California Educator

May / June 2017

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C alifornia educators are building a better state for public educa- tion . In neighborhood schools across the Golden State, we are partnering with parents to create a pub- lic education experience that is unique to the students in their community. No one knows better what students need and what works than those closest to them. But our student- centered approach isn't champi- oned by everyone. Increasingly, where we see kids in need of a quality education, others see profits. President Trump and Secretary of Edu- cation Betsy DeVos are promoting this corporate, for-profit agenda. Their pro- posed federal education budget would cut $10.6 billion from public schools to fund a private school voucher scheme. Among the programs on the chopping block: after- school programs, arts education, loans for low-income students, class size reduction a n d p r o f e s s i o n a l d e v e l - opment. California voters have rep eat edly reject ed school vouchers because o f t h e i r h a r m t o p u b l i c schools and their failure to improve education for the students who receive them. W hile school vouchers are a glaring example of harmful reform efforts, charter schools are a more complex issue. Origi- nally touted as a way to foster innovation and free school communities from restric- tions imposed under the Education Code, California's charter school law has actually created a system where two types of char- ters now exist. Some have developed and operate under the original intent and spirit of the law; others have been created for less idealistic reasons. e majority of new char- ter schools are purely big business. ey are organized and managed by private companies, putting profits before kids and often exploiting employees and engaging in discriminatory enrollment practices. W h en d on e r i g ht , w ith educator and parent sup- por t, char t er school s can w ork for lo cal c ommuni - t i e s . W h e n d o n e w r o n g , th e y 're b a d f o r b o th stu - dents and educators. (See our stor y of student-centered charters that work and profit-centered ones that don't, page 18.) Ma ny ch a r t er s ch o o l e du c ators a re members of CTA. Our successful efforts to organize educators in charter schools have allowed those teachers to be treated more professionally and empowered them, where necessary, to be better watchdogs against fraud and abuse. Educators in unionized charter schools say their t eaching environm ent i s m o re c o l l a b o r a t i v e a n d student-centered. In addition to organizing employees at charter school sites, CTA is working with lawmakers to ensure that charter schools are accountable, transparent and accessi- ble. A trio of CTA-backed bills, SB 808, AB 1360 and AB 1478, would do just that. In addition, we have seen the school privatization industry and its billionaire backers increase their involvement in pol- itics, pouring huge amounts of money into local school board races, as well as state and national elections. e May election in Los Angeles Unified School District became the most expensive school board race in history. e deep-pocketed corporate reform indus- try spent nearly $10 million (which works out to $144 per vote) to successfully elect their candidates. ey outspent a coalition of educators, parents and working fami- lies by 2-to-1. is is deeply troubling; that money was spent for a reason. Wealthy cor- porate reformers like Eli Broad have vowed to put 50 percent of Los Angeles students into privately run charters, and now they have a school board that can help them get it done. United Teachers Los Angeles, with CTA support, will continue to fight that effort, which would devastate the school district and its students. The corporate agenda for public edu- cation is dangerous. Unfortunately, it is ver y well funded and has advocates in places as high as the White House. But I am confident that in the long run, their money and power will be no match for the commitment and solidarity of 325,000 CTA members, along with parents and commu- nity members, who will continue to push back and defend public education from attacks so that all California students get the quality education they deserve. Eric C. Heins C T A P R E S I D E N T @ericheins president's message Education Is About Kids, Not Profits "The corporate agenda for public education is dangerous." 5 May / June 2017 Eric Heins speaks at a CTA May 1 Day of Action event in Oakland. Photo by Mike Myslinski

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