UTLA Writes a Letter to Eli Broad about Betsy DeVos
The United Teachers of Los Angeles sent this letter to billionaire Eli Broad. Broad has been a major funder of privately managed charter schools in Los Angeles, Detroit, and other districts around the nation. He currently is promoting a $450 million plan to put half of all students in Los Angeles in charter schools. He also donates large sums to candidates who advocate the replacement of public schools with charter schools.
A few days before the vote to confirm Betsy DeVos, Broad announced that he opposed her.
UTLA wrote to Eli Broad:
Dear Mr. Broad:
UTLA and public education advocates, parents, students and community members have been fighting against Betsy DeVos’ nomination as Secretary of Education months before your letter, dated Feb. 1, was sent to all US Senators, in which you asked them to vote against her confirmation, which just took place today.
You were late to that struggle. We are not surprised.
If you are, according to your letter, “a believer in high-quality public schools and strong accountability for ALL public schools, including traditional and charter,” then you can do something right now: Immediately withdraw your financial support for the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA).
CCSA is a lobbying arm of the charter school industry that has amassed more than $170 million to fight the very existence of our neighborhood public schools.
Instead of continuing to fund CCSA, you should take responsibility for the damage you have caused, through your funding, to the school systems in California, Detroit, and New Orleans. In the latter two places, you worked hand-in-hand with Betsy DeVos.
To repair the damage, send your generous donations with no strings attached to the democratically elected school boards in California, especially the Los Angeles School Board, as well as schools in New Orleans and Detroit. School boards and school communities will invest this money appropriately.
In your letter, you say you “have never met Mrs. DeVos” and you have “serious concerns about her support of unregulated charter schools and vouchers as well as the potential conflicts of interests she might bring to the job.”
Forgive us as we take a moment to put this statement in context.
Last year, as one of the largest donors to CCSA, you helped thwart common-sense legislation like SB 322, which would have protected charter school students from unfair expulsions. You, through donations to CCSA, also intensely lobbied against AB 709, an accountability and transparency bill, which would have required that charter schools comply with the same state laws governing open meetings, open records and conflict of interest that traditional public schools do.
You and DeVos teamed up to fund legislative races in Louisiana, a state that, post-Hurricane Katrina, became the poster child for unregulated charter growth and the systematic destruction of the civic institution of public education.
Since 2008, you gave $212,500 to DeVos’ lobbying organization founded and chaired by her called “Alliance for School Choice.” It is a Washington, DC-based lobbying firm that, similar to CCSA, undermines public education and pushes for expansion of unregulated charter schools and school vouchers.