Good News for Berkeley Residents: The staff recommendation of the Berkeley Board of Education is recommending the proposed REALM charter school be denied
Readers might recall that the REALM charter school was proposed to the City of Berkeley and to the Berkeley School Board and then rapidly the petition was withdrawn. You can read my February 6, 2010 report on the school, its plans for a middle and high school and the issues involved at http://dailycensored.com/2010/02/06/victory-for-anti-privatiztion-organizers-realm-charter-school-withdraws-its-petition-to-request-the-opening-of-realm-charter-school-in-berkeley-california/).
You can see the REALM compiled narratives and the public relations campaign they put together at See the Report here See Video of the Presentation See Video of Public Comments REALM Financial Plan for Middle School MS Financial Narrative - REALM Financial Plan for High School HS Financial Narrative. You will also see the ‘comments’ as shown above.
The school was defeated in part by the efforts of By Any Means Necessary (www.bamn.com) one of the most active organizations in the country stepping up to fight for public schools even if it means facing massive arrests.
Yvette Felarca is the West Coast organizer for BAMN and is a candidate for the National Presidency of the American Federation of Teachers. She will be challenging the mendacious and opportunistic, Randi Weingarten who has worked closely with Secretary of the State Arne Duncan in assuring that rank and file AFT members are clueless and unprepared for the corporate takeover of public education, the decimation of pension funds for teachers, and tying teachers to predatory privatized standardized tests that are designed to track students and teachers from kindergarten to work. While Weingarten ‘wines and dines’ with the likes of Eli Broad the billionaire who works with Bill Gates, the Walton Family, The Skillman Family, the Fischer Family (the Gap) and newly minted millionaire Rex Hastings (NetFlix) alongside scores of right wing think tanks determined to kill teacher unions, privatize education and leash the entire mess to new urban ‘removal’ plans, Felarca is fighting hard for kids and teachers.
Gentrification and the privatization of education walk hand and hand to Wall Street
It is obvious that the decision by the man your momma calls Obama to privatize public housing is part of the new gentrification efforts aimed at crumbling cities. In New Jersey ‘Teacher Villages’ are being combined with urban renewal to re-landscape the public commons into the private sitting room of a small team of hedge fund operators, banksters, vulture capitalists, and corporations working on Wall Street. Yes, they are part and parcel of the same murderous crowd that has brought us economic, social and environmental despair. You can see my article on the ‘Teacher Villages in New Jersey and the criminal enterprise that we call politics in the mobbed up slick backed city of Newark (http://dailycensored.com/2010/05/10/cory-a-booker-rappers-big-zoo-and-new-jersey-charter-schools/). Mayor of New Jersey Cory Booker and the boyz from New York, De’Sean Wright being one of them (formerly with Teach for America), are working day and night with their new Newark Charter School Fund to seed the city with privatized charter schools while destroying public schools so they can then seize public property and launch their new feudal villages. They have now teamed up with architects for the new ‘Villages’ (serfdoms) where they wish to harbor the Teach for America youth who they are counting on to replace unionized teachers in New Jersey and create a Wal Mart labyrinth of education of at will employees tied to the vicious tests manufactured in labs in the profit centers of Wall Street.
Zoning changes and destruction of urban areas is a prime opportunity for the Wall Street gang to begin to create and cannibalize the next big bubble: education which is 5% of the GDP. Obama’s plan to privatize public housing will not only assure a steady supply of people to tent cities or the ravages of life on the streets, but it will do more, it will allow those with capital to make a fortune off the new gentrification and inclusion of the new private schools into their plans as they re-zone to ‘mix use’ in an attempt to bring white flight back to the cities.
However one must remember that 16,000 students walked out of the classes (http://dailycensored.com/2010/04/29/new-jersey-students-walk-out-of-public-schools/ ) in April in New Jersey to protest the cutting of classes, extra curricular activities, music and art programs and the shrinking of educational opportunities. If you are reading this and are one of those students or organizers please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your work needs to be clarified for the public for it is some of the most important direct action events that can stop the profit-guzzling monsters from destroying the city. Or, in the alternative, contact www.bamn.com for what is going on with student walk-outs and the effect they are having on public policy and mobilization.
What I describe above is happening in urban areas all over the country with much success. But not in Berkeley, thanks to the efforts of organizers like Felarca and BAMN, as well as parents and students who understand the charter school charlatans’ gussied up plans for education.
When I spoke to Felarca after REALM withdrew its petition in February, she and I knew that REALM would be back, the next time with a vengeance. We were right. Tonight, the 26th of May, REALM will be on the agenda of the Berkeley Unified School Distinct for approval or denial of its proposal to open a middle school and high school. The good news is that the proposal for the REALM middle and high school will be recommended for ‘denial’ by the School Board staff.
On the Berkeley United School District Board agenda, found on the web at http://www.berkeley.net/board-meeting-information/ http://www.berkeley.net/uploads/school_board/2010spring/05-26-10_packet.pd one can go to the agenda for tonight’s meeting and on page 101, 3.1 A, the staff recommendation is to deny the proposal. This is good news and a testimony to both the success of organizing efforts on behalf of the community as well as the good sense of the school board staff that, in light of Arne Duncan’s extortion, are not giving into the sordid Race to the Top which is a brand name Obama gave the insidious No Child Left Behind.
We can only hope the Board votes to deny any further erosion of public education under the guise of ‘choice’ when in fact segregation, privilege, faith based meddling are the real agenda - that and getting their grimy hands on money from the feds to feed the new ‘board’ that would run the school and the non-union staff that would labor in it.
REALM is another ‘scam’ job and readers should see the staff recommendation as a victory and an exhortation to continue to organize to defeat such mendacious charter schools and elect responsible school board members.
We should also see this as testimony to the power of direct action by BAMN and work to get Yvette Felarca elected to the post the disgraced Weingarten holds now. The upcoming AFT convention will surely be something to keep your eye on for it promises to be not simply rambunctious, but a game changer if progressives sweep seats. It could mean that Arne Duncan races for the door, not the top.
PS: If you have not voted please vote for Leonard J. Martin for State Superintendent of Public Instruction for California in June (http://dailycensored.com/2010/05/05/leonard-j-martin-for-state-superintendent-of-public-instruction-of-california/). With Martin in the seat and organizers on the ground, we can make substantial gains and perhaps even enter the REALM of the corporate press which refuses to even discuss the disastrous policies Obama and Duncan have prepared for our teachers, students and our country.