Speaking Truth to Power: Challenging Corporate Money in Elections

9 Dec

The recent Oakland school board elections, where close to 200,000 private sector dollars were dumped into the Great Oakland Public School’s (GOPS) campaign coffers for three candidates, are a perfect example of what this courageous teacher is addressing to the American Legislative Exchange Council.  (ALEC is an extremely right-wing organization composed of legislators, businesses and foundations which produces model legislation for state legislatures. For more info on ALEC click here). That is, private sector interests entirely disconnected from the public school realm and shaping the discourse and decision making. The nerve of these legislators to allege that they merely suggest the policies currently plaguing public education and it’s the school boards that ultimately “decide.” That is laughable. School closures, high stakes testing, teacher evaluation based on testing, vouchers, charters, etc. etc. are all in the interests of the ruling class and benefit their strategy to open up public education to the “free” markets.

Our education committee, Transform Education, Abolish Capitalism, Heal (TEACH) completely agrees with Sabrina Joy Stevens, the teacher seen in the linked video. Thus, we will continue to fight school closures and all the worst top down “reforms” coming the Tony Smiths of the public education hierarchy. If you share a similar commitment to this fight please get in touch with us. Thank you.

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One Response to “Speaking Truth to Power: Challenging Corporate Money in Elections”

  1. Santizo December 9, 2012 at 3:05 am #

    Thanks for posting this video and for sharing some brief, yet crucial, information about both ALEC and GO Public Schools. The way in which money comes into the state sector is indicative of the search for new arenas of investment for philanthropic and private sector funds on the part of private investors and corporate firms.

    One question that is left unanswered is this: the funding that comes from secret donors, funding that in this case GO Public Schools received to ensure that the candidates they endorsed won the Oakland school board elections, does not necessarily tell us what their political program is. What is it about GO Public schools that is nefarious? I ask because, as a teacher of color in Oakland, I know that there are many progressive minded people who participate in GO functions, work with them on political campaigns, and overall see them as partners in the process of providing equitable public education for students in Oakland. This is the appearance of things. How do you go about explaining this?

    One thing which stands out to me is the fact that when I looked at GO Public Schools literature this time last year – that is, during the time of heightened parent struggle against school closures – I saw reference to the 5 elementary schools that were being closed, but not a direct statement in opposition to the closures. Rather, GO’s attitude was to applaud themselves on their website and in their newsletter for: “[providing] the community with crucial information and updates about school closures and district restructuring, while working to ensure families and schools affected by the closures were effectively supported through the transition.” (Source: http://www.gopublicschools.org/impact/)

    There were many people – namely, parents, students, teachers and activists involved in Occupy Oakland – who were providing parents with information about the closures. But these people did not stop there – they also fought courageously against the closures, rather than simply accepting them and trying to make do with what the school district handed to them. Where was GO in this? Where did they stand up and speak truth to power, whether in the streets or at the weekly school board meeting? It appears that their political sympathies are with the politicians who have made decisions to close black and brown elementary schools in the past year, not to mention other decisions which have in essence been part of an austerity package delivered by the state to working class families across the country.

    If the austerity (school closures, layoffs in public sector, cutting of healthcare, attacks on unions, etc) program that the state delivered is one which disproportionately affects black and brown communities, is it not one of the leading edges of white supremacy today? If it is, then isn’t GO essentially co-opting a whole wing of parents, teachers, and students to go along with this capitalistic and white supremacist program of ACCEPTING budget cuts and austerity rather than FIGHTING against them?

    I’d love to see all of these points explored by proponents/advocates of GO’s strategy, as well as those of us who are against the political program which GO represents and carries out.

    Thanks for posting this. Looking forward to more.
    -Santizo

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