DALLAS --Local political figures, financed by a billionaire hedge fund manager from Houston, are implementing a program that would privatize the entire Dallas Independent School District. If they succeed, no school district is safe. One of the longest and strongest labor/community coalitions in recent history is forming to oppose them. Several organizations, including the Dallas AFL-CIO, have passed resolutions in opposition. The labor resolution can be seen at http://tx.aflcio.org/dallasclc/:
" WHEREAS, Houston billionaire John Arnold is a former Enron trader, and hedge-fund manager who retired at the age of 38 then financed a nationwide attack on the retirement funds of public employees, including teachers and firefighters;
WHEREAS, a "home rule charter district" in DISD would be a Trojan horse allowing John Arnold and his allies, in the name of local control, to kill state class-size limits for most K-4 classrooms, eliminate teachers' professional contracts, wipe out parents' and students' and teachers' rights to due process in student-discipline matters, nullify the entire parental-rights chapter in the Education Code, and eliminate the elected board of trustees completely;
WHEREAS, a "home rule" district would actually be the opposite of local control, transferring power from the parents and citizens of DISD -- especially for predominantly minority and economically disadvantaged neighborhoods -- to special interests elites and privateers likely to double-down on top-down policies hurting our community like the recent controversial layoffs of school personnel and closing of schools;
WHEREAS, the "home rule" initiative is part of a national campaign by self-styled "education reformers" like John Arnold that is ultimately about profits, not about kids, employing a clear strategy to underfund our public schools, declare them a failure, contract out those schools to private operators, disenfranchise parents and community stakeholders, and deprofessionalize teaching.
WHEREAS, the Dallas Central Labor Council has a duty to support public education, and help our members and the community see through the false rhetoric of "home rule" and "local control" that masks the real agenda of the privatization movement;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Dallas Central Labor Council stands in opposition to the "home rule" proposal, rejects its underlying agenda of privatizing public schools, and will fight to defeat it."
Only since the national AFL-CIO convention last September has the Dallas AFL-CIO worked so hard to build strong coalitions, but their work is already paying off. The American Federation of Teachers affiliate plays the leading role in "Our Community, Our Schools." Major spokespersons come from the NAACP and several Spanish speaking groups. The coalition has already sponsored big public actions and has more planned.
A similar coalition with similar aims has formed against the American Legislative Exchange Council. Jobs with Justice and the Dallas AFL-CIO are the central organizers. One of the infamous ALEC's main claims to notoriety is their effort to privatize schools; consequently the two coalitions overlap considerably. ALEC plans their national convention in Dallas July 30-August 1, and protest plans are the main focus of the anti-ALEC coalition.