Vote against school privatization. Vote against a Cat Brooks endorsement.

By Meagan D.

I think EBDSA members should read this piece on the teachers' strike in Arizona, and pay close attention to the role that school charterization and privatization played in catalyzing the biggest strike wave in living memory. And for context, they should also read this in-depth look at the capitalist class's role in the education reform movement, including charterization.

It's not just of general interest: this issue presents itself to our chapter right now. Oakland mayoral candidate Cat Brooks, who is seeking our endorsement this Sunday, worked for nearly a decade for big local and national players in the school privatization movement.

Brooks has very recently said that she supports a moratorium on charter schools. That's fantastic, so do I. But how can we be certain? Brooks spent many years endeavoring — in both a paid and unpaid capacity — to work against teachers' unions to implement performance metrics meant to assist the state in administering austerity, to replace unionized public education workers with unpaid volunteers, and so on.

I believe that, this close to the election, a mea culpa now would be too last-minute to constitute a meaningful political transformation. But there's no sign so far that Brooks has sought to distance herself from her pro-privatization work. On the contrary, some of her recent comments and decisions demonstrate that she continues to embrace the perspective that privatization is an appropriate solution to the ailments of communities that are already starved of public resources by neoliberal administrations. Some examples are mentioned in passing here, along with the specifics of her involvement in the charterization movement (many thanks to the tireless endorsement subcommittee who did their due diligence).

I'm more than worried about Brooks' recent and possibly ongoing relationship to several billionaire-funded charterization and privatization nonprofits. I find it disqualifying and will be voting against endorsing her on that basis. The 2018 teachers' movement is of historic significance, and school privatization is front and center in that fight. As socialists we must understand that these battle lines exist, and we must firmly stand on the side of public school teachers, students and parents against the forces of austerity and privatization that aim to thwart redistributive policy, break public-sector workers' unions, empty our public coffers, and chop up our public education system and sell it for parts.

The statement above is the opinion of its author and does not necessarily represent the opinions of East Bay DSA, its steering committee, or its members.