Thursday, May 18, 2017

More on LA School Board Take Over by Corporate Billionaires

A Big Win for Corporate Advocates of Charters.
Mike McPhate
School board campaigns are often sleepy affairs, not the sort of electoral battle that generates widespread attention and outside donations. But this week’s election for the Los Angeles Unified school board was something of an epic proxy fight. Some saw it as a battle over the influence of the teachers’ union. Others cast it as a fight against the education agenda of President Trump and Betsy DeVos and the expansion of charter schools. 
After Tuesday’s results, the seven-member school board that governs the nation’s second largest public school system will be dominated by supporters of charter schools who may move to increase the number of publicly funded but privately run schools across the city. 
The election drew in some $14 million — making it among the most expensive school board races in the country’s history — and a host of high-profile endorsements. In the end, the candidates who portrayed themselves as supporters of dramatic changes won out, leaving the teachers’ union and its supporters angered and worried about the future. Steve Zimmer, the school board president who lost to the challenger Nick Melvoin, was so angered by the defeat that he refused to make the customary congratulatory call. Mr. Zimmer called the results “devastating” and said he would never run for office again.
There are already more charter schools and charter school students in Los Angeles than in any other school system in the country; charter school students make up more than 20 percent of the district’s enrollment. But supporters of the schools say that there is room for many more and that students in the district should have more options. 
The fight over the schools, however, obscures some of the district’s other pressing problems — including a declining enrollment and a projected deficit of nearly $1.5 billion. 
Mr. Melvoin said he wanted to work to repair the divisions that had been exacerbated by the campaign, calling the union versus charter school paradigm a “false choice.” 
“We have schools in every area of L.A. with a huge waiting list just a few blocks away from schools that have been under-enrolled for a long time now,” he said. “We haven’t learned the lessons of the charter movement in L.A. The district is not improving its own schools to please more parents.”

California Today,  New York Times
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