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Schwarzenegger Sets Trap for Obama's "Race to the Top" Education Initiative


In the 1985 action film, Commando, Arnold Schwarzenegger plays John Matrix, a commando who uses a little humor when taking revenge on the bad guys, "Remember when I said I'd kill you last... I lied!" Though this is a forgettable little line, President Obama should pay attention to it because he is about to be played by someone who really believes he is an action hero.

I first wrote about Arnold Schwarzenegger's plans for education in California in my August 16, 2009 article "The Shock Doctrine hits Public Education". On August 20, Governor Schwarzenegger called on California's legislators to adopt sweeping education reforms that would dramatically reshape the beleaguered public education system and qualify the state for billions of one time monies which President Obama, has dubbed "Race to the Top." A smiling governor, flanked by jubilant education advisors said, "I want to congratulate President Obama for standing up for education reform. I absolutely agree with the four basic education principles he outlined today, including the need for data systems that allow us to measure student and teacher success by the results they achieve."

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in a separate interview praised Schwarzenegger's moves as "courageous" and said they could transform the state into a national model for reform.

"This is a very significant step that absolutely has national implications," Duncan said. "The eyes of the country are going to be on California."

Perhaps Mr. Duncan should focus his eyes instead on the governor and his education team because one of Schwarzenegger's leading point men is Jim Lanich, the former executive director of the California Business for Education Excellence (CBEE). CBEE is closely affiliated with the far right wing Pacific Research Institute (PRI) and lists PRI on its website as a partner. PRI's lead education researcher is Lance Izumi, a staunch pro-voucher advocate and Lanich collaborator, who also happens to be the governor's appointee as president of the board of governors for California community college system, the largest public college system in the nation.

Izumi, with generous support from the PRI, has just produced a "documentary" titled, Not as Good as You Think, which is about how middle class public schools are ripping good tax-paying parents off because these schools are beholden to "special interests" i.e. the teachers and overpaid administrators.

Dr. Izumi launched the documentary at the Heritage Foundation in Washington and is currently on a national tour with a featured figure in the film, Mr. Jorge Lopez, who was recently appointed by the governor to the state board of education. Mr. Lopez runs a charter school in Oakland and stated in a posting for teachers that "multiculturalists and liberals need not apply at" the school. He has also asserted that his (poor) students do not need any free lunches "because they are already obese."

One wonders if Mr. Duncan knows the extent of PRI influence in California's education infrastructure because folks like these will control how the billions of k-2 and community college funds are allocated. But if that weren't bad enough, the PRI is actively undermining President Obama's domestic agenda from health care, to climate change initiatives, to immigration reform.

The president of PRI is Sally Pipes, a frequent health care "expert" on Fox news who loves to amplify the right's 'Health Reform Will Kill You' narrative. Moreover in 2007, the PRI produced a "documentary" response to Al Gore's Academy Award winning "Inconvenient Truth." PRI's shameless "An Inconvenient Truth or Convenient Fiction" attempts to show that global warming is not man made and that the environmentalists are scaring us so the socialist bureaucrats can take control.

These anti-government, laissez faire, pro-mega business positions should not be surprising given PRI's primary funders who represent a murderers' row of corporate bad citizens: Exxon Mobile, Atira (Philip Morris), Pfhizer, PhRMA, and Chevron.

But if President Obama's Education Secretary continues to blindly tout governors like California's who has positioned right wing, government hating wing-nuts to control federal purse strings, it will truly be "Hasta la vista, baby" for the rest of us and our children. There is little doubt if the PRI and their minions have their way; their next move will be to help answer Obama's call for national education content standards. Can you imagine little Johnny or Suzy reading "Global Warming Greek Myths" or "The Taking Tree"?

If it comes to that I would much rather have class with the Predator.

Cross-posted from The Liberal OC

Chris Prevatt is Publisher/Senior Editor of TheLiberalOC.com, a Liberal/Progressive political blog based in Orange County, California.