The battle over public education is raging, but it's immoral to use students as pawns
Nationally and locally, the war for control of public schools has escalated.
Betsy DeVos was confirmed as President Trump’s Education secretary Tuesday, despite having displayed a shocking lack of knowledge about public schools, and she’s a bigly billionaire champion of more school options for students and their parents.
It’s hard to argue against more options, but it’ll be interesting to see how the growth of charters impacts kids who don’t make the cut, and sad to watch their schools get left behind in the resource department. And if she pushes vouchers, it will be even more interesting to see how Americans react to having their tax dollars subsidize private schools, including religious education.
Now back to the front lines in Los Angeles.
“There’s a through line between the Betsy DeVos confirmation and what’s going on in L.A.,” UCLA education professor John Rogers said. “She and her family have used their vast wealth to manipulate the politics of Michigan education.”
In recent years, some of the wealthiest people in Los Angeles and beyond have spent millions of dollars in the hope of multiplying charter schools, which are publicly funded but privately operated. State spending per pupil in California ranks shamefully low against national averages, but spending on L.A. Unified school board races is astronomical.
Last week, I wrote about a $1-million donation by former Mayor Dick Riordan, the chief financial backer of a student group that has attacked school board President Steve Zimmer in a negative ad campaign. Zimmer has been a supporter of some charters in a district that has dozens of them already, but his foes in the March election are seen as safer bets to expand the number.
I think guys like Riordan, philanthropist Eli Broad, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the Walton family and all the other folks who think teacher unions are the enemy of better schools, have a right to that view and a right to spend their money in ways they think will benefit children.
Just as the teacher unions and their supporters have a right to fight back, if not with pockets that are always as deep as those of the millionaires and billionaires.
For the record, I’ve had bones to pick with both sides in this intractable war, and I’ve said more than once that while the adults are banging heads, the kids tend to get thrown under the bus, if you’ll pardon the expression.
But in Los Angeles, the kids have now joined the fight, or so it seems.
The name of the group that took credit for a nasty packet of cheap-shot political mailers attacking Zimmer was LA Students for Change. One mailer falsely accused Zimmer of being the force behind L.A. Unified’s iPad debacle, among other sins. As my colleague The battle over public education is raging, but it's immoral to use students as pawns - LA Times: