Saturday, January 8, 2011

Brown Board Appointees: Payback or Social Control?

Jerry Brown canned a majority of California school board members during his 1st week in office, most of whom were strong advocates for the Ed Deform agenda. Those axed included Ted Mitchell, president of NewSchools Venture Fund, Johnathan Williams, founder of the Accelerated School, an L.A. charter organization; Alan Arkatov, president of; and Ben Austin, chief executive of Parent Revolution (the Green Dot front organization behind the Parent Trigger). His appointments will certainly weaken the charter school and parental trigger movements.

Some critics accused Brown of appointing campaign supporters as payback for their generosity in helping him defeat billionaire Meg Whitman. Others take it further, saying the string of appointees (which included a lobbyist for the California Teachers Association) was an effort to keep them and their money in Brown's corner.

Brown doesn’t just want them in his corner. He wants them to do his dirty work.
Let’s look at the situation honestly. California has a $28 billion budget gap that must be filled. Brown has already promised deep cuts to public sector employees, including teachers. There will be layoffs. Pensions, salaries and benefits will be slashed. Public sector workers and low income families are going to take the brunt of the hits and they are not going to do it willingly.

To pull this off, Brown needs the complicity of the biggest unions to help keep pissed off workers in line. He needs the union bosses to tell their members, “Hey, we got the best deal that was possible under the circumstances, so let’s all go home and be glad most of us still have our jobs.” The last thing Brown wants is mass protests. By making these appointments to the board, he believes he has purchased labor’s compliance and passivity. And he probably has, or at least he has further secured the compliance of the union bosses. How the rank and file will respond remains to be seen.

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