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: â€œRemember when I said Iâ€™d kill you lastâ€¦ I lied!â€Â Â 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 Schwarzeneggerâ€™s plans for education in California in my August 16 article, The Shock Doctrine hits Public Education. On August 20, Governor Schwarzenegger called on Californiaâ€™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 â€œRace to the Top.â€ A smiling governor flanked by jubilant education advisors said, â€œI 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.â€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 the governorâ€™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.Â PRIâ€™s lead education researcher is Lance Izumi, a staunch pro-voucher advocate and Lanich collaborator, who also happens to be the governorâ€™s appointee as president of the board of governors for the California community college system, the largest public college system in the nation.
Izumi, with generous support from the PRI, has just produced a â€œdocumentaryâ€ titled â€œNot as Good as You Think,â€Â about how middle class public schools are ripping off good tax-paying parents because these schools are beholden to â€œspecial interestsâ€ 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 â€œmulticulturalists and liberals need not apply atâ€ the school. He has also asserted that his (poor) students do not need any free lunches â€œbecause they are already obese.â€
One wonders if Mr. Duncan knows the extent of PRI influence in Californiaâ€™s education infrastructure because folks like these will control how the billions of K-12 and community college funds are allocated. But if that werenâ€™t bad enough, the PRI is actively undermining President Obamaâ€™s domestic agenda from health care, to climate change initiatives, to immigration reform.
The president of PRI is Sally Pipes, a health care â€œexpertâ€ who frequently appears on Fox news to amplify the rightâ€™s â€˜Health Reform Will Kill Youâ€™ narrative.Â Moreover in 2007, the PRI produced a â€œdocumentaryâ€ response to Al Goreâ€™s Academy Award winning â€œInconvenient Truth.â€Â PRIâ€™s shameless â€œAn Inconvenient Truth or Convenient Fictionâ€ 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 PRIâ€™s primary funders who represent a murderersâ€™ row of corporate bad citizens: Exxon Mobil, Atira (Philip Morris), Pfizer, PhRMA, and Chevron.
But if President Obamaâ€™s Education Secretary continues to blindly tout governors like Californiaâ€™s who has positioned right wing, government hating wing-nuts to control federal purse strings, it will truly be â€œHasta la vista, babyâ€ for the rest of us and our children.Â There is little doubt that if the PRI and their minions have their way their next move will be to help answer Obamaâ€™s call for national education content standards. Can you imagine little Johnny or Suzy reading â€œGlobal Warming Greek Mythsâ€ or â€œThe Taking Tree?”
If it comes to that I would much rather have class with the Predator.