Using Students To Push Anti-Charter School Myths

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.

Sergio Nieto, another Anaheim High School junior, says:

“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.

35 comments

  1. Oh the irony……..The leaders of the FAILED AUHSD, Moreno, Jabbar and Ruelas are arguing against school choice. Anaheims schools are among the WORST in the state (Anaheim High, Magnolia and Loera are ranked a 5-6 respectively out of ten on Greatshools.net) under these clowns leadership.

    They RUIN the public schools and then try to guard against parents making parental choices. ENOUGH.

  2. I am a student at AHS, Ruelas uses Bros as a campaign tool and brainwashes them too believe his progressive liberal agenda, I left that organization for that reason.

    • Way to protect your anonymity there, Former Bro! Or Liar about your story — whichever you are.

      • Another original comment from Greg Diamond. You’re like a broken record…but less pleasant.

        • Do I really need to explain it to you? This alleged Ex-Bro uses your forum to make an anonymous political attack on Ruelas — yet gives enough information about himself that his identity might arguably be deduced. It almost makes me think that he’s not what he says he is, in a comment that sounds like it would have been written by you or one of your claque.

          “… a campaign tool and brainwashes them too believe his progressive liberal agenda, I left that organization for that reason.” VERY high school type of locution there!

          • Stop making excuses for yourself. I have no responsibility for this comment, nor do I know the ID of the commenter. It’s a fact that Anaheim BROS actively campaigned for their faculty advisor and founders school board candidacy. he was effectively using a school club as a campaign resource. You’d have to be deliberately blind to not see that – notwithstanding the affirmative aspects of this club – it effectively functions as a pool of political volunteers for progressive political causes and candidates in Anaheim.

            • I didn’t say that you were responsible for making the comment (except in that you routinely allow anonymous attacks on your blog. Most of your comments are.) I said that it sounds like you or someone in your claque. You say that you don’t know who’s who among your allies here; it’s useless to argue that point with you.

      • Congrats on your candidacy for DPOC central committee Greg. Four candidates and six spots. Finally, an election win after three failed tries. Way to go Panda. What I don’t understand is why you want to be a part of a committee that detests you and you detest back.

        • Three candidates — read more carefully. And I don’t really consider this spot an “election” in the way that others I’ve participated in are. (Otherwise, you’d have to call the current Chair a loser — but you don’t!)

          I don’t understand why you want to be part of a world that, except for carefully cultivated portions that find you useful, detests you — but that’s none of my business.

          To solve the mystery: I want to be part of DPOC to help reform and invigorate a moribund and dysfunctional county party. Only two elections — and those with seven candidates apiece — for the seven six-seat slates up for election? One can really feel the excitement!

          It’s a shame that we reformers got derailed from our attempts to bring activists into the party. Surely Matt is trembling in fear at the might the DPOC has shown in generating 38 candidates for 42 open seats — compared to the paltry 96 candidates generated by the OCGOP. (Aren’t you, Matt? Defend your hapless friend!)

          I understand why the likes of Matt would prefer the DPOC to be low-energy to lifeless. I don’t understand why Democrats would. In fact, I suspect that they don’t!

          • ah, so Cynthia didn’t turn her stuff in; Fine — three candidates and the party’s not dysfunctional…it just has sore losers like you in it. The people in the party who detest me don’t matter to me at all…that’s pretty much you, Jeff and Paul. No one in the Party wants your help to reform it; most everyone wishes you’d go away.

            • You’re ignorant. Happily, I can say that fact about you without being non-PC.

              I’m glad to see that you’re on the ballot, though. It’s extremely convenient.

              • You’re clueless and oblivious. And you have a free pass to continue your bull at DPOC; try to hear the collective groans when you speak. They are audible from those chairs.

                • Can we stop this interchange? You seem to see your role int DPOC as being the big that the old saying warns me against wrestling with. Usually, I don’t take the bait, but sometimes my fans do need some amusement. Enough for now.

                  • I have no role within DPOC; you do and its one most members detest. It stems from constant opposition to current chair which erodes your support in the group and erodes your brother-in-law’s support in the party. Sore losers one and all.

            • I assume you are discussing another Cynthia, as I did not pull papers for any seat, to “turn in.”

              I am curious…why is it that Matt can devote his “free time” to blogging about a city where he doesn’t live and claims not to be paid for his blogging work, and we are told he is not acting as an agent of the Council majority and is merely exercising his rights as a citizen to volunteer. Yet students who wish to weigh in regarding a city where they DO live are accused of being agents of their advisor. Certainly he is going to influence them. that is the point of being “an Advisor,” but do you have evidence that he demanded they put in the time on his behalf?

              Matt, you say the Charter schools are “not under the thumb” of the District. If “The District” is the Board, which is representing the interests of the citizens that elected them, then being outside the direction of that governing authority would be the opposite of the will of the people. I have given up counting how often you have insisted that representative democracy means we turn over all power to those elected to office, and we have no right to then hold those leaders accountable for their actions in office, and if we don’t like it we can vote them out, after 4 years of damage as they work unchecked toward their own agendas. If that is the case, as you wish to believe when YOUR favorites hold the majority. where is the case for Charter Schools in opposition to the will of those elected by citizens to serve? If there is truly a place for the voices of everyday citizens to “take back” a failing school, then i don’t want to hear any more whining when citizens are fighting to “take back” failing policies from staff-driven programs PROVEN to not work. See ARTIC for prime example. We are expected to let the SAME staff that devised ARTIC, using the SAME set of documents and fictional ridership numbers, to spend even MORE on the ARC streetcar, and you demand we sit back and let them because our leaders set that direction and they were elected to do so. You have provided NO EVIDENCE for Charter Schools fixing the one area where Palm Lane failed, specifically English Proficiency in households where English is not the primary language, yet you demand that parents have the right to be heard about changes that are unproven, while taxpayers have no right to demand changes for proven failures. It seems the rights of citizens/taxpayers to object to or act in opposition to the direction set by elected leaders depends on which side of the fight Matt is on.

              Tell us again about hypocrisy.

              • No. You are not the only Cynthia in this district and you are not a Democrat

                • She’s not in the 55th district at all. so your second comment makes no sense. She’s also not the only Cynthia in Uganda. The same could be said of you.

                  Of course, unless one had read back a few comments, one wouldn’t know what race (and party) we were talking about. The words you were groping for were along the lines of “No, I was talking about Cynthia Aguirre in AD55; sorry to have been unclear.”

              • Cynthia,

                Clearly Greg has rubbed of on you.

                Palm Lane was an utter mess, Moreno’s tenure did NOTHING to improve the plight of schools in the city. The guy is an abject failure, with a bad attitude and a one way view.

                • How the hell would you know, phantasm? Honest to God, reading you is like watching someone being insulted by a microbe.

                  • Greg, Anaheim schools have improved under Dr. Moreno’s leadership. Scores went up. Yet in spite of the improvements, these schools are still among the poorest performing in OC. Now there are a number of reasons for this, but I wouldn’t characterize Dr. Moreno has a failure. He left these schools better than he found them but they still have a long way to go.

                    • Are those improvements because of, or incidental to Moreno’s board tenure? From conversations I’ve had with ACSD folks, his interests tended to be more ideologically driven – for example, viewing dual-immersion programs (which I think are great) more as cultural vehicles for “Chicano-izing” students.

                  • I would know from two VERY GOOD SOURCES:

                    My Children, who attend public schools in Anaheim (do your’s?).

                    AND PUBLIC RECORDS

                    Scores DID NOT improve as a result of Moreno. He sells hope, and he peddles it well. but as any struggling family (in Anaheim) knows: Hope is not a plan.

                    When I call this guy a poverty pimp, I mean it. he passes over LEGITIMATE opportunity to hawk is brand of swill.

                    When your kid registers in Westmont ES, call me out.

                    Hey it’s after midnight, you must be rubbing off on me.

              • Cynthia, I long ago concluded your disagreements with me and others are driven primarily by personal animus, and you then labor to bend and twist and manipulate facts and statements to conform with that animus. This comment, like others before it, certainly fits that pattern. It would be novel to see you respond to what I’ve actually said, rather than a mangled version of what you claim I said.

                Anaheim BROS members are teenagers. High school kids. They are going to be strongly influenced by Ruelas regarding the political issues in which they become involved (as you acknowledge). is it merely coincidence their political involvement has been as foot soldiers for their advisor’s school board campaign? For the districting campaign pushed by the left-wing coalition of which Ruelas is an active member? And now recording videos in which they regurgitate (false) union talking points as part of an organized campaign against charter schools? Do you think that just spontaneously popped into their heads? Do you think hostility to charter schools is generally at the forefront of teenage activists minds? Or do you think a more likely explanation is their faculty advisor is also a liberal California Teachers Association activist? You’ve concocted more than your share of crackpot conspiracies, and yet you turn away from the obvious.

                These are sincere and impressionable kids. And the various elements of the Anaheim Left is doing its best to impress a progressive political philosophy on them. Feted and honored by deeply left-wing OCCORD. And don’t forget the 2014 “Youth Civic Summit” organized by the AUHSD and OCCCO (another left-wing group) that was a thinly veiled political recruitment and indoctrination event. Keep those eyes tightly shut, Cynthia; that makes it easier to ignore you’re role as useful idiot for the local Left.

                As for the AUHSD’s anti-charter campaign: I’ve never said “all power” must be turned over to local legislative bodies and that citizens have “no right” to hold them accountable other that casting a ballot at election time. That is you putting words in my mouth. I have written, regarding the district mapping process, is that the Anaheim City Council members actually do represent the people of Anaheim by virtue of being their elected representatives — as opposed to the left-wing coalition of interest groups and activist that claim to represent Anaheim residents (it doesn’t matter how often the “Voice of OC” says they are).

                AUHSD Board of Education members are free to oppose charter schools. Given the dominance of school employee unions and the tendency of school board members to be captives of the school bureaucracy, it’s only surprising when a school board members are charter school supporters. My criticism is of the AUHSD’s leadership using district resources to wage a self-serving political campaign — and a dishonest one, at that — to turn its constituents into opponents of particular public school model.

                And as for Palm Lane – those parents exercised their legal right under the Parent Trigger Law to petition for the conversion of their school into an independent public charter school. The Anaheim City School District – where Ryan Ruelas is school board member — aided by school employee unions from around Orange County, have fought them at every turn. The district’s obstructionism was blasted by a Superior Court judge, and the district still budgeted hundreds of thousands of dollars to continue fighting these poor and working class parents in court. Amazing how quickly you shed your Tribune of the People persona and morph into establishment apologist in order not to be contrary to your new-found allies on the Left.

  3. I can’t help but notice, Dr. Moreno’s recent FB post features “Latino” parents from Santa Ana, attending one of his promoted events. There are DOZENS of Mothers, ZERO Fathers. Perhaps this is because the snake oil he is selling, is focused on these women. It’s not lost on me that Dr. Moreno IGNORES the obvious issues facing the poor, disenfranchised and otherwise hopeless to further his agenda.

    These kids need MALE tutiledge , leaders, they need parents who convince them to avoid lives of crime. Gathering GANG Mom’s is politically expedient (heck, he even got one to run for council), but does little to improve a community.

    This guy is a poverty pimp.

  4. I’m with Diamond – I would like to see DPOC go hard left – to really “invigorate” the party – and never win another election in OC. Perfect!

    • Yeah — we have so far to fall from our present perch, don’t we? No wonder someone like you prefers the status quo for your political opponents.

  5. Fullerton Harpoon

    Looking forward to Mr. Diamond’s pending loss in court over Angels MOU.

  6. So let’s re-visit the Bros involvement in the latest election. Are they being offered class credit to hand out the Ruelas, Moreno, Alvarez, Jabbar propoganda? Is this legal? Why are these men allowed to use their authority and influence to coerce impressionable minds or even to offer grades for walking precincts? Pay for favors??? This is outrageous if true.

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