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.