As the backlash against private charter schools intensifies, even Hollywood recognizes that the grand experiment in privatizing the nation’s public schools is a dying cause.

Reed Hastings, billionaire founder of Netflix, made charters a fashionable thing in Tinseltown, but critics have emerged to shatter the money-powered consensus. Some of them woke when charter founder and LAUSD Member Ref Rodriguez was indicted. Some no doubt did not wish to be allied with Betsy DeVos and the Trump administration. Perhaps some are graduates of public schools, like 90% of the populace.

In any event, the waning acceptance of charters and privatization is a sign of the changing times.

When LAUSD board member and charter school advocate Ref Rodriguez pleaded guilty in July 2018 to a felony count of conspiracy, it seemed that Los Angeles’ charter school movement had hit a critical low. Rodriguez’s unraveling over campaign finance violations tipped the balance of power on the seven-member board that oversees the nation’s second-largest school district, weakening its charter school block.

Tensions between proponents of public schools and of charter schools — which are started by parents, teachers or community groups and receive government funding but operate independently of state school systems — were already high. The January teachers’ strike won concessions for LAUSD public schools ranging from smaller class sizes to hiring full-time nurses but was marked by heated anti-charter rhetoric. Critics of charters say they continue to drain much-needed resources from public schools. “If LAUSD were properly funded, then I think the choice that a charter school gives would be a nice one,” says writer Audrey Wauchope (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend). “Unfortunately, it often seems that going charter is now just another way for parents to leave behind their neighborhood school.”

Public-school proponents contend that charters operate without sufficient oversight (proof of which came in May when California authorities arrested two men for allegedly stealing more than $50 million in state funds via a network of online charter schools). For their part, charter school operators argue that they provide parents with other, better options than LAUSD, which they say is failing many of the city’s underprivileged kids.