Capo USD incumbents endorsed by group that wants to abolish public education.

“What the hell were the Tea Party Patriots thinking?” I muttered to myself, when I heard that they had endorsed the useless incumbents on the Capistrano Unified School Board.

Maybe I still tend to idealize the Tea Party a little, who I’ve always understood to be a group of upstarts opposed to the corruption and unresponsiveness of BOTH major parties.

I would have expected them to be a little more concerned with waste of taxpayer money, with elected officials being accountable to the community and transparent, with office holders not treating their constituents as irrelevant, pesky children.  I’d been hoping the Tea Party wouldn’t morph into just a useful tool of Republican Party insiders.

Then I remembered something, and then I discovered something.

1)  I remembered that this wasn’t necessarily Tea Partiers per se, but just the “Tea Party Patriots,” the astroturf group funded by Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks with the aim of steering the untamed energy of this group of rebels into a pro-corporate and pro-Republican Party direction.

2) And then I came across an article (which we’ll look at below) that made sense of the Tea Party Patriots / Capo School Board connection:  In short, the Tea Party Patriots group wants to abolish public education – and obviously they see the current trustees of the Capo Board as embarked on that mission.  As do I.

First, a note to honest independent free-thinking Tea Partiers:

Don’t let Dick Armey’s group tell you what to think or how to vote.

Take a look at John Alpay, Gary Pritchard, Lynn Hatton, Martha McNicholas and Saam Alikhani.  These are teachers, parents and students, not the career politicians and trial lawyers Dick Armey wants you to get behind.  These are the folks you should want running your schools, people like you who will listen to you.

And look at Measure H. It is all about local control and expanded democracy, and making office available to folks who aren’t rich and won’t have to court the special interests.  Under Measure H, YOU could win a seat on the Board.

Okay, here’s what the Tea Party Patriots are trying to do in your name.

The Tea Party “leadership” wants to abolish public schools.

David Harmer is the Tea Party Patriots’ favorite California candidate, running against Jerry McNerney up north, and doing pretty well in the polls.  We’ve just unearthed a column he wrote ten years ago, in which he advocates abolishing public schools.  Are we exaggerating, putting words into his mouth?  No.  The title of the column is “Let’s Abolish the Public Schools.” Here’s an excerpt:

To attain quantum leaps in educational quality and opportunity, however, we need to separate school and state entirely. Government should exit the business of running and funding schools. This is no utopian ideal; it’s the way things worked through the first century of American nationhood, when literacy levels among all classes, at least outside the South, matched or exceeded those prevailing now, and when public discourse and even tabloid content was pitched at what today would be considered a college-level audience….

More fundamentally, we should reconsider where ultimate responsibility for schooling anyone’s children resides. Having fathered my children, I am responsible for their welfare. Providing for their education is my duty, not anyone else’s.

First of all, he’s completely wrong about his history, as the Mother Jones article shows at length.  In those “halcyon days” he harks back to (there’s always some imagined idealized past with these folks) the vast majority of Americans could not get an education at all.  The public education system is one of America’s and California’s crown jewels, the only way many kids who are not born rich can work hard and pull themselves up in the world.

But still, you may agree with Harmer, I’m not going to argue too much.  Others already have.  I just want to say that it points to why his patrons in the Tea Party Patriots would take note of this one school district in southern Orange County and come out in favor of the incumbent so-called “reform board” :  The Board is working overtime to dismantle public schools, just like many of us have always said they were.  And that’s the one thing they’re doing well at.  Think long and hard before supporting THAT.

And I want to ask Tea Partiers one thing:

What Would Jefferson Do?

I’ve been to Tea Parties, and the one picture you see more than anyone’s, the one guy you hear referenced more than anyone, is our third President, author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson.

My impression is that these folks who quote him at Tea Parties have read or understood very little about him.  They know that he penned lots of catchy macho quotes about perpetual revolutions, about eternal vigilance, about watering the Tree of Liberty with the blood of patriots and tyrants, and that gives them a hard-on.  (I’m sorry, I’m trying to be polite, it’s just that I feel very close to Jefferson myself and I hate to see him abused.)

What you all should bear in mind was that Thomas Jefferson was the Father of American Public Education.  The one and only thing he wanted on his tombstone?  No, not author of the Declaration of Independence, the Virginia Constitution, and a million other things.  Not the longtime Virigina governor, third President, and de-facto President for 24 years.  Not the President who (unconstitutionally but wisely) doubled our territory with the Louisiana Purchase.  Not the architect of Monticello, inventor, librarian, or vintner of fine wines.

All Jefferson wanted on his tombstone was a reminder that he had created the University of Virginia and kept it tuition-free – publicly funded and available to any Virginian, of whatever means.

So, what would Jefferson do?  I believe he would water the tree of Public Education with the blood of a few trustees and their puppetmasters.  (Metaphorically of course.)

Vote yes on recalling tories Maddox and Winsten!

Vote for the revolutionary Capo Children First slate!

And vote yes on Measure H – for more Jeffersonian Democracy!

About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at, or 714-235-VERN.