terry M. Moe, Lance Isumi, and Lary Sand

It's no secret that the malicious types running Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) hold the same ideological positions as the furthest-right think-tanks around. Starting with their founder Whitney Tilson, [2] who channels American Enterprise Institute's (AEI) Andy Smarick at every opportunity, DFER is a bastion of right-wing thought that amounts to an enormous serving of Milton Freidman's free market fantasies finished with a healthy dollop of Ayn Rand's infantile insistence that "Big Business" is "America’s Persecuted Minority."

Much like Eli Broad's economic hit-men (and hit-women) trained at his various residencies and academies, DFER operatives have done astonishing damage to the public commons and undermine democracy at every opportunity. In Democrats for Neoliberal Education Reform I outlined the duplicitous underhanded craftiness DFER Colorado operatives Mike Johnston and his colleagues employed to "railroad the anti-community, anti-teacher, pro-corporate SB-191 through the Colorado Legislature." More importantly, we looked at the language of their own document which gleefully "discuss[es] students as mere commodities to be consumed by the owners of the means of production."

In the past right-wing Democrats like those comprising the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) pretended that they were somehow different than the John Birch Society inspired organizations that informed the DLC's policies. DFER, on the other hand, makes no attempts to mask their muses and ideological allies. Much like Arne Duncan's ballyhooed "education reform" tour with serial bigot (and philanderer) Newt Gingrich, DFER makes no bones about the fact that their natural allies are fringe-right creeps that would put children back to work. [3]

Case in point Gloria J. Romero, DFER California Director, just completed a panel entitled "School Choice, Special Interests and the Education of Our Children" along with arch-reactionaries Terry Moe of The Hoover Institution and Lance Izumi of Koret Foundation. The event, held in "honor" of deceptively named "school choice week," was moderated by teabagger and staunch anti-unionist Lary Sand, who some might recall as having moderated a school privatization event held by Ben Austin, Ben Boychuck, and Bruno Behrend. DFER's Romero, whose hatred of organized labor echoes that of the Brothers Koch, must have been very confortable on a panel with reactionaries whose views up ten years ago were considered extremist even by the mainstream GOP.

Any guesses as to who the panel considered "Special Interests?" It's safe to say that it wasn't The Broad Foundation, The Gates Foundation, or The Walton Family Foundation. Let's look briefly at our ideological peas in a pod.

Terry Moe, who writes with all of the authority of Philip Morris treatise on the health benefits of smoking, is a favorite in the Murdoch, Walton, DeVos, Bradley, Koch, and Scaife circles. The extreme right-wing Hoover Institution (named after the vile president who stood by and did nothing the last time the banksters and Wall Street swindlers crashed the economy) is wont to lionize right-wing monsters (and Milton Freidman acolytes) like the butchering murderer Generalissimo Augusto Pinochet.

Lance Izumi, who spends much of his time writing fallacious fact-frees texts trying to scamboozle middle class parents into accepting "school choice" and distance learning in order to bolster the burgeoning charter and online school sectors, is a senior fellow at the Koret Foundation. Koret, which unabashedly promotes Freidman's discredited ideas while simultaneously celebrating the Nakba, have their — in their own words — "free-market think tank, Pacific Research Institute" based at The Hoover Institution.

Gloria Romero is best known for her obsequious service to the lucrative charter school industry. While a California State Senator, she worked tirelessly to ensure Caprice Young, Jed Wallace, and other charter school tycoons would continue to dine voraciously at the public trough. Among her dubious accomplishments was SB-592 which handed public school property over to private corporations. Romero's most famous betrayal of the working class people of California was her collaboration with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Ben Austin to create the vile corporate charter trigger, which allows well funded Charter Management Organizations to increase market share. Since her ignominious defeat in her bid to garner the California State Superintendent of Public Instruction seat on behalf of the California Charter Schools Association, Romero has worked harder to union bust and privatize public schools than all of the teabagger elected governors combined. Her shameless pandering to the right and constant opportunism was best summed up in 2009 by my friend and comrade Alvaro Maldonado when we were still trying to prevent the parent trigger law from passing:

For those harboring illusions about State Senator Gloria Romero, her ideology, and her intentions. Long time immigrant rights activist Alvaro Maldonado, who led the fight against the racist Prop 187, had this to say about State Senator and Privatization Pontiff Gloria Romero:

I just saw her the other day! She use to be a left liberal, now she's just a plain capitalist liberal! Gloria Romero was an 1970's activist turned Democratic politician just like Fabian Nunez. I think, it should be a good lesson to all that those liberals who tie themselves to the Democratic party are almost without exception, turn into promoters for the capitalist system; be they co-opted, sold out, or just believe that there is no alternative (I generally I don't buy the argument on practicality claimed by the "progressive" Democrats... Their excuses generally hide their opportunism). The UFW traditional leadership (Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, etc) gave us years of union and Democratic party opportunism in their stances on many an issue... but thats too long a story to get into on this comment page... it should suffice to be weary of "progressives" keeping close ties to the Democratic party.

On balance, there's no difference between education policies and philosophies of the Koret Foundation, The Hoover Institution, and Democrats for Education Reform — not even a nuanced difference. Indeed, this is why we are seeing more and more events at which the fringe-right is paired with right of center Democrats. This insidious pairing has several consequences, the first of which is that these right wing DFER types try to call their politics, adopted from the far-right, "progressive." They're not, and we must call them out on this each and every time they try to pass them off as such. We must name names, and remind everyone that reactionary ideas of free-markets and competition are the antithesis of equity and social justice.

"One result of 30 years of neoliberalism is the a widespread assumption that if you're unhappy dominating or exploiting your fellow human beings, it must be because you're stupid or incapable." — Mike Marqusee


[1] Lewis, Sinclair. It can't happen here; a novel, Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, Doran & Co., 1935.

[2] For some prime examples see Tilson's amateurish and spurious "Rebutting Ravitch" diatribe. He regurgitates Freidman/Rand balderdash with statements about how public education is "lacking in market mechanisms." Moreover Tilson's own unsuccessful attempts to rebut Professor Ravitch are augmented with likewise perfidy by some of his political idols; including The Hoover Institution's Chester Finn, arch-reactionary Andy Rotherham, and for good measure other assorted right wingers like Stuart Buck and Jay Greene.

As an aside, Tilson's prose leaves so much to be desired, which isn't too surprising for a child of privilege who went on to grow mummy and daddy's money by shorting housing derivatives. That said, don't the elite colleges these ruling class brats attend teach them to write? Tilson couldn't compose a cogent sentence if his life depended on it.

[3] In this age of standardized bubble tests and Fox News, it's easy to forget that "Child labor wasn't outlawed until the passage of the FLSA in 1938. Also read about Mother Jones 1903 "Children's Crusade," fight to limit child labor to 55 hours a week."

1 comment:

  1. I've talked with Whitney and Larry on the radio in the past. They're not only jerks, but they lie.

    Whitney claimed KIPP never counseled out anyone. I mentioned I personally know folks who were, he said well, Oakland KIPP has issues.

    Larry is just a right-wing union buster.

    Thanks for this.