Back in July of 2010, I reported on the New Jersey Teacher’s Village that would combine zoning for three charter schools and corporate labor houses for corporate teachers.
Well, the plan came to fruition and the big sponsors, along with Chris Christie, who you would expect to pass the begging bowl to corporations is Mayor of Newark, NJ, Cory Booker. Booker, like Mario Rubio, has become the darling of the reactionaries for they can use them for their ethnicity and ability to PT Barnum their consituencies. In the post-racial society Booker knows the cost of skin color and corporate ties has gone up.
What does Booker really stand for and who does he really represent?
According to Thom Hartmann’s show of May 22, 2012, Booker has taken millions from privater equity firms including the Romney’s Bain Capital that he blasted Obama for going after and the company that made Romney all his vulture cash. He is a paid courtesan with a sharp tongue, a penchant for taking favors and giving them. He is corruption personified.
At the February 10, 2012 ribbon cutting for the teachers village, basically a corporate mall, the Youtube heading noted that:
“Mayor Cory Booker joins Governor Chris Christie, CEO of Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., Lloyd Blankfein, RBH Group Managing Member Ron Beit, Chairman and, Berggruen Holdings President Nicolas Berggruen; CEO of BCDC Lyneir Richardson, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Adam Zipkin; Sr. Vice President of Prudential Sharon Taylor; and Newark-born and nationally renowned architect Richard Meier at a groundbreaking for Teachers Village, a mixed-use development in downtown Newark. Other attending guests included former Governor James Florio, Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Assemblyman Albert Coutinho and Assemblywoman L. Grace Spencer (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mzbcNc08bWU).
The whole gaggle of the one percent who, if they can get their arms around the man, embrace Christie and his surrogate Booker with open arms and padded wallets. Just take a look at Booker bending over forwards to thank his Wall Street friends, many of them candidates for the perp walk, for the ‘teacher village.
Praised as an up and coming political heavyweight, Mayor Cory Booker is a very dangerous stew of both corporate loyalty to the corporate state that is emerging while mouthing his love of ‘common folk’ and of course his ‘race’.
Facts show that Booker is a conniving liar who is looking for a slot in the new oligarchy that is now firmly entrenched in America. You can put him up with the likes of Geoffrey Canada, the corporate begger who claims miracles for kids in Harlem. Or, better yet, historically it would be best to compare him with Booker T. Washington.
Clearly Booker’s recent back stabbing of Obama and his express love for equity firms and Wall Street should not come as a surprise. Booker is both undermining Obama in the interest of corporate America who needs him both as a perfidious propagandist, but they also need him to help forge the new corporate democratic party that will emerge if and when Romney wins. Sure, it is corporate now, but just wait. Dividing up the ortz will be its new mission, if and when Obama is thrown in the dumpster and collaboration will be even more insidious.
Obama was good for the road of neo-liberalism. He did what he was told by his Goldman Sachs silk back thugs and when it came to regulations, he did what the capitalist regulators told him to do — deregulate or reregulate in the interest of capital.
Cory Booker is different. Young, black, mendacious and energetic Booker is trying to cast himself as a ‘new corporate democrat’, one that understands that neo-liberalism is no longer the captitalist game. Now, with the state merging with corporations, the new game is Mussolini type fascism or at least its precursor, totalitarianism. Booker is down for this.
Booker is a very dangerous, charismatic bit player in a much larger corproate game for education and urban development. The fact he has charmed the corporate press is no surprise: his rhetorical skills are good enough to undercut working people and those people of color he says he represents. Corporations need clever mouthpieces like this and they pay handsomely.
The New Teacher’s or Charter Corporate Village
The $150 million, eight-building project I wrote about in 2010 was largely publically financed, with support from federal, state and city governments. This means, we paid for the costs while the profits of course get privatized by the developers, banks and other sundry thieves and politicians. It’s Booker and Christie’s continuing cooperation, across party lines, on a school reform agenda focused on the expansion of the charter school sector that should be of interest, for Booker is really a republican or better said, a corporatist where parties are just convenient propaganda plates.
Meanwhile, while the slimy Booker undermines Obama, pledges the Oath of Omerta to the corproate class, New Jersey civil rights organizations and teachers’ unions have criticized the state’s charter schools for serving a lower proportion of special-needs and English-language learner students than traditional public schools.
Not surprising: I wrote about this in my book on charters in 2009. The group also argued that the new urban gentrification and corproate village risk turning neighborhood schools into warehouses for the least-advantaged children. But that is all part of the Booker-Christie Plan. Turn education into vast swaths of desert and then point to them and argue for the need for charter schools.
Placing school reform in the broader context of urban revitalization supported by education advocates from across the ideological spectrum is what Booker and Christie want and this is their first foray which could be seen replicating itself all over the nation. by tying land zoning to schools, further class divisions can be concretized into urban planning and thus cordon off the city to Booker and Christie’s constituents — the corporations. We saw this in Chicago under Duncan and we see it all over now as schools close and zoning is re-zoned.
The project’s lead developer, RBH Group president Ron Beit, recently said clustering housing for teachers from charter, public and private schools would encourage “socializing and the exchange of ideas.… It’s like an artists’ enclave or a technology cluster for businesses, but here it’s for teachers.”
Sure, one big corporate discussion cumbaya of how corproations can help kids, provide them jobs, give them health insurance, a decent wage, relieve them from debt and all the rest of the good things corproations do for American citizens — like pay them a non-living wage, tear up the social contract with labor and capital, fail to provide health care and of course — pledge allegiance to the inequality embraced within the capitalist system(http://www.thenation.com/blog/166199/cory-booker-and-chris-christie-teachers-should-live-downtown-newark).
Teacher Village rents have been said to have been calculated to fit teachers’ budgets, according to the Nation blog; the cost at about $700 for a studio apartment, $1,100 for a one-bedroom, and $1,400 for a two-bedroom. Sorry, but this is hardly within the budget of a school teacher. More than half of New Jersey teachers make between $40,000 and $60,000 which after the cost of rent, food and transporatation and utilities, leave them table scraps.
Then there is Christie’s plan to undermine teacher salaries:
“More than two decades after Christie’s mentor, Gov. Tom Kean, pushed through mandatory raises for teachers, the issue of teacher pay and benefits took the center stage in Trenton.
In his call for “shared sacrifice” during the state budget crisis of 2010, Christie says public school teachers can afford to take a one-year wage freeze and pay at least 1.5 percent of their salary toward the cost of their health benefits — which, he says, can cost up to $22,000 a year for family coverage. He says most teachers, “when you put salaries and benefits together, are making a significant amount of money,” and he notes that pay freezes are common in the private sector” (http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2010/05/nj_teachers_pay_freeze_salarie.html).
But what about the Teacher’s Village and the affordable rent? Booker and Christie love teachers and kids for without them they would have nobody to corral for investment purposes and then why would the rich need them as hand tools? The things we do for love, of money that is.
Newark not the first to develop corporate housing for teachers
Newark is not the first city to experiment with workforce housing for teachers. The ‘company store’ has been around for a long time and the fact it is now applied to teachers shows the Walmartization of education.
Baltimore’s Miller Court, another corporate village, includes forty teacher apartments, 70 percent of which are rented by Teach for America recruits. In Los Angeles, the Glassell Park complex combines a district pre-school with affordable housing for teachers and other community members. Affordable meaning what? (ibid).
The other corporate model that is being proposed is designed as an attempt to increase parents’ involvement with their children’s education by co-locating schools with housing reserved for low-income families with the schools.
Using a mix of public and philanthropic dollars, the Brooklyn Kindergarten Society runs four full-service children’s centers within public housing projects in the neighborhoods of Crown Heights, Bed-Stuy and Brownsville. The philanthropists are of course corporate or corporate tied. They use the Robin Hood Foundation to spill cash onto the corporate funded school for they are hedge fund operators (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/03/business/03hedge.html?pagewanted=all). Problem: they rob from the poor and give to the rich.
This provides the analogy with Geoffrey Canada and his Harlem Education project and charter school. He is all corporate suited as well and is vaulted on the shoulders of the ruling class who give philantropy as both a psycholical means of cleansing their filth, but they also use it as a way to make money.
The Robin Hood Foundation donation and other similar tax scams are not entirely altruistic. The benefits for the one percent who ‘give’ include tax deductions, the chance to hobnob with rich competitors, colleagues and even stars, and a shot at becoming part of the fabric of New York society by supporting such laudable institutions as schools. Alongside the Who’s Who of hedge funds at the Robin Hood ball were media moguls, corporate titans and Gwyneth Paltrow (ibid). Glad she was there, for she can help the one percent dress up as poor people to take seats in the few reamining lifeboats to escape from capitalism.
The centers include pre-schools and family support services, and the Society partners with city social service agencies (and corporations for funding) to identify which children living in public housing are most in-need of early academic enrichment. All of this reeks of seperate but equal and the resegregation of American society. It’s the New Corporate Deal where inequality is adapted to by provisions of charity by the one percent or the philanthro-pirates who redistributed income upwards for the last four decades or more.
Profit before people means the whole thing stinks of shennanigans
One thing for sure that will serve to eventually break the fable and seperate it from the lies Christie, Booker and their paymasters are peddling is the fact that this type of project lacks the potential profit-making upsides of market-rate housing for middle-class teachers. Oh well, they at least get to sleep under the corporate tent with their students on the floor in sleeping bags for a few months. Meanwhile Booker and Christie continue to team up to assure teachers are reduced to independant contractors working under 1099 forms where they lsoe their status as employees and work under contract at will. It has not happened yet, but look for it in the future.
Here is the article written in 2010 on Teacher’s Villages for those interested.
For more on Cory Booker, google: Bill Gates, the Newark Charter School Fund and venture capitalists. You’ll see him: he’s the guy with the thousand dollar suit and with his hand perpetually out, either to beg donations or to meet the elite who see him as a good floor manager for the casino economy.
Charter School Teacher Villages being constructed in New Jersey
Picture of a computer-generated rendering of new buildings (beyond Williams Street, buildings in foreground are existing ones) in a “Teachers Village” along a new retail corridor on Newark’s Halsey Street in Newark, New Jersey.
Teacher Villages for charter schools: Medieval castles for the educational company store
Meet Ron Beit, a New York developer, fresh from gaining approval from the New Jersey City’s Landmarks & Preservation Commission for a huge corporate development set to house teachers. Beit is is pressing ahead with a “Teachers Village”, anchored by charter schools and apartments marketed to educators in New Jersey. The idea is reminiscent of a medieval castle where teachers do not venture out of the castle walls much but get to sleep in the ‘stable’ when not working as serfs for the new charter investors.
Beit has been seeking approval to build the project, called “Teachers Village at Four Corners,” for sometime and he seems to be on his way. The project calls for constructing seven buildings, the rehabilitation of a nine-story shell and the demolition of eight largely vacant buildings dating from the 1870s in the Four Corners Historic District in New Jersey.
Ron Beit said back in March of 2010, after the historical landmarks panel gave its blessing to the project:
“We look forward to the next step. We hope to be before the planning board April 6. Hopefully, we’ll get approval right out of the gate (‘Teachers Village’ project in Newark passes historic hurdle. March 11, 2010. NJ.com, http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2010/03/ny_developer_moves_forward_wit.html).
The city planning board had no problem or hesitation in voting to approve construction of a four-block-long mixed-use development back in April of 2010. The decision was barely noticed outside a small circle of civic boosters and of course, deep pocketed investors. But it was a turning point in the career of the project’s architect, Richard Meier (The By the Architects, for the People: A Trend for the 2010s, NICOLAI OUROUSSOFF. New York Times, May 3, 2010. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/04/arts/design/04meier.html?_r=1).
In all, “Teachers Village” would include three charter schools with some 1,000 students and 221 units of so-called workforce housing (ibid). Company stores for the busloads of Teach for America kids that will be expected to come in, non-unionized of course, and work and breathe within the company’s enterprise. Private management of the ‘villages’ will be the cornerstone of rentals and thus privatized housing will undergo a marriage with privatized charter schools.
Planned for the downtown geographical site is the creation of a new “retail corridor” in ground-floor shops and a marriage of two the city’s more vibrant venues: University Heights — home to Rutgers University and the New Jersey Institute of Technology, among others — and the Prudential Center, the 18,000-seat arena known as “The Rock.”
Beit — a 36-year-old Englewood Cliffs native and attorney whose RBH Group owns more than 25 properties in Newark’s downtown core — said he hopes to break ground this summer and complete work by June 2012.
Beit’s RBH group states at their website:
“Located in Newark’s downtown district south of Market Street, SoMa is a design and planning project that addresses the area’s current and future needs. The master plan creates innovative teacher communities and integrates schools into mixed-use developments with residential, retail, and arts spaces. Both city residents and school user’s benefit: The regular influx of students, parents, teachers and staff becomes integral to the urban fabric. Increased pedestrian activity attracts new investment and businesses to the area. Simultaneously, teachers from the various school typologies will benefit from the camaraderie of their community through after-school interactions that are particularly critical for nascent teachers who often begin their careers in urban areas.
Working with SoMa’s developer and planner, KSS Architects is designing a daycare and three charter schools in the development. Serving the Pre-K, K-4, 5-8, and K-8 populations, the schools will be located in two four-story mixed-use buildings with retail space on the public ground floor.
The novel project has presented interesting design challenges, such as the creation of a secure and safe “front yard” presence for students and parents in the active urban dynamic. The design team also must address city street constraints to coordinate busing and parent drop-off need” (RBH Grou, SoMa Teacher’s Village, Website, http://www.kssarchitects.com/content/project.php?type_id=34&project_id=292)
Stefan Pryor, Newark’s deputy mayor of economic development under Mayor Corey Booker was giddy about the project, stating that:
“This phenomenal project is becoming more real every day. We’re glad it’s advancing through the approval process, and we’re pleased that this thoughtful design, crafted by native Newark architect Richard Meier, is being recognized by the historic commission as fitting for our Four Corners Historic District” (‘Teachers Village’ project in Newark passes historic hurdle. March 11, 2010. NJ.com, http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2010/03/ny_developer_moves_forward_wit.html).
The issue of gentrification and urban removal cannot be separated from the new turnaround artists and their plans for increasing charter schools. They work with developers on plans to not only centralize the exploitation of both labor and students, but they are also conscious of the need Wall Street has for plans to make a mountain of money off the construction of capital projects in the form of what can only be seen as a post-modern insidious company store.
The New York Times went on to note that:
“Despite the project’s modest budget of $120 million, its tautly composed and thoughtfully laid out forms reflect the same intelligence and care found in most of Mr. Meier’s work. City officials are hoping its design — along with its location, a dilapidated neighborhood between City Hall and a cluster of college campuses — will help contribute to a much wider urban revival” (ibid).
According to Beit:
“When we started to look at the area again, we realized that the middle-income had really been left out. There were already 1,000 charter schoolteachers here, and another 5,000 in public school. They’re highly educated and urban, so they were a natural fit” (ibid).
Idea already in Turkey
Teachers who are placed in schools in rural eastern villages in Turkey, where accommodation is often very basic, are having modern, furnished housing provided as part of a social-responsibility program by one of Turkey’s leading conglomerates. The conglomerate is not some non-profit organization or NCO, but is Çelebi Holding, a private conglomerate and large corporation. The company launched the effort to build, restore and furnish homes for teachers in 2008, as part of the company’s 50th anniversary celebration, and as part of its recent focus on education in its social-responsibility work.
Ten houses were finished in the eastern and southeastern provinces of Diyarbakır, Erzincan, Erzurum, Kars and Mardin in 2009 and another 10 are planned for this year (Village teachers in Turkey set to receive modern housing, April 20, 2010. CEYLAN YEĞİNSU. ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News, http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/n.php?n=social-responsibility-project-this-time-for-teachers-2010-04-08).
The company’s deputy chairwoman, Canan Çelebioğlu Tokgöz, told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review in an interview back in April of 2010:
“There are many projects geared to help students, but very few for teachers, which is what inspired us to make them our focus. Providing teachers with comfortable living conditions improves their performance in the classroom and thus ultimately benefits students as well” (ibid).
Celebi Holdings pegs itself as:
“a group of companies that create demand by pioneering innovations in the service sector, extend their success into the international arena, seek to expand and shape the areas of endeavor in which they are active, and create synergy by supporting and complementing each other” (http://www.celebi.com.tr/en/yazi.php?id=11).
Whatever the hell that means.
One thing we do know it means is that the company is a large corporation made up of conglomerations of companies out to make a buck within the service sector and with the rapid privatization of education throughout the world, assuring housing or slave quarters for the new charter school teachers will be essential to lure them to the low wage, autocratic environment of pre-packaged kits and corporate learning. There, they will confront a highly regulated and privately managed ‘village’ where when they are not relaxing or sleeping, they will be ‘training’ students for the new capitalist world order that Turkey hopes to become a part of.
The important issue is that privatization of education is not only gearing up for more financial promises and profits for the corporations that will run it, but it is serving as an opportunity to engage in actual gentrification and urban planning on the part of large multinational corporations. Without public control of schools, urban planning remains a challenge to the new beefed up private developers out to invest in educational architectural developments.
It seems Beit might have caught the idea from Turkey and is now implementing it in New Jersey. Either way, look for the new medieval castles for students and teachers all over the world as public education becomes the object of increasing privatization (http://www.dailycensored.com/2010/07/31/charter-school-teacher-villages-being-constructed-in-new-jersey/).
And when you see the castle walls, look for the visage of Cory Booker, the new American huckster.