from the Associated Administrators of Los Angeles (AALA) weekly update for the week of August 24, 2015 | bit.ly/1hyGqbD
ELI BROAD AND CHARTER EXPANSION
20 August 2015 :: The Los Angeles Times reported earlier this month that the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation is leading an effort to expand the number of charter schools in LAUSD. The Broads are being joined by the Walton Family and the Keck Foundations, among others. The expansion of charter schools is supposed to decrease the number of children attending what the charter industry calls failing schools or those with lower test scores. The aim is to get at least 50% of these children in the privately-run charter schools which could potentially be located on District sites. LAUSD already has about 100,000 students attending charter schools, more than any other school district in the country. In an email to LA School Report, the officials from the Broad Foundation wrote, “Too many of our school children still aren’t getting the quality of education they deserve, which is why tens of thousands of students are currently on public charter school waiting lists. We are in the early stages of exploring a variety of ideas about how to help give all families—especially in low-income communities of color—access to high-quality public schools and what we and others in the philanthropic community can do to increase access to a great public school for every child in Los Angeles.”
Officials from charter organizations, such as ICEF and Green Dot, are, understandably ecstatic about the proposal as it will generate more dollars for their programs. The foundations could provide funding for early administrative costs of new charters and for teacher training. Board Member Mónica Garcia said she is open to the foundations’ plans and says that her district could benefit from additional charter schools. However, not everyone is happy about this expansion. Because charter school teachers are not unionized, UTLA is not supportive of these independent schools and feels that input of teachers is disregarded. In a call to members, Alex Caputo-Pearl, UTLA President, vowed to fight the plans of the foundations, saying they are “out to destroy collective bargaining.” Board President Steve Zimmer is concerned that the charter schools will continue to be selective about who they enroll, leaving those students who require more specialized services and resources at the District schools. A mass exodus of students to charters will also severely decrease state and federal funding for the traditional schools.
As has been noted before, Eli Broad, the Waltons and other billionaires have been active in LAUSD politics for many years and have supported controversial efforts for reform. Financial resources have been provided candidates for the Board of Education that AALA has not supported and who have been strongly procharter. It should also be noted that Dr. John Deasy, former LAUSD Superintendent, was a graduate of the Broad Superintendent Academy and is now the Superintendent-in-Residence for the Broad Center. In fact, it has been reported that Eli Broad said that John Deasy was the best Los Angeles superintendent in memory. That, in and of itself, should give us all a reason to pause and look at this expansion plan with a critical eye.
On Tuesday, August 18, 2015, the Los Angeles Times introduced a new weekly newsletter which will be titled Education Matters. The announcement was made to coincide with the first day of school for Los Angeles students. With Education Matters, the Times writes that it is rededicating itself to coverage of teaching and learning and will provide a report card on K-12 education in Los Angeles, California and the nation. Really? Another report cardjust what we need.
The CEO of the Times, Austin Beutner, wrote in the paper that Education Matters will explore issues that matter most to parents and their children. The paper has expanded its team of education reporters who will convene public forums to address educational policies, saving for college and how to talk to teachers. Funding for Education Matters has been secured from the California Endowment, the Wasserman Foundation, the Baxter Family Foundation and the Broad Foundation via United Way and the California Community Foundation. According to the Times, the aforementioned organizations “…are dedicated to independent journalism that engages and informs its readers.” We are hopeful that this will be the case and that Education Matters does not just become another attempt to point out all that is wrong with the public school system in order to expand the charter industry.