Friday, March 25, 2011

From Union Busting to Saying the LAUSD Board Has It Right, Readers Ponder the School Board’s Decision Last Week to Allow Charters to Take Over Operations of Seven Los Angeles Schools;

Also, a Mother Asks Readers to Lobby for Tax Extensions to Aid Education

By Diana L. Chapman

About a week back, I expressed my dread with the Los Angeles Unified School Board’s decision to hand over seven schools to outside bidders  last week – a move that makes me brutally concerned over what that does to the disintegrating morale of the district’s staff.

With 5,000 more layoff notices  issued last week alone – and more expected to rain down on LAUSD staffers – I couldn’t help but be wary of what ramifications this means to teachers and support staff already awash in massive tsunami of cuts – yes, where many of our kids go to school.

Despite that LAUSD Supt. Ramon Cortines, who will retire in April, approved most of his employees proposals to breath new life into 13 campuses, the board discarded many of his suggestions and handed over seven schools to charter operators. The move was made after the board approved an earlier policy of “public school choice.” This allows charters to bid some of LAUSD’S failing and newly constructed schools.

The action disappoints me, because I fear an inequitable form of education branching out amongst the charters and a head toward privatization of public education.

In the meantime, seven LAUSD schools are gone – and only time will tell if the charter is a better provider to students.

Readers immediately emailed me their views, which included one who argued the teachers can only blame themselves,to another calling it the avenue the board embraced a remedy to bust the union.

In one case, a reader said teachers need to look in their own direction.

“I hate to say it, but teachers have brought this upon themselves,” wrote Kim Stevens. “It is not a money issue (the charter teachers are paid the same), but it is a matter of work rules leading to inflexibility and waste. All the nominated schools were a failure under LAUSD operation. Principals had no control over unqualified, unwilling or failing teachers. No way to run a school.

“The UTLA has two choices. Act passively and try to keep what it has and see the jobs dwindle. Or act positively, go back to zero on work rules keeping the same pay, and try again under able management. You  cannot fire a bad teacher. But you can eliminate their job. That is not about wages.”

Martha McKenzie, a former LAUSD teacher for 36 years, argues there are no other motives than one – to break up the UTLA.

 “You know as well as I that they (the school board) has ulterior motives,” McKenizie wrote. “They are doing it for one reason-union busting!! They fail to see the LONG term results of their irresponsible actions!!! Shame on the School Board. (School Board Member Richard and former administrator) Vladovic receives his pension because of the union-UTLA. The administrators always fell in suit with the teachers’ bargaining issues. What a traitor!”

Calling it a “giveaway,” of schools, parent Teresa Feldman has other concerns that have nothing to do with the UTLA. She worries if whether the board’s move is  even legal when involving newly constructed schools.

“When the district first proposed allowing charters onto new campuses like Eli Broad’s school for performing arts downtown, I emailed (Superintendent Ramon Cortines) and voiced my concerns. I actually ended up getting a phone call from the man himself and we had a long conversation. At that time, he made it clear that he was not in lock-step with the Mayor, but somehow the district ended up with the “failing schools” giveaway anyway.

“Now that Cortines is leaving, he is showing his real disdain for this move toward privatization, and I applaud him for that. I do wish he or someone familiar with the law would look into whether or not giving away new schools is against the law. I voted for bond issues to build new LAUSD schools for underserved populations that were expecting overcrowding. Now the district has decided that they need to use those campuses to avoid being sued by charters for not providing them access to LAUSD campuses. This is not what I voted for, and unless the charter schools agree to have gifted education, special ed., integration, etc. I do not want charters to go in.

“My kids have friends who lost whole school years because the charters their parents placed them in turned out to be bogus. Others have moved to charters only to have them close up for various reasons. Some educators I know have seen former charter school students pushed back into their neighborhood schools because the children didn’t “fit in”…Someone in the know has to wage a legal battle over the use of these campuses for charters.”

The last writer echos my sentiments exactly. Let’s not give up on kids who don’t “fit in,” or have special needs beyond the scope of any given charter. All kids deserve a chance at a good education – and not all kids will be equal or receive that at charter schools.


Sumbitted by Dayna Wells

Let’s get the tax EXTENSION on the June ballot.

Please call your legislators today and ask them to let the people vote.

 As you no doubt are aware, Governor Jerry Brown inherited a $25 billion-plus deficit from Governor Schwarzenegger. Brown has proposed a budget that splits the difference to close the deficit -- one half budget cuts, and one half new revenues in the form of extending temporary tax increases passed two years ago. But a group of legislators are refusing to put the tax extensions on the ballot in June, calling instead for only cutting government services and programs -- even though cutting $25 billion would represent more than a quarter of the state’s budget.

This would be devastating to K-12 education, as reflected by local school districts current move to increase class sizes and layoff over thousands of teachers and health and human services personnel.

Teachers, health and human services workers and people who want to support these services need to call their state legislators over the next couple of days and urge them to put the tax extensions on the ballot in June. Let the people vote!

Please contact your legislators. Tell them to let the people vote on whether or not to extend the taxes. It is impossible to overstate the importance of concerted phone calling –These calls CAN make a difference!!!

Thank you for your consideration.  Please call you representative below today:

 State Assembly Members
Jeff Gorell, District 37, 916-319-2037
Cameron Smyth, District 38, 916-319-2038
Felipe Fuentes, District 39, 916-319-2039
 Bob Blumenfield, District 40, 916-319-2040
Julia Brownley, District 41, 916-319-2041
Mike Feuer, District 42, 916-319-2042
 Mike Gatto, District 43, 916-319-2043
 Anthony Portantino, District 44, 916-319-2044
 Gil Cedillo, District 45, 916-319-2045
John Perez, District 46, 916-319-2046
 Holly Mitchell, District 47, 916-319-2047
 Mike Davis, District 48, 916-319-2048
 Mike Eng, District 49, 916-319-2049
 Ricardo Lara, District 50, 916-319-2050
 Steve Bradford, District 51, 916-319-2051
 Isadore Hall III, District 52, 916-319-2052
 Betsy Butler, District 53, 916-319-2053
 Bonnie Lowenthal, District 54, 916-319-2054
 Warren Furutani, District 55, 916-319-2055
 Charles Calderon, District 58, 916-319-2058
 State Senate Members
 Sharon Runner, District 17, 916-651-4017
Alex Padilla, District 20, 916-651-4020
 Carol Liu, District 21, 916-651-4021
 Kevin de León, District 22, 916-651-4022
 Fran Pavley, District 23, 916-651-4023
Ed Hernandez, District 24, 916-651-4024
 Rod Wright, District 25, 916-651-4025
 Current Price, Jr., District 26, 916-651-4026
 Alan Lowenthal, District 27, 916-651-4027
Ted Lieu, District 28, 916-651-4028
 Bob Huff, District 29, 916-651-4029
 Ron Calderon, District 30, 916-651-4030