“Had Michelle Rhee only taped the mouths of predator Kevin Johnson’s victims shut…” — Robert D. Skeels
We all owe Deadspin a huge debt of gratitude for bringing all of these long-standing issues of Kevin "hands-on" Johnson's past misdeeds back into the light of day. The persistent rumors that StudentsFirst-cum-Teach for America darling Michelle Rhee used her White House connections to cover up all the ugly truths about this man for whom she abandoned her own children still loom. Let's always bear in mind that Kevin Johnson, like many neoliberal corporate education reformers, runs privately managed charter schools where he has unfettered "access" to young students. Since charter schools are subject to essentially negligible oversight or public accountability, it's no surprise that they are havens for child abusers.
Amendment to original post
Courage Campaign's Executive Director Eddie Kurtz reached out expressing concern that this post contained "false information," and asked me to contact him. I did, and provide the gist of our conversation here. I was asked to explain my perspective and I informed him that it came when I received an email in the spring that seemed to imply that Courage Campaign had endorsed neoliberal corporate education reform profiteer Refugio "Ref" Rodriguez. I remember being shocked since Courage Campaign was good on other issues; so I reached out to some contacts who explained that Jamie Alter-Lynton, one of Los Angeles' most vehement enemies of public education, sat on Courage Campaign's Board of Directors. I checked her biography, and the board membership is a point of pride for the neoliberal operative. For those who don't remember Alter-Lynton and her husband cashed in big on the fact that they had Pearson PLC inside trade information via the disgraced John Deasy. They use their resources as members of the 1% to attack public education on every front.
Kurtz pointed out that Alter-Lynton hadn't been on their board for two years, and that the organization disagrees with her views on education policy. Moreover, he stated that Courage Campaign actively opposes neoliberal corporate education reform. To wit, he sent me an email that went to their entire list opposing Eli Broad's operative Marshall Tuck. The email was on point, here's a passage:
Here at Courage Campaign, we DON'T endorse candidates, but we DO make sure to alert our members if there is someone on the ballot who OPPOSES progressive values. And Marshall Tuck is that candidate.
The quote also makes clear that they do not endorse individual candidates, meaning the email I received didn't come from them. In retrospect it's likely that the Rodriguez campaign implied the endorsement, like the multiple mailers he sent that implied Governor Brown had in endorsed him. Truth seems to be some that Rodriguez is pathologically averse to. My fact checking of Courage Campaign, which stopped at the connection with Alter-Lynton, was insufficient in that it led me to the wrong conclusion. In my defense, I was very busy studying for, and somehow passed, this awful thing. That doesn't excuse the fact that I had Courage Campaign's education stances all wrong. I apologize, and am glad that this issue is cleared up. I'm leaving my original prose in the following paragraph intact so that there's evidence of my error in regards to Courage Campaign. The other entities I attack in that paragraph are more than deserving of what I said about them.
Courage Campaign has typically been quite bad on issues surrounding education. Frequently supporting neoliberal corporate education reforms, and endorsing greedy charter school industry candidates for office, they have betrayed the progressive veneer they claim. Perhaps this rare, principled stand against an education reformer by Courage Campaign is a sign that they are going to adopt a progressive education policy and stop supporting the corporate takeover of our schools. Even if that's not the case, at least they recognize that unscrupulous individuals like Johnson have no place in public office. We still need to get the word out about Antonio R. Villaraigosa's crimes against the poor.