Right-wing Reactionary “Guggenheim on Unions, Green Dot”

Just continue to follow the money. This Race to the Trough will make the Reading First crooks under Bush look like dopey Boy Scouts.

— Jim Horn, PhD (Educator, Writer)

EdWize has a short blurb on the Walton Foundation’s mouthpiece—the vile Davis Guggeheim—called Guggenheim on Unions, Green Dot. It mentions an interview in which the propagandist further vilifies the hard working women and men that teach in our communities.

I had the following response:

That’s nuance? If by “reasonable” Guggenheim means reactionary, then I suppose he’d have a point. Given his specious understanding of pedagogy and public education in general, it’s no wonder he doesn’t see just how damaging his privatization propaganda piece really is. Hiding behind his own union hardly disguises his intentions. “Waiting for Superman” heralds the return of McCarthyism.

What’s more, Guggenheim’s suggestion that yellow unions like Asociación de Maestros Unidos (AMU) are a model as opposed to real unions exposes him for what he is. Green Dot Public [sic] Schools’ yellow, or company union, AMU is nothing to praise despite CTA certification. AMU doesn’t even have its own office or website, all of its activities stem from Green Dot’s corporate headquarters. This explains a dearth of activism from AMU’s members in the midst of the worst budget cuts imaginable. This company unionism also explains why Green Dot teachers’ average experience, while marginally higher than the CMO average of 2 years,1 is still less than 3 years. This in turn probably explains Green Dot’s dismal performance,2 despite all the advantages it holds in extra funding, motivated parents, and exclusion of ELL and special education children.

Nothing was more clear to demonstrate how powerless AMU was than when Marco Petruzzi made the fiat declaration that Green Dot was closing down Ánimo Justice HS. Teacher Judy Riemenschneider mentioned AMU’s thin contract when she said “The ultimatum is at odds with Green Dot’s principles, which call for teacher input into critical decisions.” Like any private institution, Green Dot felt no obligation to honor it’s contractual obligations to its teachers or union. Like any private institution, Green Dot didn’t care about the students, parents, or community when it shuttered Ánimo Justice. Like all charter schools, Green Dot was only concerned about their bottom line. Like Scott Folsom said at the time “The Animo Social Justice (?) Charter is closing for no other reason than Green Dot cannot show a return on their financial investment.”

When Union del Barrio held a community forum to halt the closure of several schools, including the above mentioned one by corporate charter darling Green Dot, I had a half dozen “unionized” AMU members tell me what it’s really like working for a charter. Maybe if Guggenheim spent time with teachers instead of millionaires like Geoffrey Canada and right wingers like Michelle Rhee, he would have heard reality. As a public education activist I get charter teachers telling me all the time what it’s like to work for capricious EMO and CMOs.

Guggenheim rails against unions and quotes “studies” by far right think tanks like Cato, AEI, and Hoover on how one can overcome “environmental issues like poverty.” Thanks for the Ayn Rand free market lesson on pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps there Guggenheim! I hope you’re enjoy all that money from the Waltons, Gates, and Broad foundations.

I’m always amazed that people shouting the loudest that race and class have nothing to do with academic performance are inevitably rich white males. Case in point — the smug Davis Guggenheim.

  1. See here and here. Of course, if Guggenheim was a real documentary filmmaker instead of a propagandist, he would have done his homework to discover this fact instead of making the ridiculously smug comment “I’m sure you’re going to find these teachers in these high-performing charters that burn out.” []
  2. As discussed by journalist Caroline Grannan. []

Robert D. Skeels is a social justice writer, public education advocate, and immigrant rights activist. He lives, works, writes, and organizes in Los Angeles with his wife and cats. Robert is a U.S. Navy Veteran, and a proud member of Veterans for Peace. He attended Glendale Community College and is currently attending the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), majoring in Classical Civilization. Robert is a committed member of CEJ, PESJA, SCIC, and the Trinational Coalition To Defend Public Education. In addition to advancing working class struggles, Robert is an adherent of Liberation Theology. He devotes much time towards volunteer work for 12 step, church, and homeless advocacy. Robert’s articles and essays have appeared in publications including Schools Matter, CounterPunch, Dissident Voice, Daily Censored, Echo Park Patch, and The Los Angeles Daily News. In 2013 Robert ran for the LAUSD School Board against a billionaire funded corporate reform candidate, finishing second in a field of five, with over 5,200 votes. Read other articles by Robert, or visit Robert's website.