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Zimmer, charter group CEO square off over charter plan

Mike Szymanski | September 28, 2015

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LA Unified School Board President Steve Zimmer kept up his attack against the Broad Foundation charter schools expansion plan, appearing on KNBC’s “News Conference” yesterday and calling the plan a “perversion of what the charter movement was supposed to be.”

“The reason why I’m concerned is because this is really a business plan that doesn’t address all students,” Zimmer said. “It’s a some-student strategy not an all-student strategy and the problem is, is that when you take that many students away from the school district, necessarily you are injuring the students left behind, they become collateral damage of this plan.”

Zimmer was asked whether the district is concerned about control of the money that is allocated per student. “On the assumption that it’s exactly and precisely the same students then that would make sense,” Zimmer answered. “But we know it’s not the same students, we know that the students by and large that go to charter schools are not the students that have the most needs.”

Following Zimmer, the acting CEO of the Claifornia Charter School Association, Myrna Castrejon, disputed Zimmer’s characterization of the plan, saying, “I’m not sure where Mr. Zimmer is getting his facts. Charter schools enroll 2 percent more ELL (English Language Learners) than traditional public schools in Los Angeles. With Special Ed we are dead even with traditional public schools.”

She added, “I think really it is about protecting the institution.” She said the Local Control and Accountability Plan now allows the money to go where the students go and added, “If they want to go to charter schools, they are welcome.”

Zimmer said, “The biggest problem I have with the plan is that it talks about market share, it talks about our kids as market share. It’s a business strategy for a social and public sector problem.”

He added, “It’s really a perversion of what the charter movement was supposed to be. The charters were supposed to be innovators for change. And once they were able to break through, which some charters have, the change was supposed to spread throughout the system. This is a plan to bring the entire system down, and there will be a lot of damage in that system. Not just to the entire system, but to real kids in real time.”

Castrejon cited statistics showing that low income minority students have three or four times a better chance of going to college if they attend a charter school. She also said Broad plan is “a wonderful, wonderful gesture.”


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