Last Friday, the LA Times brought the news that “a major charter expansion” is “in the works for LA Unified students.” It might have also noted that the expansion was in the works for parents and taxpayers, but I suppose that’s not as powerful as noting that this is For The Children.
But the lede will give you an idea of whence this wind is blowing:
A prominent local education foundation is discussing a major expansion of charter schools in Los Angeles aimed at boosting academic achievement for students at the lowest performing campuses.
The prominent foundation is, of course, the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, though apparently the folks at Keck and Walton are in on this, too, and my hat is once again off to folks who have the chutzpah to unilaterally declare themselves the head of a previously-democratic sector of society. Did somebody elect the Broad Foundation to the school board of the LA USD? No? Well, why let that stop them from going ahead and setting policy. I think I may go ahead and declare myself the chief of police here in my town, stop down to City Hall, and let them know what the new policies are going to be.
“People have been demanding better public schools forever and not getting them,” said Swati Pandey, a spokeswoman for the foundation.”But we say, screw public schools– let’s just replace them with privately owned and operated charters.” Ha! Okay, she’s only quoted as saying that first part. I filled in the rest for her.
Folks who have attended the meetings about this unelected initiative have shared other tidbits, like a goal to enroll half of all LA students in charters over the next eight years. There also seemed to be a lot of looking at maps of where all the students trapped in failing schools are, and discussing how to get charters operating for those students.
Although they note that “an ambitious expansion of charter schools would be costly and would likely face a political fight,” there’s no indication of a discussion about the relative expense of supporting and improving those public schools as compared to the expensive charter-launching approach.
There’s also no indication that any part of this conversation was held with the actual public school system. LAUSD board president Steve Zimmer, whatever his faults, has a quote in the article that shows he understands the problem.
“The most critical concern would be the collateral damage to the children left behind,” he said.
Because this charter plan for a huger private school system (and all the major players, from Green Dot to ICEF are apparently in on this) would get its operating expenses by stripping resources from the public system.
And if you’re a fan of LA school foolishness, you’ll love this final line from the Times article:
The foundation declined to discuss what role, if any, Deasy is playing in the new effort.
Yesterday, the LA School School Report followed up on this “bombshell story” by getting Broad to offer some non-clarification clarification. The foundation sent an email saying, “Some schools bad. All students should have the benefit of contributing to the financial health of a privately operated charter school.” I’m paraphrasing.
Because when you are announcing your intention to launch a hostile takeover of the entire public school system in a major city (or at least a takeover of its funding), the last thing you need to do is clarify yourself to the taxpayers, voters, elected officials, parents, and all those other little people that you don’t have to answer to.