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Est. April 5, 2002
July 21, 2016 - Issue 663

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Public Education
in the
2016 Presidential Election

"Public education is at a crossroads whereby
it will be under further siege if Donald Trump
is elected and may be under siege by Hillary Clinton,
depending on her VP choice and her own leanings
toward public school privatization, especially charter
schools, during the administration of her husband
and her eight years in the U.S. Senate."

New Jersey Updates: Retribution is a b…h! Gov. Chris Christie’s quest to be Donald Trump’s Vice President (VP) was waylaid by Jared Kushner (husband of Ivanka Trump, Donald’s daughter). Jared is the son of millionaire real estate developer, Charles Kushner, who was indicted and publicly humiliated by Christie when he was New Jersey’s U.S. Attorney. Christie was Donald’s and Melania’s first choice for VP, but Jared declared that Christie would get the appointment “… over his dead body.” He then allowed Christie to be strung along after Trump had led him to believe he “was the one” because of their personal chemistry and Christie’s excessive genuflection. Jared pulled the plug at the eleventh hour, after Christie began to tell friends he had the appointment, publicly humiliating Christie the way Christie did his dad.

Elsewhere, current U.S. Attorney, Paul Fishman, is closing in on Christie after indicting two of his closest political and personal advisors, David Samson, former head of the Port Authority, and Jamie Fox, former Transportation Secretary in the Christie Administration and a long-term lobbyist for both Democrats and Republicans; their major crime was shaking down United Airlines to reinstate an unprofitable direct flight from Newark to Columbia, South Carolina, near Samson’s vacation home. Both men are in frail health and may have to give Christie up in order to avoid jail time. A short sentence for either of them one would likely mean death in prison. Stay tuned!

Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop has been linked to a Super PAC, Coalition for Progress, which received a $1 million contribution from Jersey City’s Vivek Garipalli, a major Fulop backer and founder of the for-profit hospital company CarePoint Health, as Fulop gears up for the 2017 gubernatorial election.

Interim Montclair Superintendent, Dr. Ronald Bolandi, is pushing back hard against the establishment of the Fulbright Academy Charter School. It was recently renamed the Montclair Charter School in an effort to give the appearance of being supported by the broader Montclair community, which it is not. Dr. Bolandi has been courageous in this effort in direct opposition to the Montclair School Board’s “gang of four for school privatization” (Laura Hertzog, Rev. Jevon Caldwell-Gross, Atty. Joe Kavesh, and Franklin Turner), who are quietly backing the charter.

The 2016 presidential election may well be a watershed year in the public education-school privatization and political civil war between Donald J. Trump and Hillary Rodham Clinton. Trump’s son, Donald Jr., laid down the gauntlet for school choice and the free market approach to education in his prime time speech at the Republican National Convention last Tuesday night. Trump’s pick of Mike Pence as his vice presidential running mate is a strong signal to the Cartel of private-sector education reformers that they have an “inside man” who as Governor of Indiana has rapidly increased the number of and the funding for voucher and corporate charter schools.

Pence’s fellow Republican governors have also pushed the school privatization envelope: Mary Fallon in Oklahoma, whose Senate education committee passed a bill, SB1187, which “… allows school districts to request an exemption from the State Board of Education from all statutory requirements and State Board of Education rules of which charter schools are currently exempt.” If passed, it would eliminate:

“… teacher's minimum salary schedule;

the requirement for school districts to participate in the Oklahoma Teacher’s Retirement System (OTRS);

school district provided health insurance;

criminal background checks on school employees;

teacher evaluation and due process protections;

payroll deduction (for union dues);

due process protections for support staff;

certification requirements for all school district positions;

negotiations between a school district and employees;

student curriculum requirements; and

required continuing education for local board of education members.”

Oklahoma is essentially proposing to abolish public education in one fell swoop.

At the same time, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has been severely starving public education, while slashing taxes. The State Supreme Court stepped in to order the Legislature to increase funding. The Republican-controlled state government has labeled traditional public schools as “government schools” in an effort to discredit them as necessary institutions in a free society. In addition, Republicans have co-opted the words “freedom,” “free,” and “liberty” to advance their extreme anti-abortion, anti-government, and anti-LGBT agenda in Mississippi, North Carolina, Michigan, Texas, and the other seventeen states where Republicans have taken complete control of the legislative process.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton has pledged her support to teachers and the major education unions, the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). However, she had to be checked during the 2016 Iowa primary when she stated that parents with children in failing schools needed access to charter schools rather than the public schools being properly funded. After being reined in by the NEA, she promptly modified her statement.

But most troubling is the fact that Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) is on her shortlist for her vice presidential selection. Booker, whose whole political career has been underwritten by the corporate Cartel, is perhaps the strongest Democratic advocate for school vouchers, corporate charters, and other forms of public school privatization in the nation. He has continued to carry the Cartel’s political water in the Senate.

Booker is primarily responsible for the dismantling of the Newark Public Schools, while he served as Newark’s Mayor from 2006 to 2013, which are well on their way to becoming a majority charter district. During his term, he constantly lobbied the legislature for vouchers and more charter schools and worked with Gov. Christie and former New Jersey Education Commissioner, Chris Cerf, to bring Broad Superintendents Academy-trained superintendents (who are private-sector oriented) to Newark, Camden, Montclair, Highland Park, Jersey City, and Trenton. If he were to be designated as Hillary’s running mate, the Cartel would be in a win-win situation as they were when he ran against Republican, Steve Longman, for his U.S. Senate seat. Both were funded by the Cartel led by the Koch Brothers.

Public education is at a crossroads whereby it will be under further siege if Donald Trump is elected and may be under siege by Hillary Clinton, depending on her VP choice and her own leanings toward public school privatization, especially charter schools, during the administration of her husband and her eight years in the U.S. Senate. Public education stakeholders, who are mostly Democrats, need to be continually vigilant as the presidential race heats up. Al Gore’s selection of Sen. Joe Lieberman in 2000, who was a rabid supporter of school choice, helped sink his election chances and his loss in Florida which sealed his fate.

Democrats have little option other than to support Hillary Clinton, but she must be held accountable for her stance on public education. Otherwise, they could have a repeat of 2008 when then Sen. Barack Obama rode into office on the strength of his overwhelming support from teacher unions and supporters of public education.

Within ten days after his inauguration, he accepted a draft copy of the Cartel-developed Race to the Top (RTTT) bill on January 29, 2009 and forwarded it to the then Democratically-controlled Congress which passed it into law. President Obama signed the statute six months later on July 24, 2009.

links to all 20 parts of the opening series Columnist, Dr. Walter C. Farrell, Jr., PhD, MSPH, is a Fellow of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) at the University of Colorado-Boulder and has written widely on vouchers, charter schools, and public school privatization. He has served as Professor of Social Work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and as Professor of Educational Policy and Community Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Contact Dr. Farrell. 

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is published every Thursday
Executive Editor:
David A. Love, JD
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Peter Gamble

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