With the vote happening May 16, over $10 million will be spent to win two seats on the Los Angeles Unified School District School Board, making it the most expensive election ever in the country. This is a battle for political power waged between the teachers union on one side and pro-corporate/anti-union charter school investors on the other. Billionaires like Eli Broad, former LA Mayor Richard Riordan, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Netflix’s Reed Hastings and Walmart’s Walton family are financing their pro-charter candidates: Kelly Gonez for District 6 and Nick Melvoin for District 4.
Both Melvoin and Gonez support decreasing the strength of the teachers unions, diverting millions of tax dollars into privately-run public education and exponentially increasing the number of charter schools in the nation’s second-largest school system.
The LAUSD serves over six million students. Over the next eight years, billionaire Eli Broad wants half of LA’s schools to be charter and for this corporate-run education “to serve as a model for the rest of the nation.”
While charter schools are funded with public tax dollars, they are privately managed and are aggressively anti-union, enabling charters to “cherry pick” which students to admit and what books and curricula to exclude.
Charters are loosely regulated and generally pay their teachers non-union wages. They are neither accountable nor transparent. For example, in 2013, the founders of a Los Angeles charter with 1,200 students were convicted of misappropriating more than $200,000 in public funds.
This election is about consolidating corporate power in favor of capitalists, rather than providing youth with a quality education. The political power of the pro-charter movement in Los Angeles has been demonstrated in their ability to elect increasing majorities of State Assembly members, state senators and local school boards as well as suppressing laws and regulations limiting the expansion of charter schools.
A win by the pro-charter lobby would give them a majority in the LAUSD for the first time, effecting laws limiting charter expansion as well as how education funds are spent for years to come. Instead of wasting tens of millions of dollars campaigning, working people would rather use that money to buy textbooks, increase teachers salaries and relieve overcrowded classrooms. This, however, will only be achived when the rich are taxed rather than being allowed to privatize public education. It will take a united, working class movement, because education is a right, not a commodity!