Listening to the rhetoric of the teachers unions, one might have thought the teachers’ strike in Los Angeles was about charter schools. “When someone says there’s no money, why isn’t there money?” National Education Assn. President Lily Eskelsen García asked on MSNBC the first day of the strike.
“A big reason is because they’ve given it away to for-profit charters. If you’re in the charter industry, what do you want to do? You want to create horrible public schools…. The billionaires who are behind this, the venture capitalists, the Wall Street guys, are out to make money on public schools.”
This was nonsense: California never had many for-profit charters, and last year the legislature banned them entirely. Most of the people “behind” L.A.’s 277 charter schools are dedicated educators who work 60 hours a week to help low-income children. They’re more like Peace Corps volunteers than “Wall Street guys.”
But Garcia’s comments were illuminating. Clearly the unions saw the strike as an opportunity to discredit charters.