Heads up, Los Angeles! Billionaires want to own your school district so they can privatize it.
Campaign disclosures for the last month have just been filed for the current elections to the Los Angeles Unified School District board and the numbers are obscene. Worse yet, the donors have no vested interest in Los Angeles schools, but they're ponying up the money anyway.
After Michelle Rhee's disingenuous claim that she was just marching "for the children" last week, she tossed $250,000 into the kitty for Kate Anderson, the "reform" candidate looking to oust Steve Zimmer.
A group led by former District of Columbia schools chancellor Michelle Rhee donated $250,000 Wednesday to contests for seats on the Los Angeles Board of Education, adding further political fuel to a battle over the direction of reform efforts in the nation's second-largest school system.
The support of StudentsFirst, which is based in Sacramento, will benefit an independent campaign on behalf of school board President Monica Garcia as well as Kate Anderson and Antonio Sanchez, who are seeking to join the seven-member body.
That's not all. Michael Bloomberg tossed in a million last week, and News Corp has tossed in $50,000 too. Then there's Netflix chairman Reed Hastings with his donation of $100,000, Jeffrey Katzenberg with $50,000, and Laurene Powell Jobs, who has given $112,500 between a foundation she runs and her own personal funds.
But wait! There's more! Venture capitalists don't want to be left in the dust, so they're digging into their pockets, too, giving a collective total of $200,000.
Since January 1, 2013, $2.8 million dollars in outside money has been given to three candidates backed by the Coalition for School Reform, which supports Kate Anderson, Antonio Sanchez, and incumbent school board president Monica Garcia.
As usual, Michelle Rhee has her own agenda first, rather than students:
Rhee said her involvement in Los Angeles could advance school reform statewide.
"We think it's important that John Deasy be able to continue on the job to finish the work he started," she said.
Deasy is developing an evaluation system that incorporates the use of student standardized test scores as one measure of an instructor's effectiveness. Last week, he directed principals to count test results as 30% of an evaluation. He also has altered district rules so that layoffs are not based strictly on seniority.
As a reminder, that "evaluation system" was used to humiliate Los Angeles teachers by using their students' performance on standardized tests which don't account for underfunded facilities, poverty, and other barriers to student learning.
This is the kind of money that's behind corporate education policy, with its attendant privatization, teaching to the test, and union-busting. And when you look at the players giving six and seven figures here, you realize how much more money is coming down the pike.
The election is March 5th. Who knows how many other billionaires will pony up to buy Los Angeles schools by then. Voters, beware.