Good news/bad news for state schools. Charter lobby’s burned bridge problem. Austin Beutner ratchets up tensions with Los Angeles teachers.
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.
Last week’s testimony in the Vergara v. California trial raised many an eyebrow when Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Superintendent John E. Deasy testified on behalf of plaintiffs in a lawsuit whose defendants had originally included LAUSD.
Despite its supporters’ protests to the contrary, Vergara is widely seen as a frontal attack against statutory guarantees of due process and seniority rights for state teachers. The suit is the brainchild of Students Matter, a Bay Area nonprofit created by wealthy Silicon Valley entrepreneur David Welch and partly financed by L.A. billionaire Eli Broad.
Under friendly direct examination by plaintiff attorney Marcellus McRae, the superintendent offered testimony that supported the suit’s contentions that the way in which teachers are fired, laid off and granted tenure has an adverse impact on the overall quality of the teacher workforce and illegally discriminates against low-income and minority students.
The topic of last Thursday’s roundtable discussion hosted by the West Los Angeles Democratic Club was “The Privatization of Public Schools.” About 80 Democratic activists and Los Angeles Unified School District teachers at Mar Vista’s St. Bede’s Episcopal Church heard teacher and former congressional candidate Marcy Winograd moderate a discussion of such hot-button issues as charter schools, co-locations, Parent Trigger and federal learning-standards-based programs such as No Child Left Behind.
Panelists included LAUSD Board member Steve Zimmer, United Teachers L.A./National Education Association Vice President M.J. Roberts, Crossroads School for the Arts & Sciences founder and charter school advocate Paul Cummins, middle school teacher Loren Scott, former middle school principal Marcia Haskin and LAUSD parent and education blogger Sara Roos.
The evening’s harshest words were reserved for LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy and Parent Trigger, the controversial law that allows 50 percent-plus-one of parents from an under-performing school to fire the staff and start over.
(Update, June 17: A United Teachers L.A. bulletin has announced the 58-42 percent membership approval of the agreement discussed below.)
My neighbor Rena found her life’s work at the age of 50. Today, 10 years later, she could lose that work and her profession teaching English as a second language.Thousands of teachers in L.A. this week are voting on a proposed agreement to reduce their own pay in order to save adult and early childhood education programs, teacher-librarians, counselors and nurses, and to reduce class sizes. It’s a deal that would make most of us blanch – threaten our own family’s economic health for the common good? No thanks.
In fact, by refusing to raise property and other taxes in California, we’ve essentially left it to the teachers to volunteer for the sacrifices the rest of us are not willing to make for the welfare of our state’s public school children.