Millions on millions have been spent by billionaires to push through their agenda of privatization and to disrupt entire school districts, on the assumption that disruption is “creative.” No doubt, they are getting ready for the next elections, opening their wallets to anyone who promises to open more nonunion charters and to attack due process for teachers. In this statement, Steve Zimmer–who overcame a billionaire-funded candidate in his last election for the Los Angeles school board–calls for a truce. He asks the billionaires to work together with school leaders to make schools better for children, instead of squandering more millions to “win.” Win or lose, the problems for the kids remains the same. Why not collaborate and do what is best for them, which is not political but consists of meeting their needs for smaller class size, medical care, the arts, librarians, social workers, and the same kind of education that the millionaires want for their own children.

 

He writes:

 

The results of yesterday’s election once again confirm that public education is
not for sale. Against a gale storm of unprecedented funding, Tom Torlakson,
State Superintendent of Instruction narrowly won re-election. This was the most
expensive State Superintendent race in U. S. History. I congratulate
Superintendent Torlakson and urge him to continue his collaborative approach to
transforming outcomes for all students in California. I look forward to
continuing our close working relationship so that the Department of Education
expands the resources available to classrooms in support of student learning
throughout our District.

I also offer my best wishes to Marshall Tuck whom I have known well for many
years. I know that Marshall will continue to be a passionate advocate for
schools serving students in the most peril.

While it is tempting to feel exhilarated in the wake of this important victory,
I mostly feel exhausted. I am sick and tired of dodging bullets from corporate
education reform billionaires who have an endless magazine of resources to shoot
at folks trying to solve the problems facing our schools.

There must be another way we can have this important conversation. Instead of
reflecting on how the millions we spend distorting truths, attacking and
bullying one another could help real kids in real classrooms today, the
California Charter Schools Association is simply reloading their guns for the
Spring School Board elections. I am sure CTA and our other labor partners will
gear up their defense systems again in response. I have a long list of programs
we could fund in LAUSD with the close to $20 million dollars that went into this
latest battle. More and more it seems like a zero sum game in which kids lose
every time.

The solutions to the problems facing our kids are never simple. They require us
to roll up our sleeves and work together to find the difficult answers in
policy, in pedagogy and in practice. Finding solutions starts with listening.
Teachers listening to parents, parents listening to teachers, school leaders
listening to the community and everyone listening to our students. The last half
dozen election cycles have had a ton of screaming. Close to $50 million dollars
worth. And barely an ounce of listening.

I still believe that collaboration trumps conflict and that we can find common
ground. I still have hope that we can transcend the power struggles in the name
of the promise that public education still holds for families who dream of a
better life for their children. If we remember that we hold those dreams in our
hands, maybe we can do more than dust ourselves off and prepare for the next
battle.