Los Ángeles 1% Maneuvers to Privatize Public Education

save our teachersWhen United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) announced that it had reached a Tentative Agreement (T.A.) with the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), I was interested in getting an interview for my radio show. I spoke with Hattie McFrazier, the UTLA Board member representing Health and Human Services Professionals. She voiced her concerns, which you can hear online at the kpfk.org Archives under “Politics or Pedagogy?” for December 3, 2011.

After taking a closer look at the T.A. I posted the following on an educators’ listserve:

The 1% (Billionaire Boys’ Club, etc.) wants to privatize: 1) water; and, 2) education. The extreme measures taken to capture the former are well documented. Their efforts toward the latter have been effectively disguised as “education reform”. Privatizing education has two goals: 1) increase the number of charter schools; and, 2) weaken the teachers’ union.

The first goal can be marked ‘mission accomplished’. Los Angeles has more charter schools than any other city in the United States. The district loses ADA, the union loses members, the charter pays only a nominal amount for the facility and the CEO makes a huge salary. Meanwhile, charters do no better than public schools. However, their media propaganda ignores these inconvenient truths.

The second goal is to weaken the teachers’ union. Protections provided by a ‘thick contract’ are ignored. When violations occur, justice is not swift and grievances languish for years. Proper procedures, even with California regulations on our side, are routinely brushed aside. Think School Site Councils. Administrators, some more skilled than others, manipulate peer opinion. Those who speak up are castigated.

How willing are educators to give up their contractual protections? Before Wednesday’s UTLA House meeting I floated this test question, “Do we really need to have access to the copy machine?” Most educators I spoke with jumped in with examples that supported getting rid of it. As a historical note, this right was hard-fought several decades ago. But today, with non-contractual procedures firmly in place at many school sites, rights can disappear overnight.

Now imagine if contractual protections were targeted for elimination. Our thick contract could be whittled away one school site at a time. “This is the way the contract ends. This is the way the contract ends. This is the way the contract ends. Not with a bang but with a whimper.”

john cromshowLast week a CTA member called me about a problem he’s facing. He belongs to one of the groups I started, Support Cadre Resisting Administrative Maltreatment (SCRAM). Because of what’s been happening in education lately we have many members at the local, state and national levels. Not that maltreatment of educators is new; it has always existed. Sometimes, administrators themselves are targets. I was talking to a teacher who lives in Wrightwood who said that he feels sorry for principals because they never know if they are going to have a job. Those kinds of pressures have increased now that outsiders have their eyes on the piggy bank. That’s another story.

Have you ever voted on a Tentative Agreement? Please e-mail jcromshow@yahoo.com.

John Cromshow

Originally posted at Ed-LA – PEAC (Progressive Educators for Action)


  1. Steve Lamb says

    What the article does not cover, and what I find to be very disturbing as I sit in meetings in the LAUSD and the PUSD, is that the oligarchs who will benefit from these charters are organizing Latino parents to demand them. The Latino parents organized are organized in neighborhoods where there is already friction between Latinos and African-Americans, in every case I have seen there is a direct not at all subtle exclusion of African-Americans. No one in any media outlet is covering this obvious and obnoxious fact. Why?

  2. says

    John, Although you have had the ability for years to be a voice for those like myself who have had the guts to speak out and expose LAUSD and UTLA endemic corruption, your show Politics and Pedagogy on KPFK has not only refused to cover these issues, but has rather been a media voice for the status qu o- like past UTLA President A.J. Duffy, who has colluded with LAUSD administration during 2 terms- the same as his predecessors John Perez and Day Higuchi- to not enforce basic terms of the LAUSD/UTLA Collective Bargaining agreement.

    Could this have anything to do with the fact that UTLA has paid you a per diem salary in lieu of a regular teacher’s position, so that you would only give access to UTLA party line, while freezing out those whose voice you now appear to be echoing? During the last UTLA election, I asked you to use your show to have a candidates forum. Your response was that you would give each candidate 1minute each.

    Pay to play is called payola and is illegal under federal law. If you have finally seen the light, might you now use your show to talk about Article V of the LAUSD/UTLA Collective Bargaining Agreement that gives the union the power to litigate against LAUSD in a unified action on behalf of the hundreds- if not thousand of teachers- that are systematically being removed from teaching and forced into retirement on trumped up charges only because they are:

    1. High on the salary scale and the District could hire 2 teachers for what they are paying them.
    2. Nearing vesting under the Rule of 80, where they are entitled to life time health benefits from LAUSD, when their age and years of service equals 80. LAUSD administrators are highly motivated to force these teachers out, because the actuarial value of these rights could run into the billions and because LAUSD is already obligated to pay $15 billion in life time health benefits to teachers who have already vested and the District will be bankrupt, if it has to continue paying these benefits.
    3. Honest enough to report fraud in fixing of assessments, promotion, and graduation of students into oblivion.
    4. Try to actually teach ALL students at the highest level in a system of public education at LAUSD and elsewhere throughout this country that has become a de facto daycare facility where little if any education goes on- who else is going to fill the prison (1 in 100 Americans are now in prison) and fight our foreign wars?


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