Democrats for Neoliberal Education Reform

Like special interests, our constituents deserve some consideration also.

– Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte (Los Angeles Unified School District Board — LAUSD).

At least someone was thinking of parents and community before corporations and privatizers at LAUSD.

If we ever needed more insight into just how manipulative and insidious Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) is as an agent of the corporate and neoliberal agenda, they’ve published a white paper discussing how they managed to railroad the anti-community, anti-teacher, pro-corporate SB-191 through the Colorado Legislature. The bill, which further disenfranchised communities in favor of corporate “ed-reformers,” and stripped Colorado teachers of nearly any protections whatsoever is a prime example of how it isn’t only teabagging darlings like Florida’s Rick Scott and Wisconsin’s Scott Walker that want to destroy public education and bust all unions.

Using a systematic methodology of guile, deception, and select co-opting of various other entities, DFER politicians were able to pass a pernicious bill that all but turns the teaching profession into a career path akin to working as a fast food fry cook. Of course, that’s how the well heeled hedge fund managers that founded DFER view anyone outside of their insular world of finance capital to begin with.

Although the document is an extremely boring read — chock full of corporate “ed-reformer” jargon and buzzwords — it’s important for social justice activists and public education advocates to read it in order to understand what we are up against. These are the type of tactics the plutocrats and corporate reformers have perfected.

Probably the most disgusting and revolting passage in the paper:

Not only as a respected interest group, but also as the primary consumer of the students Colorado schools produce, the sponsors rightly believed that the business community’s support would add important diversity and depth to the coalition. [emphasis mine]

Although we shouldn’t be surprised that ultimately DFER espouses some of the vilest concepts of Freidman and Rand’s ideology, the fact that they openly discuss students as mere commodities to be consumed by the owners of the means of production is a grim reminder of what drives the so-called education reform crowd. For them the working class and our offspring are just a means for their financial backers to generate ever more profit, and DFER doesn’t even try to obscure the exploitation that the system depends on, indeed, they willingly embrace it.

LAUSD’s Corporate Superintendent John Deasy is slated to do an event with DFER’s depraved Gloria Romero on March 31, 2011 in Glendora, California. We can rest assured that many of the provisions in Colorado’s SB-191 will be discussed as the inevitable corporate future for LAUSD at that event. Mussolini and Franco must be beaming with pride in the Ninth Circle right now, their dreams of a completely corporate state being fulfilled with nary a whimper.

Since we’re discussing the ruling class lackeys of DFER, I want to republish my response to deformer Paul Hoss’ obsequious support of the school privatizers currently headed by the right wing Joe Williams in the comments following a Valerie Strauss piece.

Contrary to @paulhoss’ reactionary right-wing nonsense above, DFER serves two functions. First, it gives the nouveau riche an opportunity to network by joining charter-voucher school boards and the boards of charter-voucher related trade associations. Since these aspiring socialites and elitists, many of whom made their fortunes shorting housing derivatives and by other “honorable” means, aren’t able to get on boards dominated by “old money,” DFER/TFA and the like give them a chance to play self important neo-gilded-age tycoons much like the robber barons of old. They like to call themselves philanthropists, although they are nothing of the sort.

The “ethos” of these budding plutocrats are are those of neoliberalism and markets. Freire and Macedo referred to this as “…a perverse ethics that, in fact, lacks ethics.” DFER‘s advocates for policies that Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman espoused, policies that incorporate vile concepts like competition, market solutions, and choice — all highly discredited ideas. How progressive are DFER’s ideas when they are universally lauded (and for the most part coined) by the likes of Heritage, AEI, Cato, Hoover, Hudson, and all the other extreme right wing think tanks?

Indeed, DFER and like minded groups merely provide an ostensible liberal veneer for the most reactionary aims. Their operatives and supporters deserve nothing but universal disdain. Cloaking privatization in the guise of “helping children” goes beyond cynical, it’s downright sinister.

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.