SPOTLIGHT – LOS ANGELES UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT

LA Story: The Poorer You Are, the More Likely You Are to Support Charters
September 29, 2016
Los Angeles school teachers gathered in August in the posh, iconic – and for the group, weirdly ironic – Westin Bonaventure Hotel. They heard their union’s leaders extol their role as revolutionary defenders of the city’s poorest communities against the wealthy. But that’s not how the city’s poor have seen it. The poorer you are, it turns out, the more likely you are to believe LA school district leaders have stranded the poor, data reviewed by the California Policy Center suggests. It’s actually the rich who tend to like the teachers union – a fact that seems to turn the whole class-conflict paradigm on its head. While wealthy Angelenos on the north and west sides of the Los Angeles School District support the teachers union, generally poorer neighborhoods in the south and east often elect reform-minded candidates to the board of education.

LAUSD Spends More Even as Enrollment Drops
September 15, 2016
The Los Angeles Unified School District is hemorrhaging cash, and the teachers union wants you to believe the problem is charter schools. The real problem is closer to home: district officials and teachers union leaders who systematically raid the coffers with no regard for the consequences. LAUSD’s new $7.6 billion budget, issued in June for the coming fiscal year, adds $700 million in new spending. Most of that new spending will fund expenses outside the classroom as the district struggles to pay for increased benefits. This new budget comes just after state officials ordered the district to stop misallocating funds intended for high-­needs students. Local advocates say the new LAUSD budget continues to violate the state order.

ACLU Turns its Back on LA’s Poorest Students in Attack on Charter Schools
September 8, 2016
The ACLU has aimed its considerable legal firepower at charter schools. The reason? They aren’t enough like our failing traditional public schools. In a recent report, the ACLU condemns 253 California charter schools for what it sees as a violation of discrimination law, citing examples of charter schools requiring consistent attendance and, in some cases, prerequisites for admission. Although the schools on the ACLU list represent only 20 percent of all charter schools in California, the ACLU declares that these exclusionary practices are likely only the “tip of the iceberg.” The ACLU is right to focus on the challenges facing low-income students. But charter schools are generally better than traditional, union-controlled schools — and inarguably prefered by charter students and their parents. Studies consistently show that charter schools generate better results for low-income kids.

Anti-Charter-School Rhetoric Isn’t Helping L.A.’s Kids
September 7, 2016
As the son of poor sharecroppers from East Texas who came to California to work as migrant farm workers, I greet the new school year as a time of hope and possibility for my family. Neither of my parents was able to complete elementary school in the segregated South, but they knew education was the ticket to a brighter future for my brothers and me. With their encouragement, I went on to graduate from UCLA and Harvard law school. I was lucky to have been raised in a small town with few minority students and an excellent Public School system. Many of my relatives and friends who lived in Los Angeles did not receive the same education opportunity I was afforded.

Teachers Unions Double Down on Charter Vilification
September 6, 2016
UTLA and CTA’s anti-charter school obsession has reached epidemic proportions. Just weeks after United Teachers of Los Angeles president Alex Caputo-Pearl threw his if-we-don’t get-our-way-we’re-going-to-create-a-state-crisis tantrum, the teachers union has hit the streets with a media campaign. Empowered by a massive dues increase, UTLA is spreading its venom via billboards, bus benches and the media. As articulated by UTLA vice-president Cecily Myart-Cruz, the message is, “We are a public school alliance who (sic) wants to reclaim our schools.” The question becomes, “Reclaim them from whom?” The obvious answer is, “Those who are trying to promote charter schools,” as elucidated in Caputo-Pearl’s jeremiad in which he portrayed these public schools of choice as devils in our midst, citing a UTLA-commissioned bogus study in a feeble attempt to make his case.

Union Kingpin Threatens California
August 16, 2016
In a blatant power-play, UTLA president targets health benefits and charter schools, calling for a “state crisis” if he doesn’t get his way. United Teachers of Los Angeles president Alex Caputo-Pearl gave a speech for the ages a couple of weeks ago, securing a wing in the pantheon-of-vile, a place which includes such memorable outbursts as National Education Association general counsel Bob Chanin’s “right-wing bastards” farewell-to-troops speech in 2009 and Chicago Teacher Union boss Karen Lewis’ talk to the Illinois Labor History Society in 2012, where she joked about the possibility of union members killing the wealthy.

Los Angeles Teachers Union Sinks to Unmitigated Depths
May 21, 2016
The union war on charter schools has become even uglier, courtesy of UTLA. On May 4th, the United Teachers of Los Angeles, in concert with the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools (AROS) – a radical union front group – planned a major protest to be held outside schools where charter schools share a campus with traditional public schools. In a statement, AROS proclaimed “…we will stand with Los Angeles parents, educators, students, administrators, and community members for fully funded public schools and call on corporate charter schools to pay their fair share to the district.” Of course, the truth is that charters are not “corporate.” And, in fact, it’s charters that aren’t fully funded, which is why they frequently have to scrounge for facilities, but AROS apparently doesn’t bother with those minor details.

Los Angeles Department of Monopoly and Power
February 23, 2016
Educating students is far from the #1 priority of the school board and the teachers union in LA. On February 11th, LA School Report released an internal Los Angeles Unified School District document which stated that just 54 percent of seniors in LA are on track to graduate. The drop off from 74 percent last year was immediately attributed to the new “A through G” requirements, which ensure that graduating students are ready for acceptance into California public universities. The rather lame, “This is the first year of the plan, so we are just getting the kinks out” excuse does not hold water. The A-G plan was initially formulated in 2005, but the LAUSD school board didn’t pay much attention to it. So instead of ramping up the rigor, they decided that in 2017 students could pass with a grade of “D,” instead of the “C” as was in the original plan.

Unionization Push Threatens Alliance College-Ready Public Schools
January 12, 2016
“Join the movement for schools L.A. students deserve.” You’d be forgiven for thinking that meant schools that offered the best outcomes for their students. Instead, it’s the banner the United Teachers of Los Angeles is marching under in its “struggle” with the Los Angeles Unified School District and the “fight against the corporate parasites lined up against us.” Ground zero for that fight appears to be the successful Alliance College-Ready Public Schools, which is in the midst of a yearlong and increasingly aggressive unionization push. Much of the money set aside by UTLA, which has a line item in its budget for anti-charter organizing, will likely go toward this effort.

Analyzing the Cost and Performance of LAUSD Traditional High Schools and LAUSD Alliance Charter High Schools
June 1, 2015
This study examines cost-per-pupil for high school students in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), comparing its traditional public schools to those attending its largest charter school network, the Alliance College Ready Public Schools. It also examines the educational achievement outcomes for traditional and charter high school students, focusing on nine LAUSD traditional schools and nine LAUSD Alliance charter schools. The schools were chosen because of their close proximity to each other and similar demographic makeup, limiting extraneous variables from corrupting the study, and making for as close to an “apples-to-apples” comparison as is possible.

LAUSD Offer Worth $122,938 Per Year – Will They Strike Anyway?
March 3, 2015
“Our demands, they’re not radical. When did it become radical to have class sizes that you could actually teach in? When did it become radical to have staffing and to pay people back after eight years of nothing?” – Alex Caputo Pearl, President, UTLA, February 26, 2015, Los Angeles Times – If the 35,000 members of the United Teachers Los Angeles, the union that represents employees of Los Angeles Unified School District, actually go on strike, in large part it will be because they want an 8.5% salary increase and the district is only offering them 5%. They also want smaller class sizes – tough to do when you’re passing out salary increases. But how much do these teachers actually make?

UTLA, LAUSD and ACLU Fiddle While Children Don’t Learn
April 15, 2014
In 2010, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit which claimed that seniority-based layoffs take a disproportionate toll on poor and minority schools. The ACLU won the case and the settlement protected students in up to 45 schools from the pernicious effects of the last in/first out (LIFO) regimen. But shortly thereafter, the United Teachers of Los Angeles successfully appealed the decision, and the case was remanded back to state court. And after 20 months of dithering and dickering, we now have a new settlement. As reported by EdSource’s John Fensterwald…

Union Refusal to Protect Students Costs LAUSD Millions
March 21, 2013
Los Angeles Unified School District, the state’s largest district and largest recipient of the Proposition 30 tax increases, figures to be writing a big check soon. Unfortunately, this check won’t be going to support math, reading or arts programs. Rather, the money, $30 million, would go to settle 58 legal claims filed against LAUSD related to the Miramonte Elementary sex-abuse case, where teacher Mark Berndt allegedly fed semen to blindfolded children and placed cockroaches on their faces. When Prop. 30 was being promoted to voters, nobody said that that higher taxes might be needed to help pay for the misdeeds of adults overseen by administrators who seemed not to know how to protect kids from classroom sex predators.