Sunday, May 14, 2017

Bernie, the Billionaires, and the School Board

Bernie, the Billionaires, and the School Board:

Bernie, the Billionaires, and the School Board


Big Education Ape: Sen. Bernie Sanders Endorses Steve Zimmer and Imelda Padilla for LAUSD School Board | UTLA http://bit.ly/2qLt181

Just 20 percent of eligible Los Angeles voters turned out to the polls on March 7 to vote for their city’s next mayor and school board officials, and turnout is likely to be even lower for Tuesday’s school board runoffs. And yet, this race that barely anyone will vote in has turned into a high-stakes battleground, complete with record-setting amounts of political spending and bitter negative campaigning. It has pitted some of the richest men in American against none other than Bernie Sanders, in a brawl over the future of public education in the nation’s largest state.
Incumbent board president Steve Zimmer, backed by labor, is running against the education reformer Nicholas Melvoin; in another district, labor-backed Imelda Padilla is facing off against the charter-backed Kelly Fitzpatrick-Gonez in an open race.
Los Angeles is last of the big-city school districts to hold elections for local school board members—mayors in cities like Chicago and New York appoint their school boards, and Washington, D.C., dissolved its local school board altogether in 2007, giving education decision-making power to the mayoral-appointed schools chancellor.
Despite the current showdown, Los Angeles is hardly anti-reform. With 279 charter schools, Los Angeles has more charters than any other city in the nation. According to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS), roughly 156,000 LA public school students—24 percent of total enrollment—attended charter schools during the 2015-16 school year. The second highest city on NAPCS’s list was New York, which enrolled 93,610 students in charters that year.
But the ambitions of national reformers still far exceed the district’s appetite for change, at least thus far.
Although the LA school board has approved most petitions for new charters and charter renewals, charter advocates say they feel the board’s support for opening new ones is waning.
And in September of 2015 The Los Angeles Times published a confidential document from billionaire Eli Broad’s foundation, revealing plans to increase Los Angeles’s charter school market share to 50 percent over the Bernie, the Billionaires, and the School Board:
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