The Los Angeles Times reports today that the city’s school board voted down an application by charter school operator Green Dot Public Schools to expand its exceptional network of schools into Watts, one of the poorest parts of the city. The Times reporters noted that the vote “almost certainly violates state law” since “a school board can reject charters only if they fail to meet one of several criteria. Green Dot, [district] officials said, met all the criteria.”
It’s not difficult to see the hand of the United Teachers Los Angeles behind the setback for one of the city’s leading education reformers. As the Times reports of the three school board members who voted the expansion down: “In their recent reelection bids, Poindexter LaMotte and Lauritzen relied almost entirely on a total of about $1 million in union contributions. Korenstein has enjoyed similar support in the past.” As the Watts representative on the school board put it:
It’s really disappointing that we keep talking about wanting to do what’s best for children first, when without a doubt that vote was about a teachers union and three board members not having the backbone to stand up and do the right thing for kids over their ties to the union.
What makes the vote even more ridiculous is that Green Dot schools are already unionized. But they’re not unionized under UTLA. Instead, Green Dot teachers are organized under the Asociacion de Maestros Unidos, whose contract with the charters includes the following policies: “teachers have explicit say in school policy and curriculum; no tenure or seniority preference; a professional work day rather than defined minutes; and flexibility to adjust the contract in critical areas over time.”
In other words, Green Dot has a union that puts quality first.
And the UTLA can’t stand it.