Monday, January 07, 2013


by Diane Ravitch in her blog |

January 4, 2013   ::  Steve Zimmer is an alumnus of Teach for America.

He is not your typical TFA-er.

He was elected to the Los Angeles Unified school board in 2009, after seventeen years as a public school teacher.

He will be opposed by Kate Anderson, who has endorsements and major funding from the powerful charter school lobby.

Zimmer, because of his experience as a teacher, has become an outspoken, articulate supporter of students, teachers, and public education.

He has tried to slow down the value-added assessment juggernaut; he wants multiple measures.

The charter folks want to get Zimmer off the board because a few months ago, he offered a resolution calling for a higher level of accountability for charters, better auditing and reporting, more collaboration with public schools, and a moratorium on the opening of new charter schools until the new accountability measures are created.

Los Angeles is a major target for the charter lobby. It now has more than 100,000 children in charters, about 15% of the children in the district, more children than in any other district in the nation.

In light of the rapid growth of charters and their uneven performance, Zimmer said it was time to step back, establish reasonable oversight, and frame a reasonable policy for oversight and future growth.

Superintendent John Deasey said Zimmer’s resolution was “unnecessary.”

Two thousand charter parents turned out to hoot and ridicule Zimmer’s resolution.

And now the charter lobby is poised to knock him out.

Kate Anderson is a lawyer who has worked for Democratic officials. She is a mother of young children who attend public schools. She has pledged to support more charters.

Davis Guggenheim, director of “Waiting for ‘Superman,’” is holding a fund-raiser for Kate Anderson at the Sony Pictures commissary.

Steve Zimmer has the wisdom that comes from his 17 years in the classroom. He has the audacity to post on his website an article that showed that Los Angeles’ public schools outperformed the charter schools.

If the charter lobby manages to defeat him, it will be a very bad omen for the future of public education in Los Angeles.

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