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Schools For Thee, Not For Me

The Charter School Industry spends millions trying to influence LAUSD School Board elections but fails in areas saturated with its schools.

By Carl J. PetersenPublished about a month ago 3 min read
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billionaires…do not have to bother with how bad [charter] schools might be since THEY can send their kids wherever IN THE WORLD they want to send them for their schooling.

– Barbara Garcia

When LAUSD Board Member Nick Melvoin looked past the educational failures and dire financial situation of Prepa Tec Charter School to vote for its renewal, he subjected children outside of his own Board District to mediocrity. The same could be said when he defended the lax oversight of Community Preparatory Academy as its Executive Director defrauded taxpayers of $3.1 million over a five-year period. When he chose to appear at a press conference in the defense of Citizens of the World's failure to protect its students from anti-Semitism he was also traveling outside the boundaries of Board District 4.

Unsurprisingly, a politician elected with $8,789,273.72 worth of support from the Charter School Industry is willing to do everything possible to ensure that these publicly funded private schools escape accountability. What is less clear is why there are so few of these schools in his own Board District. Of the 222 independent charter schools authorized by the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) only 13.25* (or 5.97%) are located within Melvoin’s BD4. This is the least amount in the entire District.

Taken as a whole, the three Board Districts that have elected representatives beholden to the charter school industry contain only 29.17% of these schools. This gives them three of the four areas with the least number of charters. Kelly Gonez’s Board District 6 has the third least with 25.5 (11.49%). With 26, Tanya Ortiz Franklin’s BD7 is the middle having 11.71% of the charter schools.

After BD7 the number of schools per district increases dramatically. The area represented by Dr. George McKenna, BD1, has 41.25 charter schools, or 18.58% of the total. There are 47.25 (21.28%) in Jackie Goldberg’s BD5. The area most saturated with charter schools is BD2 with 49.25 or 22.18% of the total. Represented by Dr. Rocio Rivas, BD2 has over 3.7 times the number of these publicly funded private schools than Melvoin’s Board District.

The exception to the rule is Scott Schmerelson's BD3. Schmerelson is consistently opposed by the Charter School Industry, including the $870,079.99 spent against him in the just concluded primary. Still, his Board District only has 19.5 charter schools or just 8.78% of the total. Only Melvoin's district has fewer.

While BD3 has fewer charter schools, the number of students enrolled in these schools is elevated because the top three enrolled charters, Granada Hills Charter, El Camino Real Charter High, and Birmingham Community Charter High are all located in this Board District. Together, these schools have 12,288 students, accounting for 11.2% of the 109,747 students enrolled in charters.

The fact that Board Districts represented by the Charter School Industry are less likely to have charter schools poses many questions including:

Do more parents having experience with charter schools contribute to an understanding that these publicly funded private schools are not the panacea they are claimed to be?

Does an increased number of these schools make more voters realize the harm that their existence causes to students enrolled in public schools?

Do supporters of charter schools think the problems they perceive with public schools only exist in other neighborhoods?

Understanding the answers to these questions is key to developing successful election strategies as those supporting public education fight to maintain their slim majority on the LAUSD School Board. The future of public education in Los Angeles depends on getting it right.

* Fractional numbers are caused by four charter schools having campuses that are divided between multiple Board Districts.

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Carl Petersen is a parent advocate for public education, particularly for students with special education needs, who serves as the Education Chair for the Northridge East Neighborhood Council. As a Green Party candidate in LAUSD’s District 2 School Board race, he was endorsed by Network for Public Education (NPE) Action. Dr. Diane Ravitch has called him “a valiant fighter for public schools in Los Angeles.” For links to his blogs, please visit www.ChangeTheLAUSD.com. Opinions are his own.

education
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About the Creator

Carl J. Petersen

Carl Petersen is a parent advocate for students with SpEd needs and public education. As a Green Party candidate in LAUSD’s District 2 School Board race, he was endorsed by Network for Public Education (NPE) Action. Opinions are his own.

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