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Zimmer: Proposed charter expansion at LAUSD ‘not about children’

LA School Report | August 13, 2015

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ISteveZimmern his first extensive interview since he was elected president of the LA Unified school board in July, Steve Zimmer had a few blunt words about the recent  announcement that power brokers in the charter school movement intend to expand the ranks of charters in the district to include half of all students.

The move, welcomed by some leaders, like board member and former president Mónica García, is sure to be seen as a hostile corporate takeover by others.

How ugly of a political fight will it be? Here’s what Zimmer had to say in the interview, conducted by the Jewish Journal:

“We have the most charters of any school district in the nation. We have incredibly high levels of saturation. If choice is so important, the California Charter Schools Association agenda and the Walton Family Foundation and other foundations’ agendas to situate more and more charter schools within the LAUSD boundary is not about children. It’s not about choice. It’s not about innovation. It’s about a very different agenda of bringing down the school district, an agenda to dramatically change what is public education. It’s about altering the influence of public sector unions. I just happen to disagree with that agenda. But folks should be explicit about what their agenda is.

I’m actually very proud we have some of the highest-performing charters in the country. It takes a lot for me to not renew or to close down an existing charter. But at the point we’re at, a new charter has to be compelling. It has to offer something we don’t have right now, and that is a high bar. I am unapologetic about it.”

Zimmer had plenty of other interesting things to say about the borders of his district — the result of “obscene political gerrymandering” — the failed iPad program, universal preschool and other topics.

The full interview by the Journal is available here.


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