Howard Blume of the Los Angeles Times reports on a controversial decision to grant a renewal to a charter school owned by one of the elected board members, even though the charter division of the school district said its performance was so poor that it did not deserve renewal. The owner of the charter, Ref Rodriguez, recused himself from the vote. As usual, the room was packed with charter students and staff, demanding renewal of a failing school, and they won.
There are more charters in Los Angeles than in any other district, and an independent panel of experts recently warned that charter growth could threaten the solvency of L.A. Unified.
Most charters are non-union, and charter critics include unions. They say that charters serve fewer students who are more challenging and expensive to educate.
Charter advocates include well-heeled foundations and donors, who say continued, rapid charter expansion will improve the education system.
The big charter winner on Tuesday was Partnerships to Uplift Communities, more commonly known as PUC Schools.
PUC overcame the opposition of the charter division, which said its standard review showed that, based on academic performance, PUC’s Excel Charter Academy fell far short of deserving a five-year extension.
Excel supporters — about 140 packed the board room and waited until well after dark to be heard — put forward other statistics that painted a better picture of the middle school in Lincoln Heights.
They also presented testimonials from students, parents, teachers and administrators. Such presentations have become a regular and lengthy ritual when the fate of a charter comes before the school board.
Meanwhile, the members of United Teachers of Los Angeles voted to increase their union dues to fight the billionaire-funded effort to gobble up more and more public schools and turn them into non-union charters.
Sarah Angel, a spokesperson for the California Charter School Association, criticized the union for amassing a “war chest” to fight back against the charter invasion. She said the union was being divisive.
“UTLA is going to amass the war chest that they feel that they need,” said the California Charter Schools Association’s Sarah Angel. “But I think all of us in public education: moms, dads, teachers, principals, and board members need to be focused on the number one priority which is educating kids and how we do that better, how do we improve outcomes, raise children out of poverty, get them to graduation, college, and career. That needs to be our number one focus, not raising money, not fighting each other.”
In other words, don’t fight the charter takeover of public schools. Let them privatize half the district, the entire district. Don’t resist. I recall that when I wrote an op ed for the LA Times supporting public schools, it was the same Sarah Angel who called me “divisive.” It seems the only way to be a uniter is to support Eli Broad’s program of privatization.