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:
This could come as an LTE, expand into a full editorial, or we could ask CCSA to say something similar. If we wanted to say something that you felt, CDJ, might conflict with your role on the statewide commission, we could issue the above LTE from Annabelle…
Annabelle, Sean Thibault’s proposed straw man LTE writer, is Annabelle Eliashiv, who is some kind of high muckety-mook in Green Dot’s ministry of propaganda. But Cristina De Jesus didn’t reach the highest pinnacle, from which she could see all the kingdoms of the world,5 by being some kind of muttonheaded dumbass,6 and her reply to Thibault shows that she wasn’t having any of this:
There is no way to separate my role at Green Dot with anything that comes from Green Dot. Knowing what I know about what is being discussed during task force meetings, the quote below could hurt more than help. Maybe we can chat tomorrow about possible responses.
According to Tony Thurmond CDJ was put on the task force as one of an “incredible assembly of experts” to help with “identifying what is truly best for kids.” But to me this looks like CDJ is using knowledge she gained from her attendance at task force meetings to hone, sharpen, and otherwise improve Green Dot PR commo. Which maybe she’s sufficiently deluded about the relation between her self interest and the public interest to somehow actually believe is related to “what is truly best for kids” but it’s hard to see how a reasonable person could agree with her.
And when Thibault answered CDJ he, taking the hint, ended the conversation here: “there is no obligation to respond at all.” The story doesn’t end here, though, mainly because the LA Times series by Anna Phillips didn’t end there. The story linked-to above was the first in a series, with two more articles published on subsequent days:
And, naturally, the ideological charter school bootlickers over at the California Charter Schools Association couldn’t keep quiet in the face of this onslaught of truth, so they had to issue a statement along with detailed discussion and talking points for their minions to use. And they sent this remarkable document to Sean Thibault via email, and Sean Thibault forwarded the email to his supreme commander, CDJ along with Annabelle Eliashiv. Importantly, the forwarded email also included a great deal of really fascinating internal CCSA discussion about how to handle the negative publicity.
This email by CCSA is of great interest. In fact, is of objectively even greater interest than the story I’m presently telling you. I can, sadly, only tell one story at a time, though, so I will have to write about the statement itself and, as importantly, the surrounding discussions,7later, but you should definitely, definitely read it. It’s got a number of revelations as well as just providing a lot of general insight into how CCSA’s messaging tactics work.
Well, Eliashiv answered pretty quickly, and mentioned yet again CDJ’s role on the task force which, pretty clearly, was always at this time in at the very front of their consciousness:
Thanks for sharing. I do think it’s important for us to make some sort of statement around this – especially given your role on the taskforce — but want to make sure you’re comfortable, Cristina.
And Thibault agreed with Eliashiv which, I guess, is not surprising. They both work in Green Dot’s ministry of propaganda, after all, and what would one expect propagandists to advocate for if not propagandizing:
I echo Annabelle on this one — I think our silence will be perceived by our critics as condoning this kind of thing.
But CDJ just wasn’t having it. Not a bit of it. She fired back a conversation-stopping reply essentially telling her flacks to shut it, but, more importantly, telling them why they should shut it. Green Dot does not need to concern itself, says CDJ, with trivial bickering because they have her on the task force to put forth their point of view:
I am in constant contact with CCSA on this stuff. Please wait until I have a chance to call you Sean. We have the ultimate voice through my representation on the charter task force.
So, Tony Thurmond! You thought you were convening this task force to accomplish all that happy horseshit you listed off in your damn press release, and that your quantum-leapingly paradigm-shifted gang of experts were all going to show up and solve problems out of the goodness of their damn hearts! But, maybe not surprisingly, it turns out that at least one and probably all of them had their own agendas in play. Like CDJ, whose participation gave her fairly sinister organization “the ultimate voice” in dealing with negative press about charter schools. Sad, sad, sad, but, more sadly, not surprising.
And now, to close, I just want to relate a weirdly appalling episode, unrelated to the above except through the participation of CDJ and CCSA, fairly small-scale and yet quite revealing of the kind of people we’re dealing with here. The story is about Michelle King who, you might remember, had been appointed LAUSD superintendent in January 2016. She became ill and took medical leave in September 2017. Over the next few months there was a great deal of speculation about King’s health but no public announcements. Finally, on January 5, 2018, King announced that she was too ill to return to work and that she would retire.
Two days before this public announcement, though, on January 3, 2018 CCSA flack Jennie Bartkowiak-Shin emailed CDJ and über-elite-AF charter thought leader Emilio Pack of STEM Prep, both of whom serve on the Central Executive Command Module of the shadowy charter school black ops gang known as the Los Angeles Advocacy Council,8 to let them know the agenda for the next day’s meeting. And right there, amongst the other items,9 was this:
5.(5 mins) Superintendent Search – Very brief update about our initial thoughts and plans.
And CDJ picked up on the implications immediately. By reply email, therefore, she asked Bartkowiak-Shin to explain herself: “Thanks! Does the last item below pertain to the LAUSD superintendent?Has it been made public she’s not coming back?” And Bartkowiak-Shin is quick to deny inside information: “Yes, it pertains to LAUSD. Nothing has been made public; we are just starting to prepare based on speculation.” And CDJ, who comes off as fairly sociopathic on her best days really outdoes herself here: “Coolio”! Less than 13 months later Michelle King had passed away. Coolio.
Image of Dr. Ms. Cristina De Jesus, AKA CDJ, is ©2019 MichaelKohlhaas.Org and then there’s Dr. Ms.’s Twitpix.
- Who really don’t include me. I’m not cynical. I never will accuse my targets of acting purely in their own self interest on the basis of my abstract theories that that’s just the kind of thing people like them always do. I don’t even have theories like that anyway. But if there’s evidence, well, I’m not cynical but I’m also not stupid. Hence this post!
- These emails are part of a number of huge releases from Green Dot. You can download them as mboxes here and here. I’m sorry I haven’t put them into PDF format, but the volume makes such a task prohibitive. Please feel free to get in touch with me at email@example.com if you’d like to look at this raw material and need some help accessing it.
- Or whatever they’re calling them in this post-Orwellian world in which we live in.
- They actually do call her that. It’s some kind of weirdo political/bureaucratic sycophantic move, like FDR, JFK, CDJ, how many kids did you kill today?
- Her story had a different ending from the version we’re all familiar with, of course, but that’s a blog post for a whole nother day.
- At least not apparently so.
- Not to mention the list of recipients, also essential.
- About which I will be writing much, much, much more in the future, you can bet your sweet bippy on that!
- All of which are also really important, but I’m just not writing about them today.