Could the only teacher in LA’s school board race pull off a surprise win?
Los Angeles teacher Lisa Alva
In this season of election surprises, could an upstart candidate win a spot on the Los Angeles school board, powered by little more than enthusiasm and word-of-mouth? *I think we might be surprised on March 7,* says teacher Lisa Alva, the upstart candidate herself. The school board election has attracted close to $5 million in outside spending, a not insignificant chunk of which has gone to Alva’s opponent, charter advocate Monica Garcia. Alva may not have glossy mailers or an army of paid canvassers going door to door, but she has something that all those independent expenditures can’t buy. She’s a voice of genuine resistance—to reform experiments gone wrong, to *choice* for the sake of choice, and for the kids, the parents and the teachers who are being left behind. Can you tell I have a bit of a crush?
I met Alva two years ago when I was in Los Angeles to talk to people about Eli Broad’s *bold* plan to move half of the city’s students into charter schools within six years. I did what I always do on one of these edu-reporting adventures: I asked anyone I knew with an LA connection to hook me up. Which is how I ended up spending an afternoon with Alva in her English classroom at Roosevelt High School in LA’s Boyle Heights neighborhood. A virtual edu-pal had introduced me to Alva; another contact, a documentary filmmaker, introduced me to Boyle Heights. Once the *Ellis Island* of LA, Boyle Heights was sliced apart in the 1960’s by the East LA Interchange. That would be the intersection of six freeways built to transport Los Angelenos to the new suburbs and the tract houses that were blooming across California, thanks to a young home builder named Eli Broad. But I digress… Continue reading →
Urban Prep teacher Dave Woo says unionization can shine a light *into the dark unknown crevices of charter school management*…
By Dave Woo
Why does my charter school need a union? In a word: accountability. After having worked at Chicago’s Urban Prep Charter Academy for six years, I have serious concerns about how resources are allocated by my own charter network. And my research into whether charter schools are truly public or private entities under the law has convinced me that these problems aren’t confined to schools like Urban Prep or Chicago’s UNO network. There are serious questions that need to be asked about the lack of accountability for charter school operators. Having a union at charters schools will force operators to think twice before doing anything that isn’t in the best interest of students. Continue reading →
A young MBA student tells her classmates that “education reform” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Many of my classmates in business school assume that education reform is a good thing. Accountability! Improvement! Closing the Achievement gap! Usually they know some Teach for America alums (who are now lawyers), or they’ve watched “Waiting for Superman.” They’ve heard of charter schools (which of course they didn’t attend), and being business-minded, they assume that privately-run schools will somehow be better. Because many of my classmates will go on to be business leaders, decision makers, employers and parents, I think it’s important that they understand what education reform is really about. Here’s what I tell them: Continue reading →
It is an annual rite of almost unimaginable cruelty. Thousands of young hopefuls attempting to beat long odds. For the lucky few who win this life lottery, there awaits a coveted seat at a no excuses school known for high expectations and some of the nation’s best teachers. But only a tiny minority will get a shot at a better future. I’m talking, of course, about the huge number of Teach for America alumni who are even now applying to the nation’s top law schools. Continue reading →
The next “Waiting for Superman” is on its way to a theater near you–and it’s even phonier than the last.
Start with an issue near and dear to corporate reformers’ hearts, pump it up with plenty of right-wing cash, then add in a tear-jerking script guaranteed to stir mass outrage at the “entrenched bureaucracy” in our public schools. Sound familiar? After all, what would back-to-school-season be without a feel-bad film that has us up on our feet, mad as hell, demanding a corporate takeover of our public schools?
This fall’s “Waiting for Superman” is called “Won’t Back Down,” a full-on feature length film with an all star cast (Maggie Gyllenhaal, Holly Hunter and Viola Davis) about the corporate edu-crowd’s current fave reform “tool.” Any guesses as to what that would be? Bingo! It’s the “parent trigger,” a California law created by the billionaire-funded group Parent Revolution that enables parents to hand over operation of a public school to an outside charter school operator. In the film, an outraged mother, played by Gyllenhaal, helps parents take over a struggling school where teachers have failed to teach her daughter to read, punched her and locked her in a closet. Hey wait just a second, that sounds like young EduShyster’s public school experience… Continue reading →