“I think the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans was Hurricane Katrina.”
-Democrat Arne Duncan
There is no doubt that Trump’s Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, is a clear threat to our public education system. Despite “analysis [that] has shown that charter schools [in her home state of Michigan] perform more poorly than public schools”, DeVos has not only pushed to grow the charter industry in the state, but also fought to ensure that charters are not held accountable for the public funds that they receive. For example, last summer, “the DeVos family contributed $1.45 million over two months...to Michigan GOP lawmakers and the state party after the Republican-led Legislature derailed a bipartisan provision that would have provided more charter school oversight in Detroit.” And now Trump has given her the opportunity to spread policies that are “destroying learning outcomes” nationwide.
While claiming to oppose DeVos’ policies, the Democrats do not have a track record that is much better. In the spirit of 1984, groups like Democrats for Education Reform substitute clever phrases like “new, accountable public schools” in place of the word “charter”, but their true motives were betrayed when they sent out a press release congratulating the Mayor of Washington, DC for “an annual increase of 2.2% to the per-pupil facilities allotment for public charter schools over the next four years, the awarding of two school buildings for long-term lease to charter schools, and the release of two excess school facilities for proposals from charter schools.” Six of the seven LAUSD Board members are Democrats, but that has not stopped the District from becoming the largest authorizer of charter schools in the country or from allowing these publicly funded private schools from operating largely without oversight. Newly re-elected Board member, Monica Garcia, who attended the Democratic convention as a Clinton delegate, was cited by the Los Angeles Times as the only School Board Candidate “who would not categorically state that she opposed private-school vouchers, which are being pushed by the Trump administration.”
The foundation of charter growth in the LAUSD was partially built by current Congressional candidate, Yolie Flores, who is also a Democrat. As an LAUSD Board Member, Flores introduced the misnamed “Public School Choice” resolution which let “charter management organizations apply to run new schools.” Knowing that this resolution would not be passed if it was appropriately labeled as being for the benefit of charters, e-mails attributed to Flores warns that messages supporting its passage “are emphasizing the charter aspect” and ask for “help in communicating to the Charter community that we cannot make my resolution about charters.” Similarly, her campaign's website claims that she “will fight to protect public education” with no mention of charters. Educated voters should see past the obfuscation.
The CD34 special election is on April 4. I have endorsed Green Party candidate Kenneth Mejia.
Carl Petersen is a parent and special education advocate and was a Green Party candidate in LAUSD’s District 2 School Board race. He was endorsed by Network for Public Education (NPE) Action and Diane Ravitch called him a “strong supporter of public schools.” His past blogs can be found at www.ChangeTheLAUSD.com.