LAUSD TEACHERS PROTEST AT OPENING OF BROAD MUSEUM
At The Schools with Audrey Linden
This Sunday, September 20th marked the grand opening of the prestigious new Eli Broad Museum on Grand Avenue in Los Angeles. The art collection he and Edythe had amassed over the years has a permanent home and the admission is free. A group of teachers, in cocktail attire had shown up for the Red Carpet gala star-studded opening and were Thursday evening and were escorted off the premises., parents, and students But, Sunday, hundreds of teachers wearing red showed up strong, peacefully marching. And, the LAUSD teachers and United Teachers of Los Angeles got media attention and reportage at this event. The march was covered on the news channels and in various newspapers as the Los Angeles Times. The teachers were marching for a cause.
Eli Broad has a plan in the works to open more Charter Schools and take about 50% of the LAUSD student population. If that happens, LAUSD would have to shut down many schools and teacher’s jobs would be in jeopardy. This move to “charterize” would change the face of public education as we know it. The fear LAUSD teachers have is that their careers are at stake. Eli Broad plans to invest a half billion to a billion dollars into the unregulated non-union charter schools.
There are pros and cons to this move to institute a move to charter schools. The Broad side sees it as a chance to provide quality education with more say so over curriculum, testing, parental input control over teachers, etc. The pro charter movement feels LAUSD has not improved education and test scores show LAUSD is lagging behind in preparing students for college. The charter schools would design their own curriculum, not have unionized teachers, and their teachers as at will employees could be fired in a moment. UTLA is trying to unionize current charter school teachers so that teachers have a say so as to their educational choices and also cannot be fired without due process.
The cons are these charters, which are independently run can put an end to public education and also ultimately unions. If half of LAUSD’s student population is acquired into charters, teachers lose jobs, are UTLA loses teachers and dues. The union cannot operate without dues. Also the charters will not be taking in all students. The charters can exclude the Special Ed population and also students with discipline issues. They can “cherry pick” the best students. Teachers have been let go over reading a poem in class. There is no job security. The concern is that the charters will not attract the seasoned professionals who have been teaching for many years and will recruit new and untried teachers.
LAUSD teachers, parents, and students showed up to march, close to a thousand with signs to the effect, asking why Eli Broad would fund a museum for the arts but not fund arts programs in LAUSD schools. One sign said “Privitatizing Our Public Schools.” LAUSD could do a lot to improve their schools with some funding by Eli Broad and others behind the move to “charterize.”
UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl spoke at the rally and said, “We’re very concerned that Eli Broad is part of a network of foundations and billionaires who are actually behind a plan to undermine public education by opening unregulated schools, unregulated charter schools that don’t serve Civil Rights, and that don’t serve kids.” He has challenged Eli Broad to a debate and so far Broad has not responded nor accepted the challenge.