Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Zimmer accuses Broad charter plan of strategy to 'bring down' LAUSD - LA School Report

Zimmer accuses Broad charter plan of strategy to 'bring down' LAUSD - LA School Report:

Zimmer accuses Broad charter plan of strategy to ‘bring down’ LAUSD

Steve Zimmer, president of the LA Unified school board, said today that plans by Eli Broad and other philanthropists to expand the number of charter schools in the district represents “a strategy to bring down LAUSD that leaves 250,000 kids vulnerable to damage.”
draft report of the plan appears show how the organizations involved would be creating the equivalent of a parallel school district, one with a defined goal of serving half the number of students attending LA Unified schools within eight years.
The “Great Public Schools Now Initiative” says the expansion would cost nearly half a billion dollars by 2023, through 260 new charter schools to serve an additional 130,000 students “most in need — low-income students of color.” Currently, about 151,000 students now attend charters in LA Unified, which has more charter schools, 264, than any school district in the country.
The 54-page report, dated “June 2015,” omits the names of authors or sponsoring organizations. But Eli Broad’s name appears at the end of a cover letter accompanying the report that makes a case for charter schools as “the greatest hope for students in L.A.” And alluding to the number of students on waiting lists to get into existing charters, now about 42,000, the need for more charters, he says, is urgent.
“We are committed to closing the waitlist and ensuring that every family in L.A. has access to a high-quality public school,” Broad writes. “Such dramatic charter school growth would address the needs of families who have been underserved by public schools for years, if not generations.”
He also argues that, “The stakes are extraordinarily high. In all our years working to improve public schools, we have never been so optimistic about a strategy that we believe has the potential to dramatically change not only the lives of thousands of students but also the paradigm of public education in this country.”
But Zimmer characterized the plan as a destructive one that would ignore the needs of thousands of other children “living in isolation, segregation and extreme poverty.”
“This is not an all-kids plan or an all-kids strategy,” he told LA School Report. “It’s very explicitly a some-kids strategy, a strategy that some kids will have a better education at a publicly-funded school that assumes that other kids will be injured by that opportunity. It’s not appropriate in terms of what the conversation should be in Los Angeles. The conversation should be better public education options and quality public schools for all kids, not some kids.”
He added, “To submit a business plan that focuses on market share is tantamount to commodifying our children.”
A spokeswoman for the Broad Foundation did not respond to numerous messages, seeking comment.
The draft report, a copy of which was given to LA School Report, represents the most comprehensive accounting so far of what the organizers intend to do, provided they can raise the considerable funds necessary. Broad says in his letter that $490 million “in new philanthropy” is necessary.
A full list of who is involved in the effort remains a mystery. So far, officials have acknowledged only the involvement of the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, along with the W.M. Keck and Walton Family Foundations — all leading players in educational reform efforts around the country. People familiar with the plans say the effort also involves more than a dozen other groups as well as wealthy individuals, some of them from Los Angeles.
The report says the Broad and Walton foundations are the initial funders for the effort.
The rationale for the expansion effort is based on the report’s assertions that charters do a better job of educating children than traditional public schools. Citing data from the California Charter Schools Association, the authors argue that charter students generally score better on statewide tests and have higher graduation rates even though it has widely been demonstrated that not all charter schools out-perform all traditional schools.
In building its case, the report is highly critical of LA Unified, the second-largest Zimmer accuses Broad charter plan of strategy to 'bring down' LAUSD - LA School Report: