Tuesday, September 22, 2015

$490-million plan would put half of LAUSD students in charter schools - LA Times

$490-million plan would put half of LAUSD students in charter schools - LA Times:
$490-million plan would put half of LAUSD students in charter schools

itics of Los Angeles public schools have outlined an ambitious $490-million plan to place half of the city's students into charter schools over the next eight years, a controversial gambit that backers hope will serve as a catalyst for the rest of the nation.

According to a 44-page memo obtained by The Times, the locally based Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation and other charter advocates want to create 260 new charter schools, enrolling at least 130,000 students.

Organizers of the effort have declined to publicly release details of the plan. But the memo lays out a strategy for moving forward, including how to raise money, recruit and train teachers, provide outreach to parents and navigate the political battle that will probably ensue.

The document cites numerous foundations and individuals who could be tapped for funding. In addition to the Broad Foundation, the list includes the Gates, Bloomberg, Annenberg and Hewlett foundations. Among the billionaires cited as potential donors are Stewart and Lynda Resnick, major producers of mandarin oranges, pistachios and pomegranates; Irvine Co. head Donald Bren; entertainment mogul David Geffen; and Tesla Motors' Elon Musk.

L.A. Unified already has more charters than any school system in the country, representing about 16% of total enrollment. Charters are independently run, publicly financed schools that are exempt from some rules that govern traditional campuses; most are nonunion.

But the proposed expansion would mean more than doubling the number of charter schools in Los Angeles, a feat that even backers say might prove demanding.

The push is already generating resistance from the school district as well as from powerful L.A. Unified employee unions.

Critics say charter schools create greater inequities because they frequently draw more-motivated and higher-achieving students and leave traditional schools worse off.

The situation, they say, leaves district schools with less money to serve a larger percentage of students with behavior problems and disabilities and those who need to learn English. And in some areas with active charter programs, traditional schools don't have enough students.

"While I continue to support and be proud of the successful charter schools we have in Los Angeles, this plan is not one for transforming our public schools, but an outline for a hostile takeover," said school board President Steve Zimmer.

Others, however, argue that parents deserve more options for their children, especially those who have to deal with struggling schools.$490-million plan would put half of LAUSD students in charter schools - LA Times: