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Somehow I recently ended up on the e-mail list for the OCBC, the Orange County Business Council. And I’m not complaining – I would like to stay on that list. This group, formed by Curt Pringle and currently headed by Lucy Dunn, is the premiere spokesgroup and lobbyist for the biggest businesses in the County, the businesses that specialize in enriching themselves from your tax dollars via what they call “public-private partnerships” – what we here call the “kleptocracy.” I do like being able to see what’s the latest thing they’re saying or selling.
Anyway, get to the point, right? Recently they sent out their voters guide for tomorrow’s “primary election.” I hate to call it a primary because MANY races that are much more important than people think will be decided for good tomorrow. And I looked through their list of recommendations, wondering if I would agree with them on anything, thinking that chances are I SHOULD – nobody can be wrong about EVERYTHING.
And sure enough, down at the bottom of a list of some of my least favorite politicians, were their recommendations for the OC Board of Education – incumbents Elizabeth “Liz” Dorn Parker and David Boyd – exactly the candidates THIS blog is enthusiastically supporting! And it makes sense – the leaders of OC’s big business lobby group do not want the county’s education system bankrupted and dumbed down – why would they? They’re not THAT kind of crazy.
My Republican parents (and before you get the wrong idea, Parker is Republican and Boyd is independent) get all the mailers from the crazed challengers for these two seats – Tom Pollitt and Linda Lindholm – and they all feature a bright graphic saying “Just one more seat!” Just one more seat to do WHAT? What would a new majority try to do to our Board of Education? Come with me…
Meet the Challengers
They’re an odd couple, really, Tom Pollitt and Linda Lindholm. One thing they do share, along with the two extremists currently on the Board whom they would like to join, is having NEVER had any children in our public school system. Just that fact alone should begin to raise our suspicions.
Tom Pollitt would call himself a Tea Partier, and he home-schools his kids. Animated by extreme anti-government ideology, he would like to sue the Federal government AND the state government for their demanding that we do ANY public educatin’ of our kids, and literally stop tax dollars from going into education. Presumably everybody in Tom Pollitt’s world should either home school like him or pay bank to send their kids to private school like Linda Lindholm does.
Linda Lindholm, on the other hand, comes from a profiteering AND career-politician vantage point to get to many of the same places Tom does. A termed-out Laguna Niguel Mayor looking for her next gig, she’s got a staggering amount of money at her command, partly thanks to her multi-millionaire husband Wayne Lindholm (head of the Lincoln Club, hence all her Republican endorsements) whose construction firm Hansen Phelps IRONICALLY gets ALL of its income from taxpayer bonds as they build hospitals, public schools and universities. Their biggest project right now is for LA Unified, money from which is ironically getting plowed into destroying OC schools.
Another $100K in her bulldozer of a campaign comes from organizations lobbying for for-profit CHARTER SCHOOLS – hence her obsession with that issue. Linda, whose kids attend private schools, has NEVER spoken at a Board of Education meeting, as opinionated as she seems to be on their record; at least Tom does come to meetings where he rants about such things as the United Nations taking over Orange County schools.
Who are the two extremist incumbents that Pollitt and Lindholm aim to join? They are an odd couple much like the two challengers – private schooler Ken Williams and tea-partying, “social conservative” Robert Hammond. Ken makes his money creating hair plugs for bald men, and has written glowingly of the possibility of “praying away the gay;” Robert seems to have no line of work, living and home-schooling his kids in his deceased parents’ home.
What a wild Board of Education Orange County will have, if the extremists get their coveted one or two more seats!
1. Charter Schools
The anti-public education extremists go on quite a bit about charter schools as some kind of panacea to all that ails the world, suggesting inaccurately that Parker and Boyd are somehow hostile to them. In actuality the current Board has approved all charter school petitions that have come to them – there are currently 14 in the county – but the approval is NOT automatic, which is what these ideological extremists would like to see. As Liz writes, she will “NEVER support poorly run schools which cannot balance their budgets while delivering substandard curriculum for their students or discriminate against special needs children… that is bad for kids and bad for the taxpayer.” That pretty much describes the schools that will be getting the green light if the extremists manage to get “one more seat” tomorrow.
As Liz tells me, if a school’s main purpose is profit, it’s inevitable that they will begin to cut corners, you won’t teach special needs kids, you’ll cut resources. Actually though, only 5% of what the Board of Education does has anything to do with charter schools, so let’s look at other issues now.
2. “Unfunded Mandates”
The extremists also complain a lot about “unfunded mandates” coming from the state and from the Feds. You know who else has been complaining for many years about unfunded mandates? The incumbents themselves, Parker and Boyd. The most crippling has been the Federal mandate that schools teach all special needs kids, something that the Feds were supposed to fund 40% of, but has dropped and dropped (under the GOP-run Congress) to a current 16%. This unfunded mandate alone has been costing this county $400 million a year.
Here’s the difference: the challengers would like to launch expensive, doomed, quixotic lawsuits against these mandates, while meanwhile our serious incumbents have been working behind the scene to get them funded. And there is good news on the horizon: bipartisan action is afoot, led by Minnesota Republican John Kline and San Francisco Democrat George Miller, to fund those mandates in the next budget.
3. Common Core
Common Core was California’s reaction to the President Bush’s unfunded “No Child Left Behind.” One thing it did was replace robotic multiple choice tests, and the “teaching to them,” with the encouragement of critical thinking and the writing of essays. One criticism that could be made is that Common Core was developed quickly by a small group without getting much input from various “stakeholders;” meanwhile a lot of parents whose kids were doing very well with multiple choice fret about everything changing – the sort of understandable angst that always comes with change.
Liz resents, again, the unfunded nature of Common Core – it’s based on raising academic standards, but it requires training and technology that’s not funded. She does support the switch back to critical thinking skills, as I think most of us here at the OJ would. The ideologues however would like to attempt to sue their way out of ANY standards or mandates, a doomed effort that will break the district financially. And why should they care, having no kids in public schools?
Really. Why DO they care?
4. “Social” issues and the Anti-Science Agenda
These extremists, as one might expect, have an antipathy to science and would like to teach creationism here in the OC. They aim to defund the arts, first order of business, who needs the arts. They want to defund the science programs “STEM” and “Inside the Outdoors.” Ken Williams, as we have said, is an advocate for “praying away the gay.” And although they haven’t been emphasizing it lately, there is always an antipathy to our immigrant population, and the threat of defunding dual-immersion and bilingual education. The whole grab bag of social-conservative crazy. That’s what we’ll see in the national news, embarrassing our county, if you people let THESE people get their “one more seat” tomorrow.
What Will this Low-Turnout June Election Portend?
It’s a little scary and perilous, such big decisions being made by the tiny percentage of folks who bother coming out to vote in June in what’s inaccurately called a “primary.” Despite the very welcome OCBC endorsement, the lion’s share of the big money AND institutional Republican support is behind Lindholm and Pollitt. And I’m not sure the Democrats are doing anything, since none of the candidates roll that way.
But Liz Dorn Parker feels that she and her partner David Boyd have a grass roots movement behind them, of parents, teachers, anyone who’s been following education issues in this county. Special enthusiasm is coming from the south county which saw not long ago what happened in Capistrano Unified when anti-public education extremists took over a Board, and don’t want to see that again, ANYWHERE.
Well, in conclusion, GET YOUR ASSES OUT THERE AND VOTE TOMORROW if you haven’t. And please, at least, take our Orange Juice essays to heart when you vote. Vern out!