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Could Concern From Los Angeles Influencers Lead to Half of City Students Attending Charter Schools?

Could Concern from L.A.'s Most Powerful Lead to Half of Its Public School Students in Charter Schools?

A 44-page memo obtained from The Los Angeles Times has revealed the locally based Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation along with several other foundations have proposed a plan to enroll over half of the city's students in charter schools by opening 260 new schools over the next eight years.

The proposed plan is expected to cost $490 million and the discussion has thus far been kept out of the public and political sphere.

Though the proposal has indeed yet to be discussed publicly, the memo lists numerous potential donors who could be turned to for funding. According to The Times education reporter Howard Bloom, the list includes a who's who of rich people within the state including Stephen Spielberg, Donald Sterling and Tesla's Elon Musk.

According to Bloom when being interviewed by NPR, the proposal is in response to the problems the Los Angeles Unified School District has been experiencing the past few years. For instance, most recently the LAUSD made national news for several technology debacles, including a billion dollar one-to-one iPad initiative that had to be revoked after initial roll-outs failed. 

LAUSD students also routinely score lower on tests than the state average, indicating to many a need for change.

Critics of the proposal argue that the expensive charter school plan is not the answer because it will even further divide children from motivated families versus children in need.

They also argue that charter schools- which have the option to turn away children with behavioral problems- will put more pressure on LAUSD to serve students with learning disabilities. LAUSD is already struggling for resources to teach the in-need students it currently serves.

Supporters argue that parents deserve options to give their children the highest quality education possible. 

"Charters have proved popular with parents. The expansion campaign is shaping up to be something of a referendum on L.A. Unified's performance. The memo repeatedly criticizes the district for failing to prepare students for college and careers, robbing Los Angeles of a better-trained, smarter workforce," The Times said.

Read more here.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

09/23/2015

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