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Teachers planning to protest charter plan as LAUSD board convenes

Mike Szymanski | October 12, 2015

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UTLA Colleen SchwabAs the LA Unified board is holding its monthly meeting tomorrow, the teachers union, UTLA, is planning a sidewalk protest against the Broad Foundation’s plan to expand the number of charter schools in the district.

The demonstration follows the release today of a Broad-commissioned poll, showing that a large majority of city residents want more choices — charters — for their children’s education. The plan calls for 260 new charters within eight years to serve as many as half the children attending LA Unified schools.

“Broad is working with the Waltons of Walmart and other billionaires to destroy LAUSD,” UTLA says on its website. “We are demanding that the School Board join us in rejecting Broad’s parasitic plan. Losing 50% of LAUSD enrollment would trigger a severe loss in funding for crucial resources and programs for our students, cost tens of thousands of LAUSD jobs, and create a race to the bottom that will hurt all schools and all students.”

The foundation denies any destructive intent.

“Los Angeles families have made it clear that they want high-quality public school options, and we want to support them in their efforts to access educational opportunity,” Swati Pandey, the foundation’s communications manager, said in a statement. “Our only interest is in supporting the growth of high-quality public schools.”

The board is scheduled to consider approvals and five-year renewals of 15 charter schools and the creation of two magnet schools.

The two new gifted magnet centers are scheduled to open in 2016 at Kennedy High School and Taft High School. Kennedy, located in Granada Hills is a Gifted, Highly Gifted, High Ability Medical Magnet for grades 9 through 12. Taft, located in Woodland Hills, is a Gifted, Highly Gifted, High Ability Science, Technology, English, Arts and Math Magnet Center for grades 9 through 12.

“We are committed to expanding excellence in district choice options across our communities,” board president Steve Zimmer told LA School Report. “Taft and Kennedy may be the first but they certainly won’t be the last. And I expect that we will, aligned with our equity mission, focus in the near future on proposals that address in district choice options for children living in the most severe conditions of poverty and segregation.”

These are not to be confused with the dual immersion schools such as the Mandarin-immersion program in Zimmer’s district.

“Dual immersion programs are an important part of this equation,” Zimmer said. “I continue to look forward to both a comprehensive district wide plan for expanding language immersion programs and a specific proposal for supporting our programs in the Venice complex.”

Among other items, Superintendent Ramon Cortines will have his staff give an update on the district science scores (spoiler alert: they are pretty poor). The board will be asked to certify a final Environmental Impact Report for district-wide school repairs and construction for a total of $7.8 billion. The board will also discuss replacing the melting turf at athletic fields at half a dozen schools.

In another issue, the board consider approving final offers to charter school organizations seeking to share space with public schools under the state Prop 39 protocols.

Board members also have a bunch of resolutions to get approved. The most prolific at this meeting is Mónica Ratliff who has proposed resolutions recognizing National Disability Employment Awareness Month, Substitute Educators Appreciation Day, National Homeless Youth Awareness Month, Native American Heritage Month, America’s Safe Schools Week, National Retirement Security Week, Celebrating College Awareness and a Study of Parent Centers. Ratliff will also be co-sponsoring National Coming Out Day with fellow board members Mónica García and Ref Rodriguez.

Then, there are the little things (kidding), like the approval of $5 million for seven vendors doing anti-bullying campaigns, $338,000 for bathroom partitions across the district, and the approval of 9,213 routine personnel promotions, transfers, leaves and terminations.

Among the lawsuits that the board will discuss in a morning closed session is a case involving the district’s responsibility in a case involving molestation that went on at Edison Middle School. The teacher was found guilty, and LAUSD was found not responsible for the sexual liaisons that took place on and off campus.

The closed session begins at 10 a.m., with the open session scheduled to start three hours later.

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