UTLA Highlights the Work of Zimmer and Padilla, Exposes Billionaire Privatizers in Round Two of We Are Public Schools Campaign

UTLA Highlights the Work of Zimmer and Padilla, Exposes Billionaire Privatizers in Round Two of We Are Public Schools Campaign

Feb. 17, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contact:
Anna Bakalis
UTLA Communications Director
213-305-9654
http://www.wearepublicschools.org/

UTLA Highlights the Work of Zimmer and Padilla, Exposes Billionaire Privatizers in Round Two of “We Are Public Schools” campaign

LOS ANGELES — In highlighting the work of pro-public education advocates like Steve Zimmer and Imelda Padilla, United Teachers Los Angeles this week has launched the second round of its “We Are Public Schools” campaign featuring the good work of public school educators and their supporters, which will extend through March.

From Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos in Washington, D.C. to Eli Broad and Richard Riordan here in L.A., the campaign also exposes a handful of billionaires who are unfairly influencing local elections and education policy. They also push efforts through the California Charter Schools Association to rapidly expand charter schools at the expense of our neighborhood public schools. From the ‘fight back’ section of the We Are Public Schools web site:

“Our elections should be determined by our communities, not outside money from billionaires with a sordid history of failed privatization schemes like Betsy DeVos, the Walton family and Eli Broad. It is about our students, parents and communities and deciding the best direction forward: Do we save public education or do we privatize it?”

The campaign includes more than 90 billboards, bulletins and bus benches. The outdoor ads are also up in Huntington Park, where the City Council voted last year to place a moratorium on opening additional charter schools. CCSA, which opposes the moratorium, has spent more money this year in Huntington Park than has been spent there in the last 10 years combined.

The ads are appearing online on the L.A. Times, Pandora radio, Univision, and the L.A. Daily News as well as on dozens of billboards, bus benches, and large posters. An example of a billboard reads: “Our Public Schools Provide: Transparency, Accountability, Access to All and Student Empowerment.”

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Do public school advocates have the will to fight Trump? Open question.

Education, taxes, housing, immigration, politics, and other issues that affect the people of New Jersey

A few days after the United States Senate confirmed the appointment of an avowed enemy of public education–Betsy DeVos–to be the nation’s education secretary, advocates of public education held a conference in New Brunswick to search for some reason for hope. The meeting’s organizers, including members and staff of such pro-public education groups as the Education Law Center and Save Our Schools, depicted the election later this year of a new governor to replace Chris Christie as an opportunity–as, indeed, it is.

Christie, after all, shares DeVos’s views of a privately operated but publicly funded system  of education and was one of  a handful of governors to endorse her appointment by President Donald Trump. He called her choice “inspired.”

What was not inspirational, however, was the response of the New Jersey advocates–good, right-thinking people all, with whom I have little argument. Except one–why can’t they be as aggressive in promoting a system of free, inclusive, integrated, fully-funded independent public schools as Trump is in destroying it?

The title of the conference was “New Jersey Education Policy Agenda for the Next Gubernatorial Administration.” I could not stay for afternoon sessions on testing and training, but I did listen to discussions of school funding, charters, governance, and accountability. I was disheartened by what I heard.

Part of the problem is that, among this group of advocates–and others, including the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA), the state’s largest teachers’ union–Phil Murphy is the heir apparent for what passes for progressivism in New Jersey politics.  Yet Murphy–like Jon Corzine, a Goldman-Sachs alumnus–has said virtually nothing about public education and his message is as inspiring and thought-provoking as a lecture on lawn mowing.

If you care about our public schools and our democracy, beware of Betsy DeVos and her vouchers

If you care about our public schools and our democracy, beware of Betsy DeVos and her vouchers

Los Angeles Times Op Ed

by Barbara Miner

February 9, 2017

The confirmation hearings for Betsy DeVos provided an inordinate amount of drama: guns and grizzlies, an all-night talkathon on the Senate floor, and Vice President Mike Pence’s tie-breaking vote — and with good reason.

DeVos, now confirmed as secretary of Education, is not just another inexperienced member of the president’s Cabinet. She is an ideologue with a singular educational passion — replacing our system of democratically controlled public schools with a universal voucher program that privileges private and religious ones.

If you care about our public schools and our democracy, you should be worried.

Every state constitution enshrines the right to a free education for all children, and the U.S. Supreme Court has long upheld this right. In its landmark decision in Brown vs. Board of Education, the high court noted that “education is perhaps the most important function of state and local governments.” It went on to recognize its role in a democratic society, calling education “the very foundation of good citizenship.”

Few school supplies but a lavish party: At charter school, teachers saw a clash between scarcity and extravagance

Few school supplies but a lavish party: At charter school, teachers saw a clash between scarcity and extravagance

The longer she worked for Celerity Dyad Charter School in South Los Angeles, the more Tien Le wondered where the public money the school received was going.

She taught in a portable classroom on an asphalt lot — not unheard of in this city of tight squeezes and little green space — but her students had no library, cafeteria or gymnasium. The school didn’t provide most supplies, Le said, so when her sixth-graders needed books, pencils and paper, she bought them herself.

Why Betsy DeVos is the most polarizing education secretary nominee ever

Why Betsy DeVos is the most polarizing education secretary nominee ever

President Barack Obama had two education secretaries who were highly divisive in the education world. In fact, the man who ran Obama’s Education Department for seven years, Arne Duncan, became so controversial that members of two teachers unions — long supporters of Democrats — approved resolutions against him in 2014.  Duncan’s successor, John King, faced the closest confirmation vote, in March 2016, on the Senate floor of any education secretary nominee up to that time.

But Betsy DeVos, the Michigan billionaire chosen by President Trump to be education secretary, brings a whole new dimension to the discussion of polarizing figures in education leadership.

DeVos is clearly the most controversial education nominee in the history of the nearly 40-year-old Education Department. While the Senate education committee on Tuesday sent her nomination to the full Senate on a party-line vote, a few Republican senators said they are not certain if they will support her on the Senate floor. Democrats say they have 48 solid votes against her, but they need 51 to defeat the nomination.

How big a factor is Trump’s school choice support in the LA charter school debate?

How big a factor is Trump’s school choice support in the LA charter school debate?

Luna Cruz, 9, pushed through the crowd at the teachers union rally in front of her school, Grand View Boulevard Elementary. A teacher had asked if she would speak in front of the gathering — a protest of President Donald Trump on the eve of his inauguration.

The crowd had swelled beyond the “dozens” the union had expected. Hundreds turned out to hear speaker after speaker denounce what they termed Trump’s anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant rhetoric — and also to criticize the president for his nomination of private school voucher and charter school advocate Betsy DeVos for U.S. Secretary of Education. (A Senate committee voted Tuesday morning to send her nomination to the full chamber.)

In front of the large crowd, Luna, a fourth grader, couldn’t gather the nerve to speak. But later, after the crowds around her west Los Angeles school had begun to disperse, she said this was what she wanted to tell the president:

“It’s not fair that you’re doing this,” she said. “You shouldn’t be doing this. You need to stop.”

Stop what? “Trying to turn public schools into charters.”