Positions on Major Issues and News

My first published education article was in 1991. I've been researching and writing ever since. I have some very strong informed opinions on education issues, and because I have no connection to the one percent, my tenets differ from theirs entirely. Here I've gathered a few topics, but I've written extensively on many other topics. You see see the menu on the left for collections of my essays at other sites too.

City Clerk Certifies Official List Of Candidates

posted Dec 15, 2012, 2:19 AM by RD Skeels   [ updated Dec 15, 2012, 3:08 AM ]

Ron Gochez: LA City Council District 9 Candidate, Robert D. Skeels: LAUSD District 2 Candidate 2013 Primary Nominating Election

LOS ANGELES (December 14, 2012) — Los Angeles City Clerk June Lagmay released today the official list of 77 candidates who have qualified to appear on the ballot for the March 5, 2013 City of Los Angeles Primary Nominating Election. A random alphabet drawing conducted publicly in the City Council Chamber on December 10, 2012 determined the order in which candidates are listed in each race.

The City Clerk has certified the following candidates to appear on the March 5, 2013 ballot in this order:


MÓNICA GARCĺA, Member of the Board of Education
ANNAMARIE MONTAÑEZ, Teacher/Doctoral Candidate
ROBERT D. SKEELS, Educator/Education Researcher
ABELARDO DIAZ, High School Teacher
ISABEL VASQUEZ, Teacher/Community Advocate

STEVE ZIMMER, School Boardmember/Teacher
KATE ANDERSON, Parent/Child Advocate

MARIA CANO, Education Advocate/Organizer
IRIS ZUÑIGA, Nonprofit Executive/Parent
MONICA RATLIFF, Fifth Grade Teacher
ANTONIO SANCHEZ, Educator/Community Organizer


TERRY HARA, Deputy Police Chief
CURREN D PRICE, JR, State Senator/Professor
ANA CUBAS, Councilmember’s Chief Deputy
MANUEL “MANNY” ALDANA, School Council Boardmember
DAVID ROBERTS, Community Development Advocate
MIKE DAVIS, California State Assemblyman

In memory of Harvey Milk: teacher witch-hunts are nothing new

posted Nov 27, 2012, 5:26 PM by RD Skeels   [ updated Nov 28, 2012, 1:13 AM ]

"Gay people have been slandered nationwide. We've been tarred and we've been brushed with the picture of pornography." — Harvey Milk

Harvey MilkThe current crop of teacher-bashing political opportunists including Michelle Rhee, Ben Austin, Peter C. Cook, Gloria Romero, and Andy Smarick, are nothing new. While it's always been in vogue to attack the female dominated profession, teachers have really been in the crosshairs of reactionaries ever since they won the modicum of protections that unions provide.

San Francisco's Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone were assassinated 34 years ago today. Milk, who had been a teacher early in his career, was a man who always spoke truth to power. When right-wing extremist John Briggs coined Proposition 6, he relied on the same bigoted thinking that we've seen in recent times with Proposition 32, and other anti-teacher, anti-student, anti-worker initiatives. While the defeat of the Briggs Initiative was clearly a watershed victory for the Gay Rights Movement, it was also victory for labor and public employees, especially school employees.

Milk was no stranger to supporting and partnering with organized labor. His successful partnership with the Teamsters was an excellent example of what today's activists need to be emulating. Milk was savvy to realize that oppressed groups need to work together in order to overcome their oppressions. The fight for gay rights, women's rights, workers' rights, immigrant rights, and all our struggles are one in the same. The other side counts on us being divided.

The corporate and neoliberal forces pushing education reform rely on divide and conquer strategies. They pit parents against educators, students against other students via standardized tests, "lucky" lottery winners against families with special needs children, and we can increase this list ad infinitum. Using deceptive language about "choice," they've begun to destroy one of the great things in our country—universal public education. We need to call out the reformers' false dichotomies for what they are. We need to strengthen the natural alliances between students, educators, parents, and community. We need to tell the privatizers that the only "choices" we want are those that assure equity for all students!

We get there by emulating Harvey Milk's coalition building. We get there by exposing billionaire funded astroturf 501c3s for having the narrow interests of their funders, not our communities. We get there by pushing all unions—especially those in our schools—into social justice unionism. We get there by electing school board members who will be activists and advocates on behalf of their communities.

The struggle continues.

Professor Diane Ravitch endorses Robert D. Skeels for LAUSD trustee

posted Nov 3, 2012, 8:53 AM by RD Skeels   [ updated Nov 3, 2012, 9:11 AM ]

Writer Robert D. Skeels with Professor Diane Ravitch
I am happy to endorse the candidacy of Robert D. Skeels for LAUSD school board.

He attended UCLA, is a veteran of the US Navy, and a staunch supporter of public education. He passionately defends the right of every child to a high-quality education.

His knowledge, experience and perspective would add a greatly needed new voice to the deliberations of the school board. He would stand up for children, parents and teachers. 

The future of public education hangs in the balance, as the forces of privatization circle round it. I strongly urge voters to support Robert Skeels at this critical time.

Diane Ravitch

Diane Ravitch is Research Professor of Education at New York University and a historian of education. She is the author of ten books and has edited an additional fourteen. Her latest is The Death and Life of the Great American School System. She blogs prolifically for numerous sites, including her own. Her full Curriculum Vitae.

Statement of Principles

posted Nov 2, 2012, 8:52 PM by RD Skeels

I stand for:
  • Fully funded public schools with elected school boards
  • Small class sizes
  • Dual language immersion
  • Free voluntary reading and ample access to libraries
  • Project based learning and respect for vocational education
  • Culturally relevant curriculum, ethic studies, and liberation pedagogy
  • Arts, music, and literature
  • Schools encouraging community and parental collaboration
  • Professional, experienced educators with the right to collective bargaining
I vehemently oppose:
  • Privatization via charters and vouchers
  • Standardized tests being used for high stakes decisions
  • A singular focus on testing leading to a narrowing of curricula and elimination of electives
  • Segregation by race, class, and ethnicity
  • Discrimination against students with special needs or disabilities
  • Alternate teaching certifications that lead to inexperienced and unqualified instructors
  • Unproven methodologies and programs being imposed on districts
  • No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, and Common Core State Standards
  • Profiteering in the name of "helping kids"

Second Community Based LAUSD District 2 Candidate Forum Announced

posted Nov 1, 2012, 6:49 PM by RD Skeels

I am honored to have been invited to this event and am looking forward to discussing critical education issues. Many thanks to the District 2 Neighborhood Coalition for organizing these forums.

First Community Based LAUSD District 2 Candidate Forum Announced

posted Oct 4, 2012, 12:49 AM by RD Skeels   [ updated Oct 4, 2012, 12:57 AM ]

I am honored to have been invited to this event and am looking forward to discussing critical education issues. Many thanks to the District 2 Neighborhood Coalition for organizing these forums.

My humble thoughts on UTLA's vote on the Tentative Agreement

posted Jun 17, 2012, 6:27 PM by Robert D. Skeels   [ updated Jun 18, 2012, 12:52 AM ]

I want to thank United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) for being the only thing standing between our communities and Eli Broad's malevolent designs. For better or worse, UTLA members agreed once more to take a drastic pay cut so that they could save the jobs of many of their colleagues, who, in turn, serve our community. Educators have made these amazing personal sacrifices year after year, while simultaneously being vilified as greedy and self serving by the corporate press, unprincipled politicians, and the avaricious opportunists in the so-called non-profit sector. Notice too that none of the no-excuses reformers ever make sacrifices of any kind on behalf of our communities. The only "shared sacrifices" I've seen are by working people, and more to the point, predominantly by librarians, counselors, teachers and other educators.

On the other hand, I want to express my deep sorrow for all the schools being closed, programs being shuttered, educators who are still losing their jobs, and people being robbed of the educational opportunities. Opportunities they would have had if the district actually prioritized education over squandering money on discredited vanity projects and giveaways to wealthy charter operators and their venture capitalist backers. While the agreement saves a portion of critical programs like Adult Education and Early Education, it also abandons many. For example, the Mary Lind Foundation, a place I do much volunteer work at, is losing their computer and GED programs due to these cuts. As always, the most vulnerable in our district are denied.

I rather appreciate Mr. Fletcher's statements about the agreement. His message that "LAUSD has shown its willingness to be cavalier about the needs of schools and students" needs to be promulgated far and wide. Moreover, such messages have to be followed up by tangible actions. The community desperately needs partnership with UTLA.

I know many UTLA members who support the community, because I constantly work with them on various projects and activism. I don't worry about them, since I know that they are principled and see a bigger picture. I hope that both the contentiousness and closeness of the UTLA vote will be seen as a call to action by the rest of the union that they need to unite with the community to fight these neoliberal policies that are both destroying UTLA and threatening to eliminate public education altogether. So in a spirit of unity, I hope to see many more of you working to build a social justice union that is deeply rooted in your school sites and the communities where those schools reside. I don't feel it is hyperbole to say our fates are inextricably tied together.

Advocating public education and social justice

Robert D. Skeels

Statement on the June 8, 2012 Tentative Agreement with LAUSD

posted Jun 9, 2012, 3:12 PM by RD Skeels

Why we must continue to struggle.

LAUSD didn't make concessions that gave us anything new, they merely gave us back a small portion of what they had already taken away! While we'll gladly take what's ours back, we want that and more. We want fully funded programs! We want equity! We want schools to desegregate! We want critical pedagogy, arts, language programs, and ethnic studies. We want FULLY STAFFED school libraries and class size reductions! We want a district that doesn't just stop giveaways to charters, but resists them at every turn. We want a district that is a bulwark, not a gateway to neoliberalism.

In other words, our struggle has just begun.

Statement made at Adult Education Fair in MacArthur Park

posted May 19, 2012, 7:58 PM by Robert D. Skeels

I'm not just running because I have a different vision for LAUSD that's based on Freire's principles, I'm running because few are more knowledgeable than I am regarding the privatizers, their agenda, and their neoliberal methodology. We need a trustee who will literally wage war against Deasy, Gates, Broad, Pearson, and the insatiably greedy charter-voucher industry. We need a trustee that will fight them in the press, the LAUSD boardroom, and everywhere else. We need a trustee that will counter Deasy and Villaraigosa's meetings with vile right-wing groups like Teach+ and FIN by promoting district sponsored events with actual education experts like Dr. Krashen and Dr. Ravitch. Lastly, we need a trustee immersed in social justice principles and a background in authentic activism!

LAUSD hires more bureaucrats while cutting teachers & school personnel

posted Mar 28, 2012, 12:19 AM by Robert D. Skeels   [ updated Mar 28, 2012, 12:19 AM ]

When I'm elected to the LAUSD BOE, this will end! Money for classrooms & libraries, not for bureaucrats!LAUSD hires more bureaucrats while cutting teachers & school personnel

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