Claudia Vizcarra’s statement was posted as a comment. Steve Zimmer fought against the Billionaires Boy Club twice, and lost the second time. I strongly supported Steve. It was only after the election that I wrote that I wished he had fought harder against charters and drawn the lines more sharply against privatization. To Steve’s credit, he is a thoughtful, reasonable, open-minded person. If he had been able to match Melvoin dollar for dollar, he would have whipped him. But this is the reality we face: none of us who understand the value and importance of public education can match the BBC dollars. We are many, they are few. That’s the only way to save our schools: people power. Votes.

She writes:

“I feel the need to weigh in at this time. I worked for Steve Zimmer for 7 years, the last 4 I was his Chief of Staff. I appreciate Diane speaking to the complexity of the issues in this election. I want to add a couple of pieces that need to be taken into consideration, in my opinion.

“The first one is that Steve did not come out strongly enough against charter schools. I was there when Steve called for a moratorium for new charters petitions prior to his previous election – which was determined not to be legal and generated a massive campaign against him. Despite this, he prevailed in the election. Steve objected time and again against charters for not serving special education students or a diverse enough populations. Charters have long responded to these issues by saying, we’re trying. Some do and some don’t. Steve also called out the massive expansion of charters that Broad and his billionaire friends were (are) planning.

“And Steve made a strong case for changing the narrative to one that focused on increasing enrollment. He authored resolution after resolution asking Superintendent’s Deasy, Cortines and now King to make strategic investments in the programs that were drawing parents back into our schools.

“And it’s important to look at the issue in its complexity. We can’t forget that like it or not, charter schools parents are also constituents and cannot be flat out ignored. And let’s remember that Districts have to deal with the reality that even when they reject a charter petition at the onset, charters have the right to appeal both at the County level and at the State level again. So, a charter can be denied by the local Board and still have a right to be co-located in District schools that have available classrooms. Consider the complexity of this.

“Some people have argued that Steve lost his election because he supported the resolution that called for supporting SB 808 – which asks that an appeal at the county level can only be denied on the basis of the local Board committing a procedural violation. Whether this is the right fix or not, is an open question. Consider again, the complexity of this.

“Others have argued that the more appropriate arena for local Boards to engage in is the difficult conversation of defining what a ‘sound educational plan’. The LAUSD Board of Education began this conversation, and would have continued it if Steve had been re-elected. But consider how complex this conversation, is, if you will.

“My point is not to be a Zimmer apologist. We all know that like all of us, Steve is human and made mistakes. Our democracy does not require perfection from our leaders. But we are learning, all too painfully, that it requires our leaders to consider matters carefully. And it requires that more people join the conversation and have thoughtful conversations.

“In my opinion, Steve made a valiant effort to make a case for public education. He authored and supported countless resolutions detailing the many elements that make our District schools the best choice in some communities, and supported the District in making the improvements needed to make sure they are the best choice in the communities where parents don’t find them to be so. Anyone who cares to look, will find that his policy legacy is robust, and that we don’t need to start from square one to build progressive policy. There is a lot there to build on for those who want to do this.

“I am not sure if calling charters parasites is the best way to go. But I am sure that in California we have to start by working to repeal Proposition 39. I don’t believe there is a voter that is not shocked to learn that they voted to support the mayhem this has created. Voters across the state need to learn what this looks like on the ground, and we need to consider a better alternative.

“In Los Angeles, I also feel that there has been insufficient attention to making charters accountable. The LA School Report provides a daily dosage of LAUSD’s failings. But I don’t know which media outlet has ever sent a reporter to charter board meetings. No one has studied how many of those Boards have A-G resolutions, or resolutions that promote restorative justice. I am not sure if the civil rights groups in Los Angeles have paid the same attention to the rights of the over 100,000 students in charter schools.”

If charter schools are public schools, entitled to public dollars and public school classrooms, they require the same attention from those committed to social justice.