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Howard Blume writes in the LA Times that the LAUSD school board will make a decision on billionaire Eli Broad’s plan to put half the district’s children into privately managed charter schools, including national chains. You might say it is the Walmartization of public education in Los Angeles.
This is is not an easy decision because the state law was written when Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger controlled the state board, filling it with charter advocates. The law gives a blank check to anyone who wants to open a charter.
“Until now, school board members have not been forced to take a position on the Broad proposal, though some have expressed concerns about charters draining money and higher-performing students from traditional schools. The union is hoping to lock in school board opposition early as it campaigns against the charter expansion.
“But officially joining the opposition also poses risks for school board members and the district. State law requires school systems to approve new charters regardless of the financial impact on the district. The Los Angeles Unified School District faces lawsuits if it rejects charters without cause. Moreover, a vote would force board members to take sides — and face the political consequences.
“At one level, the debate is a continuation of the last school board election, in which charters and unions, the major funders, battled to a split outcome. The result was not just about the candidates but about which approach to improving schools would lead the way in the nation’s second-largest system.
“Supporters see independently operated, publicly funded charters, most of which are nonunion, as a better alternative to regular schools. Unions and other charter critics would prefer to see more investment in existing campuses. L.A. has the most charter schools of any city.”
Would it it be just cause to say that the Broad plan is not in the public interest and that it would deny resources and equal opportunity to the other 50% in the public schools?
Can the school board approve a plan to destroy the system they were elected to support and improve? Should they neglect the needs of the other 50%? Isn’t it undemocratic on its face to allow a billionaire to buy as much as he wants of the public school system? Once it’s gone, it will be difficult if not impossible to restore.
Who who will hold Eli Broad accountable for his theft of a public institution?