A story in yesterday’s Los Angeles Times has this headline: “Group vows to rescue L.A. students one good school at a time.”
It goes on to detail the official launch of Great Public Schools Now, a new movement that will invest millions of dollars in LA neighborhoods that need better schools. (In full disclosure, GPSN shares some funders with my employer, Education Post.)
That’s millions of philanthropic dollars for public schools.
No tax increase required.
All going to help improve education for needy children.
Who could be against such a boon for kids?
“This new plan is a public-relations move meant to distract from the original proposal, which was greeted with widespread condemnation.”
That’s what Alex Caputo-Pearl, head of the LA teachers union, told the LA Times upon hearing the news.
A public relations move? Ummm…OK….but if so, it’s one that comes with desperately needed money for LA schools and children. Schools all over the country are scratching and clawing for every dollar they can get. I’d say we need more “PR moves” like that.
The union doesn’t like Great Public Schools Now because the “original proposal” that Caputo-Pearl references only focused on expanding charter schools in underserved communities. And as far as “widespread condemnation” goes, that’s pure spin. Probably widespread in his union circles; but it was probably widespread celebration among the thousands of families on charter-school waitlists.
But charter schools, despite being wildly popular among families because they’ve proven to be real difference-makers for kids, are a huge threat to the union’s power and pocketbook, because most charters don’t employ the dues-paying union teachers who make the unions a political juggernaut.
So the unions constantly demonize charter schools.
They blame charters for “siphoning” money from district-run schools, even though charter kids and schools have just as much right to public-education dollars as the “system” does.
They fight to keep charters from giving more families the power to choose where their children attend school—a power that union members have the privilege, and propensity, to exercise.
They claim charters don’t serve high-needs kids, and then fight to shut down those specifically designed for that purpose.
And they parrot the “privatization” prattle to try and smear charters, even though they are fully open to, funded by, and accountable to the public.
Everyone on all sides of the education debate claims they’re “all about the kids.”
Charter schools are providing a good education to and are a chosen option for millions of kids—many who are underdogs, the exact people the unions and “progressives” are supposed to fighting for.
Yet, the unions doggedly fight the good that charters do for those kids. Their fundamental principle being: any school that’s not unionized is the enemy, even though they turn around and send a lot of their own kids to those schools.
And, in the case of Great Public Schools Now in LA, the union is trashing a multimillion-dollar investment in all types of public schools, simply because the charter scent is too strong.
At the same time the unions were putting more self-inflicted holes in their “it’s about the kids” credibility, the charter sector was bolstering theirs.
“Authorizers have a legal and moral responsibility to close chronically low-performing charter schools of any kind, including full-time virtual charter schools.”
That’s straight from a report, written by charter advocates, calling for any charter school to be shut down if it’s not serving kids well.
And that’s putting the needs of kids ahead of the interests of your members.
The union version of that would be: “School districts have a public-service and moral responsibility to close chronically low-performing schools of any kind, district-run or charters.”
Can you imagine anything approaching those words coming from the mouths of union bosses Randi Weingarten or Lily Eskelsen Garcia?
The unions like to talk the “it’s about the kids” talk. They need to do a better job of walking the walk.