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The Los Angeles Times reports that the school board of Los Angeles is split over Eli Broad’s ambitious and undemocratic plan to create privately managed charters for half the students in the city’s schools at a cost of $490 million.
Newly elected board member Scott Schmerelson expressed his revulsion for the Broad plan:
“The concept amazes and angers me,” said board member Scott Schmerelson. “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.”
Other board members were equally disturbed by Broad’s proposed takeover:
Board President Steve Zimmer also had a strongly negative response, saying that the financial impact would be devastating for the students who remain in traditional schools.
“Everyone understands 250,000 kids will not be part of this,” said Zimmer, who has criticized the rapid growth of charters. “There is collateral damage: We won’t be able to lower class size or provide comprehensive support our kids need.”
The private money, he said, “could ensure every child living in poverty in L.A. County … could have access to high-quality early education.”
Board member George McKenna, along with Monica Ratliff, said he wanted foundation money “directed toward the public schools that are already established and need all the private support that we can get.”
Ratliff also said that the charter plan underscores the need to hire a new superintendent who will promote L.A. Unified’s own successes. The district has launched a search to replace schools Supt. Ramon Cortines who has said he wants to leave by year’s end.
“It’s important that a superintendent publicizes that LAUSD schools are extremely competitive” with the best charter schools, Ratliff said.
It is almost unimaginable that people elected to oversee the public schools would support a call to privatize them, but charter founder Ref Rodriguez and charter cheerleader Monica Garcia applauded the Broad plan for privatization. Do they think they were elected to destroy public education? Weren’t they elected to improve public schools? Were they honest with voters when they campaigned? Would they have been elected if they had been honest in saying they wanted to join the board to hand their children over to Eli Broad and strip resources from the ones Eli doesn’t want?
Is Los Angeles prepared to abandon public education? Do the people of the city really want their children to be a “proof point” for privatization of public education? Do half the children serve the will of an egotistical billionaire?
Eli Broad was educated in the public schools of Michigan. Why doesn’t he work to improve the public schools of Los Angeles so that children in his adopted city have the same opportunity he had? Please, Eli, take the eighth grade Common Core tests and publish your scores so we can compare them to the children in the public schools that you treat with such contempt.