Friday, December 4, 2015

LA School Workers Fight Capitalist School Privatization Scheme | PopularResistance.Org

LA School Workers Fight Capitalist School Privatization Scheme | PopularResistance.Org:

LA School Workers Fight Capitalist School Privatization Scheme

Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 9.52.10 AM

Above Photo: UTLA rallies in February, 2015 during contract talks.
Residents of Los Angeles were in for a surprise in August when they picked up the local newspaper and learned that multi-billionaire Eli Broad has a plan to turn half the public schools in Los Angeles into charter schools. The plan was drawn up in secret by Broad, an insurance and real estate mogul, through his Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation with the cooperation of organizations such as The Walton Foundation (of Walmart fame) and The Keck Foundation which has deep ties to Exxon Mobile. According to The Los Angeles Times, representatives of charter school corporations such as Green Dot Public Schools and ICEF Public Schools regularly met with these corporate “philanthropists” during the series of private meetings.
The Broad plan has a stated goal of raising $500 million to create 260 new charter schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Some $46 million will go to Teach for America, and other pro-privatization teaching programs. Hundreds of millions will go to public relations for charter schools, securing more real estate for charter schools to expand, hiring a highly paid bureaucracy to oversee the charter schools, and to solicit money from big money donors such as David Geffen and The Bill and Melinda Gates and Bloomberg organizations. None of the money raised from Broad’s proposed will actually go into cash starved public schools that desperately need the resources. Currently over 100,000 LA students attend charters; decreasing enrollment in LAUSD schools has crippled LA Unified by draining the district financially. LA has more charter schools than any other city in the country. (LA Times, August 17, 2015)
Charter schools have the power to act as private enterprises while taking public money. They are non-union and treat workers as at-will employees who may be fired at any time for any reason. At charter schools, teachers and parents cannot advocate on behalf of students since decisions are made by a few bosses like at corporations. On the other hand, at public schools with union representation, teachers and parents can volunteer on various committees and participate in the decision making process at their school. Charter schools are far less likely to educate special education and English Language Learner students since these students are more expensive to educate; they are more likely to expel challenging and disruptive students. Charter schools operate like a private business while taking public money. Essentially Broad’s plan is to privatize public education in Los Angeles and export his vision throughout the United States.
The proposed charter school expansion in Los Angeles should be understood in the context of a successful contract campaign organized by the LA teachers union, United Teachers Los Angeles, earlier this year. UTLA was able to negotiate a 10 percent raise while maintaining the relatively generous health benefits union members have, including not only teachers, but counselors, librarians, some out of classroom personal such as school psychologists, and substitute teachers. The union also made some progress in addressing some workplace condition issues such as class size at a time when teacher unions throughout the U.S. have been forced into accepting concessionary contracts. UTLA was able to organize 15,000 students, parents, and union members at a rally in downtown Los Angeles in February in support of contract demands. One thousand union members took part in a demonstration against the Broad Plan in September, a surprisingly high turnout for an action that was organized on short notice.
Eli Broad and his allies in the capitalist class in LA have noticed the increased effectiveness of UTLA and formulated the Broad Plan as a response. It is not only an attempt to weaken UTLA, one of the largest and most powerful unions in the city,but is an attack on organized labor throughout Los Angeles. All eight employee unions that represents employees in LA Unified have expressed strenuous opposition to the Broad Plan. Lower wage employees in public school districts such as cafeteria workers and office personal also lack union representation at charter schools and the job protections that come with it. At charters, volunteers do jobs that employees do at public schools. And because charter schools consider themselves private enterprises when it suits their interests, (even though they take public money) they do not have to abide by the $15 minimum wage for government employees recently passed by the LA City Council. (LA Times, October 13, 2015)
As of the writing of this article, it has been widely rumored that Eli Broad has plans to buy The Los Angeles Times, the newspaper with far and away the biggest circulation in the city. The LA Times is so dominant that Los Angeles has often been called a “one newspaper town.” The Washington Post has recently reported that a new feature of The LA Times, “Education matters,” which would cover education issues from a national perspective, is actually funded by the same forces pushing for more charter schools including the K&F Baxter Family Foundation, the Wasserman Foundation, and the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation. The foundations are giving the newspaper $800,000 for the new project. (Washington Post, October 29, 2015) For the LA Times which purports to be a serious LA School Workers Fight Capitalist School Privatization Scheme | PopularResistance.Org: