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Why won't LAUSD's Luis Sanchez discuss Echo Parque's CRES #14?

by Robert D. Skeels Saturday, Mar. 05, 2011 at 8:53 PM 90026

Looking at why the corporate charter candidate of choice for LAUSD District 5 Board seat is loathe to speak to prospective constituents about a new school in danger of being handed over to private operator CNCA.

"Public Charter" is an oxymoron. — Steve Neat

Echo Park Patch's Muffy Marracco does an excellent job in outlining LAUSD District 5 board hopefuls (with the notable absence of write-in candidate Scott Folsom) in Meet the Candidates for the School Board. In addition to writing biographical and campaign information, Marracco asks each candidate their views on the hottest topic in Echo Parque/Historic Filipinotown right now — should CRES #14 become a community run public school, or be handed over to a privately run charter school corporation. Two things stand out about Luis Sanchez in the article. First, is Sanchez's staggering six figure campaign war chest which dwarfs that of all the other candidates combined. The second is Sanchez's evasive answer to the CRES #14 question. The following are my edited comments on the piece that puts both those issues into context.

Here's a few more fun facts on Luis Sanchez. Sanchez's campaign has been funded by some of the most reactionary right-wing forces in Los Angeles through Mayor Villaraigosa's Coalition for School Reform — a slush fund to elect privatization friendly school board candidates. Among the plutocrats funding Sanchez is the notorious billionaire Philip Anschutz. Anshutz's fortune also funds some of the most vile fringe-right organizations in existence, including Heritage, Hoover, AEI, Cato, and others. I doubt many LAUSD District 5 voters are aware of Sanchez's nefarious backers. To learn more, please see:

On Anschutz, Villaraigosa, LAUSD Privatization Candidates, and Riding Dinosaurs

Of course, loathsome, ideologically-charged billionaires aren't the only ones stuffing Luis Sanchez's coffers with high hopes of a generous return on investment. Indeed, Sanchez is a darling of the lucrative Los Angeles charter-voucher school industry. Aware that Sanchez will continue to grant no-questions-asked charter approvals, and not only supports the PSC school privatization motion, but supports future versions of it without the marginally democratic advisory vote, the charters are all in. His well heeled colleagues running Charter Management Organizations (CMOs) haven't been able to grow their market share quickly enough with the PSC process as it is right now. They want the messy democratic parts of PSC to go, and went as far as to have pro-NCLB hack Maria Casillas' right wing Families in Schools 501C3 write a report recommending that community and parent votes no longer be part of PSC.

Ultimately, everything that needs to be said about Sanchez's candidacy is right here appears in the March 1, 2011 piece Race for open school board seat shaping up as a surprise in the LA Times:

"Luis Sanchez...worked the room at a posh Beverly Hills condo...The nearly 50 guests drank Au Bon Climat chardonnay and Piper Sonoma sparkling wine as Sanchez's backers, including school board President Monica Garcia and charter school leaders, lauded him..." [1]

That's a man we can all identify with, right? After all, everyone in our communities sips expensive wine in Beverly Hills with the affluent charter school jet set, no? Such exclusivity and elitism is all about the kids correct? Those self-same wealthy charter school executives claim theirs is a kids centered agenda, with no adult interests to speak of.

Have to love how Sanchez dodges the CRES #14 question altogether. Perhaps it's because his boss, Monica Garcia, and the Gates Foundation employee — Yolie Flores Aguliar, whose seat he's running for, are both very close friends with Camino Nuevo Charter Academy's CEO Ana Ponce. Because Sanchez is far more concerned with what the California Charter Schools Association views are on the disposition of CRES #14, than the community's desires, it's no wonder his mealy mouthed answer is so noncommittal.

Sanchez and his wife, Maria Brenes, used their 501C3 Inner City Struggle (ICS) to help Yolie Flores threaten the Garfield High School (GHS) community for over a year. Providing political cover and material support for Flores' PSC and Ben Austin's LAPU/PR, ICS kept the Garfield community in turmoil with constant fear of a hostile take over. Ironically, in the end, none of the CMOs bid on GHS in the PSC round because they realized it would impact their bottom lines. Sadly the GHS community's own school improvement progress was held back by Sanchez, Brenes, and Flores' power politics on behalf of their charter backers.

At the time the high-handed Flores dismissed the will of the GHS community, and even went as far to say that she knew what was best for them. Some of this is documented in Garfield HS Parents, Students, and Community Confront LAUSD VP Flores-Aguilar.

It doesn't take much to realize that Sanchez, whose backers and politics are identical to Flores, will treat our community with the same arrogant disdain.

I recommend everyone in LAUSD District 5 vote accordingly, sign the petition to save CRES #14, and contact their school board members to inform them that we as a community want our wishes and votes respected. We want the LD4 & Echo Park Community Design Team Partners plan for our school!

[1] Emphasis, mine.

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