Eli Broad’s Latest Attack on Democracy
“We serve the people of Greater Los Angeles because we believe there is a better path for the children of our great district. Unfortunately, the serious allegations against Dr. Ref Rodriguez distract from that critical mission.”
- Monica Garcia, Nick Melvoin and Kelly Gonez
While the LAUSD School Board was evaluating the performance of the District’s Superintendent, Michelle King, District 5’s Board Member was absent. Instead, Refugio (Ref) Rodriguez was in court answering to charges that included felony conspiracy and perjury. This left his constituents, the victims of Rodriguez’ alleged crimes, unrepresented in the Board’s discussion and any possible action. Clearly, the charges against Rodriguez are more than a distraction, they are an obstacle to his performing the duties required by the full-time job for which he receives $125,000 a year.
The solution presented by the Broad Block of Garcia, Melvoin, and Gonez, who like Rodriguez were elected with funding provided by Eli Broad and his allies, is to formalize this lack of representation. Instead of demanding that the person who neglected to inform them of a pending investigation before they elected him president resign, they are calling for him “to take a leave of absence from the Board.” Given Broad’s lack of respect for democracy and the rights of citizens to elect their representatives, this action should not surprise anyone.
In their plot “to reach 50 percent charter market share” in Los Angeles, Broad and his fellow privatizers push for an education model that has no assurance of elected representation for the stakeholders. Even in cases where charters do specify that their governing boards are supposed to be at least partially elected, the LAUSD’s Charter School Division does not ensure that these rules are followed. Broad has directly lobbied Mayor Garcetti “to get involved in efforts to take over the district”, which would deprive the voters of the LAUSD, especially those living outside the city limits, of a say in how the District is operated. They have spent millions of dollars taking over control of the School Board using not only unethical tactics but as the case against Rodriguez has shown, possibly illegal ones. When the Broad Block speaks of “reform”, their main concern is advancing an agenda based on corporatism and privatizing, not promoting democratic choice.
The voters of LAUSD’s District 5 have already been victimized by the alleged actions of Rodriguez during the campaign. To further deprive them of legitimate representation while the case winds its way through the legal system, would only compound the damage. Rodriguez needs to immediately resign and pave the way for a legitimate election. A “Kids First” agenda demands nothing less.
Carl Petersen is a parent and special education advocate, elected member of the Northridge East Neighborhood Council and was a Green Party candidate in LAUSD’s District 2 School Board race. During the campaign, he was endorsed by Network for Public Education (NPE) Action and Dr. Diane Ravitch called him a “strong supporter of public schools.” His past blogs can be found at www.ChangeTheLAUSD.com.