From Our Archives
Lionized in death as a champion of Los Angeles’ cultural institutions, Broad also left behind a contentious education legacy.
And why California could see more races like this.
The billionaire’s controversial training program has found a new home at Yale University.
Wealthy parents caught gaming the system. Eli Broad spends on privatization. The price of each vote for L.A. school board race.
There are well over a hundred specialized STEM schools and programs in the Los Angeles Unified School District. So why are a handful of California politicians pushing to create a state-run STEM school in L.A.?
Yesterday the subscriber-only political almanac California Target Book reported that spending by all independent expenditure committees (IECs) on legislative races in the general election had topped $41 million. That brought the year’s total of outside money for state Assembly and Senate seats, including primary races, to $70 million.
Talking Points Memo recently launched a series called The Hidden History of the Privatization of Everything, focusing on what TPM calls “one of the most significant and pervasive politico-economic trends in the United States in the last half century.”
As the free market fairy tale goes, innovative charter schools force neighborhood schools to improve education, while schools that can’t compete eventually close. Parents are “customers” that need more “school choice,” and when a school fails, students simply find another.
When the Great Public Schools Now Initiative, the $490 million blueprint to turn half of Los Angeles’ public school system into charter schools, was first leaked to Los Angeles Times reporter Howard Blume, it triggered an uproar among the city’s education community.
Charter proponents, most notably the Walton Family Foundation, contribute large amounts of money to expand charter schools in select cities around the nation.
Last September’s sensational leak of the Great Public Schools Now Initiative, a half-billion-dollar plan to double the number of charter schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), sparked a firestorm of controversy.
Last month, the Los Angeles Times released a terrifying confidential roadmap for privatizing L.A.’s schools that was produced by billionaire Eli Broad. Broad plans to raise and spend $490 million to create enough privately operated charter schools to house half of the city’s public school students.
The “Broad Plan” is an ambitious, all-sided assault on public schools, potentially funded by money from a who’s who of the nation’s billionaires, including the Walton heirs, Elon Musk, and Steven Spielberg.
Broad’s strategy is to compete directly with the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) for what he calls “market share,” by more than doubling the number of charters already in the city. Diane Ravitch writes that Broad wants to “decimate the remaining public schools by draining them of students and resources.” Former LAUSD board president and state Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg calls it a plan to “privatize and destroy public education.”
Just imagine what these resources—which are in the Broad Plan budget—could do for L.A.’s existing public schools:
If there were still any doubt about Eli Broad’s desire to gut traditional public education, it has been erased by his much-discussed “Great Public Schools Now” initiative, a draft of which LA Times reporter Howard Blume obtained last month.
Broad’s 44-page proposal outlines plans to replace half of LAUSD’s existing public schools with charter schools. “Such an effort will gather resources, help high-quality charters access facilities, develop a reliable pipeline of leadership and teaching talent, and replicate their success,” states the document. “If executed with fidelity, this plan will ensure that no Los Angeles student remains trapped in a low-performing school.”
According to the proposal, Broad wants to create 260 new “high-quality charter schools, generate 130,000 high-quality charter seats and reach 50 percent charter market share.”
(Actually, LAUSD has 151,000 kids in charters now: 281,000 out of 633,000 LAUSD students is 43 percent. This isn’t the only imprecision in the proposal.)
The estimated cost of this LAUSD transformation would be nearly half-a-billion dollars.
There now is a flow of fresh cultural monuments in Los Angeles that runs from the High School of the Arts over to Disney Hall. This includes, of course, the 36-year-old Museum of Contemporary Art, with which billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad was once deeply involved, and which Broad’s new art museum now competes with. All of a 30-year sudden, we have a cultural downtown center, complete with a hinterland of new bars, stores, costly restos and so on.
Little is left of the downtown of 40 years ago – or of its scruffy arts bohemia. But that is the way of these things: Yupster egg joints are replacing the old Grand Central Market stalls that sold fruit for 20 cents a pound, new buildings arise on former parking lots where dead people sometimes turned up in the cars of those who worked overnight nearby.
The Broad museum (it’s officially called “The Broad”) looks like a mammoth white-enameled Claes Oldenburg version of a Sur La Table cheese grater.
“We’re not here because Mr. Kaplan helped us do better on standardized tests,” said one of the nearly one thousand students, former students, teachers, and friends gathered Sunday in the auditorium of Hamilton High School on Robertson to honor the beloved teacher Alan Kaplan who died August 29th.
Mr. Kaplan taught history and psychology in Hamilton’s Humanities Magnet program for 33 years. Through his teaching Kaplan was determined to do something about the achievement gap between white students and students of color. “He was devoted to helping students understand the process, the psychology and the history of racism in our country, believing it would be therapeutic,” said a colleague. Using “The Peoples’ History of the United States” by Howard Zinn as his history text, Kaplan’s lesson plans connected students to what was happening beyond the school walls. “He opened up the world to us” was how a former student,