Archives for category: Broad Foundation

The LA School Report has long been a partisan supporter of charters, Deasy, Broad, and all other parts of the privatization agenda. Under a new editor, the LA School Report became a neutral source. Now that editor has announced he is leaving because the LA School Report has merged with Campbell Brown’s “The 74.” The publication was founded by Jamie Alter Lynton, sister of major ed reformer Jonathan Alter and wife of Sony executive Michael Lynton. With the Broad Foundation funding education coverage at the Los Angeles Times and “The 74” controlling the editorial views of the LA School Report, there will be a dearth of unbiased reporting in the city. This happens at the same time that Eli Broad proposes to take control of half the children in the city’s public schools. When we lose the free press, our democracy is in trouble.




From a long string of messages, beginning with an email written by Steve Zimmer, President of the LAUSD school board:


On 2/1/16 12:14 AM, Zimmer, Steven wrote:

I am deeply saddened, angered and concerned.

As you know, we have often disagreed and sometimes vigorously. But through it all, you have maintained a commitment to the integrity of your profession and of the School Report. Under your leadership, the blog regained credibility and became an important element of the public’s understanding of public education in Los Angeles. It is no small thing that you gained my trust and confidence even though I knew Ms. Linton still wrote the checks that funded the publication. Our interpersonal trust, which you never once betrayed, is a testimony to your skills but more so to your person.

Much more important, you approach this work with the dignity and weight our kids, their families and their dreams demand. You always were careful to respect the teaching profession and the 80,000 public employees who put kids first every day in this district. This is not a game to you and the serious lens you applied to every story strengthened confidence in a publication that was, under Mr. Russo, little more than an amplifier for the orthodox corporate reform movement.

I thank you for your service and your efforts to bring a measure of objectivity to a press corps that now seems more intent on making news in public education than on reporting it. You do not deserve to be treated this way. Our students, their families, their teachers and their school communities deserve better.

Lastly, I ask you to consider not walking away. We cannot give up on objective coverage and analysis of public education in Los Angeles and across the country. It is no accident that Campbell Brown is coming to join Eli Broad in the effort to dismantle LAUSD and eviscerate democratically elected school boards and public sector unions across the nation. Now that the Los Angeles Times education coverage is funded by Broad, Wasserman, and Baxter and that the School Report will now be controlled by Brown and her funders, truth itself as it relates to public education in Los Angeles will be filtered through an orthodox reform lens at every turn. After the Times editorial leadership essentially told me that agenda was as important as accuracy in their coverage of the Board and of the district, I knew we were in a different place. Tonight, I understand that even more.

But being in a place and accepting that place are two different things. I hope you will engage with me and others who care about the future of public education and the future of journalism as we try to figure out what to do next. You and I both know this is way too important to do nothing.

Thank you again, my friend.


From: Michael Janofsky []
Sent: Sunday, January 31, 2016 11:01 PM
To: Zimmer, Steven; Haber, Shannon; Jones, Barbara A.; Holmquist, David (OGC); Ref Rodriguez; Aman, Aixle; Alex Caputo Pearl; Jason Mandell; Vladovic, Richard; Ratliff, Monica; Vizcarra, Claudia; Pollard-Terry, Gayle; Blanca Gallegos; Wells, Frank; Alberto Retana; Sara Mooney;; Ama Nyamekye; Dan Chang; Vanessa Romo; Naush Boghossian; John Deasy; Mckenna, George; Garcia, Monica (Board Member); Schmerelson, Scott M.; Crain, Jefferson; Manny Rivera; Catherine Suitor; Maria Brenes; Glenn Gritzner; Jenny Hontz
Subject: A change at LA School Report

I apologize for the mass email, but it’s the best way to inform all of you a bit of news.

After 2 1/2 years as managing editor, I am no longer working for LA School Report. Its founder has merged it with reform-minded Campbell Brown’s The 74, a change that was related to me only a few days ago. As part of the new arrangement, I learned I was removed as editor, with LA School Report and The 74 installing a replacement.

In my time as editor, I’ve worked closely with many of you, and I want to say how much I’ve appreciated your professionalism, your collegiality and your willingness to help us understand contentious, controversial and complicated issues affecting LA Unified. As an editor and occasional writer who has worked only for news organizations that favor neither one side of an issue or the other, I always tried my best to steer LA School Report down the middle, keeping it as fair and neutral as possible. I know some of you might disagree, but I am proud of the work we did.

I’m especially indebted to those who were always eager to respond to our questions in a timely manner and to help us understand the issues more deeply. Thank you.

I’ve learned a great deal from all of you, and I thank you for that, as well.

I wish all of you the best.

Michael Janofsky

The Los Angeles Times has a love affair with the privatization of public schools; it is wild about the idea of outsourcing control of students and funding to private management. Just a few days ago, the LAUSD surprised everyone by voting 7-0 to reject billionaire Eli Broad’s plan to take control of half the students in the district by putting them in charters. It sounded a little fishy because even the board’s charter faction voted against Eli’s power grab.


Now we see the game is still on. Eli’s front-group called Great Schools Now is staffing up.


Today the Los Angeles Times published an editorial in support of the Broad plan that was breathtaking for its audacity. It echoed the charter lobby’s contention that any resistance to their drive for power was divisive. The editorial proposed that the district’s new superintendent should ask for a place at the charter lobby’s table so she could help shape their plans for a takeover. Say what?


What arrogance! What happened to the democratic process? Has Eli already purchased the district? Is Superintendent Michelle King his employee?


Here are some good comments by public school activists in LA.


Karen Wolfe warns King to stay away and reminds Eli that he is a citizen with one vote only. He should go to board meetings like everyone else with an idea.


She writes:


“In its ongoing effort to convince the city that a huge public entity should be handed over to a private group of titans, the LA Times now suggests inviting the public official to the table to give the effort some credibility. This is the superintendent, who was appointed by the democratically elected board, to lead the public entity the titans seek to control.


“As Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis has said, “You can’t have a seat at the table when you’re on the menu.”


Ellen Lubic wrote the following article:
Another Coffin Nail in Public Education…if Eli Broad Can Get Away With It


As we continue to see, the highly biased LA Times is under the thrall of Eli Broad and his cohorts to take over public education in Los Angeles and convert it to free market profiteering. Almost daily, the Times runs what is loosely called journalism, lauding charter schools, and defaming public schools, They add a disclosure announcement at the end of these articles admitting they are paid for by Broad and the non profits like United Way where he calls all the shots.
Here is the operant paragraph of Sunday’s editorial from the LA Times, which is paid for by Eli Broad and his claque of pretenders (see their full disclosure which appears repeatedly with most of the education issues on which they report). It is all about the new Broad-concieved 501c3 Great Public Schools Now, a permutation of Eli’s leaked plan to take over all of LAUSD.
“A better move would be to call on Great Public Schools Now to provide a place at the table for the district’s new superintendent, Michelle King, to participate in the planning process. If the new nonprofit organization hopes to overcome resistance in the community, it needs to be more open about its planning and it needs to open the process to public discussion — after all, whether charter schools or not, these are all public schools.”
“The Times receives funding for its digital initiative, Education Matters, from the California Endowment, the Wasserman Foundation and the Baxter Family Foundation. The California Community Foundation and United Way of Greater Los Angeles administer grants from the Broad Foundation to support this effort. Under terms of the grants, The Times retains complete control over editorial content.”
What a pile of manure…the only way these charter schools are public, is that We the People, we the public, we the taxpayers, are forced to pay for them…with NO oversight by the public, the government, or the school system. This is an amazing scam concocted by the Bonfire of the Vanities guys to use public funding for public schools while transferring students to privatized charter schools, all for their own profit. Rupert Murdoch and Eli Broad have openly written about this, and they and their billionaire buddies are gathered in their kingdoms, cackling at their success in fooling the public.
Now we read in their controlled corporate media, the LA Times, that Broad and Company wants the new Superintendent of LAUSD, Michelle King, to sit at their golden table as a participant with his hit squad, to charterize and privatize the rest of LAUSD…or at least for now, up to 50% more charters which take away from public education. Their fantasy seems to be that Michelle King will now work for them and be a subject to Myrna Castrejon…and of course Eli Broad.
It is shocking to see that Broad lawyers and PR firms now use as their mouthpiece, this hard core, non educator, lobbyist for CCSA who spent her time twisting arms in Sacramento who now thinks she is on the same level as the new Superintendent of LAUSD.
As to Myrna Castrejon, a political hit woman who works for charter schools, here is her Times dossier.
“The organization driving a controversial effort to vastly expand charter schools in Los Angeles has selected one of the state’s most visible charter school advocates as its first executive director.
Myrna Castrejon, 50, is leaving her position as a lobbyist and strategist for the California Charter Schools Association to lead Great Public Schools Now, a nonprofit organization established to carry out the charter expansion strategy, which was first developed by billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad and his foundation.
In her new position, Castrejon will become the face of an initiative that is stoking tumult among educators and push-back from the Los Angeles Unified School District. An early proposal called for raising $490 million to enroll half of the district’s students in charter schools over the next eight years.
Castrejon, senior vice president of government affairs for the charter association, begins her new role Feb. 22. She said a key priority will be reaching out to leaders of the nation’s second largest school district who, just two days ago, publicly opposed the plan developed by the Broad Foundation.
L.A. Unified Supt. Michelle King on Thursday echoed concerns raised by the school board, saying she does not support any initiatives that propose to “take over” the district by encouraging students to enroll in charters.”
How many of the California legislators are under the influence of Broad and his endless cash? We know for a fact that the former mayor of LA, Anthony Villaraigosa, who is now preparing to run for Governor, is prime among these sellouts to the big money. He is so close to Eli and John Deasy, he can taste them.
Have we lost all control of American society and democracy to Broad his band of oligarchs? How can they form a new 501c3 and think it will be the vehicle to infiltrate the school district and usurp it totally, from Superintendent to BoE to every classroom and every piece of LAUSD real estate?
The arrogance and sheer chutzpah of this power grab is mind boggling.
The real public living in the community better wake up to this irreversible loss of public schools and must take to the streets to preserve what is left. California already has more charter schools than any other state in the Union, and Los Angeles has the most of any city in the nation. Yet university reports show that the preponderance of these charters do no better than public schools in educating students, and a large group does far worse…all the while making big bucks using ill prepared teachers who flee their charges quickly.







Will wonders never cease!


The LAUSD school board voted 7-0 for a resolution that rebuffs Eli Broad’s plan to take control of half the students in the district and enroll them in privately managed charter schools. After a lively discussion, the board passed a resolution that made clear it would oppose any effort to weaken the LAUSD public schools. This is a startling development, since some of the members were elected with Eli Broad campaign funds.


The focus of the discussion was a resolution put forward by Scott Schmerelson, strongly in opposition to a corporate takeover of the public schools. Some of the members openly acknowledged that the expansion of charter schools put the public schools at risk by diminishing their resources and programs. The Los Angeles Times noted with surprise that the board had selected its new superintendent by unanimous vote, and now voted to support the public schools by unanimous vote. The resolution directed Superintendent Michelle King “to analyze how the outside plan, which was developed by the Broad Foundation, will “affect the district’s enrollment, fiscal viability and ability to provide an outstanding public education.”


The Times writes:


Board member Scott Schmerelson, who authored the resolution, agreed to make changes proposed by other board members to soften some of the language describing charter schools, such as removing the word strangulation from a sentence describing the plan.


Schmerelson said he struggled to understand why Eli Broad and others did not work to improve traditional public schools by investing in successful programs.


“The point is that we have thrown the glove down to big business and they know they’d better be very careful how they work with LAUSD,” he said. “We’ll accept their help in limited forms, but they will not take over our district.”


Sarah Angel, managing director of regional advocacy with the California Charter School Assn., told board members that the resolution was polarizing. But board discussion settled some of her concerns. (I had to laugh when I saw that she called the resolution “polarizing,” because that was the same comment that the CCSA wrote in response to an opinion piece I wrote for the Los Angeles Times in support of public schools. According to CCSA, if you support charter schools, you are “for the children.” But if you support public schools, you are “polarizing.”)


Board president Steve Zimmer deserves credit and high praise for uniting the board behind a resolution in support of the public schools. Member Scott Schmerelson deserves credit and high praise for boldly and clearly opposing privatization and for laying out the disastrous consequences if the Broad plan were allowed to move forward.


My observer in Los Angeles watched the school board meeting and reported:


There was some pontificating, but basically, not one board member would say they were against the resolution. Just before the vote, Steve Zimmer spoke eloquently and signaled what I hope is the dawn of a new day at LAUSD. I want to send you his statement. When it was declared to have passed unanimously, the audience went crazy. In fact, a rhythmic chant of extreme support for Schmerelson and the resolution followed. While the camera was focused on the whole board and not specifically on Schmerelson, you could see his reaction. His body language was unmistakable. It was as if an extreme burden had been lifted from him. There is little doubt that he must have suffered greatly from attacks by the charter industry. In fact, you will hear Zimmer complain bitterly about nasty public comment from charter advocates made during the morning session and apparently before the resolution came up for a vote in the afternoon (I wasn’t watching at that time).


I would say that Schmerelson provided the board with a jump start to take the battle against privatizing education to a higher level.


When the video is available, I will post it.

Billionaire Eli Broad aims to privatize the schools of half the children in the Los Angeles Unified School District; he has even funded a phony, astroturf organization called “Great Public Schools Now” to push his plan. He has no intention of submitting his proposal to the vote of the people of Los Angeles. He forgets that their tax dollars built the facilities; he thinks that because he is a billionaire, he should have the right or at least the power to privatize what rightfully belongs to the people of Los Angeles, without asking permission from them.


State law, adopted during the aggressively pro-charter Schwarzenegger era, clears the path for rapid expansion of charter schools. If LAUSD rejects a charter, it will be approved by the Los Angeles County Board of Education. In the rare instance that the county board does not approve, the charter can appeal to the state board of education. Los Angeles currently has the largest number of students in charters of any school district in the nation. The charters are deregulated and unsupervised. Neither the state nor the district has the personnel to oversee their financial or academic operations.


One member of the Los Angeles school board has had the courage to stand up and boldly say NO to billionaire Broad. He is Scott Schmerelson, the most recently elected board member and a retired educator in the LAUSD schools.


An article in LA School Report says:



“As a retired, life-long LAUSD educator, I believe that I have a moral obligation to raise awareness and understanding of externally driven strategies that support the uncontrolled proliferation of charter schools at the expense of the District’s ability to adequately provide for the needs of all students, especially the most disadvantaged students who rely on public education,” Schmerelson told LA School Report.


As impassioned as the resolution may be, it’s effectively toothless in terms of changing how the district deals with charter applications and renewal requests that come before the board. State law creates the rules for charters, and it only provides for denials in the cases of questionable finances or managerial weakness.


In his review of the resolution, LA Unified’s chief legal counsel, David Holmquist, said as much: “It should be noted that any analysis done by the district on any charter school proposal needs to be in accordance with the provisions of the Education Code.” He added, “The Board should be cautioned against using any fiscal impact to the district and potential decrease in revenues as bases for denying a charter.”


That’s part of the problem, Schmerelson said, pointing to state regulations that restrict how the school board monitors, controls and approves charter schools. “We need to change state law and clarify ambiguous state and district guidelines that hamper our ability to act as responsible charter authorizers and exercise diligent oversight of existing charter schools,” he said.


Understand this state law: school boards cannot deny a charter application simply because it will impoverish the district and rob the children of necessary resources. So Broad wants to create a system that is separate and unequal. The students in his privately run charters will have the resources they need, while the children who remain in LAUSD will be stripped of courses, programs, teachers, nurses, staff, and maintenance. Broad promises to create his little empire by robbing those children not lucky enough to gain admission. Eli Broad does not believe in equality of educational opportunity. He believes in the free market, so long as he is in control.


His proposal is a disgrace. He wants “great schools now” for some children, and “rotten schools now” for others. This can’t be America.


Scott Schmerelson most certainly is a hero of American education and of this blog.


This is Board Member Schmerelson’s resolution (Item 25 at this link):



Mr. Schmerelson – Excellent Public Education for Every Student (Res-019-15/16) (Noticed November 10, 2015 and Postponed from a Previous Meeting)


Whereas, The recently released report from the Los Angeles Unified School District Independent Financial Review Panel indicates that declining enrollment is one of the critical issues that the District needs to proactively address in order to remain fiscally viable and to be able to provide a high quality, full service public education for every child who enters public schools in Los Angeles;


Whereas, The recently released “Plan for Great Public Schools” from the Eli Broad Foundation seeks to aggressively move over 250,000 students from LAUSD public schools to privately operated, under-regulated charter schools;


Whereas, The Broad Foundation plan does not address the impact, implications and potential for collateral damage to the approximately 300,000 students who would be left in a LAUSD system precariously drained of resources, programs and support systems;


Whereas, The Governing Board of the Los Angeles Unified School District passed the “Believing in our Schools Again” resolution in May 2015 directing the Superintendent to identify successful programs within the District including but not limited to magnets,




International Baccalaureate programs, Dual Language Immersion programs, STEM/STEAM programs, and Pilot schools and develop a comprehensive strategy to grow these programs and strengthen instruction and support at neighborhood schools;


Whereas, The Independent Financial Review Panel made similar recommendations for investment in successful District programs;


Whereas, The Board serves as both the authorizer of the largest number of charter schools in the nation and is responsible for ensuring an excellent educational program for over 540,000 students in LAUSD schools and programs;


Whereas, Rather than incubating ideas and sharing best practices between robust LAUSD programs and innovative charter schools as originally envisioned, recent tactics of saturation and strangulation threaten to create unnecessary competition for precious resources and to divides students and communities; and


Whereas, The Board is committed to the most important and comprehensive education equity mission in the nation and must have the needed resources to implement the A-G for All resolution, the School Climate Bill of Rights, the Equity Index and other essential initiatives to ensure 100% graduation of all students who are college and career ready; now, therefore, be it


Resolved, That the Governing Board of the Los Angeles Unified School District, while diligently seeking new District leadership, affirms and publicly commits to making every possible effort to attract and retain students and parents by engaging with all stakeholders to develop a framework for excellent public schools, and improved outcomes, for every student by relying on tested strategies and forward thinking new models that include:


  • Research based curriculum and instruction designed to provide all students with equitable and rigorous learning opportunities to equip our graduates with the skills and knowledge necessary for college readiness, career training and preparation for successful lives after high school;
  • Fostering Community Schools intentionally directed at improving student achievement, through a holistic approach to teaching and learning, by implementing policies and programs that recognize and support the social, emotional, physical and academic needs of all students;
  • Demanding, supporting and cultivating accountable school leadership and teaching staff who understand and project a clear vision and high expectations of academic excellence for all students;
  • Leveling the playing field for our youngest students, who daily endure the disadvantages of poverty, by providing access to high quality early learning opportunities that are aligned with first-rate early literacy programs;
  • Equitably funded, sequential arts and music education curricula that advance creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and communication skills for all students regardless of their socioeconomic status;
  • Acknowledging that student safety is our highest priority and that parents expect their children in our care to be vigilantly protected and educated in secure, well maintained facilities; 
  • A meticulous and urgent review of our parent engagement efforts that recognizes that we are not always successful in creating welcoming and resource rich environments and policies that support and encourage critical family involvement in student achievement;
  • Developing aggressive and definitive plans for improving student and staff attendance and reducing our unacceptable dropout rate;
  • Bold and consistent advocacy for adequate and equitable local, state and federal funding while improving responsible, transparent and accountable management of public revenues; and be it finally


  • Resolved, That the Board directs the Superintendent to analyze all external proposals targeting

    the District for their impact in terms of enrollment, fiscal viability and the District’s ability to

    provide an outstanding public education with comprehensive student and family supports before

    that proposal is considered by the Board.


Michael Massing, former executive editor of the Columbia Journalism Review, has a fabulous article in the current Néw York Review of Books about the media’s failure to cover the political activities of the 1%.

In the middle of the article, he goes into detail about the millions of dollars that billionaires and hedge fund managers have poured into charter schools and into the campaigns of politicians who support charter schools.

Massing chides the media for its failure to follow the money.

It is great is to see the issues we are familiar with getting attention in a highly respected national publication.

Joanne Barkan has written powerful articles in Dissent about the power wielded by billionaires to control and direct public education. (See here.)


Now she has written an article in The Guardian about the Zuckerbergs’ pledge to place 99% of their Facebook stock (value: about $45-46 billion) in a limited liability corporation, which they will use to influence public policy. Her article has the title “Wealthy Philanthropists Should Not Impose Their Idea of the Common Good on Us.”


She writes:


There’s a strong argument to be made that the private tax-exempt foundation doesn’t fit well in a functioning democracy. As the eminent US jurist Richard Posner wrote: “A perpetual charitable foundation, however, is a completely irresponsible institution, answerable to nobody. It competes neither in capital markets nor in product markets … and, unlike a hereditary monarch whom such a foundation otherwise resembles, it is subject to no political controls either.”


Although the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative isn’t a foundation and will pay taxes, nothing about their project changes the fundamental contradiction of mega philanthropy: the wealthy have the power to impose their personal visions of the common good on everyone else while calling it charity. In the tug-of-war between government by the people and social engineering by multibillionaire philanthropists, Chan and Zuckerberg pull on the side of the powerful social engineers.


However, in the New Yorker, James Surowiecki writes “In Defense of Philanthocapitalism,” a spirited defense of the Zuckerbergs, the Gates, and the other billionaires who are willing to try bold new approaches that government is too timid to try. So I assume he includes the Koch brothers, who use their wealth to reshape the economy to benefit the 1%, and Art Pope, who has used his wealth to hand the state of North Carolina over to the Tea Party, and the Waltons, who use their billions to stamp out unions and public schools.


He writes:


In an ideal world, big foundations might be superfluous. But in the real world they are vital, because they are adept at targeting problems that both the private sector and the government often neglect. The classic mission of nonprofits is investing in what economists call public goods—things that have benefits for everyone, even people who haven’t paid for them. Public health is a prime example: we would all benefit from the eradication of malaria and tuberculosis (diseases that Bill Gates’s foundation has spent billions fighting). But, since the benefits of public goods are widely enjoyed, it’s hard to get anyone in particular to foot the bill.


Ah, yes, what would we do without the Koch brothers, the Walton Family Foundation, and other billionaire foundations that do not believe in the public sector? What would educators do if they didn’t have the Gates Foundation to tell them how to evaluate teachers and how to turn public assets over the unaccountable charter schools and how to teach reading and mathematics? What would Los Angeles do if it didn’t have Eli Broad picking its superintendent and deciding to take control of half the children in the public schools and hand them over to privately managed charters and at the same time underwriting coverage of education in the Los Angeles Times? What would Philadelphia do if it didn’t have local foundations deciding to privatize its public schools? How many other cities have private foundations that have decided to lead the charge for school privatization? How many rightwing think tanks would shrivel and die without the support of the same billionaires and their foundations?


Who should shape the public good? The philanthrocapitalists or the public? Who holds the foundations accountable when they make a mistake? To whom are they accountable? No one. How can they preach accountability to everyone else but not for themselves?


Please read and comment.

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?

As we have read, Eli Broad is underwriting education coverage in the Los Angeles Times. His support came about the same time that the billionaire announced his plan to provide 260 new charters for half the students in LAUSD at a cost of near $500 million, which he and friends would assemble. Public education in the district would suffer a loss of students and resources and would be collateral damage.

To those those concerned about Broad’s plan for mass privatization, the LA Times has advice: “Stop whining.”

Good investment, Eli.

Last year, Camp Philos had its first meeting in a remote area of the Adirondacks of New York. Governor Cuomo was the keynote speaker at this gathering of philosophers who strategize about replacing public schools with private management and opening up the secure flow of government funding to private investors.

This year, the philosophers’ camp convened in Martha’s Vineyard, an equally inaccessible and very expensive location. It was in late October. Some of the stars of privatization were there, plus a few new faces.

The event was sponsored by the Broad Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, and ConnCAN. The usual lineup of billionaires paid for this strategy session on how to steal democracy from the public, how to promote the ALEC agenda while calling yourself a Democrat.

The Los Angeles Times reports that arts education has been shortchanged in the Los Angeles Unified School District in recent years, even as the district leadership was pouring millions of dollars into testing, test-prep, and technology. Former superintendent John Deasy was willing to allocate $1.3 Billion to buy iPads for Common Core testing, but at the same time, many schools across the district had no arts teachers.

Under the philosophy that test scores are the only measure that matters, that low scores lead to school closures, the district neglected the arts.

Normandie Avenue Elementary Principal Gustavo Ortiz worries that he can’t provide arts classes for most of the 900 students at his South Los Angeles school.

Not a single art or music class was offered until this year at Curtiss Middle School in Carson.

At Carlos Santana Arts Academy in North Hills, a campus abuzz with visual and performing arts, the principal has gone outside the school district for help. A former professional dancer, she has tapped industry connections and persuaded friends to teach ballroom dancing and other classes without pay until she could reimburse them.

Budget cuts and a narrow focus on subjects that are measured on standardized tests have contributed to a vast reduction of public school arts programs across the country. The deterioration has been particularly jarring in Los Angeles, the epicenter of the entertainment industry.

The Los Angeles Unified School District is discovering the extent of those cuts as it seeks to regain the vibrancy that once made it a leader in arts education. For the first time, L.A. Unified in September completed a detailed accounting of arts programs at its campuses that shows stark disparities in class offerings, the number of teachers and help provided by outside groups.

Arts programs at a vast majority of schools are inadequate, according to district data. Classrooms lack basic supplies. Some orchestra classes don’t have enough instruments. And thousands of elementary and middle school children are not getting any arts instruction.

A Los Angeles Times analysis that used L.A. Unified’s data to assign letter grades to arts programs shows that only 35 out of more than 700 schools would get an “A.” Those high-performing schools offered additional instruction through community donations, had more teachers and a greater variety of arts programs than most of the district’s campuses.

State policy is strong in support of arts education, but LAUSD doesn’t have the money to support the arts. Instead, the money has been spent on testing and implementing the Common Core.

Eight out of every 10 elementary schools does not meet state standards in the arts. The students least likely to engage in the arts are in the high-needs, low-income schools. In schools where there are parents with resources and contacts, they are able to supplement what the school does not provide.

Only four elementary schools — West Vernon, Magnolia, Bonita Street and 49th Street Elementary — had an arts teacher five days a week, according to district data.

“I feel real guilty because my kids go to schools where an art teacher and a music teacher are there five days a week,” said Ortiz, who pointed to Normandie’s limited budget. “I come here and I can’t give the kids what my own kids get. It just tears me up. It’s such an inequity.”

Arts education was not meant to be a luxury in California.

State law requires that schools provide music, art, theater and dance at every grade level. But few districts across the state live up to the requirement.

According to a story in the Wall Street Journal today, the state has allocated $4.8 Billion to the implementation of the Common Core standards and testing. This is a matter of priorities: What matters most: The joy of learning or standardized test scores?

It is ironic that billionaire Eli Broad, who just opened a new museum to house his own collection, wants to spend $490 million to open 260 new charter schools, but can’t find it in his heart to subsidize the arts in the schools of his adopted city.

Which will matter more to these children? The joy of performance, the discipline of practice, the love of engagement promoted by the arts or taking the Common Core tests that most will fail again and again?

You decide.


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