The following is a guest blog by School Board Candidate, Robert D. Skeels, who is endorsed by United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA). He is a strong advocate of public education, labor unions and adult education.
OPEN LETTER TO L.A. COUNTY FEDERATION OF LABOR
School Privatization Hurts Everyone
Privatization via charter schools removes agency from communities and encourages the lowest wages possible. Aside from eschewing organized labor within schools themselves, every aspect of privatized schools encourages the use of non-unionized labor and at-will employees. This is true from construction, to food services, to site maintenance, and every other aspect of building, running, and maintaining schools.
Corporate charter chains like CNCA are under no obligation to even consider contractors with agreements with organized trade unions. Instead of their numerous projects benefiting the workers in the community, those tax dollars go into the pockets of well heeled developers. Other large charter chains like Alliance outsource to 501c3 firms all the work that would typically be done by classified union employees at public schools.
Ultimately school privatization drives down wages, commodifies labor, and takes the dignity out of work and our communities.
President Mónica García supports school privatization
Mónica García’s policies of giving schools away to outside bidders has exacerbated anti-labor practices. Even in the case where she can’t eliminate organized labor, she has made disparaging remarks like “I can’t wait until all contracts are thin contracts.” Rather than viewing unions as partners in educating students, she treats them as adversaries. Her disdain for collective bargaining is disconcerting.
While real estate firms, contractors, and charter executives have flourished under Ms. García’s leadership, we’ve seen a steady decline in certified and classified personnel in the district. This trend towards privatization effects all labor.
Moreover, her policies have been hurtful to the community at large. Here are a few of the more egregious things she can take credit for.
- Mónica García has consistently ignored the voices and needs of our parents, students and communities, employing repression to stifle legitimate dissent.
- Under García’s leadership, tens of thousands of teachers, librarians, and health and human service employees have been subjected to reduction in force notices. While some of these educators have been rehired, the net effect has been teacher demoralization; a disincentive to enter the teaching profession; a disruption and marginalization of impoverished schools; and arguably illegal classroom overcrowding.
- Under García’s watch, hundreds of millions of dollars in LAUSD properties and resources have been given to privately managed charter school corporations, systematically starving public schools of resources.
- García has overseen several destructive school reconstitutions and closures, despite warnings from scholars that such drastic “reforms” do nothing to improve outcomes.
- García has been a party to handing public schools over to charter corporations which are documented to perform worse than the schools they replaced.
- The hallmark of García’s tenure has been hundreds of millions of dollars squandered on unnecessary tests, consultants, and questionable hiring priorities. This budget mismanagement has led to the current situation where programs critical to poor and immigrant families including: The School Readiness Language Development Program, Early Education Centers, Elementary Arts, and Adult Education have been cut, while the District held millions in reserve.
- Under García, LAUSD has taken Federal Title I and Title III funds (supporting low-income students and English Language Learners respectively) away from school sites.
In the interest of our communities and all the hard working women and men who still have the hard earned right of collective bargaining, we need to endorse school board members who will partner with labor.