Teacher to Steve Zimmer: Stop The Attacks on My School!

The past few weeks have seen a number of campaign mailers sent to residents within LAUSD Board District 4 that have stated blatant lies about my school. The City School is a 6th to 8th grade public middle school located in West Los Angeles, where I teach history, debate and mock Trial.

As a teacher, I am outraged that LAUSD Board President Steve Zimmer supports the propagation of these lies. To add insult to injury, Zimmer is the LAUSD school board member for our school -- of anyone, the one person who is supposed to be supporting us.

The City School is one of the highest performing public middle schools in Los Angeles, and a model that should be replicated. Instead, Zimmer is complicit in the spreading of these false and misleading statements. This is a slap in the face to the daily efforts by my colleagues and me to provide a quality educational experience for our students.

One would think Zimmer would champion a school in his own district that has seen such success. Instead, and perhaps most shamefully, he is using my students as political pawns in his re-election bid.

The mailers in question were paid for by the teachers’ union UTLA, who supports Zimmer, and targeted two of his competitors, Nick Melvoin and Allison Holdorff Polhill. While candidates are not allowed to coordinate with outside political groups that send mailers on their behalf, and I’ll assume for the sake of argument that Zimmer has not been communicating with UTLA regarding the mailers, that doesn’t excuse the lies.

A January 6, 2017 LA School Report article described a telephone poll that painted Zimmer in an unfavorable light, and he was justifiably upset. Zimmer said of these campaign tactics: “The absence of a clear directive against these is tacit acceptance of their use. We should all reject this, every candidate should reject this.”

Zimmer’s absence of a clear directive against the falsehoods propagated against City School is tacit acceptance of their use. The lies Zimmer accepts regarding City School, described in the mailers, are as follows:

·       The implication that City and the parents who started City are somehow tools of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and “out of state billionaires” who want to “divert money away from public school towards their own profit-making charter schools.” As Zimmer knows, City is a public school, and there are no for-profit charter schools in LAUSD. The Los Angeles Times went as far as to describe this claim as “Misleading” in its Truth Squadding column.

·       Claiming City is a “network of controversial charter schools.” City is comprised of two schools- City Language Immersion Charter (CLIC), a successful and diverse dual-language immersion school in South Los Angeles, and City School, one of the highest-performing public middle schools in LA. City High was forced to close last fall, when Zimmer himself stood by and did nothing to help the school secure an affordable facility through Prop 39.

I say to you Mr. Zimmer: Will you stand before the voters and denounce these lies?

-- Spencer Burrows teaches at The City School, a high-performing public middle school in West LA. Parents and teachers at City have started a petition calling on Zimmer to denounce these false and misleading attacks.

You can sign it below: https://www.change.org/p/steve-zimmer-help-us-stop-attacks-on-our-beloved-school?utm_content=petition&utm_medium=email&utm_source=38272&utm_campaign=campaigns_digest&sfmc_tk=ECOqrK3p8hwJiRgezt94VgHHfQmSwjbReGqYq1z%2fkT8y7J29OlE%2bSkOnVNsofm%2fD