Lying to Mother Jones

The Compton experience and others across the country reflect parents’ real frustrations with their schools. However, the four trigger choices don’t address much of what upsets parents most—lack of attention from teachers, canceled programs, old textbooks and learning materials, and poor, rundown facilities. In short, the trigger solution seeks changes in governance and organizational structure without addressing key problems ailing struggling schools.

A colleague just sent me a Mother Jones piece on school privatization from April 2011 that I hadn’t seen, despite being quoted in the article. What is of interest is how Parent Revolution’s Ben Austin once again was able to lie to a major publication without the article’s author questioning his statements or raising so much as a slight doubt about their false narrative. Where Kristina Rizga’s article says “Austin notes that Parent Revolution went to funders asking for support in giving parents collective bargaining rights, not charters,” Austin has gives mendaciousness a whole new meaning. His statement goes way beyond a lie, as we will see.

The entirely astroturf Parent Revolution’s plutocrat funders make no such pretenses about why they fund Austin and his group of fellow privatization pushing employees. In one of my recent essays entitled Eli Broad pays Parent Revolution to champion charters not to empower parents! we see Parent Revolution’s true mission spelled out by Broad’s own candor. The 990 instead says:

To support efforts to help Charter Management Organizations apply for new LAUSD schools under LAUSD’s School Choice Resolution.

Notice it doesn’t say a word about parent empowerment or collective bargaining rights for parents. But it does say a whole lot about charters. Once again Austin is exposed as a shameless liar.

UCLA’s Institute for Democracy, Education, and Access recently wrote a very cogent description of what Parent Revolution really does:

Parent Revolution, using the trigger law as leverage, mobilizes parents, school-by-school, to vote for one of four reform efforts—firing staff, replacing the principal, closing the school or converting to a charter. Once such a change is made, there is no mechanism for parents to be organized for sustained, long-term action to improve their local schools and communities. Organizing, in this sense, is an ongoing process that develops the capacity of its own members and uses the power of their experiences and numbers to effect change.

Let’s also bear in mind that the teacher-hating reactionary Austin willingly broke the law in order to get the so-called trigger law implemented to his liking, so lying to Mother Jones is pretty much small potatoes for him. Moreover, should we assume that he hosts meetings with the right-wing extremists of The Heartland Institute “asking for support in giving parents collective bargaining rights”?

When we want to look at what Parent Revolution and Ben Austin really are, I think of what Altadena mother Shirlee Smith recently called Austin and his charter-voucher industry cohorts recently in a Pasadena newspaper Op-Ed: “lackeys for the power structure.”

That’s exactly what they are.

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.