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LA teachers protest billionaire Eli Broad's attack on public education

By Jared Hamil |
September 21, 2015
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LA teachers stand up to attacks on public education
LA teachers stand up to attacks on public education (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Los Angeles, CA - Over 200 teachers, community members and students protested at the grand opening of the Broad Museum of Contemporary Art on the morning of Sept. 20. The Broad Museum is named after billionaire Eli Broad. Broad has been spearheading the attacks on public education not only in Los Angeles, but across the country. The United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) called out Broad for using his big money to push for more charter schools

A delegation of Centro CSO (Community Service Organization) participated in the protest to continue to show unity and solidarity with teachers and UTLA. Centro CSO was part of a successful community grassroots protests to keep Colligate Charter School out of Roosevelt High School in the spring.

The protesters chanted, “When public education is under attack. What do we do? Stand up and fight back!”

Broad, as well as other billionaires and politicians have consistently attacked the public education system. In 2012, Broad used his wealth to fight against Proposition 30 in California. Prop 30 raised taxes in order to prevent $5 billion in education cuts. Broad has also used his wealth to create charter schools all over the country. Along with local politicians, they are aiming to have more than 50% of all schools in Los Angeles to be privatized and operated by non-union outside non-profits groups.

Expanding private charters takes money away from public education. It also drives a wedge between teachers, as most charter school teachers are non-union. Students are segregated on the same school site. Also, students do not have equal access to private charter schools. Most private charters pick which students are accepted. This leaves behind many students who are non-English speakers, poor or from oppressed nationality and from working class neighborhoods.

Lupe Torres, a UTLA member and 17 year school teacher said, “This would drastically disrupt our public schools. Charter schools have been found to be mostly unregulated all around. They are able to select their own sites, students and curriculum. This impacts Los Angeles students when their lawful rights are not met once enrolling in a charter school. Some students have a right to special education and English as a second language classes. Many charter schools do not offer this curriculum. In many cases charter schools select students based on their performance record. Students who are not making adequate progress are counseled to return to their home public school. Furthermore, most charter schools do not offer union participation for their teachers. In many cases these teachers are overworked and under-trained.”

UTLA and supporters rallied outside the front entrance of the museum. Many teachers spoke before the crowd. Afterwards two picket lines marched chanting, “U-T-L-A!” and “Art for the masses, fund more classes!”

Torres continued, “Although charter schools boast they are public schools, they rarely function that way. If most of the money and efforts being placed in dismantling public education was placed in building them up, there wouldn't be a need for the excuse of charter schools. People who are not educators or do not have invested interest in honestly supporting public education should stay very far away from our public schools. The damage they cause when they get involved has long term effects on our students.”