August 3, 2020

The most important thing to remember during a global pandemic is that charter schools are the devil

Who was it that said “never let a good disaster go to waste”?

I can’t remember and I refuse to Google it, but California offers us a timely example of shameless disaster socialism in action.

The UTLA, Los Angeles’ teachers’ union bought billboards that depict charter school supporters as wealthy grim reapers coming to take over public schools. To the right of these evil people who are shown in gritty black and white is a colorful multicultural group of happy public school supporters who are here to defy the rich people and defend “our public schools.”

Educators taking a note directly from the dirtiest of political advertising and revealing their campaign’s hand.

In addition to these billboards, the UTLA also sent a letter to district officials demanding a moratorium on new charter schools, because, unions gonna union.

The cynicism is impressive. Marvel at their message discipline even during an unprecedented global pandemic that is killing people and throwing millions of families into economically fragile circumstances.

At a time when the federal government is telling us to expect a frightening body count due to COVID-19 the most important thing to attend to now is wiping charter schools off the map.


It’s April Fools Day, but I’m not pretending to be surprised. I’m clear eyed about the tactics and goals of education unions. I know it isn’t about education, achievement, students, parents, or community. It’s about jobs, power, and control of the financial apparatus. The reason I’m addressing this millionth example of union dishonesty is because one of the people in the group of evil humans on the billboard is Ben Austin, a guy I respect greatly for his record of creative advocacy on behalf marginalized families and students. A former staffer in the Clinton Administration, the founder of Parent Revolution, and centrist voice for child-positive policies, there’s a lot to like in Ben. So, the fact that he’s lumped in with the supposedly anti-democratic and anti-public school cabal tells deserves a spotlight.

But, don’t let me tell the story. I won’t do it justice. Here’s Ben’s article in the LA School Report putting it much better than I can. It is worth a read.

Here’s a quote:

It is worth noting in the midst of an economic implosion that our taxes paid for that billboard. They finance the salary of my daughter’s teacher (who is wonderful), but before the money gets to her, the government takes part of her paycheck and gives it to UTLA. That’s how UTLA paid for that billboard.

I challenge UTLA to take down the billboard and donate the money to support the half-million low-income families suddenly grappling with the closure of “OUR public schools” in Los Angeles right now.

Even as families scrambled to feed and educate their children while trying to make sense of this horrifying new normal, UTLA President Alex Caputo Pearl sent a letter to LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner last week demanding a moratorium on new public charter schools and charter co-locations.

He even clarified that “it goes without saying” that charters shouldn’t use this crisis as a reason to “take additional space” for their schools. But according to Caputo Pearl, it’s perfectly appropriate for UTLA to use this crisis as a crass excuse to advance their narrow political agenda at the expense of thousands of low-income children throughout Los Angeles.

My daughter who attends a charter school is no different from my daughter who attends our neighborhood LAUSD school. They are both public school students. More important, they are both human beings. These divisive attacks pit us against each other at the exact moment when our collective survival depends on coming together around our common humanity.

I’d like to propose a deal going forward: Let’s not say or do anything that would get us kicked off my daughter’s LAUSD elementary school playground.

That means adults who call themselves “education leaders” — especially the union representing our teachers — shouldn’t engage in false allegations, bullying, or personal attacks. If we do, we should take responsibility and apologize, just as I’d expect my 4th-grade daughter to do on the playground.

At the very least, can’t we agree that public school students, parents, and educators should be off limits when it comes to the politics of person destruction? In the midst of this unprecedented global crisis, can’t we try to see the best in each other rather than the worst?


One thought on “The most important thing to remember during a global pandemic is that charter schools are the devil

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: