AUHSD Should Stop Using Public Resources For Political Activity

The Anaheim Union High School District (AUHSD) is probably the most politicized school district in the county, at least in terms of using district resources to advance political causes and help candidates.  For example, under the leadership of AUHSD Trustee Al Jabbar and Superintendent Mike Matsuda, the district has waged a political campaign seeking to undermine public support for charter schools – using district resources to host and publicize the screening of the subtly Islamophobic anti-charter school “documentary” Killing Ed, and publishing an op-ed calling for a moratorium on charters. The district also organized a pressure campaign to push the Anaheim City Council into giving it a dedicated portion of the city budget.

Teachers union activist Ryan Ruelas – an trustee of the Anaheim Elementary School District – has built a student club called AnaheimBROS and Anaheim High School, who serve as campaign workers for Anaheim’s close-knit network of progressive politicos – including Ruelas’ school board campaign and the Measure L districting initiative in Anaheim in 2014. This year, they’re the de facto Jose F. Moreno Youth League, walking precincts for the leftist Democrat’s council campaign and following him around to events.

Which leads us to the most recent example of the politicization of AUHSD under Jabbar and Matsuda. Last Monday, October 24, dozens of members of AnaheimBROS (and its sister group CROWN) – led by Ruelas – were transported in two AUHSD buses to an Anaheim City Council candidates forum, where they functioned as a cheering section for Moreno.

Ruelas and the Jose F. Moreno cheering section aka the AnaheimBROS and CROWN

From the OC Weekly:

“School buses brought a batch of kids from Anaheim High School to watch democracy in action at the newly opened Arab-American Community Center on Beach Boulevard. With Anaheim High School teacher and city school board member Ryan Ruelas seated at the front, his students, wearing Anaheim Bros and CROWN (Civically Raising Opportunities for Women) shirts, cheered wildly whenever Moreno made an emphatic point.”

AUHSD Stonewalling Media Requests For Information
No doubt Ruelas and the district will claim this was simply a school excursion to give students a peek into the democratic process – but is anyone going to buy that? OC Daily e-mailed several questions about the matter to Superindent Matsuda, Ruelas and the district PIO:

1) Is it true that school district buses were used to transport AUHSD students to the October 24 candidate forum?

2) If so, what was the cost of doing so (paying drivers and other AUHSD staff; gas, etc).

3) Was this arranged by Mr. Ruelas?

3) Ryan Ruelas is a vocal and active political supporter of Jose Moreno’s council candidacy; AnaheimBROS and CROWN members are active campaign workers for Moreno; do you think it is appropriate for Moreno campaign volunteer/advisor Ruelas to (presumably) use district resources to transport Moreno campaign volunteers to a candidate forum in order to cheer for candidate Moreno?

Those questions were submitted a week ago. To date, OC Daily has received no response from the district – not even an acknowledgement of receipt of the information requests.

The AUHSD is also refusing to respond to questions from OC Daily pertaining to a $20,000 grant the AnaheimBROS received several weeks ago from the California Teachers Association, arguably the single most powerful special interest in the state:

I saw on the AnaheimBROS Facebook page that the club received a $20,000 grant from the California Teachers Association, and I was hoping you can answer some questions related to this.

  1. An October 7 FB post refers to a round table organized by AnaheimBROS as part of this grant, along with several photos of the round table (one of which is attached). Where was it held and what were the hours?
  1. What topic(s) were discussed?
  1. How is the $20,000 grant disbursed? Is it a lump sum check or disbursed in installments?
  1. Who controls those funds?
  1. The same FB post states “The plan that was written to apply for the grant was called “Students Leading Students.””   Can you please provide a copy of this plan and grant application?

Reasonable questions, and submitted nearly three weeks ago. Again, no response whatsoever from the school district.

This stonewalling is curious because AUHSD was very quick to respond to an OC Daily story about the AnaheimBROS leadership’s practice of calling themselves “the Politburo.” Politburo the name of the executive committee of a Communist Party. Although AnaheimBROS faculty advisor Ruelas knew for years that his charges used a Communist Party term to describe themselves, nothing was done until OC Daily raised the issue.

Spearheading the Expansion of Ethnic Studies Curriculum
Progressive educators are pushing to make ethnic studies a mandatory element of the state’s high school curriculum – and Anaheim Union High School District has been the tip of the spear in Orange County. The first ethnic studies class began last year at Loara High School (where an AnaheimBROS club has been established) and is taught by Jose Paolo Magcalas, a progressive political activist who is not shy about engaging in political activity using his students and school resources. For example, here is Magcalas and his students making political placards to take to an Anaheim City Council meeting and lobby the council to adopt the district map and sequencing authored and supported by a coalition of progressive and Democratic Party interests (Magcalas is circled in red):

The raised, clench fist crops of throughout the video from which this is taken – as do Anaheim politicos of the progressive persuasion.

Academic jargon aside, the reality is ethnic studies curriculum teaches our youth to see themselves and others as members of racial and ethnic groups arranged in a hierarchy of oppression and exploitation; that racism is at the root of American society, and together with oppression of the poor are the forces driving the historical dialectic of this country. It’s Howard Zinn-ism, where nonsense like the notion that only white people can be racists because only white people have power, is taken seriously and taught with a straight face.

Mr. Magcalas is poised to bring his radical politics to the union-dominated Anaheim Elementary School District Board of Education: he is the only candidate who filed to run in District  3. Below Jose Moreno and his campaign manager, AUHSD Trustee Al Jabbar, speaking at a Magcala campaign event:

Jose F. Moreno speaking at Jose Magcalas school board campaign event. AUHSD Superintendent stands immediately to the left of Moreno.


AUHSD Trustee Al Jabbar plumps for Magcalas at latter’s campaign event.

The strange thing is hardly anyone – with the exception of this site and the OC Weekly‘s Gabriel San Roman – bats an eye, which probably explains why the district’s progressive leadership has become increasingly bold in using AUHSD resources for political activity. The AUHSD brings two busloads of teenage Jose Moreno campaign supporters to cheer him at a forum moderated by the Voice of OC…and nothing.

The right thing – the just thing – would be for Matsuda, Jabbar, Ruelas, Magacalas and their like-minded colleagues to stop blurring the lines engage in politics on their own time and on their own dime. They should refrain from exploiting their positions of authority and respect to cultivate cadres of teenage campaign activists, and from using the district’s reputation and resources to influence public opinion on political questions.

But don’t hold your breath. Progressive-Left activists simply don’t think they’re blurring the lines, or that there is anything inappropriate or wrong with using their students or school resources to advance their political agenda.

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