Saturday, May 13, 2006


Author: Clark Baker

After decades of listening to LA’s inane politicians, I’m not as patient as I once was. This brings me to an email conversation I’m having with California School Superintendent Candidate, Diane Lenning:

—–Original Message—–
From: Diane Lenning []
Sent: Wednesday, May 10, 2006 3:44 PM
To: Diane Lenning
Subject: Lenning remarks to Mercury News — CA SPI Vote June 6th

Lenning remarks regarding goals in education. There is much more on my website regarding many issues. Thank you for your consideration. Remember to vote June 6th.

Diane Lenning,
Candidate for State Superintendent of Public Instruction


I browsed her website but found little substance, so I asked her about charters, vouchers, and the public school monopolies. I’ve included her reply with my responses:

DIANE LENNING: Clark, Thank you for your questions.

ex-Liberal: You’re welcome, Diane.

DIANE LENNING: The only group that has asked me this question is the CA Young Republicans, another small group, and you. As I told them, the answer to that is intertwined in the “free-market-enterprise system,” and the foundation principles of Democracy inherent in the Constitution. Every American has the right of free choice in our society.

ex-Liberal: If Americans have the right to free choice, the Democrat Party’s defense of failing public school monopolies and demands for more funding of them appears to be VERY un-American.

DIANE LENNING: That is an underlying tenet of Democracy.

ex-Liberal: I wrote this essay to explain the Democrat Party’s historic opposition to public education and this to show how and why Democrats still oppose public education under the pretext of providing it.

DIANE LENNING: I have spoken publicly for years, within and outside the union, that I disagree with much of the social agenda of the unions of which I am a member by law. CA is a closed union shop. A little competition wouldn’t hurt, and would make us work a little harder, although most teachers already work very hard. I have worked many jobs, but according to many polls, teaching tops the list for stressful jobs. (The recent stats have again showed dramatic improvement in student passage rates in minorities.)

ex-Liberal: My daughter teaches public school and, as an LA cop, I learned that teachers suffer from the same source of stress that cops do. It’s what I call Responsibility without Authority: Public school teachers and cops endure a tremendous responsibility, but no authority to succeed in their responsibility. On the other hand, politicians and school board members enjoy tremendous authority, but no responsibility to teach. So when police and teachers fail, no one is held accountable. The cops and teachers who work hardest and endure the most stress do so despite the obstacles that prevent achievement. Public school reform is impossible because the school board candidates who support free choice, charters, and vouchers won’t receive the financial support or endorsements from teacher unions. So board members who support change will never have the financial backing to win races or effect change, while those who demand more money and feign reform win election. And the Democrats who siphon education funding for campaigns don’t want to change it either. In short, without LAUSD’s $13.4 billion annual budget, Democrats would lose elections throughout Los Angeles, California, and in Washington.

ex-Liberal: Public education is today’s kinder, gentler, and more compassionate version of Tammany Hall. (See diagram). Democrats control Los Angeles because of the financial support of teacher unions. Teacher unions cannot be broken but, like a tumor, must be starved of blood. Free choice and competition will force LAUSD to reform, or close. Candidates who hope to win must promise never to threaten LAUSD with competition.

DIANE LENNING: That’s what Prop 75 was about, of which I was on the TV commercial and the telephone voice to over 90,000 voters. That’s why I was bumped up six positions as one of CTA’s 25 state delegates. There are teachers within the union who have found a leader’s voice they can agree. About 40-45% of CTA teachers are Republicans, but have been led by Democrats, not knowing much of what the leadership was doing. For the last six years, myself and others have been working very hard to bring the liberal unions back to center. Check out the secrets website by clicking “Link” on my website. NEA’s political spending has increased 16% in the last year as a direct response to my lobbying and speaking on the NEA floor the last several years. It may be the liberal and moderate Republicans, but the pendulum is on the swing back to center.

ex-Liberal: John Q. Adams complained to his father two hundred years ago that legislators blocked what they pretend to support, and do what they pretend to oppose. NEA will not reform itself. We know free choice works – we choose our cars and shop at our favorite stores. I have no problem with NEA, CTA, or any other union, as long as districts assign fully funded vouchers and charters directly to parents. Until then, they are nothing short of a criminal enterprise. Democrats demand that expectant mothers have a choice to kill their unborn babies, but aren’t competent to choose their children’s schools if they let them live. Does that make sense?

DIANE LENNING: Parents have an inherent right to have their children educated according to their beliefs and goals. The Constitutional guarantee is spoken of as one of the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness…which includes the right of parents to raise their children according to their belief in God.

ex-Liberal: Do you offer anything more than platitudes?

DIANE LENNING: That said, the thrust of my campaign is improving pubic schools, and improving education for all students of California. If Californians and politicians want to enact vouchers, that is their choice to make through initiatives or the legislature. It would take voting in Republicans to the majority in the legislature for that to have a possibility. This is why we have been speaking for a year now on practicing Democracy with integrity in this state. I have asked others to push a “truth in politics doctrine.” The U.S. House now has a “Truth Squad.”

ex-Liberal: I guess not. Again, neither you nor the NEA have demonstrated ANY willingness to support fully-funded vouchers. NEA still opposes them. How many more decades do you plan to waste discussing these issues? As a parent and retired cop, I don’t need a truth squad to tell me that having Arthur Anderson investigate the Enron debacle for Ken Lay is a bad idea. And as bad as Ken Lay is, he never harmed millions of children the way our public schools have.

DIANE LENNING: One of my campaign pledges is not to play politics with our kids, and not to badmouth other candidates. My strength comes from providing a plan and positive ideas for improving education for all students in California, and working positively through collaboration with all stakeholders in education. Just like we can’t pick our students, we can’t always pick who we work with. The idea is to make education work for everyone. If I am elected as CA-SPI, I cannot say I will only work with some of the people. I must, and I am willing to work with all the people. I believe I get that from my “great-great…….Uncle George Washington. I have the right plan, and it is the right time.

ex-Liberal: Ugh — Do you have ANY idea how many teacher union-supported politicians I’ve heard say that? The public schools are irreparable, and union-supported politicians have never accomplished anything good – at least during the past 40 years. You offer no message – no tangibles. Remember, if public schools perform, they will survive in a voucher/charter environment. Parents will choose the best schools, just as they choose the best markets, cars, and restaurants. Parents aren’t as stupid as teacher unions would have them believe. You say nothing of this.

ex-Liberal: You write about local control, but I have all the control in need at my grandson’s private school. I can visit my principal anytime I want and, if the school doesn’t perform, I can place him elsewhere. I’m wealthy enough to enjoy those choices. Vouchers would deliver that same choice to parents in Pacoima, Compton, and Watts. And although you probably don’t believe it, those parents love and care for their children as much as I do.

DIANE LENNING: Check out my whole website, but look under Issues, click “safe schools.” You may need to check which way your beeper is pointing. You may have picked up on the admitted Socialist who is running, Sarah K.

ex-Liberal: Your Safe Schools link and website is inane, at best. You promise to “raise expectations” and improve this and that, but offer no coherent plan to do so. You’re probably a nice lady, but LA politics are full of well-meaning people who have ruined millions of young lives. I don’t know who Sarah K. is, but public school politicians should NEVER call other people socialists.

ex-Liberal: I’ve written the following information on education:

Moron Education
On Vouchers
Mayor Tony’s Solution
Confronting the Beast
Voucher Q & A

ex-Liberal: Since you’re running for school superintendent, it would be good to see how you actually plan to fix LAUSD. Don’t tell us you have a plan — tell us what it is. And if you wish to cross-post any of my essays, please feel free.

I’ll keep readers posted on her response, but as it stands now she appears to be more of the same.

Clark Baker is a senior contributor* to He is an author, a filmaker, a father and a retired LAPD officer. And he’s currently running for a seat on the California Assembly.

You may read more of Clark’s work here and regarding his campaign here (Scroll down). For more, visit, the official campaign website.

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