More On Covert California Charter School Association Involvement In Austin Beutner’s 13 September 2018 Policy Speech — Then-CEO Jed Wallace Spoke To Beutner On Sept. 7 — Beutner Was Impressed So Had His Flacks Arrange A Conference Call Between Themselves And His Speechwriter And Wallace So Wallace Could “walk through how he thinks Austin should be talking” — And Beutner Chief Of Staff Rebecca Kockler Opened A Back Channel With Green Dot Boss Christina De Jesus — And Shared The Speech Language With Her To “Ease [Charter Proponents’] Minds” — But Was Paranoid About Leaks So Refused To Share A Copy — Insisted On Reading It Out Loud Over The Phone — Apparently At The Behest Of CCSA The Speech Was Edited So As To Not Even Mention Charters — Because Evidently That’s What It Takes To Ease Their Damn Minds

I wrote yesterday about how Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Austin Beutner and Rebecca Kockler, at that time Beutner’s chief of staff, allowed privatization lobbyists the California Charter School Association to vet the content of a major policy speech he gave on September 13, 2018, supplying them with an advance copy and talking repeatedly with their representatives. If you’re not familiar with the issues or the people that post is a good place to start.

This evening’s story is about more covert meetings between Beutner and his staff and CCSA regarding the content and even the specific wording of the speech.1 The story begins on September 7, 2018, when Jed Wallace, at that time the CEO of CCSA, talked to Beutner on the phone about the speech. The next day Wallace sent an email describing the conversation to his close associates Marcia Aaron of KIPP LA, Emilio Pack of STEM Preparatory Schools, Christina de Jesus of Green Dot, Myrna Castrejon, then of Great Public Schools Now,2 and the famous Cassy Horton, CCSA’s Greater Los Angeles minister of propaganda.

According to Wallace, Beutner promised to keep charters out of negotiations with UTLA. Beutner also said that he was planning to “get further left than UTLA,” whatever that might mean to a guy like Beutner, and he said that he was planning to discuss an (unrevealed) additional policy item that might have to do with charters. Wallace, by his own account, fed Beutner the party line on charter oversight and some other issues. The money shot, though, is this statement:


He said that he would have Rebecca
[Kockler] follow up. They will definitely give us the chance to review their language and to make suggestions for our own language. I haven’t heard from her yet. As soon as I do, I will contact CCSA staff and ask Cassy to stay in contact with all of you as we do whatever homework is requested of us.

Furthermore, evidently Beutner was so impressed by Wallace that he told his publicity flack Janelle Erickson how “articulate” Wallace was. He asked Erickson to arrange a conference call with herself, charter school propagandist Glenn Gritzner of lobbying powerhouse Mercury LLC, and his freaking speechwriter, Shira Fine of lobbyist SKDKnickerbocker “to essentially get him to walk through how he thinks Austin should be talking about transparency and accountability.”3

Thus not only did Beutner provide an advance copy of his speech as I reported yesterday, but he arranged for Jed Wallace of CCSA to talk directly to his speechwriter almost a week before the speech about “how he thinks Austin should be talking.” This, I daresay, is astounding. And it gets even weirder when Beutner’s chief of staff Rebecca Kockler enters the story. According to this email from Myrna Castrejon:

I got a call from Rebecca 30 minutes ago to circle back on event details for Thursday … I told her we were hoping to confirm language – and that ed reform orgs were pending engagement hinging on ensuring charters weren’t thrown under the bus. She confirmed that ‘charter specific language has been stripped’ but she doesn’t want to send over email and they are REALLY paranoid about leaks. She said they will talk about transparency and accountability of district schools and quality for all. Also they’re not targeting a huge parent mobilization as originally desired, though they still want a friendly audience.Have they shared the language with you, Jed/Cassie? If they won’t send it, perhaps Glenn can READ it to you?

Here we’re treated to the spectacle of Beutner’s chief of staff leaking the content of Beutner’s speech to elite privatizer Castrejon at the same time that she’s saying that they are REALLY paranoid about leaks. This is peak doublethink on Kockler’s part. Who is it they’re paranoid about leaking to? Evidently not privatizers.

Castrejon’s proposed solution is that, like some kind of bad spy movie plot conceit, Kockler read the speech to them over the phone to assuage their leak paranoia but to still allow them input into its content. Amazingly, appallingly, according to this email from Green Dot CEO Christina de Jesus, that’s precisely what Kockler ended up doing:

Just talked to Rebecca. Here are the high-level bullets on the revised section we were most concerned about (she read it to me):

-the word charter is not mentioned at all

-focused on transparency and clear expectations for all schools

-need transparent way to measure school effectiveness

-parents need to know how their child’s school is doing

-we need to hold schools accountable who are not doing well.

-we need to track how resources are being spent down to the school level

-highest-need schools are hurt by the current system where there is no transparency around how dollars are being spent

-the public needs to know what we are negotiating with the unions and why

So that’s the story. The speech was revised, although I don’t (yet) have the details on how the revision process went, after CCSA CEO Jed Wallace conferred with Shira Fine, Beutner’s speechwriter, about “how he thinks Austin should be talking.” Then, in order to confirm that the revised speech was acceptable to the privatizers, Beutner’s chief of staff Rebecca Kockler read it over the phone to Christina de Jesus. These low-rent spy tactics certainly demonstrate consciousness of guilt, if not on CCSA’s part then certainly on Beutner’s and Kockler’s.

These covert antics also cast an interesting light on the fact that, after reading my post from yesterday, CCSA’s Greater LA minister of propaganda, Cassy Horton, claimed on Twitter that the fact that CCSA got an advance copy of the speech was no big deal, that it was just normal business, that anyone, even UTLA, would have done the same thing.4 Of course, this apologia completely misses the point that CCSA isn’t really the bad actor here. Horton’s right that any advocates would gladly use such an opportunity. It’s Beutner that’s the bad actor, and his actions would be as bad if it were UTLA he were dealing with. But of course it isn’t, because UTLA doesn’t serve the interests of the zillionaire tune-callers who pay the pipers to play the tunes to which both Beutner and Horton dance.



20180908 1454 Jed Wallace Download of call with Austin


Date: Sat, 8 Sep 2018 21:54:13 +0000
Subject: Download of call with Austin
From: Jed Wallace <jed@ccsa.org>
To: Marcia Aaron <maaron@kippla.org>, Emilio Pack <epack@stem-prep.org>, “C DeJesus” <cdejesus@greendot.org>, Myrna Castrejon <myrnacastrejon914@gmail.com>
Cc: Cassy Horton <chorton@ccsa.org>

Hello all,

Thanks for doing the phone call last night. In follow up, I wanted to get you this quick note regarding the conversation I had with Austin last night. Generally, it was a good conversation. Per the three things we talked about on our call:

1. He understands the importance of keeping charter matters out of negotiations with UTLA. He assured he won’t bargain any charter matters with UTLA.

2. His general frame for bringing forward his new ideas next Thursday is to “get further left” than UTLA. There was no turning him around on the overall approach, so I didn’t push too hard.

3. He wants to have a 4th item in his messaging which could have impact on charter schools.

a. He says the item will not be something that he works on in the context of negotiations with UTLA, and his messaging will underscore how work in this area is distinct from anything being discussed in negotiation with UTLA.

b. During our discussion, he agreed that the item should not focus on charter schools, but should be a reform effort that would involve all schools.

c. I talked to him about our ideas for parity in transparency and accountability (academic standards, budgets down to the school level, admissions, special education, facilities) between district schools and charter schools. He liked these ideas and asked if CCSA could get detail about the policy ideas and general language to describe what we are calling for in these areas. I told him we would be happy to.

d. He said that he would have Rebecca follow up. They will definitely give us the chance to review their language and to make suggestions for our own language. I haven’t heard from her yet. As soon as I do, I will contact CCSA staff and ask Cassy to stay in contact with all of you as we do whatever homework is requested of us.

Last item: Austin said he is putting together a group to gather unput [sic] from the charter community and others about how to restructure his team to hold all schools accountable. He said he plans to roll out a comprehensive restructure sometime in December, rather than a more immediate piecemeal overhaul of the charter school division. He said his team would reach out to get thoughts from many in the charter community and he asked that CCSA help us access the right leaders. I said CCSA would be happy to help his team with this.

As soon as I hear from Rebecca, I’ll let you all know.

Thanks again for your help with this.

Regards,

Jed



20180908 1727 Jed Wallace Fwd Jed Wallace


From: Janelle Erickson <jeerickson@mac.com>
Date: September 8, 2018 at 4:59:30 PM PDT
To: Glenn Gritzner <ggritzner@mercuryllc.com>, Shira Fine <sfine@skdknick.com>
Cc: Rebecca Kockler <rebecca.kockler@lausd.net>
Subject: Jed Wallace

Hi Glenn,

Spoke with Austin last night after his conversation with Jed Wallace of CCSA. Austin thought he was very articulate on issues of transparency and accountability and how that affects charters and traditional schools.

Austin was hoping that you could arrange a conference call with me, you and Shira (who is writing Austin’s speech) to essentially get him to walk through how he thinks Austin should be talking about transparency and accountability.

Do you think it’s possible to do a call tomorrow and if not, Monday?

cc’ing Rebecca in case she wants to join the call.

Thanks Glenn!!

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From: Glenn Gritzner <ggritzner@mercuryllc.com>
Date: September 8, 2018 at 5:14:50 PM PDT
To: Jed Wallace <jed@calcharters.org>
Subject: Fwd: Jed Wallace

Hey there –

Happy weekend. See below. I’ll also call you but do you have time in the next couple days to hop on a call?

Sent from my iPhone. Please excuse typos or brevity.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ​
<http://www.mercuryllc.com>
Glenn Gritzner
Partner
444 South Flower Street | Suite 3675
Los Angeles , CA | 90071
213.624.1380 <tel:213.624.1380> office


Date: Sun, 9 Sep 2018 00:27:15 +0000
Subject: Fwd: Jed Wallace
From: Jed Wallace <jed@ccsa.org>
To: Marcia Aaron <maaron@kippla.org>, “epack@stem-prep.org” <epack@stem-prep.org>, C DeJesus <cdejesus@greendot.org>, “mcastrejon@greatpublicschoolsnow.org” <mcastrejon@greatpublicschoolsnow.org>, Cassy Horton <chorton@ccsa.org>

FYI.

Please don’t forward and hold confidential.

Given that nothing I intend to say deviates from what we all discussed
yesterday, I am planning to accept this invite.

Please let me know if you have thoughts.

Thx,

Jed

Begin forwarded message: [consisting of the above emails, forwarded to the listed recipients]



20180911 1549 Cristina de Jesus Re Jed Wallace


On Sep 11, 2018, at 3:44 PM, Myrna Castrejon
<mcastrejon@greatpublicschoolsnow.org> wrote:

in the spirit of keeping aligned….. I got a call from Rebecca 30 minutes ago to circle back on event details for Thursday. She has been ill and out of the loop for a couple of days, so I told her we were hoping to confirm language – and that ed reform orgs were pending engagement hinging on ensuring charters weren’t thrown under the bus. She confirmed that ‘charter specific language has been stripped’ but she doesn’t want to send over email and they are REALLY paranoid about leaks. She said they will talk about transparency and accountability of district schools and quality for all. Also they’re not targeting a huge parent mobilization as originally desired, though they still want a friendly audience.Have they shared the language with you, Jed/Cassie? If they won’t send it, perhaps Glenn can READ it to you?

Myrna Castrejon

Executive Director

Great Public Schools Now

<mcastrejon@greatpublicschoolsnow.org>

916-541-4558


Sent: Tuesday, September 11, 2018 3:47 PM
To: Myrna Castrejon <mcastrejon@greatpublicschoolsnow.org>
Cc: Marcia Aaron <maaron@kippla.org>; epack@stem-prep.org; Cristina de Jesus <cdejesus@greendot.org>; Cassy Horton <chorton@ccsa.org>
Subject: Re: Jed Wallace

I have gotten nothing. Burton called me today. He confirmed everything that you just shared. He didn’t offer nor did I specifically ask to see language. But I did stress how continued engagement with our side is important to make sure people have no heartburn with the language.

Sent from my iPhone


Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2018 22:49:13 +0000
Subject: RE: Jed Wallace
From: Cristina de Jesus <cdejesus@greendot.org>
To: Jed Wallace <jed@ccsa.org>, Myrna Castrejon <mcastrejon@greatpublicschoolsnow.org>
Cc: Marcia Aaron <maaron@kippla.org>, “epack@stem-prep.org” <epack@stem-prep.org>, Cassy Horton <chorton@ccsa.org>

Rebecca shared the same thing with me. I am calling her later this afternoon so she can read me the section that originally included charters so we can all put our minds at ease. She said the word “charter” does not show up at all.



20180911 1559 Cassy Horton Re Jed Wallace


Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2018 22:59:28 +0000
Subject: Re: Jed Wallace
From: Cassy Horton <chorton@ccsa.org>
To: C DeJesus <cdejesus@greendot.org>
Cc: Jed Wallace <jed@ccsa.org>, Myrna Castrejon <mcastrejon@greatpublicschoolsnow.org>, Marcia Aaron <maaron@kippla.org>, “epack@stem-prep.org” <epack@stem-prep.org>

Thanks! We will stay in standby until you two connect.

Cassy Horton
Managing Director, Regional Advocacy, Greater Los Angeles
California Charter Schools Association
Cell: 213-926-7763



20180911 1947 Cristina de Jesus Re Jed Wallace


From: Myrna Castrejon <mcastrejon@greatpublicschoolsnow.org>
Sent: Tuesday, September 11, 2018 3:56 PM
To: Jed Wallace <jed@ccsa.org>
Cc: Marcia Aaron <maaron@kippla.org>; epack@stem-prep.org; Cristina de Jesus <cdejesus@greendot.org>; Cassy Horton <chorton@ccsa.org>
Subject: Re: Jed Wallace

well and – not to be cynical – i don’t want them to play us against each other…. get an audience by asking me and our other grantees to deliver and not being clear with you about the bright lines. so yeah. Trust but verify.

So based on that, i’m trying to rally my parent advisory members to show up. But will pull the plug if necessary. Remember, we’re the One city all kids-agnostic-of-governance-folks, so it’s good to fly the flag if possible, especially as we have leaned in hard on anti-strike language.

KEEP ME POSTED Y’ALL.

m

Myrna Castrejon
Executive Director
Great Public Schools Now
mcastrejon@greatpublicschoolsnow.org


Date: Wed, 12 Sep 2018 02:47:39 +0000
Subject: RE: Jed Wallace
From: Cristina de Jesus <cdejesus@greendot.org>
To: Myrna Castrejon <mcastrejon@greatpublicschoolsnow.org>, Jed Wallace <jed@ccsa.org>
Cc: Marcia Aaron <maaron@kippla.org>, “epack@stem-prep.org” <epack@stem-prep.org>, Cassy Horton <chorton@ccsa.org>

Just talked to Rebecca. Here are the high-level bullets on the revised section we were most concerned about (she read it to me):

-the word charter is not mentioned at all

-focused on transparency and clear expectations for all schools

-need transparent way to measure school effectiveness

-parents need to know how their child’s school is doing

-we need to hold schools accountable who are not doing well.

-we need to track how resources are being spent down to the school level

-highest-need schools are hurt by the current system where there is no transparency around how dollars are being spent

-the public needs to know what we are negotiating with the unions and why



20180911 2008 Cassy Horton Re Jed Wallace


Date: Wed, 12 Sep 2018 03:08:57 +0000
Subject: Re: Jed Wallace
From: Cassy Horton <chorton@ccsa.org>
To: C DeJesus <cdejesus@greendot.org>
Cc: Myrna Castrejon <mcastrejon@greatpublicschoolsnow.org>, Jed Wallace <jed@ccsa.org>, Marcia Aaron <maaron@kippla.org>, “epack@stem-prep.org” <epack@stem-prep.org>

Seems like we landed in a good place based on what she shared. Major improvement from initial proposal. Thank you for connecting and giving us the update and thanks to everyone for their support on this!

Cassy Horton
Managing Director, Regional Advocacy, Greater Los Angeles
California Charter Schools Association
Cell: 213-926-7763
Email: chorton@ccsa.org




Image of Rebecca Kockler is ©2019 MichaelKohlhaas.Org and has a previously undisclosed relationship with whatever this is right here.

  1. As always, it’s told through a series of emails obtained via the California Public Records Act. There are complete transcriptions of the emails below and links to PDFs throughout. Also, these emails are part of a massive release from Green Dot Charter Schools. I haven’t had time to export these more than 5,000 emails as PDFs but if you know how to import an MBOX into an email client you can download the whole 2.1GB set either by https or by bittorrent.
  2. But now the CEO of CCSA, having replaced Wallace.
  3. This email and the next few are found down in the reply chain of this email here. Again, there is a complete transcription of this PDF below.
  4. Here’s a screenshot in case the tweet goes away.
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