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Yellow Journalist Jim Newton Hails a Dubious Civil Rights Hero

by Robert D. Skeels Monday, Apr. 25, 2011 at 2:19 AM
rdsathene@sbcglobal.net 90026

In the Los Angeles Times' Jim Newton's topsy-turvy world view, oppressed and impoverished people of color just need to look to wealthy white male saviors from Beverly Hills to solve all their problems — Rudyard Kipling would have been proud.

"Soviet style elections" — Ben Austin in response to parents and communities choosing community school plans over corporate charters.

The foppish millionaire from Benedict Canyon, school privatization pusher and poverty pimp Ben Austin Jim Newton, chief crusader of the notorious school privatization propaganda publication known as the Los Angeles Times, recently penned a piece that reaches far beyond absurdity, it borders on irrational and inane. In Newton's topsy-turvy world view, oppressed and impoverished people of color just need to look to wealthy white male saviors from Beverly Hills to solve all their problems — Rudyard Kipling would have been proud. He sets up his ludicrous Op-Ed with a false dichotomy of parents versus school districts, in which the former "demand a decent education," and the latter "blithely ignores them." A phantasmagorical tale at best, told by someone who lets, to use a phrase coined by the illustrious Dr. Diane Ravitch, "ideology trump evidence." No mention in Newton's amateurish essay about the intentional chronic underfunding of public schools, the deliberate demoralization of public schools imposed by the impossible goals set forth in the reactionary NCLB, or the crushing effects of poverty on students discussed by education experts like Dr. Stephen Krashen.

In Newton's reactionary right-wing account, Compton Unified School District (CUSD) Board Members are the "rogues," not billionaires who don't pay taxes, politicians that spend all our money on wars and occupations, or corporations that sent inner city jobs to remote corners of the world years ago. Newton's utter detachment from reality is even more apparent when he calls McKinley Elementary School "a tragically underperforming school." Like his abominable underlings Jason Feltch and Jason Song, Newton feels no need to research or fact check his bombastic assertions. Had he done so, would have learned McKinley's APIs have been rising steadily over the years. Tracy Douglas has pointed out "There are 7 Green Dot charter schools that scored well below McKinley." Respected journalist Caroline Grannan found the "Spring 2010 API for McKinley Elementary in Compton, CA: 684; Spring 2010 average API for all Green Dot charter schools in California: 657." Apparently in Newton's Randian world view only public schools "tragically" underperform, underperforming charter schools, no matter how awful, aren't discussed in the pejorative, especially they're the former employer of the person he's lionizing in his Op-Ed.

I was compelled to write him a letter, expressing my discontent with his dishonest screed.

Mr. Newton:

You cast an all African American CUSD Board as "civil rights villains" and then speak of the wealthy white Ben Austin, and his right wing charter school trade association as heroes for hoodwinking parents into handing a community school over to the vile Vielka McFarlane? The same McFarlane who dismissed institutional racism by declaring children of color merely need to "dress for success..." rather than "focus on how the history of the country has been checkered."

Austin a civil rights hero? With no background in education, he was recruited via a six figure salary to represent CCSA interests and increase charter school market share. While he poses as a disgruntled parent and champion of people of color, he has no school age kids and according to The Times Austin's neighborhood [Benedict Canyon] is 87.5% WHITE with a median household income of $169,282. Austin's house cost $1,210,000. He holds public events with The Heartland Institute [1]. That's a civil rights hero Compton parents and the rest of us can all identify with!

Talk about taking Newspeak to a new level. We've come to expect this non-stop charter cheerleading from the Times. Newton and Stanton come off as Jed Wallace's personal public relations firm. Your defense of the Walton, Broad, and Gates funded Austin and his corporate trigger law is deplorable. Is a glowing tribute to the late Generalissimo Franco next?

Advocating Public Education and Social Justice

Robert D. Skeels

[1] For those that don't know, The Heartland Institute is essentially the John Birch Society with a budget. See also: Teabaggers, Fascists, Bigots, and Reactionaries.

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