Saturday, October 27, 2012

Buying a school?

For context, it is important to read this well written article by Rachel Stern on The Patch.  In it, she details how an outside PAC has been formed to fund a smear campaign against SCCBOE Trustee Anna Song.

Quite a number of people have reached out to me over the past several weeks, and I've been pulling together the information I felt I needed to post an article about the situation.  The biggest missing link for me was the source of the funding for the PAC that has run this campaign.  One person I spoke with made no less than 5 trips to the SCC Registrar of Voters office, seeking the forms that detail the PAC's funding.  It isn't clear yet whether they've finally filed those documents or if the Patch uncovered the funding through other sources, but none the less, there are a couple of key issues:

1)  We can't let it become political suicide to stand up to bullies.
Anna Song had the courage to speak up when she felt that a charter school wasn't fulfilling the objectives that charter schools are supposed to share- meeting the needs of under-served students. 

2)  The influence of "outside money" is very troubling. 
The information I've gathered is that this PAC is spending 3-5x above what is normal for a county school board race.  One source has pointed out that not a single funder to the Anti-Anna PAC has any connection to the area she serves.  This is starting to feel like a pattern with the charter school movement- the same people who deride traditional schools for the money we spend on teachers are now throwing huge sums at PAC's in an attempt to buy elected seats.  The reality is that in most communities, you'd be hard pressed to find a lot of folks who even know who their Country Trustee actually is.  (Think I'm wrong?  Pop quiz:  Who's on the El Camino Hospital Board?  The Water District Board?  The Air Quality Board?)  This particular attack may be effective for just that reason- because people don't know who their representative is, they're more likely to be influenced by attack ads that distort the facts.  That's what I mean when I say it's possible to "buy an elected position"- if you can outspend your opponent because a special interest group is funding the campaign, is that really what democratic representation is supposed to be about?

I don't have the solutions to all of these problems.  I do think it's important that we let the charter school folks know that people who attend traditional schools are not doormats.  We care about education too, but have made a choice to address it in a different way. 

Fortunately the article in the Patch delivers the facts in a clear way that everyone should be able to appreciate.  The next step would be to help out Anna.  If you are interested in contributing to her campaign, you can do so by sending her a check at her campaign offices:

Friends of Anna Song for County Board of Education, 2012
1000 Kiely Bl. #46,
Santa Clara, CA 95051
FPPC# 1241672

If you prefer electronic donation, here's the link

The thoughts I have expressed here are my own.   However, in an abundance of caution, I'm also including Anna's FPPC information in case someone decides to interpret this posting as a political advertisement, which it is not. 

I wish Anna well in her race.  I believe she has served the community well, and hope that she continues to be able to do so.