Multipart Series: Silicon Valley’s power brokers conspire to hand the keys of education over to the One Percenters
Reed Hastings speaking to the California Charter School Association
A group of powerful and wealthy Silicon Valley leaders are working to radically alter the education system across the nation. They hope to eliminate local governing school boards, replacing those boards with privately held charter school corporations supported by government funds. If successful on a grand scale, it would represent the biggest change in education since our founding fathers laid down the ideal of free public education as the cornerstone of strong democracies. The mandate to eliminate school boards comes from wealthy and powerful leaders who have no experience or background in education. What would happen if Silicon Valley’s wealthy elites got their way, ending local school boards? That’s a question that the editorial staff of StopRocketShip.com hopes to answer. We’ll tackle the question, and illuminate the consequences over a series of ten posts.
The bigger story starts in the mid 90′s when education reformers started a campaign to create fear, uncertainty and doubt that America’s public education system was deteriorating; an argument that in retrospect was largely unfounded. That campaign launched with a right wing thrust for a voucher system, but later morphed into a bi-partisan campaign for charter schools.
Our story starts with a 2008 San Jose City Hall meeting of millionaires, billionaires, and power brokers, notably lacking educators.
Billionaire Reed Hastings, Mayor Chuck Reed, and Mayoral hopeful Sam Liccardo collude to end school boards
On February 7th, 2008, San Jose City Councilman Sam Liccardo, now a Mayoral frontrunner, convened a meeting with the leaders in the education privatization movement. The meeting roster reads like a who’s-who list of the Silicon Valley Bourgeoisie who’d like to end democracy in education. The meeting launched an all out assault on public education in the South Bay, culminating in billionaire Netflix CEO Reed Hasting’s 2014 address to the California Charter School Association. In that address Hastings outlines the road map: Over the next 30 years, slowly replace public schools with charters. The goal: shut down school boards by the end of the century. Hastings admitted that it would be too unpopular to accomplish all at once, so he suggested a favorite tactic of the One Percenters — quietly make slow and steady change until the public has forgotten why they had elected school boards to begin with.
2008: Hastings, Liccardo, Mayor Reed and the dirty half-dozen
The City of San Jose’s sunshine calendars tell the story. In 2008, Mayor “Chuckie-Baby” Reed’s sidekick Sam Liccardo and the dirty half-dozen sat in San Jose City Hall conference room 1854 to hash out their dirty little plan. Little did the public know at that time that the goal of the meeting would be to setup the mechanisms required to transfer the power of education from school boards to private corporations.
Launching the Anti-Education Democracy Movement: February 7th, 2008
|Chuck Rufus Reed||Mayor of San Jose||None||Public Affairs & Attorney||Mayoral tenure characterized by anti-union campaign||
|Sam Liccardo||San Jose Mayoral candidate & City Councilman||None||Harvard Law School||Rocketship supporter, wife was head of Rocketship's Public Relations||
|John Danner||Rocketship CEO||2 years of teaching||Electrical Engineering||Founded Netgravity, Sold in 1999 for $530 million||
|Jim Blew||Walton Foundation||None||B.A. from Occidental College and an MBA from Yale University||Consultant to Walton Foundation -- Walmart's $1.5 Billion foundation.||
|Gary Rummelhoff||Former Santa Clara County Office of Educaiton board memberr||None||Southern Methodist University - Cox School of Business|
|Rocketship Audit Committee, ACE charter school board member||
|Reed Hastings||CEO Netflix||None||MS. from Stanford University in Computer Science||Served on California State School Boards, net worth of more than $1 billion||
|Matt Hammer||CEO of Pro-Charter Innovative Schools||None||Stanford University Graduate School of Business||Son of former San Jose Mayor Susan Hammer. Former CEO of pro-charter PACT||
2009: Silicon Valley 2020 — Closing the achievement gap by 2020 or ending school boards by 2050?
San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and Santa Clara County Office of Education Superintendent Weis launched SV2020. It was an audacious plan to end the achievement gap by 2020 through a collaborative process of engaging all 19 school districts in San Jose, or at least that’s what we were told. Dr. Weis was eased out by the board of education in 2012, his replacement Xavier De La Torre quit just weeks ago. De La Torre left his post as superintendent largely because of the County Board’s vote to approve 20 Rocketship schools, a vote which took place before his tenure. That vote alienated local school boards, making Dr. De La Torre’s job nearly impossible. But more importantly, the vote set up the mechanisms necessary to eliminate local school boards, as the County Office of Education started approving charter schools en mass. The County Board approved 38 charter schools in a row, more than twice that of any other county school board in the state. The real goal of SV2020 started to become clear as local districts were largely left out of the planning process. What started in 2008 with Councilman Liccardo and Mayor Reed was laid bare in Hastings’ 2014 address to the CCSA. SV2020 with all of its rhetoric on closing the achievement gap has become nothing more than a thinly veiled ruse to end public education as we know it.
2014: Now we’re paying attention
More than 6 years after Liccardo’s fateful meeting, we’re finally starting to pay attention. San Jose’s Mayoral race will be the first political race featuring charter schools. Sam Liccardo outlined his primary Mayoral goals in a recent Mercury News Op-Ed, “Expand innovative, high-performing public charter and other public schools, secure sites and permits for new campuses.” It’s a statement written only 1 month before Hastings’ declaration of war on public education. The implications are crystal clear, just as they were in the 2008 meeting Liccardo hosted at City Hall. The solution to the public education problem is eliminating school boards.
Ten Part Series on the End of School Boards
The future of our children and our democracy is at stake. We want to think clearly, ask good questions, and clearly articulate the consequences of bad decisions. We hope to do that in a ten part series. Our outline follows.
Part 1: Hastings, Mayor Reed & Sam Liccardo conspire against Democracy
Part 2: History of Democracy in Education
Part 3: Extremism and privatization: Is our democracy safe without school boards?
Part 4: High Stakes Testing: Education corporations will drop well rounded liberal arts education, focusing on drill & kill
Part 5: Forcing Dropouts: Corporations will drive out low performers, expanding the achievement gap
Part 6: Special Education: Ed reformers will have little tolerance for expensive and “inefficient” special education students
Part 7: Money, Money, Money: How the rich hope to suck the cash out of students
Part 8: Corruption: Private ed corporations will lie, steal, and corrupt our schools once publicly elected school boards are eliminated and there is no accountability
Part 9: Walmartizing Education: Do we really want the Walton Foundation deciding how to educate the next generation?
Part 10: This is Still a Democracy and We Get to Decide: Do we follow the lead of the 1% or should we keep democratic school boards around?