Aug. 29, 2016
For immediate release
Media Contact:
Anna Bakalis
UTLA Communications Director

UTLA Launches “We Are Public Schools” Campaign Today

Los Angeles, CA – United Teachers Los Angeles is launching a public awareness campaign today, Monday, Aug. 29, highlighting the good work of educators, parents and students who are fighting for fully funded public schools and who believe that billionaires should not be setting the public education agenda.

“We Are Public Schools” will kick off with more than 100 ads on billboards along major streets, on bus benches and posters in various community locations, alternating in English and Spanish. The ads will be posted through September and continue online through the end of the year. In the ads, each person featured describes what public education personally means to them, in one word, including: “empowerment,” “community,” “imagination,” and “freedom.”

Maynard Brown has taught at Crenshaw High School in South Los Angeles for more than two decades. Brown was a successful businessman who left to teach at his high school. Through his business magnet, he has helped countless students get into college. Part of his curriculum involves students creating their own business plans based on needs assessments of their local neighborhood. Many of his students started their own successful businesses off of those plans.

During that same time, enrollment went from more then 3,000 students to less than 1,000 today, as multiple charter schools have opened nearby. Unregulated charter growth siphons students and funding from district schools. One charter school is co-located on his campus, using classrooms that should be for students that attend the district school.

“I see how parents are divided in my community, and it stems from a lack of a common bond like having their children attend the same school — a neighborhood public school,” Brown said.

Since school funding is based on enrollment, when a student leaves a district school, the money goes too, leaving the school with less resources, year after year. A report, released earlier this year, said that Charter school expansion will cost the district more than $500 million just this year alone. The district also continues to carry infrastructure and oversight costs for charters, and the cost of the highest-need students, typically not served by charters.

LAUSD has more charter schools than any other school district nationwide and the number has more than tripled since 2005, when there were 58 charter schools in the district. Now there are 221 — a 287% growth in 10 years. Per Prop. 39, there are also 56 charter schools that are operating rent-free on district campuses.

Many of these charter schools are supported by the billionaires who opposed more school funding (Prop. 30) but then benefited from it.

The California Charter School Association, a lobbying arm of the charter school industry, hopes to put 1 million children in charters by 2022.

CCSA’s statewide privatization effort has been amplified locally by billionaire Eli Broad and the Walton family of Walmart, among others, with a widely criticized plan to undercut LAUSD schools by removing 50% of its students, forcing the district onto a path of bankruptcy. Broad has donated more than $1.35 million to CCSA since 2013.

Billionaires like Broad also continue to fund a massive privatization effort through campaign donations, engaging PR firms to sway public opinion and also owning major shares in media companies, including “The 74,” which owns the LA School Report.

“We are at a tipping point in Los Angeles and we must ask ourselves: Is it fair that charter schools continue to expand at the expense of our children who choose to remain in public schools?” said Brown, who has taught at Crenshaw High School for 26 years.

As funding for staff, materials and professional development dwindles, he has seen class size ratios rise to as much as 45 to 1. He said he joined the “We Are Public Schools” campaign because he wants to be a part of the solution to improve public education in Los Angeles.

“Quality education in inner city public schools levels the playing field in society, and allows all of our young people to believe in and achieve their dreams,” Brown said.

About us: UTLA, the nation’s second-largest teachers’ union local, represents more than 35,000 teachers and health & human services professionals who work in the Los Angeles Unified School District, including educators at many independent charter schools.

Anna Bakalis
UTLA Communications Director
(213) 305-9654 (c)
(213) 368-6247 (o)<>

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