This past week saw the death of sitting LAUSD board member Marguerite LaMotte.  She was an icon of her predominantly black, South-Central district of nearly 2/3 of a million people.  She was partisan and plain-spoken and politically astute.  She was explicit about her unease with charter school proliferation in the district generally, and the “Reform” policies championing these interests, as led here in LA by superintendent John Deasy, in particular.

Ms LaMotte was the sole dissenter in the board’s recent decision to renew superintendent Deasy’s contract.  And she couldn’t have been clearer in her disgust for the politics of disruption as inflicted by Ben Austin, Parent Revolution, the parent trigger, the Parent Union, Steve Barr, Green Dot and even the much-bally-hooed LA Fund.  The “churn” of neoliberal reform hurts first and foremost, “her” babies, belying any vestige whatsoever of real concern for “the children” so regularly referenced by this crocodilian force.

To replace Ms LaMotte would mean explicitly selecting a representative similarly skeptical of the forces of Education Privatization as led by John Deasy’s band of privateers.

It is not, therefore, in the least bit surprising to learn that precisely those forces against which she stood so stalwartly, are arraying waves of assault upon our district, attacking from every conceivable angle in order to usurp her iconic role.

Some district parents were invited to a private event at which a prominent member of this circle shared “information” about replacing Ms LaMotte.  Ironically, any replacement acceptable to this clique would be utterly antithetical to Ms LaMotte’s strong opposition to their brand of morality.  I can think of no surer way to dishonor that strong ladies’ devotion to her district, than by facilitating cooption of her seat by any “Ed Reformer”.

Because make no mistake about it, this is the existential education crisis of the moment.  John Deasy routed board opposition to his policies by leveraging a staffers’ loose lips last month into his own personal and political ascendency.  This segues “1:1” into flagrant disregard last week of the people’s Bond Oversight Committee (BOC), tasked with safeguarding our public monies from private, partisan diversion.  Over the objections of some committee members for any approval whatsoever, the BOC limited the many vagaries, excesses, oversights and incompetence of John Deasy’s inside-maneuvered ipad buying-extravaganza, to a mere fraction of his astonishing $135m phase II ‘ask’.  Instead the BOC approved just $45m of our voter-financed monies, those monies that were voted into existence for the explicit purpose of reversing the injury of decrepit facilities.

Emboldened by the political tour de force that spared him from public accountability for his (at best) tyrannical job performance, John Deasy has defied the leadership of one of this city’s premier citizens and requested of the board directly what was denied him by the BOC.  On this weeks’ cancelled board agenda was consideration of nearly precisely the same request that was rejected already.  If daddy says “no”, no matter – just go ask mommy.  She’s nicer anyway.  With breathtaking irresponsibility and disrespect, John Deasy anticipated bypassing the voter’s express designation of their hard-earned tax appropriations and just coercing $115m from our elected board representatives directly.

When even that august body of hardly-reactionary bean-counters known familiarly as our BOC calls attention to irregularities in the work of Deasy’s staff, it is clear that recent political gains notwithstanding, there are cracks in John Deasy’s standing. To sustain Deasy’s stratagem of corporatized Education Reform it is therefore paramount for him to replenish the board of education with more of his cronies.

And to the rest of us, it is therefore all the more critical that Ms LaMotte’s successor provide a truly consistent political continuum with recent electoral mandates.  Whether the means most likely to honor the spirit of Ms LaMotte lies through an election or appointment is hard to anticipate.  But surely the millions extracted for an electoral ordination would be better devoted to raising the prospects of Marguerite’s “babies”.  I prefer thoughtful, fair-minded consensus among the LAUSD1 leadership over reams and months’ worth of glossy, focus-grouped, agitprop stuffing our mailboxes.  And invest what we save toward fixing the playing fields, and reopening the libraries and hiring more teachers and tutors for title I kids instead.