January 28, 2016 :: Proponents of turning half of Los Angeles’ public schools into privately run charter schools in five years have a brazen new strategy. After running into obstacles last fall at the locally elected school board overseeing America’s second-largest school district, they’re looking at capturing the mayor's office in 2017.
Steve Barr, who helped create the Green Dot Charter Schools group and has been involved in numerous controversial efforts to privatize the L.A. school system, has told local newspapers he is exploring a mayoral run due to Mayor Eric Garcetti’s hands-off approach to education.
“I’ve talked to at least a half-dozen people who will tell you he won’t get involved because it’s too controversial,” Barr told the Los Angeles Times, which reported that Barr, “wants to enter the race but will only do so if he can see a path to building a campaign with adequate political and financial backing.”
Other California technology entrepreneurs—such as Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg—have also pledged multi-millions to expand charters. They are no longer political newcomers, having been involved in both successful and unsuccessful charter-related campaigns in recent years. In other words, it’s likely that Barr’s campaign would find no shortage of major donors or “independent” backers.
The push to privatize L.A. schools has become increasingly politicized in recent years, with local school board elections becoming proxy battles for pro- and anti-charter sides. When privatizers ran into obstacles at the L.A. school board, they focused on other high-ranking posts, such as trying to influence the choice of the next city superintendent of schools.
“The concept amazes and angers me,” board member Scott Schmerelson said last fall about Broad’s proposal. “Far from being in the best interest of children, it is an insult to teaching and administrative professionals, an attack on democratic, transparent and inclusive public school governance and negates accountability to taxpayers.”
Barr’s would-be candidacy comes after years of trying to pressure the city school board to take pro-charter positions, including trying to create a parallel board of parents from charter schools as competitor to the traditional PTA, or parent teachers association.
A mayoral campaign would be his—and the privatizers—most brazen move yet.
- ¿Brazen? There's an interesting word!
- LAUSD has 4.5 million students? Really?? So much for declining enrollment! (LAUSD has 732,833 students, including adult ed.)
- Peter Rabbit's father famously advised Peter that if he had nothing nice to say, then say nothing at all.
- Frank Sinatra once told the press, referring to a individual whom he detested, that if they ever wanted to write something libelous or scanadalous about the person, they should feel free to attribute it to him.
- My personal attitude about Steve Barr far closer to Sinatra's than Mr. Rabbit's.
Barr has “talked to at least a half-dozen people..." My guess is that they were all reporters. (The photo of Barr in the LATimes article cited above is a selfie - need I say more?)