The parent trigger law originated in Los Angeles. The heaviest hitters in the quest to dismantle public education funded it from its inception: Broad, Gates and Walton. The law allows parents of children in public schools to turn the institution over to private (charter) management with a 51% vote. There is no provision in any parent trigger law allowing parents of charter students to vote to turn the institution over to public operation.
After its success in southern California, the American Legislative Exchange Council picked up on it and sought to bring parent trigger laws to other states. They have been successful in getting some incarnation of the law passed in seven of them.
With the sponsorship of the likes of Broad, Gates, Walton, ALEC and DFER, it is obvious that parent trigger laws are merely a new vehicle by which megabillionaires can ransack the public school systems of the United States for private profit. One would have to be blind, deaf and dumb not to see it this way.
This ransacking of public institutions is the cornerstone of Neoliberalism, a political and economic ideology that has defined the United States for the past 35 years. Its godfather is the late economist Milton Friedman. Its international adherents include third world despots like Augusto Pinochet. Its ideological foundations are underpinned by such third-rate minds as Ayn Rand and her concubine, Alan Greenspan.
It is a naked worship of the rich and powerful. It is the belief that the rich and powerful should control every aspect of our lives.
Unfortunately, the United States has a pesky written Constitution and a Bill of Rights that still guarantee some semblance of popular sovereignty. Unlike Pinochet, the Neoliberals in America cannot merely ram their policies down our throats with tanks.
This is why the parent trigger law is such a grand idea for the Neoliberals. It comports nicely with the trappings of popular democracy by having parents vote. It gives parents a once-in-a-lifetime vote that they can never reverse and turns their children’s schools into institutions over which they will have no say ever again.
It is a maniacal, Machiavellian device. Anyone with a basic familiarity with education policy and recent American history can see it for exactly that.
The good thing is, we live in the United States, where neither history nor education policy exist in the minds of most people.
Enter the upcoming movie Won’t Back Down. The two men behind the movie, Rupert Murdoch of 20th Century Fox and Philip Anschutz of Walden Media, are two of the most retrograde forces in the United States today. Murdoch, of course, has given us such culturally elevating fare as Fox News and the New York Post, not to mention criminal wiretapping. Philip Anschutz is an oil man who funds every anti-gay group in the country, wants evolution to be taught in schools and funds Scott Walker of Wisconsin. He was the man behind the film Waiting for Superman.
Waiting for Superman was billed as the brainchild of Davis Guggenheim. Guggenheim had earned his liberal stripes by producing the movie An Inconvenient Truth. As we know, it featured one of the liberal heroes of our age, Al Gore, lecturing about one of the biggest liberal causes of our age, global warming. When Guggenheim released Waiting for Superman, it was merely assumed by most that its pro-charter, anti-union message was the liberal take on education.
Maybe it was the liberal take on education. But what it really was at its core was the Neoliberal take. Guggenheim might not be a Neoliberal, but Philip Anschutz certainly is. Guggenheim merely delivered a partially staged, over emotional, under intellectual “documentary” case for the Neoliberal idea that anything public is bad and anything run by billionaires is good. It is a funny thing, since it is those billionaire oilmen like Anschutz most responsible for the degradation of our biosphere against which An Inconvenient Truth so passionately inveighed.
Anschutz knows that showing his face publicly to advocate for Neoliberal policies would doom his cause. The public would see him for the utterly deformed character he is. His very presence is a public relations nightmare for Neoliberalism.
This is why Won’t Back Down is his latest way of pushing the Neoliberal agenda. In the place of his emotionally hunchback presence is a cast of beautiful young actors. They have played out a Hollywood script on the big screen that will no doubt evoke visceral support for parent trigger laws. The parents in the movie surely will want the best education for their children. The teacher unions will surely be more interested in protecting their incompetents than teaching. The unions are so entrenched and insidious that nothing but the indomitable will of a few plucky parents can get them to bow. Surely there will be some billionaire hero in the movie somewhere, some enlightened scion of the upper classes willing to provide the type of great school that the children of these plucky parents deserve. In the end, the parents get their great school and the closing credits will probably run to the inspiring tune of Tom Petty’s rendition of Won’t Back Down.
Applause throughout the theater. Applause and tears. Once again, those teachers and their unions are holding us back. They are just so evil and powerful. The billionaires are our saviors. Right under everyone’s radar goes the obvious immense power and influence of billionaires in our country. Never once will that click to anyone. The billionaires will save the day.
The Neoliberal message of billionaire worship will shine through. Ayn Randian lickspittles are going to made out of, what, a million, two million, five million movie-goers. Instead of rolling the people with armored tanks like they did under Pinochet, the Neolibs in the U.S. are rolling us with armored propaganda. It is the American way.
And tonight in Los Angeles is the start of this process with the so-called Teachers Rock event. It is billed as an event in support of teachers. It is being held in perhaps the biggest hotbed of liberal tolerance outside of Frisco: Hollywood. It will feature some of the most powerful liberal do-gooders in the nation: Hollywood actors. It is going to benefit some really do-goody sounding charities like Donorschoose and Teach For America. The beautiful people will be out in force tonight in support of, what, teachers? It is the promotional event of Won’t Back Down, the “movie”.
And behind the beautiful velveteen curtain, behind the million-dollar Hollywood smiles is the deformed, retrograde, hunchback figure of Philip Anschutz. Anschutz the gay hater, ape denier and environment killer. He is using Meryl Streep and Morgan Freeman like he used the cast in Won’t Back Down, like he used Davis Guggenheim. He is using the liberals to cloak the Neoliberalism that is his not-so-secret dream.
And of course it is Rupert Murdoch too. Murdoch the wire-tapper, monopolist and propagandist. And it is the Waltons, the union-busters, small business killers and labor exploiters.
America thinks they are getting the beautiful people of Hollywood. Rather, they are getting that other stratosphere well out of reach of Hollywood, the hunchback, shadowy, Neoliberals of the megabillionaire class. America tonight is not getting the 1%. They are getting the .1%, and they will applaud their own undoing until the very end.