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Victory for public education: Motion to limit charter co-locations passes

By Carlos Montes

Antonieta Garcia speaking to media after victory at Los Angeles school board meeting.  | Fight Back! News/staff

Los Angeles, CA – In a hotly debated Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) board meeting February 13, a motion to lessen the negative impact on public schools from charter school co-location passed 4 to 3.

The original September 2023 motion, by Jackie Goldberg and Dr. Rociso Rivas, basically called for a study by the superintendent on the negative impact of charter schools that reside inside public schools. At the Tuesday meeting, a new policy was approved that will help hold back the growth of charter school co-locations.

Antonieta Garcia of East Los Angeles, an advocate and mother of children in LAUSD, stated: “This is a big victory for our ELA community. We have been fighting co-location and the saturation of charter schools for many years!”

The charter industry has used California’s Proposition 39 to target Black and Chicano community public schools to take up classroom space and recruit students. Co-locations negatively impact local public schools by taking away funding and classroom space.

The motion makes one of the most significant changes to local charter school policy since the state first required school systems to offer space to charters more than 20 years ago.

United Teachers Los Angeles led the campaign in support of the motion; uniting with Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, Reclaim Our Schools, Eastside Padres, and Centro CSO.

Centro CSO in the past has led successful campaigns against charter schools. At Garfield High School, they stopped a Green Dot takeover; at Roosevelt High, they stopped a Collegiate Charter school co-location, and they stopped KIPP Promesa from building a large charter school in the Boyle Heights neighborhood. Centro CSO also supported the work to oust KIPP Poder at Gascon School in Montebello Unified School District.

Several mothers of LAUSD students called in to make a public comment supporting the motion, giving examples of how charter schools target students with recruitment campaigns causing lower enrollment in local public schools.

Boyle Heights and East LA are saturated with charter schools due to the ex-LAUSD board member Monica Garcia opening the door. Four of our good public schools have an Extera Charter school on campus at Second Street, Breed Street, Lorena and Eastman elementary schools. East LA also has several KIPP, Arts and Action and now a charter high school Ednovate Esperanza near Garfield High.

Antonia Montes, teacher at Eastman Avenue school, spoke via phone, pointing out how Extera charter school took over more space causing problems at Eastman Avenue school. She stated about the February 13 resolution, “This is a first step in minimizing disruption to our students' academic and vital social emotional growth.”

Dr. Rocio Rivas in particular has portrayed charter backers as trying to destroy public education by “privatizing” it. The charter industry, she said, has been “taken over by charter school management organizations, huge industries that are profiting.”

The resolution prohibits charters from moving onto campuses deemed especially vulnerable to harm by disruption.

Board members George McKenna and Jackie Goldberg – who won office with support from the teachers union – are not running for reelection. Goldberg is a long time social justice champion who has criticized the charter school industry for targeting our working-class Black and Chicano communities.

Voting for the resolution were Goldberg, Rivas, McKenna and Scott Schmerelson. Voting against it were Nick Melvoin, Tanya Ortiz Franklin and Kelly Gonez. These last three are supported by the charter school industry with large sums of campaign money.

Future charter school policy will be at stake next year in school board elections that are usually the most high-spending in the nation.

The last LAUSD board election of Dr. Rocio Rivas gave it a pro-public, pro-union majority. This is why this year's LAUSD elections are critical to re-elect Scot Schmerelson and either Karla Griego or Fidencio Gallardo to replace Jackie Goldberg who is retiring after a long successful career in public office.

This has been a long fight against privatization. Parents, students and teachers rejoiced when the vote was announced. Dr. Rivas and Ms. Goldberg met the joyous crowd outside to cheers and chants of “Si se puede!”

#LosAngeles #PeoplesStruggles #PublicEducation #SchoolBoard #LAUSD #CentroCSO