Earlier this week, I arrived home from work to find two more glossy flyers in my mailbox begging me to vote for incumbent Tamar Galatzan. By my count, this brings the total number of mailings to five and is a part of the $206,836.54 that groups outside the San Fernando Valley are spending to influence the election.
The flyers from yesterday were paid for by Great Public Schools Los Angeles Political Action Committee. This group was formed last year in time to participate in the August 12 special election in the first district. In that election, the organization backed Alex Johnson, who like Ms. Galatzan was “a strong supporter of [former Superintendent John] Deasy.” The organization has ties to Green Dot “Public” Schools, a chain of privately run schools, none of which operate in the San Fernando Valley.
Other flyers have been sent by the California Charter Schools Association. Since this organization collects $5 per student annually from member schools, their ads are at least partially funded by taxpayers. They have also been ethically questionable, though not as bad as the ones that they sent out in District 5. Still, lying about the endorsements of the incumbent is not something that should be tolerated by an organization that represents those who educate our students.
Monetary donations directly to Ms. Galatzan’s campaign are also represented by the charter schools. For example, Allison Greenwood Bajracharya “was instrumental in growing the number of new charter seats through the Public School Choice campaign and in the collaboration between LAUSD and charter leaders that resulted in funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.”
What are charter schools trying to buy with this money? The current LAUSD Board is not making sure that these schools are equally serving all students including those with special needs, English language learners or those with behavioral problems. Is this money supposed to buy less regulation? Some charter schools manipulate test scores by pushing poorly performing students out of their schools. Is this money supposed to make sure that this practice is allowed to continue? Charter schools are allowed to set up parasitic relationships on the grounds of district schools. Is this money supposed to ensure that the needs of our communities will continue to be ignored?
Charter schools exist because parents perceive them to be superior to the district run schools. Every student enrolled in one of these schools represents a failure on the part of the current Board. They should not be rewarded with re-election, but replaced with Board members who will advocate for our public school students. Let's put the charters out of business by making the district run schools the better choice.