L.A. Board of Ed Poised to Oppose Broad Foundation’s Charter Expansion Plan

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By Fahim Fadz. (Flickr: [1]) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

December 2, 2015; Los Angeles Times

The battle over an audacious plan to enroll nearly half of the students in the nation’s second-largest school district in charters continues.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the Los Angeles Unified School District’s (LAUSD) Board of Trustees is poised to vote on a proposal to oppose “market-driven” education reforms in the wake of a plan by a number of foundations to create 260 new charter schools in the district.

The proposal stops short of having the board vote to take a stand against the expansion plan put forward by the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation and supported by a handful of large funders. Specifically, it will ask the Board of Education to oppose “external initiatives that seek to reduce public education in Los Angeles to an educational marketplace and our children to market shares.”

The charter proposal calls for half of district students to enroll in charters over the next eight years. It was developed without input from LAUSD, and California law would allow it to be implemented over the objections of district staff and individual board members.

The plan proposes raising $490 million; last month, charter advocates formed a nonprofit organization to implement it. Charter schools are publicly funded and independently managed, and they are exempt from rules that govern traditional campuses. Most are nonunion.

Advocates say that charters do a better job educating students, and they are popular with parents. Many experts, along with teachers unions, have their doubts about their effectiveness. Currently, about 15 percent of LAUSD students are in charters.

The move to oppose the effort is based on the belief that some charters don’t serve all students and that the dramatic growth of charters would impede LAUSD’s ability to provide the resources needed to sustain and improve district-operated campuses. The Times reports that the proposal criticizes external efforts that fail to support “districtwide programs and strategies that benefit every student whom we are sworn to serve.”—Larry Kaplan