California’s public education system, once the envy of the world, now ranks 49th in the nation. ROBERT J. CRISTANO
"The public schools indoctrinate their young charges
to hate this country and the rule of law. Illegal aliens
continue overwhelming the state, draining California’s already
depleted public services while endangering our lives, the rule
of law, and public safety for all citizens."
Least-Educated State: California No. 1 in Percentage of Residents 25 and Older Who Never Finished 9th Grade; No. 50 in High School Graduates TERENCE P. JEFFREY
California’s public education system, once the envy of the world, now ranks 49th in the nation. ROBERT J. CRISTANO
Pollak: Educating Illegal Aliens and Their Children Costs L.A. Schools
Hundreds of Millions Per Year. Steven A. Camarota, director of research, at the Center for Immigration Studies, told Breitbart News on Friday that “between one-fifth and one-fourth of the students in LAUSD are the children of illegal immigrants — though most of those were born in the U.S.” He said that a smaller percentage of the students (“in the single digits”) are illegal immigrants themselves. Robyn Beck
LOS ANGELES, MEXICO’S SECOND LARGEST CITY and MEXICAN MURDER CAPITAL OF AMERICA
"It was instead, downtown Los Angeles, Calif., although the scene was recreated in numerous other cities around the country with substantial Mexican populations. Hordes of Mexican expatriates, many here illegally, were protesting the very U.S. immigration laws they were violating with impunity. They found it offensive and a violation of their rights that the U.S. dared to have immigration laws to begin with."
Jose Pescador Osuna, Mexican Consul General We are practicing "La Reconquista" in California."
Aztlan's goal, known as La reconquista, is to cede and take over the entirety of the southern and western states by any means necessary and impose a Communist militant dictatorship. President Bush's blanket amnesty program goes a long way to helping the extremists achieve their aim.
ICE ‘Raging Bull’ Operation Leads to Arrest of 267 MS-13 Gang Members in Los Angeles
The Federation for American Immigration Reform estimates that California spends $22 billion on government services for illegal aliens, including welfare, education, Medicaid, and criminal justice system costs.
In 1960, according to a USC demographic study, fewer than 10% of the people in the Los Angeles County area were Latino. By 2008, according to federal census estimates, almost half were Latino. Roughly the same was true in the city of Los Angeles.
"It extends to each issue the Democrats embrace. Every city that has come under Democrat control is proof positive that instead of raising the standard of living for the occupants, the city falls to crime, gangs, and drugs. In fact, "America is awash with troubled, dysfunctional cities that have been electing Democrat Party mayors for decades." EILEEN F TOPLANSKY
Massive cuts and layoffs loom in San Diego’s Sweetwater school district
Last week, the Sweetwater Union High School District (SUHSD) in San Diego, California announced it would hand out 87 pink slips to administrative support staff for the 2019-2020 school year. The district faces a more than $68 million deficit and plans to cut at least $22.5 million in the next academic year alone.
The notices will be issued March 30 and will affect administrative staff, program directors and assistant principals at various school sites across the district.
SUHSD is the largest secondary school district in California. Its more than 1,500 teachers work with some 42,000 students and over 32,000 adult learners in southwestern San Diego County, near the US-Mexico border.
The cuts to administrative staff are only the initial round of mass layoffs and cuts to occur over the next two academic years and will play a central role in upcoming contract negotiations. The current contract between the Sweetwater Education Association (SEA) teachers union and the district is set to expire on June 30.
The SEA and SUHSD met in a March 2 closed session to discuss the pink slips. Open hearings will be held over March 13 and 14, and a tentative agreement will be revealed at a March 25 board meeting.
Initially, the SUHSD budget deficit was revealed in October 2018 due to the findings of newly hired CFO Dr. Jenny Salkeld. But a recent investigation by the San Diego Union Tribune revealed that a recently retired auditor, Frances Martinez, had discovered financial “mismanagement” nine months prior in April 2018 after performing an internal audit of the district’s finances.
Among her findings, Martinez discovered that Sweetwater’s finance department was illegally conducting wire and phone transfers of millions of dollars from the district’s clearing account, a practice prohibited by state law.
Additionally, Martinez reported highly unusual accounting delays. In one instance, Sweetwater finance staff took up to seven months to deposit money from the district’s clearing account into the county treasury. The clearing account is intended as a temporary holding place for money awaiting deposit to the county treasury. Martinez uncovered that the finance department used clearing account funds to pay settlements, bond interest, a consultant and a technology lease, among other things. A wire transfer payment was not posted in the district’s general ledger until three months after it was made.
In December 2018, an external audit was made by the state Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team (FCMAT). The audit revealed evidence indicating a cover-up of the district’s financial problems. In a board meeting held on December 17, FCMAT’s chief executive officer Michael Fine revealed that 302 entries in the district’s accounting system were manipulated to show that the district had more money than it actually did.
The audit also uncovered that the district had omitted four months of payroll from the books, overestimated enrollment and state funding for three years, and engaged in possible illegal borrowing practices. The district has been taking loans from a special tax fund, called Mello-Roos. Fine warned the loans may not be covered under the tax arrangement and are on track to exceed levels allowed under state law.
The district responded with an empty statement, with promises to cooperate with auditors and root out the problem. Alleging that the district officials had knowingly covered up the systematic manipulation of funds, Sweetwater superintendent Karen Janney refused to comment on the possibility of fraud.
FCMAT officials have declared that SUHSD is at risk of going bankrupt, which could result in a state takeover of the district. Due to the financial crisis, SUHSD is currently under review by a San Diego County Board of Education fiscal adviser who has the authority to “stay or rescind” any decision made at the district level.
Since revealing the budget deficit to employees and the public last October, the district, with the assistance of the Sweetwater Education Association (SEA) teachers union, has wasted no time in formulating ways in which cuts to schools will be implemented. The SEA fundamentally accepts the fraud and/or mismanagement and has assisted in establishing the framework for carrying through the over $68 million in cuts.
In response to demands by teachers and education staff to oust the board and implement financial transparency, the SEA told teachers that current superintendent Janney was preferable to the previous board leadership and that the removal of the board would only risk a state takeover, mass layoffs and school closures.
The SEA and SUHSD have already pushed through layoffs and closures in the Adult Schools within the district, an end to credit recovery for students and cuts to after-school programs such as tutoring. Additionally, career technical education and extra support teachers, known as curriculum intervention specialists have also been terminated.
The union and the school board worked together to develop and pass a Supplemental Early Retirement Plan (SERP) for older teachers just before the winter break. Arguing that the SERP would significantly offset the deficit, the board and the union created a plan for teachers to retire early, and in the middle of the current school year. Teachers were told they could receive up to 85 percent of their final salary if they retired at the end of the semester—by December 21, 2018—or 65 percent of their final salary if they retired in June 2019.
Approximately 300 teachers chose to take early retirement. Some 94 teachers retired in December and the rest will leave in June 2019. Also included in the SERP agreement were two unpaid furlough days for all teachers. The early retirement and furlough deal was sold to teachers by the SEA as a means of protecting everyone’s jobs, but more pink slips are on the horizon.
The SERP agreement also contained wording that “protects” new teachers from getting pink slips for the 2019-2020 academic year. However, according to a clause in the contract, this can be overruled in the case of a Reduction in Force (RIF), or renegotiation with the SEA.
These instances of “mismanagement,” i.e., corruption at the district level, are not isolated events but are symptomatic of the direct and intentional looting of public education by the state and a reorientation toward privatization.
California has faced decades of cuts to education resulting in the deterioration of conditions in public schools and working conditions for staff and teachers. At the federal level, efforts at privatization have been on the agenda since the 1980s, regardless of which party was in power. The role of the teachers unions has been central to the looting of public education. The unions have suffocated the anger of workers by suppressing strikes and repackaging the unending cuts to education as “victories.”
What is happening in Sweetwater is symptomatic of the larger attack on public education across the state of California, as well as on a national and international basis. The WSWS has closely covered the growing teachers revolt across the world, which has now spread across five continents.
With a budget deficit and upcoming contract negotiations in June 2019, SUHSD teachers and staff face similar attacks as teachers in Oakland and Los Angeles: increased class sizes, lack of on-site resources for students such as nurses and psychologists, cuts to school programs and the increased privatization of schools.
A warning must be issued to San Diego teachers: they must begin discussing the lessons of the Oakland and Los Angeles strikes, which resulted in sellout contracts imposed on the membership by the unions, which line up with the Democratic Party—the very party spearheading charterization and privatization in the state.
Students and teachers must reject the line of the district and the unions that they should be made to pay for the corruption and embezzlement of funds.
In order to wage a fight to defend public education teachers need to form rank-and-file committees, completely independent of the unions, and begin discussing and preparing a statewide strike, directed toward ending the budget cuts, charterization and school closures.
Trump proposes slashing public education by $7 billion
Taking aim squarely and unapologetically at the children of the working class, the Trump administration released its proposed budget for fiscal year 2020, calling for cutting education spending by over $7 billion. At the same time, the administration is asking for $5 billion to fund “scholarship funds” for private and religious schools. The administration is also asking for an extra $133 million to pursue young people who have defaulted on their student loans.
The American education system is already in a shambles. In 42 states, the average teacher salary has been cut, relative to inflation, since 2010. Average class sizes have grown in 35 states. Massive teacher shortages grip every state and increasingly students are “taught” by uncertified substitutes. Lead-in-water is found in schools around the country while school infrastructure crumbles. Teacher strikes continue to escalate in the face of what has been an unrelenting bipartisan war against public education.
Trump and his Education Secretary Betsy DeVos are picking up from where Barack Obama and Arne Duncan left off, deepening the defunding of education and promoting privatization. Among the programs to suffer from Trump’s proposed budget are teacher training, federally subsidized student loans, after school programs for impoverished students, and summer programs in impoverished schools.
Teacher training is covered by Title II funding and received about $2 billion for fiscal year 2019. These funds are allocated for teachers’ professional development programs and were initially instituted to encourage a common standard of professionalism across the United States. The Trump budget would completely eliminate these funds.
Trump has proposed stripping away Title II funds in every budget he has proposed since taking office. These cuts do more than stymie the professional development of teachers—which is in and of itself an outrage—they also endanger schools’ abilities to meet the professional development benchmarks set by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). In addition, teachers who are not adequately supported in their professional development cannot be expected to meet the instructional needs of their students, which impacts students’ test scores. ESSA ties grant money to professional development benchmarks and student test scores, so ending Title II funds will directly translate into further cuts especially in impoverished areas.
Teacher training is not the only area facing erasure under Trump’s proposals. Also at stake are funds for Title IV, Part A, The Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) program. This program is designed to “provide all students with access to a well-rounded education; improve school conditions for student learning; and improve the use of technology t o improve the academic achievement and digital literacy of all students .”
The SSAE funds after-school care and summer learning programs in many districts where working parents do not have access to safe, affordable childcare when school is out. It also provides funding for classroom technology that assists in instruction and helps children stay abreast of important technological developments. In some schools, SSAE funding provides for mental health counseling and school safety equipment. Funding for SSAE is currently inadequate at just over $1 billion. Trump would eliminate all of that funding, endangering the programs that depend upon it.
Another source of funding for after-school care, 21st Century Community Learning Centers, would, like the SSAE programs, be completely eliminated under Trump’s proposals. Schools in rural and urban districts rely upon these funds, sparse as they are, to create safe places for working-class children.
The administration has stressed that its budget does not touch current Title I or Special Education funding. However, neither does the administration add any funding to these important programs. Title I funds go to schools that are predominantly attended by children from low-income families. Those funds are supposed to go towards helping children in these schools succeed academically and perform well on tests. Title I funds would stagnate at just under $16 million.
Special Education would not receive any extra funding in fiscal year 2020, either, and would stagnate at $132 million. Special Education funds programs as diverse as reading remediation, occupational therapy for autistic students, and enrichment for gifted and talented students.
Neither Title I nor the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) have ever been fully funded, and both were slashed under the Obama administration. While the administration proudly boasts that these programs will not be cut, their funding up to this point has been little more than an insult to the nation’s educators, parents, and students. In many school districts, there is simply not enough personnel to ensure that an Individualized Education Program (IEP) is created for every student who needs one.
That the administration should suggest that Special Education funds stagnate while the president attacks funding such as teacher training and SSAE programs—which would benefit Special Education students, in particular—reveals the deep disdain the Trump administration harbors for working class students.
A recent hearing by the House Education and Labor Committee revealed that US schools have been so defunded over decades that $145 billion is needed every year to modernize and maintain public schools.
Funding for Indian Education programs remains despicably low, yet to add insult to injury, the administration proposes reducing the Indian Education budget from $180 million to $176 million. The education of indigenous children is mandated to the Federal Government by treaty, yet schools that serve Native Americans are chronically underfunded, understaffed, and inadequately maintained. The dropout rate for Native American high school students is twice the national average.
There are areas where the Trump administration is willing to spend education dollars. One such area is charter school grants, which he increased last year by nearly $150 million. This year, he would increase spending on charter schools from $440 million to an even $500 million. This does not include Betsy DeVos’ support for legislation that would earmark $5 billion for “tax credit scholarships,” in which individuals could donate 10 percent of their income (getting a dollar for dollar deduction in the process) to private school scholarship funds for students in impoverished school districts.
DeVos has requested $1.8 billion for her Next Generation Financial Services Environment (NextGen), an endeavor to attack financial aid for working class college students and to bring student loan holders to heel. A $133 million spending increase on pursuing the repayment of student loans is included with this amount. In the meantime, DeVos and Trump would put an end to student loan forgiveness for public-sector workers; they would also cut college work-study programs by more than half.
The Education Department’s assistant secretary for planning, evaluation and policy development, Jim Blew, told reporters last week that Trump’s proposed education budget “is based on a desire to have some fiscal discipline and to address some higher-priority needs for the administration around the federal government.”
Those “higher priority needs” are not the children of America’s workers, but the gargantuan build-up of the US military and drive for war. In his budget proposal, Trump has asked for an exorbitant and record-breaking $750 billion for the Pentagon, an increase nearly double that sought by the military establishment. Additional billions are slated to flow into domestic repression with the administration requesting an increase to the Department of Homeland Security’s budget by 15 percent with $8.6 billion slated for the construction of his militarized border wall with Mexico.
As we have noted, the Trump budget will set in motion a repeat of the time-honed and cynical charade by Democrats who will claim to be shocked by these cuts. Quickly, they will drop the pretense and sign onto a terrible deepening of the social counterrevolution against youth, students and the entire working class.
The college admissions scandal and the rigged system of admissions at elite universities
On Tuesday, federal prosecutors unsealed charges against 50 individuals involved in what they described as “the largest college admissions scam ever prosecuted by the Department of Justice.”
According to federal agents, wealthy parents paid tens and hundreds of thousands, and, sometimes, millions of dollars to secure their children’s entry into top American universities. Thirty-three parents have been charged, including Manuel Henriques, CEO of Hercules Capital—a Silicon Valley hedge fund—and actress Lori Loughlin, known for her role on Full House.
Run through a company called “The Edge College & Career Network,” employing dozens of insiders, the scam allegedly faked standardized test exams and facilitated direct bribes to university coaches and administrators disguised as charitable donations.
The operation was allegedly run by William Rick Singer, who worked with parents to fabricate students’ participation in sports teams and elite clubs. Singer has pled guilty to four charges, including running a fake charity to facilitate money laundering from the parents.
Singer says he would fly students out to schools in Texas where they could take standardized tests required for entry into college in rooms overseen by bribed individuals. Other times, Singer would arrange for tests to be taken by entirely different people, fabricating the results completely.
These services did not come cheap. Being falsely given a learning disability and then taking the test with a bribed proctor, prosecutors state, cost one family $50,000. Another family, which paid for their teenager to be recruited via the soccer team at Yale by forging her sports credentials, paid $1.2 million—a cost which included substantial bribes to the coach.
According to prosecutors, the largest bill paid by a family was $6.5 million. This is about seven times the amount of money an American with only a high-school degree is expected to make in his or her lifetime.
Several points should be made about the scandal.
The first is that these crimes are only one window into an entire world of anti-democratic admissions processes in higher education. If the allegations are true, the actions constitute criminal fraud, but it exists alongside of and is nurtured by more “legal” forms of influence-buying and admissions-rigging.
“Affirmative action” for the children of wealthy donors and alumni, at the expense of more qualified children, is the rule, not the exception, in the Ivy League and at similar colleges. A Harvard investigation recently found that applicants with parents or grandparents who attended the college were five times more likely to be admitted.
Bribes, in the form of “donations,” are commonplace in higher education. Singer, the founder of the operation, told one parent that his operation provided a “side door in.” He explained, “The back door is through institutional advancement [millions of dollars of donations to the school’s endowment], which is 10 times as much money.” A 2017 story by the Washington Postexposed how University of Virginia officials kept wait lists for wealthy donors. “$500k. Must be on WL [wait list],” read one file.
Richard Reeves, author of a book titled Dream Hoarders, wrote in the Guardian that, “The children of big donors seem to get an almost automatic admission.” He noted, “The difference between this illegal scheme and the legal ways in which money buys access is one of degree, not of kind.”
The top institutions of higher education are dominated by money, with presidents and administrators paid like corporate CEOs. Significantly, at the time the scandal broke out, Olivia Jade, the daughter of Lori Laughlin, was reportedly on a cruise on a yacht owned by billionaire real estate developer Rick Caruso, who is the chairman of the board of trustees of the University of Southern California. Caruso’s daughter also goes to USC.
C. L. Max Nikias, the president of USC until he resigned last August, was the third-highest-paid college president, with an annual salary of more than $3 million.
A second point that should be raised about this scandal is what it expresses about the whole upper-middle class and upper class milieu of the United States.
The extraordinary means of advancing their children reflects the intense competition within the top layers of the population. The cut-throat college admissions process, which, in wealthy neighborhoods, begins with constructing portfolios for a five-year-old to get into a prestigious elementary school, express the ferocity of the struggle within this layer.
While there are many students attending elite institutions because of their academic achievement, getting into Harvard, Yale, etc., is often not about accessing a good education per se, but rather accessing social networks that lead to the highest echelons of society. The elite higher educational system acts as a sorting for the top layers of the population, determining the pecking order of this rich, yet still deeply divided social layer. Meanwhile, it bars millions of young people from lower classes, even those who are relatively well-off, from breaking into this upper-class world.
Today, while $6.5 million is found by the ultra-rich to pay to secure a spot at a top university, tens of thousands of students in Oakland, California, last week received a $22 million budget cut—money that will come out of funds for homeless students, nutrition, music and college preparation. It is no coincidence that this scandal follows a year of mass teacher struggles around the world. The entire public education system is under attack by the rich.
The corporate assault on education must be halted. The trillions of dollars, locked away in the hands of the ultra-rich, must be confiscated and used for massive social programs to provide free, high-quality education for all students. All students, no matter what their background, have the right to advanced higher education. Likewise, all workers, regardless of what school they attend, deserve to have a high quality of life, with good benefits, dignity and respect.