Broad and the 'billionaire boys club' plan 'hostile takeover' of the public schools of Los Angeles... Plutocrats demand that half of LA schools be charters....

The United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) organized a September 20, 2015 protest against the opening of the Broad Museum in Los Angeles. UTLA photo.Since 1995, when the Illinois General Assembly (controlled in both houses by Republicans) and Governor (Republican Jim Edgar) instituted the "mayoral control" model of corporate "school reform," Chicago has been a major model for the imposition of the neoliberal corporate agenda on the future of public education. But as the corporate agenda expanded, other cities (and in the case of Louisiana, a state) took the lead in different ways. By 2008, with the election of Barack Obama, the "Chicago model" of union busting corporate privatization of public schools became the national model. But national support for the corporate model, Chicago-style, had begun during the 1990s, and the first President who gave major support to it was Bill Clinton. Despite some attempts at revisionism by some "progressives", the neoliberal model of corporate "school reform" was not begun under George W. Bush and "Race to the Top," but much earlier in Chicago and elsewhere under "Democrats."

And so, in 2015, a virtual declaration of war against a major city's public schools is getting some attention, but is really nothing new. A new plan for Los Angeles, drafted by Eli Broad, has now become public.

Here are some reports and commentaries on the latest from Los Angeles. Substance readers should not avoid the context, since some reports are trying to depict the Los Angeles plan as unprecedented.



By Joel Rubin | Posted Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015 3:56 PM |

Before art aficionados could get their first look inside Eli Broads new museum Sunday morning, they got an angry earful on the outside from teachers who have long battled the billionaire philanthropist over charter schools.

Seizing on the opportunity to steal some of the limelight surrounding the opening of the Broad, which will house Broads renowned collection of modern art, a few hundred instructors from the L.A. Unified School District endured a blazing sun and took to the sidewalk in front of the museum.

You want art for the masses? one person shouted into a bullhorn.

"Then fund more classes! others shouted in reply as they paraded back and forth under the museums much-discussed honeycomb faade.

Clad in the red shirts of United Teachers Los Angeles, the union that represents teachers, the protesters were sounding off against Broads involvement in a nascent plan to dramatically expand the number of charter schools operating in the district.

Charters are independently run, publicly financed schools that are exempt from many rules that govern traditional schools; the teaching staff at most are not unionized. For years they have been a major flash point in the debate over how to improve public education as supporters argue that they offer an alternative to poor-performing district-run schools and opponents say they drain resources and are selective about the students they admit.

Currently, more than 100,000 L.A. students attend charters, about 16% of district enrollment, according to district figures. L.A. Unified has more charters, 207, and more charter students than any other school district in the country. Broad and his wife have played a major role in the growth of charters in Los Angeles and elsewhere, investing $144 million, according to figures released by their foundation.

While officials from the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation said last month that the current plans for a charter expansion are still being formed, charter school representatives involved in the talks said the ideas being discussed are ambitious.

One person who attended a meeting said the goal was to enroll in charter schools half of all Los Angeles students over the next eight years. Another said there was discussion of an option that involved enrolling 50% of students currently at schools with low test scores.

An increase of that magnitude would dramatically escalate the fight the teachers union has waged against Broad and others who have come out in support of the schools.

Charter schools are destroying public education, said retired kindergarten teacher Cheryl Ortega, employing oft-used union rhetoric. Mr. Broad wants to own 50% of our schools. Thats untenable.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for Broad said, As families demand high-quality public school options and more students want to attend public charter schools, we want to support them in meeting that demand. Our only interest is in supporting the growth of high-quality public schools.

The noisy reception seemed to generate little more than curious looks from visitors who lined up outside the museum, waiting for their chance to file in.

It adds a little context, said Alyse Carter, an art student. Im going to remember when I came to the opening of Broads museum and there was this issue that people felt strongly enough about that they came out to be heard.


Billionaires Secret Plan: A Hostile Takeover of LA Public Schools

Deirdre Fulton September 23, 2015

Common Dreams

Last week the Los Angeles Times obtained a secret 44-page proposal drafted by the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation and other charter advocates, that according to one critic would "do away with democratically controlled, publicly accountable education in LA." With the aid of a billionaires club of supporters, the plan is designed to charterize 50% of LA public schools.

More than 1,000 teachers, students, parents, and community members protested at the opening of the Broad museum in downtown Los Angeles Sunday. , Mayra Gomez/UTLA Facebook photo,

A California billionaire is enlisting other wealthy backers in a $490 million scheme to place half of the students in the Los Angeles Unified School District into charter schools over the next eight yearsa plan at least one critic says would "do away with democratically controlled, publicly accountable education in LA."

The Los Angeles Times obtained a confidential 44-page proposal, "The Great Public Schools Now Initiative," drafted by the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation and other charter advocates.

"Los Angeles is uniquely positioned to create the largest, highest-performing charter sector in the nation," the executive summary reads. "Such an exemplar would serve as a model for all large cities to follow."

The document outlines the following three objectives that would serve to overthrow the current public system:

to create 260 new high-quality charter schools;

to generate 130,000 high-quality charter seats;

to reach 50 percent charter market share.

The initiative seeks to accomplish these ambitious goals between by 2023. As the LA Times reports:

Organizers of the effort have declined to publicly release details of the plan. But the memo lays out a strategy for moving forward, including how to raise money, recruit and train teachers, provide outreach to parents and navigate the political battle that will probably ensue.

The document cites numerous foundations and individuals who could be tapped for funding. In addition to the Broad Foundation, the list includes the Gates, Bloomberg, Annenberg and Hewlett foundations. Among the billionaires cited as potential donors are Stewart and Lynda Resnick, major producers of mandarin oranges, pistachios and pomegranates; Irvine Co. head Donald Bren; entertainment mogul David Geffen; and Tesla Motors' Elon Musk.

According to teacher and education reform watchdog Peter Greene, writing at his Curmudgucation blog on Tuesday, the plan reads as "forty-four pages of How To Completely Circumvent the Public School System For Fun and Profit."

"This is not just about educational quality (or lack thereof), or just about how to turn education into a cash cow for a few high rollersthis is about a ham-handed effort to circumvent democracy in a major American city," Greene continued. "There's nothing in this plan about listening to the parents or communityonly about what is going to be done to them by men with power and money."

Among the plan's sharpest critics is LA Unified school board president Steve Zimmer, who characterized it to LA School Report as a destructive strategy that would ignore the needs of thousands of children "living in isolation, segregation and extreme poverty."

"This is not an all-kids plan or an all-kids strategy," he told the online news site. "Its 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. Its 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."

And in an interview with the LA Times, Zimmer called Broad's plan "an outline for a hostile takeover."

The proposal has reportedly split the school board, with battle lines emerging at a meeting on Tuesday. "The concept amazes and angers me," said board member Scott Schmerelson. "Far from being in the best interest of children, it is an insult to teaching and administrative professionals, an attack on democratic, transparent and inclusive public school governance and negates accountability to taxpayers."

Meanwhile, an estimated 1,000 teachers, students, parents, and community members came out for the much-anticipated Broad museum opening in downtown Los Angeles Sunday, protesting what they see as Broad's negative impact on education in the city.

NBC Los Angeles spoke with United Teachers Los Angeles president Alex Caputo-Pearl, who "noted Broad's political contributions to help defeat Proposition 30, a proposal to raise taxes to fund public schools, including arts program funding."

"We're concerned about the hypocrisy of building this great new arts museum in downtown, but working against schools having good arts programs across Los Angeles," Caputo-Pearl said.

Education expert Diane Ravitch, writing Tuesday at her blog, put it more bluntly, saying Broad's plan "would, of course, decimate the remaining public schools by draining them of students and resources."

She continued:

And the city would run a dual school-system, both supported by public funds. But only the charters would be free to reject students they dont want, and they would have ample resources from their friends in philanthropy and hedge funds.

Who elected Eli Broad, a man who has said publicly that he knows nothing about education, to redesign the public schools that belong to the people, not to him?

UTLA's Caputo-Pearl has challenged Broad to a public debate over the future of public education in Los Angeles; Broad has yet to respond.

[Deirdre Fulton is a Common Dreams staff writer.]


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