By Christina Nairn
Despite the fact that my son attends a traditional LAUSD neighborhood school in Westchester, I am outraged by LAUSD School Board President Steve Zimmer’s vote Tuesday supporting an extreme state “charter killer” bill that could lead to the closure of every charter school in Los Angeles -- harming hundreds of thousands of kids in the process.
The bill, SB 808, would allow LAUSD to close any high-performing charter school without any chance of appeal merely because LAUSD sees the school as competition for state funding allocated to educate our kids. Zimmer’s vote proves that he puts the needs of LAUSD bureaucrats before the needs of kids.
Even more appalling is the fact that LAUSD will be spending money in the middle of a fiscal crisis lobbying for this bill, even though its author tabled the bill after meeting and hearing the pleas of parents who convinced him the bill would harm kids.
The money LAUSD is spending on pricey lobbyists could be spent supporting my child in his kindergarten classroom at Kentwood elementary school instead. If LAUSD spent half as much time and money improving district schools as it does picking on charter schools, perhaps fewer families would be leaving the district.
I speak from experience when I say that shutting down every single charter will not solve LAUSD’s enrollment problem. If I cannot find an adequate middle school for my son within LAUSD, I will be moving or permitting out of the district altogether.
Two middle and high school options in Westchester, Incubator and Westchester Secondary Charter School, are shutting down at the end of the year, in part because of Zimmer’s hostility. And while a new LAUSD middle school is opening in Westchester this fall at the campus of Westchester Enriched Sciences Magnet, my son won’t have equal access, and there’s no guarantee he will get in. More than 400 Westchester parents and I signed a Speak UP petition asking Zimmer for equal access to the new school, but he ignored our pleas.
Instead of trying to shut down charters, Zimmer and LAUSD should be listening to parents begging for access to their schools. They should be interviewing every parent leaving the district and asking them why that’s happening. Zimmer and LAUSD should focus on improving district schools instead of eliminating quality school choices for families.
I agree with Zimmer’s challenger Nick Melvoin when he said this: “It’s unfortunate that Steve would put politics before kids. This is not an all kids resolution; rather, it stokes the flames of this ‘us vs. them’ rhetoric.”
That’s why I will be voting for change on May 16.
Paid for by Speak UP - Supporting Nick Melvoin for School Board 2017 (Nonprofit 501(c)(4)), 528 Palisades Drive #186, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272. Major funding provided by Megan Chernin. This advertisement was not authorized by, paid for by or coordinated with a candidate for this office or a committee controlled by a candidate for this office. Additional information is available at ethics.lacity.org.