We know that two epicenters of the funding for profiteering from public schools are Silicon Valley and Wall Street. And in looking at some of the major players pushing privatization of public schools, such as the ones based in Northern California detailed in this Crooks and Liars report, I can see a pattern that emerges again and again among the entitled 1%. They have one standard of expectations regarding the quality of life for themselves and their families, and another one for “the rabble” — everyday people.
Do they think we don’t notice the hypocrisy laced with contempt?
Peter Thiel, billionaire libertarian, thinks kids should drop out of college to see if they’re holding a winning lottery ticket with a “20 under 20” startup, but he himself attended San Mateo High School (public), then Stanford University as an undergraduate and Stanford University Law School.
Some Silicon Valley executives think it’s fine for everybody else’s kids to be tethered to a computer screen (a “learning lab) from kindergarten onwards, but send their own kids to Waldorf schools where no artificial light is allowed, children play with natural materials, and the arts and music and artisanal crafts like knitting are encouraged. (Wouldn’t it be nice if all kids could experience the arts in the school day?)
This extends to the kinds of rules they should be subject to as opposed to rules for the rest of us.
Take for example Ted Schlein’s sexual harassment lawsuit and what it tells us about the importance of teacher tenure. Ted Schlein is a managing partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and is on the board of Students Matter, the organization suing to remove due process protections for teachers. One of the statutes that Students Matter wants to strike down is California Education code section 44944, which provides employees the ability to challenge unfair dismissals through an impartial arbitrator. And if there’s anyone who should understand the importance of arbitrating labor disputes, it’s Ted Schlein, who repeatedly attempted to arbitrate a sexual harassment lawsuit brought against him and his firm.
Schlein was named as a defendant in a May 2012 sexual harassment lawsuit brought by former Kleiner Perkins employee Ellen Pao. Pao alleges that she informed Schlein personally that partner Ajit Nazre sexually harassed her, and senior partner Randy Kosimar gave her an inappropriately sexual book for Valentine’s Day. In addition to failing to take remedial action when Pao reported alleged sexual harassment, Schlein is alleged to have negatively reviewed Pao’s performance on the basis of interpersonal issues, which Pao claims is a proxy for the fallout she had with the partners who harassed her. Additionally, Pao claims that Schlein excluded her from company activities on the basis of her gender.
Throughout the ordeal with Pao, Schlein and other Kleiner Perkins management have attempted to solve the dispute through arbitration, repeatedly trying to keep the case out of the court. Arbitration for unfair dismissal cases benefits employers, allowing them to quickly and inexpensively settle unfair dismissal cases. Additionally, arbitration prevents public relations disasters arising out of alleged manager incompetence or gross misconduct, such as with the Pao lawsuit.
But if the plaintiffs Students Matter in Vergera v. California win, teachers won’t have the right to arbitration. It’s a process a venture capital firm seems to want to reserve for itself. Whether found in the right or wrong, shouldn’t teachers and administrators have access to the same process that big corporations like Kleiner Perkins do?
I should add that an aide to anti-teacher Michelle Rhee is collecting signatures to try to achieve by ballot initiative means what they’re attempting to do using the courts through Vergera v. California. Read more here about the Decline to Sign effort to keep this bad ballot measure — with much of the same intent — off the November 2014 ballot by denying it signatures to qualify.