Archives for category: Los Angeles

Jan Resseger, a long-time advocate for children, families, and public schools in Ohio, asks “What Gives Campbell Brown Standing to Spin the News about Public Education?” Good question.


She was a news anchor.  I know she gets upset when I say this, but she is pretty. It’s true; being pretty is nothing to feel bad about.


She has no prior experience in education. But with the financial support of the Walton Family and the Bloomberg Foundation and a few other billionaire donors, she now is in a position to opine about how to “reform” public schools. Did she ever attend one? Do her children? Was she ever a teacher or a principal? Is she a scholar? Has she studied the problems of the schools in depth? We know the answers to those questions.


She is obsessed with stripping away the rights of teachers. She hates unions. She thinks the schools are staffed by large numbers of sexual predators.


Why? I don’t know.


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

Call Davis Guggenheim! Time for a new movie about a remarkable public school in Los Angeles!


Cedrick Argueta, the son of immigrant parents, received a perfect score on the AP Calculus exam, one of only 12 students in the world to do so. Some 302,000 students took the exam.


Cedrick is a student at Lincoln High School, which has 1200 students. His teacher is Anthony Yom. Lincoln is a regular neighborhood public school, not a magnet or a charter.


“As far as math whizzes go, Cedrick is unassuming. He likes to play basketball with his buddies, and his favorite reading of late was the Harry Potter series. Knowing he was going to do television interviews this week, he donned a blue LHS hoodie and sneakers.


“Math has always just made sense to him, he said. He appreciates the creativity of it, the different methods you can take to solve a problem.


“There’s also some beauty in it being absolute,” Cedrick said. “There’s always a right answer.”


“When asked about his perfect exam score, Cedrick just thanked everybody else in his life.


“It just sort of blew up,” he said. “It feels kind of good to be in the spotlight for a little bit, but I want to give credit to everybody else that helped me along the way.”
“Cedrick is the son of Lilian and Marcos Argueta, both of whom came to the United States as young adults – she from the Philippines, he from El Salvador. Lilian, a licensed vocational nurse, works two jobs at nursing homes. Marcos is a maintenance worker at one of those nursing homes. He never went to high school.


“Lilian Argueta, pausing during one of her shifts this week, said her son’s accomplishment is still sinking in. He texted her when he found out, and she told him it was great but, she said, she didn’t understand the magnitude until reporters started calling.


“Argueta said that she always told Cedrick and his younger sister to finish their homework and to “read, read, read,” but that they knew she’d be proud of them whether or not they got straight A’s.


Cedrick’s teacher was very proud too, although he is accustomed to good results.


“All 21 of Yom’s AP Calculus students who took the exam last year passed; 17 got the highest score of 5. It was the third year in a row that all of Yom’s kids passed the test.


“Yom, 35, said he treats his students like a sports team. They’d stay after school, practicing problem solving for three or four extra hours, and they’d come on weekends. On test day, they wore matching blue T-shirts sporting their names, “like they’re wearing jerseys to the game,” Yom said.”






The U.S. Education Department, which was once a defender and supporter of public education, has now become a major investor in privately managed charters.


The lobbyist for the board of the Los Angeles Unified School District reported that larger amounts of federal funding was directed to the city’s charter schools than to the city’s magnet schools. The city’s magnet schools are far more successful than the charters.


As the LA School Report says:


“For all the successful magnet schools in LA Unified and elsewhere, they are not attracting as much federal support as charter schools.
That was a stark message from the district’s federal lobbyist, who told a district board committee this week that Washington is increasing national support for charter schools by nearly 32 percent but by only 6 percent for magnet schools, a difference that surprised some of the school board members.

“We never imagined this would ever be this much of a discrepancy,” board president Steve Zimmer said at a meeting of the board’s Committee of the Whole.

“The money for charters rose to $350 million from $270 million while the magnet school support increased to $96 million from $91 million, according to Joel Packer, of the Raben Group, which lobbies for the district in Washington.

“Charter schools have big bipartisan support in Congress,” Packer said. “They got a big increase. Magnet schools don’t have the same political clout.”


Who lobbies for magnet schools? No one.







Karen Quartz wrote a powerful article explaining why Eli Broad’s plan to grab control of half the students in Los Angeles is a huge mistake. Quartz is the director of research at the UCLA Community School, a K-12 university-supported neighborhood public school in Pico Union/Koreatown.

She wrote:

“In September, a proposal from Great Public Schools Now, an initiative led by billionaire Eli Broad, unleashed ferocious debate. Rife with business-speak, it suggested LAUSD could be fixed by attracting edupreneurs to launch 260 new charter schools that would capture 50% of the district’s “market share” by 2023. Within weeks, battle lines were drawn. Rallying anti-charter-school activists, former school board president Jackie Goldberg declared “This is war!” On its website, the teacher’s union posted “Hit the Road, Broad.”

“Another coalition of local foundation leaders then weighed in with its own open letter in November and offered to mediate. Without taking sides, they cautioned that “intended reforms often fall short if they are done to communities rather than with communities.”

“Then, in an abrupt turn, Great Public Schools Now announced in December that it would channel its resources not just into adding more charter schools, but into replicating models of success at traditional schools as well. It released a list of 49 schools that were models of success, 42 of them magnets and charter schools. Both types of schools rely on competitive admissions policies that are based on lotteries or criteria such as giftedness.

“The list’s near-exclusive focus on charters and magnets rather than neighborhood schools sends a powerful message about how these private reformers want Angelenos to think about education — as savvy consumers competing for scarce resources needed to help their children get ahead.

“What does this process of edupreneurship and innovation look like on the ground? Magnets and charters use aggressive recruitment campaigns to draw families with more social capital away from their neighborhood public schools. The most vulnerable children, then, are left behind in quickly emptying buildings, which sit waiting for a Proposition 39 takeover bid, which allows new charter schools to open in the unused classroom space.”

Quartz explains why Broad’s proposal is harmful to the democratic concept of public education.

“My point is not that one method of reform trumps all others. Rather, it’s that to ensure high-quality schools for all children requires recognizing that public education is both an individual good that helps people get ahead — “the great equalizer,” as Horace Mann put it in 1848 — and a collective good that defines how we together determine our shared fate.

“Edupreneurship is designed to unleash creative energy into conservative school systems and disrupt longstanding patterns of underachievement. But if that comes at the expense of our common good, it threatens the very foundation of public schooling.”

Of course, there is no guarantee that the edupreneuers will succeed. Based on their spotty record, they are likely to fail and move on, leaving communities in shambles. For the Broad team, the little people are pawns on their chess board.

Peter Sussman is an expert in the ethics of journalism. He literally wrote the book. A concerned citizen contacted him to ask him about whether it was proper for the Los Angeles Times to accept money for education coverage from Eli Broad, since his activities in education are covered by the newspaper. The editorials in the Times have been very enthusiastic about Eli’s plan to open 260 new charters for half the students in the Los Angeles public schools. The Times is careful to note that its education coverage is subsidized by a gaggle of wealthy people, including Eli Broad’s foundation.


This is not a small question. How can we have freedom of the press if billionaires buy the media and/or subsidize the coverage that directly affects their interests?


Peter Sussman responded:


Was I tagged because this is such a tough ethical issue to parse? It is not. With this kind of entanglement with the subject of its news stories, the Times has given up the right to expect any trust or credibility for its journalism on education. They are trapped in a massive conflict of interest, and no amount of pro forma disclosure will fix that. It’s so sad to see what has happened to that once-great publication.


You can add to the comment that trust and credibility are the life’s blood of journalism, and without it, a “news” organization is no different than any other partisan in public disputes, with the added problem that there is no major paper to hold it accountable, although in this case a blogger has apparently stepped into the breach. People have jeopardized and lost their jobs for defending their editorial independence and standing up to such conflicts of interest. I haven’t read the background on the issue you’ve highlighted, but if all your information is accurate, the Times’ problem extends beyond opinions to reporting, however well-intentioned their education reporters are.


–Peter Sussman, a retired longtime San Francisco Chronicle editor who is a past co-author of the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics. (He was co-author of the 1996 version.)

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.

The blogger known as the Red Queen in LA breathed a sign of relief and expressed joy: The LAUSD board chose a knowledgeable insider instead of a flashy outsider. Michelle King was the right choice to lead the district and to take care of the children, not the billionaires. The board conducted a national search and then chose the educator who knew the system. They learned that there are no miracle-workers out there.


She writes:


I’ve heard it remarked this is LA’s Hope moment, but I do not think so. King’s promise is not of suppressed anticipatory excitement, but of commonplace relief. None of us actively engaged in public education actually wants the drama of ideology, we want schools that work, institutions anchored to our communities, giving and taking in equal measure, part and parcel of our society’s bedrock. We don’t want to be utilized as part of neoliberal capitalism where education is a sector exploited for its privatization potential. Our kid’s education is not a commodity, it’s just part of their ontogeny. We want a village that will raise our children. Correctly, adequately, properly and in exactly the same way as are Walton or Gates or Obama children.

Traveling through public spaces in town yesterday everywhere could be witnessed folks high-fiving. I stuck my hand out and high-fived innumerable strangers. I knew what they were talking about without overhearing their words: everyone’s just plain relieved. She’s come home, the board’s recovered its senses. The tempering of jittery nerves regarding LAUSD and its future was palpable.

LAUSD’s school board made a very courageous decision in opting for the quietly competent administrative “tortoise” who has not been swinging from educational lianas, leveraging criminal racketeering into higher education diplomas. Michelle King is politically savvy perforce, and the board has satisfied its members through private conversations that her political ideology is sound enough. The prerequisites for this job are ultimately not complex, and the in-house candidate has an advantage in this politically charged climate: she is a known, knowing and competent candidate, and she demonstrably will in fact work for “the children” and not just pretend as much.

The LAUSD board voted unanimously to select a veteran educator in the system as its new superintendent.


Michelle King, a 30-year veteran, will succeed Ramon Cortines. She will be the first woman and the first African-American to lead the school district. She was previously a respected high school principal, and served as deputy superintendent under both John Deasy and Cortines.


Board members said that she impressed them in their long interviews behind closed doors. They said they appreciated her knowledge of L.A. Unified, which, they concluded, would allow her to tackle the school system’s problems without delay.


The board will eventually have to confront Eli Broad’s effort to take control of half the children in the district by opening 260 charter schools.


The big showdown will come in the school board elections in 2017, when the billionaires can be counted on to pour millions into school board races in an effort to gain control of the board.


In the meanwhile, Michelle King will have her hands full trying to steady the district after years of disruption, budget crises, and declining enrollments.








Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 166,987 other followers