I hadn’t thought much about charter schools in Los Angeles for quite a while, but as happened for many people the dazzling success of the UTLA strike brought them back into my attention. Combine that with the fact that they are subject to the California Public Records Act and the next step was inevitable! And the first of the many many requests I have out came in recently! Part of which I wrote about the other day!
After a little of the usual back and forth about what’s required by the law, New Los Angeles Charter Schools head honcho Brooke Rios actually did hand over the goods. And thus did I drag myself all the way out to the corner of Washington and Burnside, where they have their secret headquarters, and sit in the office of operations director Xochitl Lira and scan a ton of paper! And it’s all available on Archive.Org!1
I chose New LA because of this fine LA Taco article by Daniel Hernandez about the tensions created by that school’s so-called co-location on the campus of Baldwin Hills Elementary School. To summarize Hernandez’s piece is to degrade it, so read it, but co-location, in which LAUSD schools are forced by the 2000 Proposition 39 to yield space to charter schools if it’s not actually being used to house an actual class, is the main site of contention.2
It has really hurt the LAUSD schools who lose space to charters. And the space lost to New Los Angeles Charter was a big issue with UTLA picketers at Baldwin Hills Elementary, who shouted slogans like “Privatization leads to segregation” and “Privatizers take a hike!” And, according to some of the emails I obtained today, it looks like the pickets were successful in that New Los Angeles will be looking for a new space for next year.
The emails also demonstrate the tension there during the strike, with police being called, with New LA staff filming the picketers, and so on. There are links and transcriptions below the break. Also below the break are links to a wide variety of fascinating emails about other strike-related topics. There are propaganda pieces from the California Charter Schools Association, giving talking points, tips for handling worried parents, polemics on how bad it is that everyone hates charter schools, and so on.
There are rumors about charter school kids being targeted on public transportation and so on, leading New LA to suspend its dress code during the strike, there are organizational communications having to do with the astroturf pro-charter rally that the CCSA organized outside the LAUSD board meeting where a recommendation for a charter cap was voted on.
And, most poignant of all, there’s a pleading letter from something called “The Teacher Collective” asking Brooke Rios in a markedly subservient tone if New Los Angeles teachers will also get a raise if the UTLA teachers win one in their strike. Sounds like some folks are ripe to be organized! Turn the page for links to everything and transcriptions of some things!
⌾ January 11, 2019 Iyonna Keenan to Brooke Rios — asking on behalf of The Teacher Collective about a potential raise if UTLA wins one in the strike. Note to Teacher Collective: Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.
Tuesday Faculty Meeting Questions
Date: Fri, Jan 11, 2019 at 11:04 AM
From: Iyonna Keenan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: Brooke Rios <email@example.com>
Cc: Carmen O’Connor <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Brooke Wallace <email@example.com> Lindsey Bauer <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Rena Winton <email@example.com>, Aaron Tarbell <firstname.lastname@example.org , Sarah Barnett <email@example.com>. Bob Stevens <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Diana Ramirez <email@example.com>, Danita Forbes <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Marlene Cabrera <email@example.com>, Laura Garcia <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Nicole Buzzelli <email@example.com>, DeJanae Sharp <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Phil Scutari <email@example.com>, Phetsavane Sayasy <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Jessyka Ramirez-Holden <email@example.com>, Xochitl Lira <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Congratulations on your new role! We are excited to meet with you on Tuesday. Some questions we have regarding the potential strike and UTLA negotiations are around our salaries since we follow the LAUSD pay scale.
1. If there is a salary increase would our salaries be increased as well?
2. Would there be retroactive compensation for the increase?
3. We all received an email requesting our transcripts. We are curious if there are any status updates on configuration of a new salary plan?
Have a great weekend,
The Teacher Collective
New Los Angeles Charter School
1919 S. Burnside Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90016
F: 323 936.6411
⌾ January 14, 2019 Brooke Rios to NLA Board — Strike day one report. “The chanting and rhetoric was anti-charter.”
From: Brooke Rios
Date: Mon, Jan 14, 2019 at 5:18 PM
Subject: UTLA Strike: Day 1
Dear New LA Board,
I am writing this evening with an update on Day 1 of the UTLA strike. While there was no strike activity at the Middle School, the Elementary School was impacted by a picket line that blocked the parking lot entrance this morning and afternoon.
We ran carline from the street and Baldwin Hills Rec Center, and new LA parents, administrators, and teaching assistants walked students across the line safely. There was no police support as promised by LAUSD, and the chanting and rhetoric was anti-charter. Aside from blocking access to our parking lot, the protest remained calm and there were no direct incidents with the Baldwin Hills teachers.
We are prepared for Day 2, and I will continue to keep you posted as the week unfolds. Of course, please let me know if you have questions I can answer.
⌾ January 15, 2019 Brooke Rios to New LA Board — Strike day 2 report. “As we have known from the start, our time at Baldwin Hills has limits, and this situation has increased the pressure.”
Dear New LA Board,
I am writing with an update on Day 2 of the UTLA strike We did not have strike activity at the Middle School, but teachers from Baldwin Hills continued to block the entrance to our lot this morning at the Elementary School. We ran carline from the Baldwin Hills Rec Center to minimize interaction with them. LAPD showed up and notified the teachers that it is illegal to block the lot. They disbursed after carline ended. Aside from the disruption to operations, the protests remained relatively calm.
I have attached a photo from the Washington Post of the Baldwin Hills teachers on the picket line from Monday. As the caption reads, a Baldwin Hills teacher is quoted saying, “the district has given a charter school space at a predominately African American school, which no longer has a computer lab or art room.” As we have known from the start, our time at Baldwin Hills has limits, and this situation has increased the pressure
On a personal note, I will share that I side with LAUSD teachers on most of what they are asking for. In fact, these asks are the reason why we exist-smaller class sizes, adequate staffing, opportunities for students, and fair pay for teachers should be non-negotiable for all public schools. But the ways in which UTLA leadership has seized this opportunity to fuel the movement against charter schools like ours is disheartening
⌾ January 18, 2019 Brooke Rios to NLA Board — Strike Days 4 and 5 report. “It is clear that the strike gave voice to the mounting tension between Baldwin Hills and New LA. To be frank—we are not welcomed there. … It is difficult to imagine another year on that campus after this week, and I am eager to consider other solutions. “
Dear New LA Board,
I am hopeful that today will mark the end of school closures during the UTLA Strike. Both parties are at the table in confidential negotiations that will extend through the weekend UTLA has planned a huge rally at Grand Park today and anti-charter rhetoric remains high.
Teachers at Baldwin Hills have continued to target the Elementary School over the past two days. This morning there was an uptick in their momentum, as they chanted “Privatizers take a hike!” while marching towards our school and blocking our lot. Another favorite from this week was “Privatization leads to segregation.”
It is clear that the strike gave voice to the mounting tension between Baldwin Hills and New LA. To be frank—we are not welcomed there. Our Prop 39 offer will be issued on February 1, and it is likely that we will be offered one more classroom at Baldwin for 18-19. It is difficult to imagine another year on that campus after this week, and I am eager to consider other solutions.
In closing, I would like to share an excellent article with you from the Washington Post that accurately depicts the situation with public charter schools in Los Angeles. You can access the article here, and I encourage you to share this article with your networks. The LA charter community has taken a serious hit due to the anti-charter rhetoric spread by UTLA, and any effort to share accurate and true information about our schools is helpful.
I hope to be in touch soon with good news that the Strike is over In the meantime, I wish everyone the best on the eve of MLK weekend.
And in closing, here are a bunch of links to other interesting emails, which I don’t have time to transcribe, but they’re still worth a read:
⌾ January 9, 2019 Brooke Rios to NLA Board — rumors about what might happen if there’s a strike.
⌾ January 10, 2019 Brooke Rios to NLA Board — The CCSA supposedly arranged for a police presence at Baldwin Hills Elementary.
⌾ January 11, 2019 Kate O’Brien to various — There are rumors that charter schools will be targeted, so no uniforms for the children.
⌾ January 14, 2019 D. Musher to various — Incident in the parking lot at Baldwin Hills Elementary School.
⌾ January 15, 2019 — More worries about school uniforms being dangerous to wear during the strike.
⌾ January 16, 2019 — Brooke Rios assigned a NLA staff member to film the picketers. And she herself filmed them.
⌾ January 16, 2019 — Brooke Rios reporting to the Board about day 3 of the strike, including the fact, for which she was grateful, that there were police at Baldwin Hills Elementary School that day.
⌾ January 16, 2019 — Daniel Hernandez seeking an interview with Brooke Rios for that fine article linked to above.
And very, very finally, if you even made it this far, here are a bunch more emails that I’m not even going to describe, but just link to. They’re all worth reading if you’re interested in how the CCSA spun the strike, what their instructions and talking points for their member schools were, and also how they organized that totally bogus astroturf demonstration at LAUSD headquarters at the end of January opposing any kind of cap on the number of charter schools. It’s all in these emails, so if that’s your bag, give ’em a read! The layout is super-rough because it’s late and I don’t even want to polish the script I wrote to generate the links. I will write in detail about the rest of this material soon, but I wanted to make sure it got out there now.
Image of UTLA striker is ©2019 MichaelKohlhaas.Org.
- If you’re going to browse, and please do, don’t confine yourself to the files with descriptive names. I only did some of them, the ones that struck my eye, but I might not have any idea what’s really important.
- Thanks to Red Queen in LA for correcting me on the date of this particular Prop 39, which is 2000, leading to me finding a better link than the previous one also.