Last night I blogged about the recent meeting of the LAUSD school board and pointed out Steve Zimmer’s eloquent defense of class size limits. The high point of his six-minute statement was when he compared the class sizes in L.A. public schools–40 or more–with the class sizes in local charter schools, which boast of 20 or so. He did it dramatically, reading out the names of each charter and their class sizes, then tossing the piece of paper over his shoulder.

A reader who attended the meeting added the context of Zimmer’s comments and the reaction of some fellow board members:

 

Zimmer’s real Al Pacino-esque moment—I’m thinking of Pacino in SCENT OF A WOMAN and AND JUSTICE FOR ALL and other movies where he cuts loose with an monologue of outrage—is when he starts quoting the student-to-teacher ratios at the local charter schools… and one private school (“the elite of the elite… has a 12-to-1 ration. 12-to-1!”

Go to the video:

http://lausd.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?clip_id=58

Then jog to:

05:39:10

and watch until Zimmer hits his stride and lets it rip at:

05:40:10

With mounting irritation, Zimmer starts shouting—quoting and throwing the paper printouts from the charters websites wildly over his shoulder (where the charters’ websites’ main page touts and specifically cites their exact student-to-teacher ratios.)

This was breathtaking.

You can’t see this because of the camera angle, but Board Member Galatzan was visibly angry at this point.

A little subtext here.

Both Galatzan and Monica Garcia have strongly backed the private charters in general—and the ones mentioned by Zimmer in particular, while at the same time, lambasting teachers in the traditional public schools and those teachers’ union, UTLA for doing a lousy job, and “obstructing reform” and being “defenders of a failed status quo,” and on and on… (In the process, Galatzan and Garcia are parroting the talking points of the “reform” organizations who pumped millions into their campaigns… but that’s another story).

In 2009, Galatzan and Garcia also voted to raise class size in the traditional public schools—and saying nothing about the ratios at their beloved charter schools. While the state budget was a contributing factor to the vote, Galatzan and Garcia also cited in part the following reasons for raising the class size in the traditional public schools:

1) “Lowering class size is just about teachers
unions wanting more members and more dues,
and more power… with no proof that it helps kids.”

2) “Lowering class size is about advancing adult interests
at the expense of children’s interests.”

3) “Lowering class size is just so teachers, who have
it easy enough already, will have it even easier, with less
work required from less students.”

Zimmer makes brief reference to these objections…
” to those who think that (lowering) class size is solely
about jobs.. ”

For Galatzan and Garcia, they take a seemingly contradictory (hypocritical?) stance on this, as again, they bend over backwards supporting and praising the charter schools whose success is in part due to their low class size—the low class size the charters tout on their websites.

Anyway, back to the video.

Galatzan starts picking up the papers that Zimmer flings indiscriminately over his head and slapping them down angrily on the counter, and says to him, “Are you gonna clean this up?”

Not flinching a bit, Zimmer continues his laser-like focus, not even looking sideways at Galatzan as he snaps, “I’ll clean it up!” as if to say, “Don’t butt in.. I’m on a roll here.”

Again… a breathtaking performance.