Emeryville is trendy. It seems like with every emerging bad public policy trend, Emeryville is right there at the front of the pack...or at least right behind the trend setters in the Bay Area. With its 'cut, shut and charter' mindset and its virtual war on teachers, the Emery Unified School District is acting the foot soldier in the right wing privatization play for America's public schools. The Yes Magazine article below tells the sad tale of what's happening nationally, while here in Emeryville the School Board is also playing its part.
As you read the Yes story, remember how the School District here has shut down the Ralph Hawley Middle School and now is ready to shut down Anna Yates Elementary School. Both these school campuses could sit idle or underutilized and will be subject to take over by private charter school concerns because the law says that any underutilized surplus school district property is subject to any private charter school moving in by State sanctioned seizure. There's no way Emery could stop this eventuality even if the District were of a mind to stop it.
With the EBI private school already in place on San Pablo Avenue right across from the future Center of 'Community' Life and its Kindergarten through 12th grade school, combined with the former school sites as possible sites for charter schools, Emery is primed for ongoing existential threat. Charter schools and private schools thrive by only accepting the best and the brightest students, culled from the local public schools leaving them with what's left; driving down test scores and further feeding the loop for public school abandonment and disinvestment.
Adding to this culture of stoking privatization forces, the Emery School Board has entered into a program of wholesale teacher marginalization after the Board last year very publicly abandoned the teachers in favor of former Superintendent Debbra Lindo in the infamous Teachers Resolution dust up. The School Board willingly destroyed their relationship with the teachers in order to support the now fired Debbra Lindo. What's left besides teachers feeling used, abused and unsupported is a further cheapening and erosion of public good will towards teachers. Our School Board told us in a clear and unified voice that teachers are not worth listening to.
Insofar as the Emery School Board recalcitrance in the Lindo case has added to the chorus of right wing voices about teacher incompetence and irrelevance nation-wide and as far as the Emery School District's part in the right-wing's anti-public school, anti-teacher paradigm has seeped into the collective mind-set of the citizenry here in Emeryville with its anti-democratic school closures, we cry foul. Regardless of what's happening nation-wide, we want our public schools valued and our teachers supported. They're part of the commons and we're protecting the commons from attack, be it from the City Hall/business nexus or from the School Board/cut, shut and charter nexus. We want the Emery Unified School District to start acting more old fashioned and stop being so trendy.
Here's the Yes Magazine story: