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

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Courage Campaign takes on TFA-cum-StudentsFirst's Michelle Rhee's predator husband, Kevin Johnson

“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.

SIGN THE PETITION: Demand mayor of Sacramento resign for allegedly sexually abusing a 15 year old

The video is chilling.

A teenage girl sits on her hands and speaks to a Phoenix police officer in a gloomy room, describing sexual abuse.(1)

The man she describes lying naked with her, fondling her, and asking her to promise not to tell anyone is Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson.

This isn’t a new case. Many people in Sacramento had been aware of her words and allegations, but had never seen her face before or heard her voice telling a first hand account of her story. We can’t keep ignoring these serious allegations of child sex abuse.

Demand that Mayor Kevin Johnson immediately resign in the face of this horrific video and numerous allegations of other crimes of sexual abuse by him.

I worked as a social worker advocating for survivors of rape and domestic violence for years, and I know first hand how hard it is for survivors to speak out about the sexual violence committed against them -- especially when the perpetrator is a powerful man. But, as has been publicly recorded, the girl in this newly surfaced video, Mandi Koba -- who was 16 years old at the time of the interview and 15 during the time of the abuse -- had the courage to come forward and tell her story publicly after 20 years.She says she is a "grown-up now" and tired of "protecting [Mayor Johnson]," despite his attempt to buy her silence with $230,000, as reported by The Sacramento Bee.(2)
Mandi -- who is now an advocate for survivors of rape and sexual assault -- first reported the abuse as a teen and has publicly said it was because she feared Johnson was abusing or would abuse other young girls. And she wasn't wrong.
Allegations of sexual abuse and harassment have followed Mayor Johnson from Phoenix to Sacramento, where Johnson was accused of assaulting five young female students at his charter school, St. HOPE, as well as groping and making unwanted sexual advances at a colleague.(3) But many believe these cases of abuse and misconduct never impacted his rise to mayor of Sacramento because, like with Mandi, and as has been publicly recorded, he made legal settlements that forced the survivors of his alleged crimes to hush up.(4)

Kevin Johnson has never had to confront these allegations. And the survivors of his alleged assaults have been forced to watch him rise to fame and success without publicly responding to the numerous allegations of sexual abuse. Well, enough is enough.
In the face of these newly surfaced reports of sexual crimes and the media frenzy surrounding them, ESPN recently canceled the debut of a documentary that deified Mayor Johnson for his role is securing Sacramento's NBA franchise, but totally ignored his well-documented history of sexual assault.(5)
And just this week, Mayor Johnson announced that he would not be seeking re-election next year.
It has never been more clear, in the face of these allegations, Kevin Johnson does not deserve to represent the people of Sacramento. And Sacramento cannot wait until next year for Johnson to step down. He should not be allowed to remain in office one more day!
JOIN US and demand Kevin Johnson immediately resign as mayor of Sacramento.

Laura, along with Annie, Eddie, Emma, Kelsey, Lindsay, Moonyoung, Paul, Scottie, and Tim (the Courage team)
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