Archives for category: Los Angeles

Reader Jack Covey left the following comment in response to a post about Utah:


“One of the first actions as newly appointed superintendent that really caught the ire of the community was to fire all of the librarians in the district including many reading specialists, citing potential increases in the cost of benefits under the Affordable Care Act. [ii] Smith also went on to explain that Ogden School District is the only remaining district on the Wasatch Front to employ licensed teachers as media specialists in their libraries. [iii]This turned out to be false, but deaf to the public outcry by parents, teachers, and students, the librarians did, indeed, lose their jobs. Many had been in the district for decades. After all was said and done, a handful of librarians remained.”
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A lesser known outrage during John Deasy’s reign of terror in Los Angeles schools was his treatment of librarians. Just after taking over, he made a speech at Occidental College calling them useless and a waste of money, and then went after them.

Once he closed school libraries and removed the librarians in charge of them, the next step was to keep librarians from being placed in classroom position—as most had 10-30 years seniority, and were at the high end of the pay scale—and fire them from the district to save money.

What happened next defies description. They were put through hearings that were right out of Arthur Koestler’s DARKNESS AT NOON. The intent was to “prove” that, though fully credentialed by the state to teach, their years as librarians rendered them unfit to return to the classroom.

http://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/2011/05/18/lausd-doubts-that-seasoned-teacher-librarians-can-teach/

“… attorneys representing the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) asked Kafkaesque questions such as ‘Do you take attendance?’ of dozens of teacher-librarians appealing their layoffs in order to prove to an administrative judge that the teacher-librarians were not qualified to become classroom teachers. At least, that’s what observers such as Tobar and Nora Murphy, a teacher-librarian for L.A. Academy Middle School and blogger, have written about the hearings.

“What does taking attendance have to do with being a highly trained educator who is duly credentialed and who teaches how to learn? Here’s the connection: A recency rule established this school year by LAUSD officials (and upheld by an administrative judge) states that a teacher-librarian who has not taught in a classroom for five years is no longer, by definition, a qualified teacher, no matter how many years of service and training she or he has.

“And if a teacher-librarian hasn’t taken attendance in five or more years, she or he must not have been in charge of a classroom. The administrative judge presiding over the hearings upheld the recency rule, clearing the way for the trials. It is unclear when the judge will rule on the individuals’ qualifications.

“In a May 18 op-ed in the Times, Murphy said:

” ‘I have listened as other teacher-librarians have endured demeaning questions from school district attorneys, and I wonder how it has come to this. . . . The basic question being asked is whether highly trained and experienced teacher-librarians are fit for the classroom. LAUSD’s lawyers seem determined to prove they are not.

” ‘One librarian, who would like to go back to an elementary classroom if her library is closed, was asked to recite the physical education standards for second-graders, as if failing to do so would mean she was unfit.

” ‘Another teacher, who wants to return to teaching English, noted that she spent all day in the library effectively teaching English. But her inquisitor quickly started asking questions about the Dewey Decimal System, suggesting that since it involved more math than English, the teacher was no longer practiced in the art of teaching English.’

“Among those laid off is Leslie Sipos, teacher-librarian for the middle- and high school library at the brand-new LAUSD’s Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools campus, which was featured in American Libraries’ 2011 facilities showcase. ‘She hadn’t even gotten all the books out of boxes,’ Monroe High School Teacher-Librarian Annette Scherr told AL.

“ ‘The elimination of school librarians means the District is losing invaluable teachers whose educational specialty is empowering students with life-long, independent learning skills,’ wrote American Library Association President Roberta A. Stevens and Nancy Everhart, president of ALA’s American Association of School Librarians, in an open letter May 18 to the LAUSD board and administration.

“Urging the district to reconsider its decision, Stevens and Everhart asserted: ‘The elimination of these positions will have a devastating effect on the educational prospects and success of the District’s students. A good school library is not an option—it is essential to a good education.’

“As the grilling of teacher-librarians and other LAUSD educators proceeded, there was a presumption that state aid to education was going to be slashed yet again in FY2012, which would be partly responsible for LAUSD having a nearly $408-million deficit to erase. However, California Gov. Jerry Brown announced May 16 that, because state revenues had mushroomed $6.6 billion more than anticipated this fiscal year, he was recommending the restoration of $3 billion to education spending.

“If LAUSD receives the $300 million it would be due, it’s unclear whether it could help alleviate the situation in which teacher-librarians find themselves. What could help is the intense networking and outreach that members of the California School Librarians Association are doing to make the Los Angeles school libraries crisis as visible as possible.

“Teacher-librarians such as Scherr lobbied in the state Capitol with the California Teachers Association in mid-May for additional education funding, and even buttonholed California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, who was among those backing the state’s adoption last year of model school-library standards. Authors Neil Gaiman, Bruce Coville, and Jane Yolen have been spreading the word through Facebook; Gaiman has also created a #savethelibrarians hashtag.
From Kafka to kiosk?

“Scherr and other LAUSD teacher-librarians remain determined, but according to the April 20 quarterly report on bond-funded projects issued by district Chief Academic Officer Judy Elliott, the district has already reorganized the Instructional Media Services, which supported the school-library program, into a new department: the Integrated Library and Textbook Support Services.

” ‘The Director position of Instructional Media Services is being eliminated,’ Elliott writes, noting, ‘ILTSS supports the instructional goals of the Superintendent and LAUSD by ensuring new school libraries will be made available to students. . . . It is understood that all libraries need a certified librarian, but budget constraints force us to investigate different options for the schools to implement.’ ”

“According to Scherr, Elliott testified before the administrative judge that there was no function a teacher-librarian could perform that couldn’t be performed by anybody else. That philosophy is reflected in the report, which goes into detail about the implementation of Follett Software’s Destiny integrated-library system for library and textbook inventory management. Principals are offered three options: Find external funding for a teacher-librarian to manage the software system; delegate a school staffer to learn and maintain the software; establish an unstaffed ‘kiosk’ self-check system so students and faculty can still access the library’s collection.”

And here’s Hector Tobar’s report at the LOS ANGELES TIMES:

http://articles.latimes.com/2011/may/13/local/la-me-0513-tobar-20110513

HECTOR TOBAR:

“In a basement downtown, the librarians are being interrogated.

“On most days, they work in middle schools and high schools operated by the Los Angeles Unified School District, fielding student queries about American history and Greek mythology, and retrieving copies of vampire novels.

“But this week, you’ll find them in a makeshift LAUSD courtroom set up on the bare concrete floor of a building on East 9th Street. Several sit in plastic chairs, watching from an improvised gallery as their fellow librarians are questioned.

“A court reporter takes down testimony. A judge grants or denies objections from attorneys. Armed police officers hover nearby. On the witness stand, one librarian at a time is summoned to explain why she — the vast majority are women — should be allowed to keep her job.

“The librarians are guilty of nothing except earning salaries the district feels the need to cut. But as they’re cross-examined by determined LAUSD attorneys, they’re continually put on the defensive.

” ‘When was the last time you taught a course for which your librarian credential was not required?’ an LAUSD attorney asked Laura Graff, the librarian at Sun Valley High School, at a court session on Monday.

” ‘I’m not sure what you’re asking,’ Graff said. ‘ I teach all subjects, all day. In the library.’

” ‘Do you take attendance?’ the attorney insisted. ‘Do you issue grades?’

I’ve seen a lot of strange things in two decades as a reporter, but nothing quite as disgraceful and weird as this inquisition the LAUSD is inflicting upon more than 80 school librarians.

” ‘With my experience, it makes me angry to be interrogated,’ Graff told me after the 40 minutes she spent on the witness stand, describing the work she’s done at libraries and schools going back to the 1970s. ‘I don’t think any teacher-librarian needs to sit here and explain how they help teach students.’

“Sitting in during two court sessions this week, I felt bad for everyone present, including the LAUSD attorneys. After all, in the presence of a school librarian, you feel the need to whisper and be respectful. It must be very difficult, I thought, to grill a librarian.

“For LAUSD officials, it’s a means to an end: balancing the budget.

“Some 85 credentialed teacher-librarians got layoff notices in March. If state education cuts end up being as bad as most think likely, their only chance to keep a paycheck is to prove that they’re qualified to be transferred into classroom teaching jobs.

“Since all middle and high school librarians are required to have a state teaching credential in addition to a librarian credential, this should be an easy task — except for a school district rule that makes such transfers contingent on having taught students within the last five years.

“To get the librarians off the payroll, the district’s attorneys need to prove to an administrative law judge that the librarians don’t have that recent teaching experience. To try to prove that they do teach, the librarians, in turn, come to their hearings with copies of lesson plans they’ve prepared and reading groups they’ve organized.

“Sandra Lagasse, for 20 years the librarian at White Middle School in Carson, arrived at the temporary courtroom Wednesday with copies of her lesson plans in Greek word origins and mythology.

“On the witness stand, she described tutoring students in geometry and history, including subjects like the Hammurabi Code. Her multi-subject teaching credential was entered into evidence as ‘Exhibit 515.’

” Lagasse also described the ‘Reading Counts’ program she runs in the library, in which every student in the school is assessed for reading skills.

” ‘This is not a class, correct?’ a school district attorney asked her during cross-examination.

” ‘No,’ she said. ‘It is part of a class.’

” ‘There is no class at your school called ‘Reading Counts’? Correct.’ ”

” ‘No.’

“Lagasse endured her time on the stand with quiet dignity and confidence. She described how groups of up to 75 students file into her library — and how she works individually with many students.

“Later she told me: ‘I know I’m doing my job right when a student tells me, ‘Mrs. Lagasse, that book you gave me was so good. Do you have anything else like it?’ ”

It’s a noble profession. And it happens to be the only one Michael Bernard wants to practice.

” ‘It’s true, I’m a librarian and that’s all I want to be,’ said the librarian at North Hollywood High School, who has been a librarian for 23 years and has a master’s degree in library science.

” ‘The larger issue is the destruction of school libraries,’ Bernard told me. ‘None of the lawyers was talking about that.’

“School district rules say that only a certified teacher-librarian can manage a school library. So if Bernard is laid off, his library, with its 40,000 books and new computer terminals, could be shut down.

“Word of the libraries’ pending doom is starting to spread through the district. Adalgisa Grazziani, the librarian at Marshall High School, told me that the kids at her school are asking if they can take home books when the library there is closed.

” ‘Can I have the fantasy collection?’ one asked her.

“If they could speak freely at their dismissal hearings, the librarians likely would tell all present what a tragedy it is to close a library.

“Instead, they sit and try to politely answer such questions as, ‘Have you ever taught physical education?’

“It doesn’t seem right to punish an educator for choosing the quiet and contemplation of book stacks over the noise and hubbub of a classroom or a gymnasium. But that’s where we are in these strange and stupid times.”

Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse, you read a story like this.

It is a letter from the publisher of the Los Angeles Times informing readers that a group of wealthy foundations are underwriting expanded coverage of education. Not surprising to see the Eli Broad Foundation in the mix. Former Mayor Richard Riordan is not listed but you can be sure he is involved.

These control freaks–er, philanthropists–worry that the LAT has not provided enough space to cover this vital topic.

Publisher Austin Beutner writes:

“We are calling our initiative Education Matters, and I encourage you to join us as we explore the issues that matter most to you and your child. If you want to understand the latest debate on curriculum or testing, find out about the role of student health in learning, study how charter schools are changing public education or experience a classroom from the perspective of a teacher, then Education Matters will be an essential destination.

“With an expanded team of reporters, we will take a fresh approach to our news and analysis starting with today’s stories about the unique challenges facing LAUSD and the last year-round school in Los Angeles. Our editorial pages feature a guest column by U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan on the need for more investment in math and science education. You will find our reports at latimes.com/schools in English and Spanish.

“In the coming months, we will convene public forums to address topics such as educational education policy, saving for college and talking to your child’s teacher. We intend these conversations to be both thoughtful and practical.”

A guest column by Arne Duncan! Now there’s a fresh perspective!

I wonder if I will ever be invited to write for the LA Times again?

In the ongoing investigation of Rafe Esquith, the Los Angeles Unified School District brought new allegations against him.

Famed teacher Rafe Esquith sued the Los Angeles school district Thursday as officials released new abuse allegations against the fifth-grade instructor.

Esquith, who earned renown for introducing his Hobart Boulevard Elementary students to Shakespeare, alleged that the district mishandled an investigation into misconduct charges against him.

The veteran teacher was removed from his classroom in April. The probe began when a colleague expressed concern about a joke Esquith made to his students. Since then, the investigation has expanded to include a review of Esquith’s theatrical nonprofit and allegations that he abused a boy more than 40 years ago.

Esquith, 61, has denied wrongdoing.

L.A. Unified disclosed Thursday that its inquiry now involves the inappropriate touching of minors both before and during Esquith’s teaching career and that multiple photos of a sexual nature were found on his school computer.

In correspondence to Esquith’s attorneys, released by the district, officials said that the investigation “has revealed serious allegations of highly inappropriate conduct involving touching of minors before and during Mr. Esquith’s time at the School District.”

The letter also claims the investigation “revealed multiple inappropriate photographs and emails of a sexual nature” on his school computer as well as email correspondence with students that was “inconsistent” with the district’s code of conduct. The letter also referred to allegations of “threats to a parent and two students.”

In addition, the district said there were “possible ethical and District policy violations” related to Esquith’s nonprofit, the Hobart Shakespeareans.

One of Esquith’s attorneys, Mark Geragos, called the allegations outrageous.

“I would have thought rational minds would have come to their senses, but they are so frustrated by the fact that every one of their allegations, and the things they want to gin up, came up as a dry hole,” Geragos said.

The attorney added that he had seen the letter with detailed allegations only because a reporter had forwarded it to him. He said that as of Thursday afternoon, he had not yet received the letter from L.A. Unified.

Esquith’s suit seeks his return to school as well as damages for alleged defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, retaliation and age discrimination. According to the litigation, stress from the investigation led to Esquith’s recent hospitalization for thrombosis.

A small group of billionaires has decided to change public education in Los Angeles. They want half the students in the districts enrolled in privately managed charter schools. This is an astonishing development. Who elected them to privatize large sectors of public education? This is a test of our democracy. Have the 1% gained control of our democratic institutions, to reshape as they wish?

Two important meetings are coming up soon. Please try to attend the “Get the Crooks Out of Public Education” press conference on August 17:

Repeal Charters Meeting And Action In CA

8/16 LA Organizing Meeting Of Repeal Charter Schools Laws In CA
Sunday August 16, 2015 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Coco’s Bakery Restaurant (meeting room) ( Please purchase food)
18521 Devonshire Street
Northridge, CA 91324
Please Register If You Will Be Attending-For Information and registration contact (415)867-0628

8/17Press Conference/Speak Out At Broad Foundation
Stop Destroying Public Education-Repeal California School Charter Laws
Get The Crooks Out Of Public Education
Broad Foundation
2121 Avenue of The Stars, Los Angeles
Monday August 17, 2015 12:00 noon

The Broad Foundation has just announced that it wants to double the number of public funded privately run charters in Los Angeles. This foundation has played a central role in pushing charters and privatization in the US and it has trained people like former LAUSD Superintendent Deasy who have been involved in systemic corruption. This “foundation” has placed not only management in public schools throughout the country but also has placed pro-charter and privatization supporters on public boards and agencies throughout the country. There is a sordid record of financial conflicts of interests and the concerted effort by Broad, Gates Foundation, Bechtel Foundation, Walton/Walmart, KIPP GAP, Pearson Inc, and a myriad of other profiteers to transform our public education system into a profit making scam operation that not only steals from the public but ends up re-segregating education in Los Angeles and the United States.

This press conference speak out will have teachers and supporters of public education speak out about specific violation of the education code, systemic corruption and the need not only to support the repeal of charters in California but for investigation and prosecution of the criminals involved in the massive privatization scam now going on in California and nationally.

This press conference is sponsored by
Voices Against Privatizing Public Education

Ballot Initiative to REPEAL the CA Charter School Act of 1992
http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/repeal-charter-school-act-of-1992-in-ca-ballot
https://www.facebook.com/CitizensForEducationRestoration
https://notocharterschools.wordpress.com
https://notocharterschools.files.wordpress.com/2015/08/defend-public-ed-statement.pdf
For information (415)282-1908

Karen Wolfe is an activist for public education in Los Angeles. Here she responds to the news that Eli Broad and the Walton family plan to pour millions into increasing charter school enrollments in Los Angeles; their hope is to capture 50% of the children for the privately managed schools. Despite the fact that studies show that charters on average do not outperform as compared to public schools, despite the fact that twenty-five years of charters have produced no innovations (other than to go back to the 19th century way of doing things in the strictest manner possible), despite the numerous frauds and financial scandals associated with charters, Broad, Walton, and a few more billionaires want to destroy the public school system of Los Angeles to have their way. Public education belongs to the entire community; it is undemocratic to allow a handful of billionaires to take possession of half the children enrolled in the public schools and turn them over to franchise operators.

Karen Wolfe writes that the outcome depends on Steve Zimmer, the recently elected school board president, who has walked a fine line between supporting public schools and placating the privatizers (who spent $4 million trying to defeat him when he last ran for re-election):

The timing of this plan is no surprise at all. The powerful California charter lobby seems to be at their wits end after recent losses. Let’s assess.

The first big loss was Steve Zimmer’s election two years ago, despite their spending more than any previous school board race in US history, according to published reports at the time. Subsequently, the corporate privatizers have lost almost every time a vote has been put to the people.

Last year’s election of Tom Torlakson for California’s State Superintendent was seen as a referendum on corporate privatization–and we public school advocates won. California is one of the few states that resisted Race to the Top reforms.

The LA teacher’s union election also brought in leaders with a broader understanding of the fight for public schools. They still need to prove their mettle at building support among parents and student groups who seek an ally in improving our schools without selling them off. But the potential looks better than before. CTA, the state teachers union, remains a strong force in the state capitol, despite the charter lobby’s increasing presence.

The L.A. Mayor’s office is no longer carrying the water of the corporate privatizers either. New Mayor Eric Garcetti has resisted the repeated taunts of Broad and the other plutocrats to push their agenda. Garcetti is a distinct departure to his predecessor, the self-proclaimed “Education Mayor” Villaraigosa, who was trying to share the national charter stage with Bloomberg and Emanuel.

A notable exception is the election of disgraced PUC charter founder Ref Rodriguez to the school board, joining his charter cheerleader Monica Garcia. But now Steve Zimmer is board president and, if that position carries any weight, it might be making the charter lobby nervous. Often the swing vote in a split-down-the-middle board, Zimmer is now presiding over a new board that should give him more courage than he has previously displayed. His unwavering support of John Deasy and his support of almost every single charter school petition that came before the board have alienated many of Zimmer’s backers. We are anxious to see him prove himself to be the champion of our neighborhood schools that he recently proclaimed he was (in an AFT video posted on this blog).

This revelation that the charter groups have lost their patience and are announcing a public attack should be met with redoubled resistance. We have done the work to elect officials who will champion our public schools, even against wealthy special interests like the groups in this article. But the board needs to listen to community members and truly consider the supports that are necessary to enable our neighborhood schools to stand up to the threat of charters. We advocates need to know our school board is behind us as we fight for the very survival of our schools. I wrote this article for our local newspaper about what we need in Zimmer’s district, where I live, and have never heard from the school board about it.
http://argonautnews.com/power-to-speak-school-choice-whose-choice/.

There are advocates in other neighborhoods that have come up with similar plans and the board should solicit them. The point is that the board needs its public constituency or eventually no one will care who wins this policy debate.

Reader Jack Covey explains the injustice of “teacher jail” in Los Angeles.”

“Wow, the article from THE NATION
about teacher jail and Dr. Stevenson
is devastating. It was published in
April 2014, when Dr. Stevenson was
still languishing in teacher jails,
and written by one JoAnn Wypijewski.

“It deals with Deasy’s exploiting the “sex” and “child molestation” angles as a dishonest way to crush innocent veteranteachers—the highest paid naturally—and simultaneously destroy teacher unions’ ability to protect innocent teachers unjustly accused of something

http://www.thenation.com/article/179605/where-shame-policy-inside-las-teacher-jail

“Here’s the opening paragraphs:

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JoAnn Wypijewski of THE NATION:

“Iris Stevenson hurt no child, seduced no teenager, abused no student at Crenshaw High School in Los Angeles. This is what her supporters say in rallying outrage that this exemplary teacher has languished for months in the gulag of administrative detention known as ‘teacher jail’: she doesn’t belong there.

“And she doesn’t.

“Days before being removed from her music classes in December and ordered to spend her workdays isolated on a floor of the LA Unified School District (LAUSD)HQ with other suspect teachers, Stevenson, a legend in South LA and beyond, was at the White House directing the renowned Crenshaw Elite Choir as it sang for President Obama.

“She has not been officially informed of the charges against her. Unofficially, Stevenson is said to have swept off the choir to perform first in Paris and then in Washington without permission—an absurd claim, since parents had to consent, and Stevenson has conducted such foundation-supported field trips untroubled for decades. District authorities say only that Stevenson is under investigation.

“If she were a de facto kidnapper, police should have been called long ago. But, no, this is not about criminality or even misconduct; it is about a larger game of control being played by School Superintendent John Deasy. That game owes quite a lot to sex, because a few years ago a scandal tripped the panic button, which Deasy has kept his finger on ever since, exploiting justified public anger over a classroom pervert to pursue a war on teachers.

“The political question, then, is not just whether Stevenson belongs in teacher jail, but what this institutionalized containment regimen, this sub-bureaucracy of punishment, exists for in the first place, and how the specter of sex is the cowing excuse to go after anyone.”
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And it goes on from there… Read the whole thing at:

http://www.thenation.com/article/179605/where-shame-policy-inside-las-teacher-jail

This is a welcome editorial in the Los Angeles Times, criticizing what is known in that district as “teacher jail.” The suspension of Rafe Esquith brought this issue to the fore. John Deasy suspended the entire staff of Miramonte Elementary School after two teachers under investigation for sexual abuse, and eventually almost all of them were returned to the school. Los Angeles seems to have an unhealthy culture of suspecting the worst of teachers.

The Times writes:

In 2012, the entire 110-member staff of Miramonte Elementary School was pulled off campus after accusations of molestation were leveled at two teachers. Mark Berndt pleaded no contest to charges involving feeding semen-laced cookies to blindfolded students; charges against the second teacher were ultimately dropped (and he has since left the district). Everyone else spent the rest of the school year cooling their heels in a new, not-yet-opened school.

John Deasy, who was then superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, justified the move by saying he was concerned there might be a culture of sexual abuse at Miramonte. All staff files were scrutinized. But in only a couple of cases were there previous allegations of abuse; a few other teachers were found to have broken minor, unrelated rules, and most of the staff returned to Miramonte the following year.

At first this looked like nothing more than an honest effort to protect children, after Miramonte administrators had rebuffed earlier complaints. But it was the start of a troubling series of teacher suspensions at other schools that disrupted students’ education and that notably did not involve their safety. These suspensions with pay during often lengthy investigations are known as “teacher jail”; teachers largely spend the time at home while substitutes who often are less qualified take their places.

With classes beginning Aug. 18, the many admirers of Hobart Elementary teacher Rafe Esquith are wondering whether he’ll be there to greet a new batch of fifth-graders after four months in teacher jail. His case, and those of others before him, raise troubling questions about whether the teacher investigation system is causing too much disruption at L.A. Unified schools.

LAUSD seems to treat teachers as guilty until proven innocent. The editorial recommends:


By all means, investigate when necessary. But L.A. Unified should not overreact by removing teachers over allegations that have nothing to do with student safety. The district must put student welfare first, and their welfare is not served by disrupting the school year. It’s time for an independent examination by the district’s Office of the Inspector General.

Howard Blume reports that the Broad Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, and other foundations plan a major expansion of privately managed charter schools in Los Angeles.

Broad and Walton are leaders in the movement to privatize public schools, eliminate unions, and break the teaching profession. Their goals align with the extremist agenda of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The Waltons and Eli Broad have long funded privatization and Teach for America.

They are undeterred by the numerous studies showing that charters on average get no better results than public schools and that many have participated in swindles.

“One person who attended a meeting said the goal was to enroll in charter schools half of all Los Angeles students over the next eight years. Another said there was discussion of an option that involved enrolling 50% of students currently at schools with low test scores. A source said the cost was estimated to be $450 million; another said hundreds of millions of dollars are needed…

“Currently, more than 100,000 L.A. students attend charters, about 16% of district enrollment, according to the Los Angeles Unified School District. L.A. Unified has more charters, 207, and more charter students than any other school district in the country….

“School board President Steve Zimmer said that while some charters serve students well, a rapid expansion could undermine the district’s own school improvement efforts. L.A. Unified enrolls students who are more difficult and expensive to educate than those at charters, he said. Those students would be left with fewer resources if there were an exodus to charters, Zimmer said.

“The most critical concern would be the collateral damage to the children left behind,” he said…..

“Charter proponents considered it a setback when former Supt. John Deasy resigned under pressure in October. Deasy now works for the Broad Foundation as “superintendent in residence” to help train and coach current or aspiring senior school district administrators.

“Broad had said Deasy was the best L.A. superintendent in memory. Deasy’s departure may have been a catalyst for Broad to pursue an aggressive strategy outside the school system, some observers said.”

Steve Zimmer, a 17-year-veteran teacher in Los Angeles (he began via Teach for America), was recently elected President of the LAUSD school board.

In this speech to the AFT, he describes the many millions spent to defeat him.

I have known Steve for a few years, and I have always thought of him as soft-spoken. He is definitely NOT soft-spoken in this video. He goes after the billionaires who hope to privatize public schools, and he fights back, with a roar.

He unapologetically defends teachers. He is a firebrand fighting for collaboration.

After teacher Rafe Esquith was suspended from his fifth grade classroom at Hobart Elementary School in Los Angeles, LAUSD leaked that another staff member heard him refer to nudity based on a story in Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” Then the story was leaked that a man accused Rafe of abusing him 40 years ago, when he was a counselor at a private Jewish camp. Now the district has requested all the financial records of the private, nonprofit group that supports the children who are Hobart Shakespeareans.

Here is a comment that was posted by “melinson” which reads as follows:

“Rafe Esquith worked for me when he was a counselor at Camp Rancho at the Westside Jewish Community Center. I was the camp director. I NEVER heard any accusations against him. As I followed his remarkable career, I reflect on the enthusiastic 18 year old who was admired by the staff and loved by the campers.”

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