by Hillel Aron- LA School Report http://bit.ly/1byMuMk
October 4, 2013 :: For years, the SEIU Local 99 has been “the other union” in LAUSD. Representing custodians, cooks, bus drivers and other “classified” workers, the union is just as politically influential, if not more so, than the teachers union, UTLA. And yet its voice is rarely heard in policy debates.
That might be about to change.
In a presentation to the LA Unified School Board on Tuesday, SEIU local 99 Executive Director Courtni Pugh laid out a vision to better connect community services to schools. Dubbed OASIS, for Optimizing Access to Services, Inspiring Success, the plan aims to turn local schools sites into a hub of community services, such as park space, libraries, health care providers and technology.
“Not everyone enters the classroom in the morning with the same experiences the night before,” Pugh told LA School Report. “We have to recognize that a child’s day does not start and end in the classroom.”
It is, by her own admission, not a new idea. Earlier this year, the Youth Policy Institute launched an initiative called Los Angeles Promise Neighborhoods, which aims to fuse a variety of anti-poverty services into one program centered around a school. (The idea was inspired by the Harlem Children’s Zone.)
Pugh’s goal is to set up six to 12 OASIS schools within LAUSD starting in the next school year. She hopes the project will get funding from a range of sources, including the City of Los Angeles, LA Unified and non-profits.
At Tuesday’s meeting, school board members were practically falling over themselves to praise Pugh’s idea.
“I love this,” said Steve Zimmer. “This is what we should be doing.” Even Monica Ratliff, against whom Local 99 campaigned heavily against last year, thought the plan was “fantastic.”
Pugh, a former political director of the powerful LA County Federation of Labor, has headed Local 99 for just over a year. She was also recently named the chair of SEIU International’s education council. From that platform, she is wading into the education reform debate, staking out a middle ground between charter school advocates and teachers unions.
“The debate on reform is false and silo-ed,” she said.
More than half of her members have children that go to LA Unified schools, she said, and the majority of them live within 2.5 miles of schools they work in. Not only will OASIS create jobs (some, presumably, for her members), but her members will benefit from the services it creates.
In a sense, OASIS grew out of Breakfast in the Classroom, an LA Unified program that provides, well, breakfast in the classroom. It has been heavily criticized by many teachers, who said it distracted students and left a mess. But when Superintendent John Deasy put the program to the board for a vote, hundreds of service workers rallied to support it, and the normally divided board unanimously voted to continue the service.
“That was a fight that we thought was for the moral good,” said Pugh. “Our members, many of them are part of the working poor that stood to move further down the food chain if they lost their jobs.”
Pugh expects getting OASIS off the ground to be even tougher.
“This is a humongous undertaking – very complex, multiple layers and a lot of red tape involved,” she said. “It’s a big step for us.
smf: ¡CAVEAT EMPTOR!
- This article is from LA School Report, which editorially stretches pragmatism to cognitive dissonance. While LASR occasionally breaks and/or covers breaking news - it is the bought-and-paid-for mouthpiece-of/apologist-for ®eform, Inc.
- SEIU Local 99 has long been a advocate for the forces of ®eform; it has fervently, financially and actively supported candidates supported by Mayors Tony+Bloomberg’s/Philanthropists Broad/Gates/Walton’s Coalition for School Reform.
- Watch the board meeting, view the SEIU OASIS presentation, note MonicaGarcia’s gushing endorsement for the ‘purple people’ SEIU membership. She owes them and they owe her. SEIU sold its soul to Monica+Co. in exchange for full-time rather than part time employment for cafeteria workers years ago– a fiscal challenge the school meals program really never recovered from.
- Of course SEIU supports Breakfast in the Classroom – it guarantees their member’s employment. (4LAKids supports BiC too, because it feeds kids. Dr. Deasy supports BiC because it makes him and his LA Fund look good.)
- While watching the board meeting note that the SEIU presentation was NOT on the agenda. That’s because it’s part of the Superintendent’s Report – the part of ‘the show’ he’s impresario of. I am waiting breathlessly for Dr. Deasy to invite UTLA, AALA, CSEA, The Teamsters …or even the PTA to present their visions for the future in a twenty minute production with PowerPoint+video co-produced by LAUSD staff to the Board of Education.
- Finally (and Ms. Ratliff and Mr. Zimmer please take note if you haven't already) some of the OASIS suggestions are a power grab by SEIU in an attempt to do things like staff after-school library programs with their members – a job contractually, traditionally and professionally held by Teacher-Librarians and Library Aide/Elementary Librarians – UTLA and CSEA members respectively.
Yes, we can all get along… but as long as it’s a positional bargaining fight it’s going to be only that.