Broad gets ammo in push to expand L.A. charter schools

charter school future 2As a huge fight draws near over charter schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District between the California Teachers Association and billionaire philanthropist and school reformer Eli Broad, a massive new study by UC Berkeley researchers gives Broad ammunition for his campaign. This account is from UC Berkeley News:

Children entering charter schools in Los Angeles already outperform peers who attend traditional public schools, then pull ahead even a bit more, especially those attending charter middle schools … .


Pupils who enter charter elementary or high schools displayed significantly higher test scores, relative to counterparts entering traditional public schools at the same grade levels, the report said. Elementary students in charter schools benefit from slightly steeper learning curves, relative to peers remaining in conventional schools, researchers said. Charter high schools were no more or less effective than traditional schools in boosting student performance.


Charter schools, while publicly funded, operate independently of many state requirements and the administration of the Los Angeles Unified School District. Some 274 charter schools operate in L.A. Unified this fall, more than any school district nationwide.


The four-year study of 66,000 students at charter schools in Los Angeles Unified — one of the largest research projects yet on charters — offers generally positive news about their quality of education.

The $490 million ‘Great Public Schools Now Initiative’

The study is sure to be invoked by Broad and others unhappy with the quality of education in the nation’s second-largest district. In September, the Los Angeles Times obtained a copy of a 44-page report prepared for Broad called “The Great Public Schools Now Initiative” that corroborated earlier stories that Broad hoped to increase from 16 percent to 50 percent the number of L.A. Unified students in charters, which would require the creation of an estimated 260 new schools. A key passage in the executive summary:

The opportunity is ripe for a significant expansion of high-quality charter schools in Los Angeles. Thanks to the strength of its charter leaders and teachers, as well as its widespread civic and philanthropic support, Los Angeles is uniquely positioned to create the largest, highest-performing charter sector in the nation. Such an exemplar would serve as a model for all large cities to follow.

According to the Times account, the report cited …

… numerous foundations and individuals who could be tapped to raise money, including the Bill and Melinda Gates, Bloomberg, Annenberg and Hewlett organizations. Among the individuals cited as potential targets for fundraising were Eli Broad, Irvine Co. head Donald Bren, former entertainment mogul David Geffen and Tesla’s Elon Musk.


It also suggested a strategy of grassroots organizing and civic engagement designed to generate more interest among parents in charter schools.

UTLA, CTA gear up for public-relations war

The California Teachers Association and its largest chapter, United Teachers Los Angeles, are ramping up for the challenge. The UTLA has already launched a picketing campaign against the plan. At a November rally, CTA President Eric Heins said, “We are here to say to Eli Broad and to Walmart that our schools are not for sale. … The 325,000 members of the California Teachers Association stand arm in arm with UTLA and with CFT to say no to Eli Broad, to say no to Walmart, and to help build the schools that all L.A. students deserve.”

The CTA has won support from Diana Ravitch, a high-profile education reformer and author who’s made an odyssey from harsh union critic to someone who agrees with the union claim that there is something unsavory, corporate and ominous about a school reform movement organized by billionaires. That’s how she characterized Broad’s effort on her website.

“Will the [LAUSD] board go along with Eli’s silent coup or will they choose someone to represent the public interest?” Ravitch wrote.

Broad’s defenders describe his school reform ideas as very comparable to President Obama and his push for school and teacher accountability. But the nation’s two largest teachers unions, the National Education Association (which counts the CTA as its biggest affiliate) and the American Federation of Teachers (the California Federation of Teachers is its biggest affiliate), reject that comparison.

Obama’s recent decision to sign the Every Student Succeeds Act, a national education framework replacing 2002’s No Child Left Behind law, would appear to back up the NEA’s and AFT’s view. It pulls back sharply from federal accountability requirements imposed on states and individual school districts.

The new law swept to bipartisan passage because of an unusual coalition of Democrats who joined teacher unions in saying too much class time was being spent on testing and Republicans who said Congress should not be a “national school board,” in the phrase of Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander, a former secretary of education.


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  1. Richard Rider
    Richard Rider 1 January, 2016, 09:38

    Excellent information! But what is seldom discussed is the COST per pupil of education alternatives. Contrary to public perception, the average public school cost per student is FAR higher than average private school cost.

    Charter schools average more cost per student than true private schools, but significantly less than public schools.

    So even if (rigged) studies somehow conclude that these school choices produce no better academic results than public schools (most studies prove the opposite), the taxpayers still benefit. The big losers? Teacher unions.

    Reply this comment
  2. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 1 January, 2016, 16:04

    The CTA, and every other public union, is going to be neutered into history as soon as the SCOTUS wipes out mandatory unions dues this Spring in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association …

    Reply this comment
      • Dawn Urbanek
        Dawn Urbanek 2 January, 2016, 13:56

        Just a parent- no advocacy organization will represent students who go to school in what is perceived to be a “wealthy” school district- our kids have had flat funding for 14 years $7,500 per pupil while our district cuts programs and increases class sizes to pay for employee compensation increases and no one cares that the District is in violation of the State and Federal Constitution, Regulations – 7 Cal Ed Code Laws and 18 Board Policies to do it! Why do we have laws?

        Reply this comment
        • Richard Rider
          Richard Rider 6 January, 2016, 07:24

          Valid points, Dawn, but don’t use the union-preferred ADA figure ($7,500, in your example) as your benchmark for how much we spend per student. Take the districts TOTAL budget, and divide it by the number of students. You’ll find the total cost per student probably closer to $11,000, and that’s likely understated because of off-budget expenditures.

          Moreover, such figures don’t count the per student cost of the redundant county board of education and the state education bureaucracy. And then there’s the federal Department of Education.

          Vouchers are a far better option for students. As it is, public school districts’ primary function is to provide high pay and generous benefits to as many public employees as possible.

          Reply this comment
          • Dawn Urbanek
            Dawn Urbanek 6 January, 2016, 08:54

            Our total revenues are $402 million enrollment is 48,333 = $8,317 per pupil.

            California’s new education funding law intentionally underfunds wealthy suburban school districts. The State has set the base funding grant so low that our students do not receive even the minimum state mandated core curriculum unless parents fundraise to pay for art music science. If you want that explained in detail go to:

            It really is invidious discrimination and no one cares because we live in a wealthy area.

          • Richard Rider
            Richard Rider 6 January, 2016, 10:25

            Your $8,317 per student funding in your district is appalling, considering that the CA STATE average is $10,744 (2013). You’re right — the state channels more money to poor districts. Not clear why these districts rate more funding (aside from the obvious fact that this is a Democrat run state).

            A biggest absorber of our funds is the districts’ salaries and pensions, leaving us insufficient amount to hire more teachers. CA teachers are the 3rd highest paid in the nation.

          • Dawn Urbanek
            Dawn Urbanek 6 January, 2016, 11:44

            92% of our district funds go to employee compensation and that is after we did early retirement.

            If there are any attorneys that practice in Federal Court I would sure like some help filing a complaint in Federal Court to challenge the constitutionality of the State’s new funding law. The complaint is done. The new law is not designed to educate students – it is designed to redistribute wealth. Any takers can contact me at [email protected] Our District even fundraises for teachers salaries and benefits. Fundraising for education- another California tax

          • Richard Rider
            Richard Rider 6 January, 2016, 10:08

            I stand largely corrected, Dawn! Thanks for the feedback.

      • Rex the Wonder Dog!
        Rex the Wonder Dog! 6 January, 2016, 13:07

        Your complaint is excellent. It looked a little like a non-lawyer based on certain things, but the overall substance was excellent. For a non lawyer you did a great job.

        Reply this comment
        • Dawn Urbanek
          Dawn Urbanek 6 January, 2016, 13:12

          If there is a real lawyer that would like to help- I will accept. If I am successful every taxpayer in the state will benefit. The government uses K-12 public education to raise new tax revenues and then spends it on everything but K-12. If the state is forced to spend money within constitutional guidelines then there would not be money for other things like high speed rail without going to the people. This could actually change California politics and our budget problems.

          Please spread the word.

          Reply this comment
  3. desmond
    desmond 3 January, 2016, 18:37

    Sorry, but laws are made to be broken. Financial aid to college for illegals was a deal breaker for me. I steal from illegals, because they stay away from cops. I just make sure they don t see me. It is cathartic for me. Send the kids to the best school districts, lie.
    There is so much nepotism and cronyism in public education. I know of a fellow who attacked someone with a tennis racket during a match for fun. He was assistant vice principal. Attackee raised a stink. Attacker put on paid leave, and back office position. After two years, he wanted to retire in two years..promoted to principal to Jack up his salary. Scumbag should be working at Burger King for the next 10 years, and then kick the bucket.

    Reply this comment
  4. desmond
    desmond 5 January, 2016, 19:42

    Do you think an educator who negotiated an assault charge away should be a school principal?
    Oh I know, you just think his pension is sacred and cannot be removed because of a felony.
    Aholes like you led the Jews to the ovens in Germany.
    No integrity, not a tiny bit…got to get the pension, and ensure my ahole grandkids go to the best schools. Jews are not my problem.
    F off ahole.

    Reply this comment
    • Dawn Urbanek
      Dawn Urbanek 6 January, 2016, 06:27

      contracts that are entered into illegally are not enforceable. I can prove that the last three employment contracts that my district entered into were not done in accordance with the law. My District has cut core educational programs in order to use that money for outrageous compensation increases for all employees in violation of the US Constitution- the State Constitution – 7 Ed Code Sections – 2 CUSD BOT Bylaws and 16 BOT Policies. What I recommend is forcing the Public Employee Unions to honor their illegal pensions not the taxpayer. I am presenting this to the Capistrano Unified Board of Trustees on January 27, 2016 – Hard to do in 3 minutes – but I am very close. The slide presentation can be viewed at the following link.

      Reply this comment
  5. desmond
    desmond 5 January, 2016, 19:46

    Oh yes, I am sure you are moving assets around to ensure other people pay for your health care needs in a few years, to pass assets to your ahole kids.
    Again, with feeling, F off.

    Reply this comment
  6. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 6 January, 2016, 06:15

    What vile commentary. Why you’re not banned is suspicious.

    Reply this comment

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Chris Reed

Chris Reed

Chris Reed is a regular contributor to Cal Watchdog. Reed is an editorial writer for U-T San Diego. Before joining the U-T in July 2005, he was the opinion-page columns editor and wrote the featured weekly Unspin column for The Orange County Register. Reed was on the national board of the Association of Opinion Page Editors from 2003-2005. From 2000 to 2005, Reed made more than 100 appearances as a featured news analyst on Los Angeles-area National Public Radio affiliate KPCC-FM. From 1990 to 1998, Reed was an editor, metro columnist and film critic at the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin in Ontario. Reed has a political science degree from the University of Hawaii (Hilo campus), where he edited the student newspaper, the Vulcan News, his senior year. He is on Twitter: @chrisreed99.

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