Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Jeanne Allen on LAUSD: Fire Them All

The Center for Education Reform is a charter advocacy group whose most visible feature is Jeanne Allen, CEO and sometimes President of a board that includes pioneering privatize Chris Whittle. Allen loves charters and hates teachers unions. As you might guess, she has some thoughts about the LA teacher strike. After I wrote about the strike at Forbes.com, the Pinkston Group, a PR fit, shared some her thoughts with me. Let me just quote them in their entirety:

In a post-Janus world, teacher unions cannot exist and continue to gain members unless they demonstrate and prove their value. This strike, like others we're seeing around the country, is a desperate attempt by the union to maintain relevance in a day and age where they can
no longer require teachers to join.

California needs to break the district up into 100 different pieces, have much smaller units, and allow for the freedom, flexibility, access and innovation that’s happening in charters. If it weren’t for charter schools, education in L.A. would be at the level of Mississippi. The UTLA sees charters
as such a threat to the status quo that it is willing want to hurt students kids even more to score a victory against charters.

My advice to the district: Hold strong. Replace them all. If they want a dramatic impact on education, fire the union and begin to repair the schools, just like Reagan fired the air traffic controllers.

Allen's dream of a perfect union meeting
So that's what a leading charter advocate thinks about the strike. It's a union trick to hold onto power. Los Angeles would have terrible schools if not for the awesome charters. Teachers just want to hurt students so they can keep raking in the big bucks. There are, of course, no slices of evidence in the real world to back up any of this. Nor will turning LAUSD into hundreds of tiny districts serve anyone except the children of the wealthy.

But Allen's big solution is super dopey-- fire them all. The Reagan nod is not completely out of left field; Allen's website notes proudly that she was "the youngest political appointee to serve at the pleasure of the president, Ronald Reagan, at the US Department of Education." But of the many anti-reality arguments I have seen from Allen, this is one drops the jaw the furthest. Replace over 25,000 teachers? In a state with a persistent teacher shortage? In the 2016-2017 year, there were under 24,000 students enrolled in teaching preparation programs in the state.

Talk about hurting kids just to score a victory-- Allen's nuclear option would trash everything just to teach those damned teachers a lesson.

Allen's position is worth noting only because she and the CER are not some fringe element. She gets to sit on reformy panels. CER gets Gates money (and in 2016 the organization took in a whopping $ million in contributions from... somewhere). She gets into the Wall Street Journal. And lest you think she's strictly a GOP phenomenon, Kara Kerwin, who filled the president role while Allen was on hiatus, started out in public policy in the offices of Chuck Schumer and Daniel Moynihan.

Allen and the CER have one virtue-- where other charter advocates may play a game of making nice with teachers and their unions, Allen leaves her mask off most days. If you wonder why teachers and their unions sometimes act vas if charter advocates are out to get them, and you're one of those folks asking "Where does that come from," well, Jeanne "Fire Them All" Allen is Exhibit A.

This is not a one-off. Allen was quick to decide Trump was okee-dokee after all and became a Trump-DeVos cheerleader. Allen has periodically issued announcements of renewed commitment to privatization. Allen put a $100K bounty on John Oliver's head for besmirching the charter brand. Allen whinged when her phrase "backpack full of cash" became a movie title. Allen blamed the GOP 2018 drubbing on a failure to keep a charter hard line.

One can only hope that nobody on the administration side of the LAUSD strike is considering listening to Allen's advice. It would neither solve the strike nor improve general health of the LA school district. It's just a more extreme statement of the very distinct policies that brought them to this strike in the first place; wiping out the school district and the teachers who work in it is not a path that serves the students of Los Angeles.


  1. Extremist Jeanne Allen is one of the few individuals even more reactionary than Arne Duncan and Betsy Devos. http://www.schoolsmatter.info/2017/10/jeanne-allen-reactionary-right-wing.html

  2. Watch this home-made video of yesterday's strike:


    As you watch this, keep in mind that these are the folks Jeanne wants to fire.

  3. Peter,

    I just dug up this gem from Jeanne Allen on a panel discussion on-line show. Jeanne claims that the rank 'n file teachers no longer want to belong to unions, or have union leadership represent them. Any teachers who act or say otherwise have been "kow-towed into" acting and thinking so by union thugs.

    So, in Jeanne's alternate non-union utopia, teachers would be paid and treated well ... if only all unions dissolved.

    This should come as news to teachers who've actually been in unions ... or even to teachers who are not unionized, but who desperately wish they were, and are trying to organize into unions:

    (30:36 - )
    (30:36 - )


    "(Teachers) have been kow-towed in to believing that unless there's a union that supports them, that they're going to be treated unfairly, but the rank 'n file don't really believe that anymore."


    Jeanne (pronounced /GEE-nee/), can you point to a time in history of a certain industry where the absence of unions, or the elimination of unions has led to better treatment of workers?

    Why don't you tell these teachers at Success Academy --- the
    premiere charter school upon which you heap so much praise---
    that are quoted BELOW that they're better off without a union?


    Watch the rest of the video:


    I don't have time to transcribe all this tripe, but earlier in the video, Jeanne openly states that her goal is to put public schools out of business through competition. If charters luring kids away leads to a financial crisis because districts still have fixed operations costs, Jeanne says that's too bad. Find away to "fix it" or disappear from the Earth, Allen insists.

    (NOTE: to "fix it", of course, district officials have to fire teachers or cut the salaries of teachers, then jack the class size sky-high, then cut, cut, cut ... so that parents will no longer view traditional public schools as worthwhile.

    Whose job is it to fight against this happening? .. hmmm ... Maybe it's the job of those unions that Jeamme claims that "rank'n file teachers no longer believe in"?)

    Here she is gloating about how privatization through charter proliferation has wiped out public schools in many cities.

    (23:42 - )
    (23:42 - )


    "Fix it, or go out of business.

    "They (public schools) have gone out of business in Detroit.

    "They (public schools) have gone out of business in Philadelphia.

    "They (public schools) have gone out of business in D.C.

    "Schools that fail go out of business when people choose to
    leave, and that's the way it should be."

    Later on, she floats this one:


    "All the economists agree that quality education is only happening where students are in choice schools." (not an exact quote ... but a paraphrased condensation of a long rambling comment of GEE-nee's)

    Really, which economists are those?