The manipulation of students by public schools for political purposes is nothing new. When the public education establishment feels its interests and control threatened, there are no compunctions about using students as conduits for self-serving, alarmist misinformation.
The Anaheim Union High School District has launched a very public crusade against charter schools, which several observers tie to the elevation of government employee union activist Al Jabbar to the AUSHD Board of Education and the appointment of left-wing political activist Michael Matsuda as superintendent. Since charter schools aren’t under the thumb of school district headquarters, the AUHSD powers-that-be don’t want them. The best interests of students are secondary or tertiary considerations.
Anaheim BROS, an Anaheim High School club has been pulled into the district’s anti-charter campaign. Anaheim BROS was started by Ryan Ruelas, an AHS teacher, teachers union activist, member of the Anaheim City School District Board of Education and political ally of Jabbar, Jose F. Moreno and others. The BROS function as a pool of foot soldiers for progressive political campaigns in Anaheim, working as campaign volunteers for Measures L and M ballot measures, Ruelas’ school board campaign, and other political initiatives.
Last week, the Anaheim BROS Facebook page published video testimonials in which students make scripted anti-charter school statements full of inaccuracies.
Anaheim High School junior Rudy Acevedo says:
“The reason why I love public schools is because of the fact that it gives everyone the chance for a free education regardless of their race, sex, national origin, etc.
And one of the reasons I’m against charter schools is because of the fact they have the right, so to speak, to deny education to any student based on the fact that they know English, based on the fact that they’re special ed, etc. So if you agree with the statements I’m making, go to www.reformcharterschools.org to reform the charter schools.”
Mr. Acevedo talks about public schools and charter schools as if they are two different things – a common theme of anti-charter school rhetoric. In fact, charter schools, like their traditional counterparts, are public schools. What they are is a different model for operating a public school.
Furthermore, it is false to say charter schools can deny an education to students based on their special education needs or English language proficiency. Public charter schools are governed in this respect by the same laws as traditional public schools. It is against the law for any public school – whether traditional or charter – to deny admission to any student on the basis of a disability, or the nature or extent of the disability. In fact, according to the California Department of Education, a student with disabilities must be afforded the opportunity to go to a charter school.
“the reason I like….favor public education is because of the fact that they provide an equal opportunity to any student to get education. The reason I’d like to reform charter schools is because of the fact that they get funded from the same money that should be going into public schools so that students can have better access to equipment for sports, or even getting new textbooks so they can actually be up-to-date.
Contrary to what Mr. Nieto has been told, charter schools do not divert money from public schools. First, as has been noted, charter schools are public schools. Furthermore, funding follows students; that’s one reason school districts hate truancy: when a student ditches school, the district loses the funding for that kid for that day.
One hand, a modicum of research would have enabled these students to discover for themselves the falsity. On the other hard, one doesn’t want to be to hard on them for perpetuating myths that were likely spoon-fed to them. Teachers unions and other public education establishment constituencies have been peddling these lies about charter schools for years, and when impressionable student activists like these hear them from adults whom they trust, they’re going to believe them.
In these video testimonials and on its Facebook page, Anaheim BROS pushes ReformCharterSchools.org – a website that claims to merely support “reforming” charter schools when the true goal is obviously to stop their proliferation because they operate beyond the control of the public education establishment.
Anaheim BROS’ faculty leader, Ruelas, is a teacher union activist and man of the Left. He’s one of the Anaheim Secondary Teachers Association’s three representatives on the California Teachers Association State Council. As a member of the Anaheim City School District Board of Education, he has been part of the district’s blatant, underhanded efforts to undermine Palm Lane Elementary parents seeking to convert their school to charter status using the state Parent t Trigger Law. Despite a Superior Court judge ruling in favor of the parents and condemning the ACSD’s behavior as “unfair, unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious,” Ruelas and his ACSD Board colleagues have doubled down by setting aside hundreds of thousands of education dollars to continue litigation against these parents.
Why is Ruelas, Anaheim BROS’ faculty advisor, enlisting his mentees in this particular cause? Does anyone think he raised the topic of charter schools by telling the boys, “Charter schools have been the focus of debate in public education for many years now. I’d like you all the research all sides of the issue and then everyone can share their conclusions and how they arrived at them.” Judging from the erroneous talking points being repeated in these videos, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
It says something about the prevailing politics of public education that hardly an eyebrow is raised at the coordinated, school-sponsored co-opting of students into left-wing political activism and feeding them untruths in order to advance the political interests of the district and of individual politicians.