Tag Archives: Austin Beutner

In January 2018 — Just Mere Months After Millions Of Dollars In Charter School Money Bought Icky Sticky Nicky Melvoin’s Election To The LAUSD School Board — He Asked The California Charter School Association To Draft A Board Resolution For Him — Outlining Proposal To Study How To Legally Sell Or Lease LAUSD Property To Charters — And To Take LAUSD Facilities Away From Public Schools And Give Them To Charters On The Basis Of “Performance” — And To List All Facilities So The Privatizers Would Know Which To Target — And To Put Prop 39 Co-Location Disputes In The Hands Of A Putatively Neutral Third Party — And To Work Some Incomprehensible Voodoo With Bond Money — And Then Melvoin Proceeded To Have Secret Meetings On The Subject With CCSA Flacks — And Other Privatizing Galaxy Brains — Like Emilio Pack — And Caprice Young — And Mark Kleger-Heine — And Cristina De Jesus — This Post Is Part One Of A Series Because The Whole Thing Is So Darn Complicated

We’ve already seen that LAUSD officials, both elected and appointed, have a sickening penchant for sharing confidential materials with Charter lobbyists, giving them advance input into official policy proposals, and so on. I’ve recently reported, e.g., on an episode from September 2018 where Austin Beutner allowed Cassy Horton and Jed Wallace of the California Charter School Association to vet an upcoming speech and also to talk in advance with his speechwriter to explain what they thought ought to be included. Convicted felon slash former schoolboard member Ref Rodriguez did the same thing in March 2018 with respect to a board proposal.

And it turns out that, beginning in January 2018, LAUSD Board member and charter school bootlicker Icky Sticky Nicky Melvoin1 was involved in a very similar scheme having to do with LAUSD policies on school facilities, a subject which sounds tedious but is actually bureaucratic code for real estate, a subject which is at the very center of the zillionaire plan to loot the public treasure-stores for their own gain.2

Basically the proposal, which seems never to have made it out of the secret meetings, would have called for LAUSD to list all its facilities so that the privatizers could choose which ones to target, to allocate facilities between charter schools and public schools based on excellence and student success rather than on need, to authorize a putatively neutral third party to settle disputes over co-location offers, to study how to sell or lease LAUSD property to charters, and to do something complicated with bonds used to fund facilities. It all seems incredibly shady, shady beyond belief.

Icky Sticky Nicky was elected to the LAUSD Board in May 2017 after having been endorsed by the Los Angeles Times, which delusionally called him an “independent thinker” and also claimed that “Melvoin, who has worked for reform-oriented groups, is decidedly aligned with that movement but in a more balanced way than, say, Monica Garcia.” The LA Times reported on his July 2017 swearing in, and was, by then, after the election was over and the information could no longer sway a single voter, willing to state the relevant facts more explicitly, noting that Melvoin was “elected with the help of millions of dollars from charter school supporters.” The Times also quoted from Melvoin’s speech at the ceremony:

Today is not about the results of an election but about the emergence of a new paradigm.
[I am a product of] the coalition that arose to implore us to lead with a simple yet radical maxim: Put kids first.

And today’s story concerns some ugly truth about Melvoin’s putative more-balanced-than-Monica-Garcia alignment with Charter school zillionaires and about what they bought from him in exchange for their zillions of dollars.3 About how these matters actually played out during his first year in office and, by extension, exactly how he interprets his “simple yet radical maxim: Put kids first.”
Continue reading In January 2018 — Just Mere Months After Millions Of Dollars In Charter School Money Bought Icky Sticky Nicky Melvoin’s Election To The LAUSD School Board — He Asked The California Charter School Association To Draft A Board Resolution For Him — Outlining Proposal To Study How To Legally Sell Or Lease LAUSD Property To Charters — And To Take LAUSD Facilities Away From Public Schools And Give Them To Charters On The Basis Of “Performance” — And To List All Facilities So The Privatizers Would Know Which To Target — And To Put Prop 39 Co-Location Disputes In The Hands Of A Putatively Neutral Third Party — And To Work Some Incomprehensible Voodoo With Bond Money — And Then Melvoin Proceeded To Have Secret Meetings On The Subject With CCSA Flacks — And Other Privatizing Galaxy Brains — Like Emilio Pack — And Caprice Young — And Mark Kleger-Heine — And Cristina De Jesus — This Post Is Part One Of A Series Because The Whole Thing Is So Darn Complicated

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Green Dot Charter Schools CEO Cristina De Jesus Served On Gavin Newsom’s State Charter School Task Force Earlier This Year — According To Tony Thurmond The Point Was To Identify “what is truly best for kids” — But De Jesus Told Her Colleagues That Her “Representation On The Task Force” Gave Green Dot “The Ultimate Voice” — And She Used Her Knowledge Of Task Force Meetings To Shape Green Dot PR Messaging On Charter School Controversies — None Of Which Sounds Like Thinking About What’s Best For Anyone Other Than Green Dot — Oh And Also It Seems That In Early 2018 De Jesus And The California Charter School Association Were Just Sitting Around Waiting For Michelle King To Die — So They Could Start Manipulating The Choice Of Her Replacement — Which As We Now Know They Ultimately Managed Really Well — At Least From Their Infernal Point Of View — And Making Insensitive Remarks While They Waited — Which Is Not A Good Look For A Bunch Of Privatizing Vultures — Especially Given How Their Hand-Picked Dude Is Working Out

Earlier this year Governor Gavin Newsom asked State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond to convene an expert task force to study some aspects of charter schools in California and to issue a report by July 1, which task they duly completed. Here’s what Tony Thurmond had to say about what all these experts were going to get up to:

I am excited that we have this incredible assembly of experts from all sectors to help lead this charge, to take a deeper look at the impact of charter schools. We plan to research data and facts, and will review the fiscal impact and authorization process of charter schools. But more importantly, we are going to do this with thoughtful intention and through the lens of identifying what is truly best for kids.

And one of the putative experts appointed thereto was Cristina De Jesus, mostly famous for being the supreme commander of behemothic privatizing charter school organization Green Dot California. And even though Tony Thurmond thought the task forceers were going to think about the kids, well, as might be expected by the cynical,1 it turns out that, as shown in some emails I recently obtained via the California Public Records Act, De Jesus had very, very different ideas about her role on this expert body.2

The story begins on March 27, 2019, when Anna Phillips published a story in the Los Angeles Times, privatizers-into-a-tizzy-throwingly entitled How a couple worked charter school regulations to make millions. And into a tizzy indeed were thrown the privatizers, especially their ministers of truth.3 Thus did Green Dot commo-king Sean Thibault write an email to his Supreme Commander CDJ,4 proposing a response, perhaps to be submitted as a letter to the editor, which Thibault refers to as an LTE because of course he does.

This proposed LTE is incredibly worth reading for its crackpot accusation that “ideological charter critics” essentially caused Clark and Jeanette Parker to steal all that money from Today’s Fresh Start Charter School because they “have focused their legislative proposals on areas that already have healthy public scrutiny” rather than what, according to Sean Thibault, they ought to have been doing, which is “partnering to update charter laws and regulations to help catch bad apples.” But what we’re really interested in here is Thibault’s summing-uppery, directed at his boss CDJ:
Continue reading Green Dot Charter Schools CEO Cristina De Jesus Served On Gavin Newsom’s State Charter School Task Force Earlier This Year — According To Tony Thurmond The Point Was To Identify “what is truly best for kids” — But De Jesus Told Her Colleagues That Her “Representation On The Task Force” Gave Green Dot “The Ultimate Voice” — And She Used Her Knowledge Of Task Force Meetings To Shape Green Dot PR Messaging On Charter School Controversies — None Of Which Sounds Like Thinking About What’s Best For Anyone Other Than Green Dot — Oh And Also It Seems That In Early 2018 De Jesus And The California Charter School Association Were Just Sitting Around Waiting For Michelle King To Die — So They Could Start Manipulating The Choice Of Her Replacement — Which As We Now Know They Ultimately Managed Really Well — At Least From Their Infernal Point Of View — And Making Insensitive Remarks While They Waited — Which Is Not A Good Look For A Bunch Of Privatizing Vultures — Especially Given How Their Hand-Picked Dude Is Working Out

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On September 13, 2018 Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Austin Beutner Gave A Major Policy Speech — The Week Before That Beutner Staffers Rebecca Kockler And Elmer Roldan Met Separately With Lobbyist Cassy Horton Of The California Charter Schools Association To Vet His Proposals With Her — I Have A Copy Of Horton’s Extensive Notes On These Two Meetings! — On September 7 Beutner Met With Christina De Jesus Of Green Dot And Emilio Pack Of STEM Prep For The Same Purpose — And On September 12 Cassy Horton Had An Advance Copy Of Beutner’s Speech And Shared It With Those Two For Feedback — Ironically In The Speech Beutner Touted The Importance Of Transparency — But Didn’t Mention Word One About All This Back Channel Commo With Elite Privatizers About The Very Speech In Which He Was Touting Transparency!

A little history and a list of the dramatis personae are in order before we begin. In May 2018 noted zillionaire Austin Beutner was appointed superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District via a shady, probably illegal, backroom process pushed through by noted charter-lovers Monica Rodriguez and later-indicted-and-convicted criminal Ref Rodriguez.1 Subsequently Beutner hired Broad Foundation alumna Rebecca Kockler away from the already-pretty-wrecked state of Louisiana where she was famous for privatizing everything in her reach and thereby wrecking everything even more as his chief of staff2 and some dude named Elmer Roldan as his director of civic engagement.

Then there’s the shady charter school lobbying conspiracy known as the California Charter Schools Association, sitting like a fat green spider at the center of the various ickety-stickety webs of privatization spritzed all over our fair city by behind-the-scenes zillionaires. These privatizing peddlers of metaphorical poisoned apples are not just lobbyists, but also actively gather what passes for intelligence in privatizerlandia and spread it around among their members. They’re probably reading this very blog post. Their local capo is Cassy Horton.

And one of the CCSA’s creepiest little Southern California projects is something called the Los Angeles Advocacy Council, a shadowy website-lacking group of twenty-ish super-elite local charter leaders who convene regularly to discuss how to privatize everything they can lay their greedy paws on, to meet with politicians, propose policy, and so on.3 And among these elite privatizers there is an even eliter bunch, the so-called LAAC Leadership. This hyper-exclusive crew consists of Green Dot Charter Schools CEO Christina De Jesus and STEM Preparatory School boss Emilio Pack, facilitated by Cassy Horton.

And it came to pass that after Beutner had been on the job for a few months, in September 2018, he decided that he wanted to give a major policy speech, explaining just what the hell he planned to get up to way high up on the zillionth floor of the Bastille on Beaudry.4 And how does a galaxy-brain like Beutner prepare for such an event? Well, perhaps he thinks about things, reads up on things, talks about things with his senior staff, goes out in the field and looks at things.

And maybe Beutner did all of that and more. But he also had two of his senior staff, the aforementioned Kockler and Roldan, meet with Cassy Horton to run all his proposals by her. And the next day he met with LAAC elites Christina De Jesus and Emilio Pack. We know about this first meeting from an email which Horton sent to De Jesus and Pack, ensubjected “<Confidential/For Review> Preview of Austin Convo for Tomorrow” describing in astounding detail both the content and her thoughts on these two meetings with Beutner’s staffies.
Continue reading On September 13, 2018 Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Austin Beutner Gave A Major Policy Speech — The Week Before That Beutner Staffers Rebecca Kockler And Elmer Roldan Met Separately With Lobbyist Cassy Horton Of The California Charter Schools Association To Vet His Proposals With Her — I Have A Copy Of Horton’s Extensive Notes On These Two Meetings! — On September 7 Beutner Met With Christina De Jesus Of Green Dot And Emilio Pack Of STEM Prep For The Same Purpose — And On September 12 Cassy Horton Had An Advance Copy Of Beutner’s Speech And Shared It With Those Two For Feedback — Ironically In The Speech Beutner Touted The Importance Of Transparency — But Didn’t Mention Word One About All This Back Channel Commo With Elite Privatizers About The Very Speech In Which He Was Touting Transparency!

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LAUSD Has About 60,000 Employees — Doctor Pamela Magee — Supreme Boss Of The Palisades Charter High School — Makes More Money Than All But Three Of Them — Which Certainly Proves Something — But Not Anything Good — Presenting Salaries Of All Pali High Employees — And Employment Contracts For Senior Staff — And Pleadings From Roya Saghafi’s Civil Rights Lawsuit Against The School — Which Makes Allegations Both Lurid And Extensive — And Entirely Freaking Believable If You Know The Palisades At All

As you may recall I’ve been working on obtaining public records from charter schools in Los Angeles, with some success.1 And one of my prime targets presently is that spider’s nest of privatizing privilege, the Palisades Charter High School. A few weeks ago, for instance, a small set of PCHS boss-lady Doctor Pam Magee’s emails revealed some interesting and reprehensible shenanigans on the part of the interesting and reprehensible California Charter School Association.

And just yesterday the Palisadesean privatizers released another small batch of goodies, which you can get your hands on here on Archive.Org. This set consists of copies of the employment contracts of PCHS senior administrators as well as a list of all PCHS employees by name, salary, and total compensation. The contracts aren’t that interesting, but there’s some good info in the list of salaries, the utility of which is a little attenuated by the fact that for whatever reason2 PCHS Director of Human Capital Exploitation Amy Nguyen3 didn’t include any of these folks’ job titles.

I have a new request in for that essential information, but irrespective of that, we do learn the fairly stunning fact that Dr.4 Pamela A. Magee is paid $218,855 per year for her labors.5 Now, everything I know about salaries at charter schools I learned from this fine article by the incomparable Red Queen in LA. And the folks she talks about there make an awful lot of money. Cosmic money. More money than Doctor P.A.M.

But they’re not actually running individual charter schools like Doctor Magee.6 So I thought I’d check out how much LAUSD pays its principals, you know, for the sake of comparison. A little Googlism7 revealed this LAUSD administrative salary schedule and this organizational chart. And what these documents reveal is pretty surprising. It turns out that there are only three LAUSD employees out of more than 60,0008 that earn more annually than Dr. Pamela A. Magee. Those are:

☆ Chief Academic Officer Frances Gipson — $255,000
☆ Deputy Superintendent Vivian Ekchian — $262,500
☆ Superindendent Austin Beutner — $350,000

So what does this mean? Well, I don’t know. The familiar things about how charter schools suck public money out of public use and use it to enrich the already-rich, I guess. About how zillionaires, intent on destroying the public realm, pay their minions well. Whatever it means, though, it’s a pretty nice illustration of one of the central paradoxes of value with LAUSD employees playing the role of water and Dr. Magee that of diamonds.

And here’s my candidate for the non-sequiturish-segue-of-the-moment, which is that whatever it is that Dr. Pam Magee is doing out there in Northwest Zillionaireville9 to earn10 her bread in the sweat of her brow, she doesn’t seem to have been able to put an end to a years-long series of despicable racist shenanigans directed against former PCHS teacher and current civil rights litigant Roya Saghafi by various PCHS employees and students and described in this complaint, filed in Superior Court in June 2018.11

And you know how we love lawsuits around these parts! I’m collecting pleadings from this one over here on the Archive. And not only that, but the trial is scheduled for July 29, 2019 at 10 a.m. in Department 72 at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse. I expect to attend, and maybe I’ll see you there! Meanwhile, turn the page for some transcribed selections from the complaint.
Continue reading LAUSD Has About 60,000 Employees — Doctor Pamela Magee — Supreme Boss Of The Palisades Charter High School — Makes More Money Than All But Three Of Them — Which Certainly Proves Something — But Not Anything Good — Presenting Salaries Of All Pali High Employees — And Employment Contracts For Senior Staff — And Pleadings From Roya Saghafi’s Civil Rights Lawsuit Against The School — Which Makes Allegations Both Lurid And Extensive — And Entirely Freaking Believable If You Know The Palisades At All

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