Columnist Steve Lopez of the LATimes suggests that what most ails kids in public education is all the grown-up fighting going on at Beaudry, that all this turmoil is just so much politics.

From the editorials of the LATimes streams an unwavering image of three giants exclusively bludgeoning one another, bashing clubs fanatically and inflicting collateral damage upon the turf that is the schoolchildren at their feet.

The scenario depicted unswervingly in piece after piece is a tripartite dustup with a recalcitrant teacher’s union hulking in one corner, a virile but virtuous Superintendent pervading another and a stinky old school board clodhoppering up the last.

But the reality is in no way so stylized or simplistic. All this scapegoating and fronting of straw men makes for a lot of swinging at empty air, missing the point entirely.

Children are not collateral damage in a fight amongst giants. These behemoths exist for no other purpose than to serve those children: that is their job description. And underlying all the mythology is an unadorned story about simple competence and responsibility.

Instead in some weird meta-mythological sense, the story woven by the Times considers these service workers transformed into monstrous gladiators without ever considering what puppeteers must be controlling the phantasmagoria from a parallel universe.

My family has attended public schools for five years now and while I cannot claim personal knowledge beyond our limited sphere of many dozens of teachers and local administrators, among these there were exactly none interested in exploiting children’s educational needs as a means to private monetary enrichment. As with any endeavor it is possible to informally rank preference relatively, but whether an individual’s connection with a teacher translates faithfully to some objective scale of excellence, particularly when the components of “excellence” – within both teacher and learner – are themselves entirely ambiguous, is dubious.

The straw man of a bloated, self-serving, educationally inept teacher controlled by allegiance to party over profession, is dangerously misleading. To the extent that teachers are engaged to instruct our children as their livelihood, it is in everyone’s best interest that these teachers earn a lively compensation. If not, the diversion will distract them from our precious little ones and their brief, insatiable need. If not, then their diminishment will inhibit true giants from developing.

And critically, to the extent that there are present teachers of inferior quality, the diversion of hunting beneath rocks for avaricious ones distracts from the real, institutional mission. Teachers’ supervisors need the mandate and resources to manage their charges, thereby uncovering pedagogical (or moral!) laggards.

But rather than reasoned assessment from an empowered, mutually sanctioned hierarchy, there is instead an atmosphere of institutional bullying toward teachers within the schools that I know. Like a ghetto where neighbors can proclaim a high-stakes denouncement merely on a whim, the teachers of my acquaintance in the climate of today’s schools spend far too much time looking over their shoulder in fear, at the expense of looking over my child’s in aide. The atmosphere of fear is stultifying and cannot possibly be good for children’s learning.

So when the Times rhapsodizes about the district’s own appointed superintendent abetting the instruments of some of this abuse, the logical train of praise is hard to follow.   The LATimes writes its conclusions first and lets the data fall where it may. After recounting incompetence and insubordination and failure to achieve prerequisite goals, with unsupported logic the obvious conclusion for the sake of our children’s educational integrity would be to sever association with the offending party, our superintendent. But instead the Times origami’s its own evidence into a call to retain his failureness.

And so the question arises as to whose breath of life is really puffing up this figure head of a leader? Again there is a leviathan roused larger than life and illogically supported as a distracting straw man that serves to divert our attention from the true puppeteer controlling the drama. Eli Broad educated this superintendent aberrantly and without accreditation, to believe that disruption is a virtue and disarray is progress. But to the contrary, this ideology is a poison pill in the system, dismantling the institution without regard to its inherent vitality past, present or future. And this destructive force derives its power not from Deasy’s own actions, not from his people or staff, nor even through the approval of his own supervisory Board of Education. The engine of this superintendent’s support comes from the coffers of the private plutocrats (Broad, Gates) who trained, championed, employed and pay for his presence and that of his private retinue.

Deasy is himself a straw man fulfilling the long-term agenda of a neoliberal, political privatization agenda. His presence is pernicious in the extreme, but as is highlighted by the illogical championing of his artificially and erroneously hyped merit by another instrument of the ideological class, the LAT, his magnitude is itself simply an inflated place holder, a distraction from the truly Borbdingnagian scale of his ultimate employers’ goals.

The third overwrought element is as well a giant of different proportions. The LAUSD school board is not a single entity nor is it composed of refractory adults unwilling to work politically even at the expense of their raison d’être, The Children. The school board is an elected branch of the public school institution and as such are representatives of We The People; they are our political voice. They are supposed to engage the district’s point man, the superintendent. They are supposed to represent our political interest in Education as a society, considering not just my kid but my “neighbor’s” kid; examining not just the price of educating my own but the cost of taxation in our community. These are not individuals collectively mobbing a beleaguered employee, they are citizens mandated with safeguarding our public interest. Far from monstrous, such a task is in truth, prodigious. In the case of our board, the gargantuan entity this body stands for is democracy itself. Exercising “contempt” for any member of it, as Lopez seems to imply is justified, is in fact inappropriate in the extreme.

With an incessant drumbeat of editorials the LA Times has gotten this dynamic wrong for years on end now. When the root stakeholders of an educational institution – its children, families and teachers – are in near-total agreement about a problematic part of the academy, and yet are relegated to midget status, it is time to wonder what is really driving the heedless insistence. There are no giants, really. And when straw men substitute for brains, you have to wonder about the man behind the curtain.