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.