We were eating chicken tacos with my own recipe for refried beans, switching back and forth between American Idol (Melinda is technically perfect at every musical style but has very little character or uniqeness) and the Bulls Pistons game (Bulls took game five in Detroit).
We got into a discussion about the Green Dot controversy in LA. If you don’t know about the Green Dot thing, it has been covered by every ed blogger and ed pundit in America. I think there are now 9 pages of links on technorati.
Green Dot is a non-profit charter school corporation founded by Steve Barr, a prominent Democratic Party fundraiser and founder of Rock the Vote.
According to their web site:
Green Dot has opened ten high performing public charter high schools in Los Angeles. We serve neighborhoods where the traditional public schools are overcrowded and underperforming. Our schools provide all students with a college-preparatory education, in a safe, personalized, small school environment. Students and parents love the Green Dot school experience.
“So you’re a union guy. What do you think?”
The union question got asked because of the rest of the story. The LA Unified School District is not friendly to Green Dot and neither is the UTLA, the LA teachers’ union. The UTLA is suspicious that Green Dot is not friendly to collective bargaining. There is evidence. The most recent controversy involving Green Dot has focused on Locke High School in Watts.
Says the LA Times:
Amid dozens of poor-performing middle and high schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District, Locke has long languished as one of the worst. At least one of every two students drops out, while the majority who remain score at or near the bottom on standardized tests.
More than half of the school’s 73 tenured teachers signed petitions this week expressing interest in converting Locke into Green Dot charters. Once verified, the petitions — copies of which were obtained by The Times and checked against a roster of the Locke faculty — would legally allow Green Dot to petition the board for control of the school. Many un-tenured teachers also signed the petitions.
With school district and union leaders quickly catching wind of the hostile-takeover plan and scrambling to counter it with a reform plan of their own, Green Dot founder Steve Barr returned early from a conference in New Orleans to hold a news conference this morning with Locke teachers and parents outside the school.
The tenured, many veteran teachers at Locke, and non-tenured teachers, have signed papers to quit the UTLA (there is a nominal union at Green Dot, but no one takes it seriously).
So, these are the issues. A system that has failed the neediest of its students. Teachers who are willing to give up any union protection to work at a school that is not supported by the district so they can work with kids who are succeeding in school for the first time. Parents who see Green Dot’s take-over as perhaps their last best hope. UTLA, which sees Green Dot as a threat to collective bargaining rights throughout the district. Anti- teacher union zealots who are wringing their hands with joy over the situation. A wealthy liberal Democrat who has an agenda that in many ways mirrors the most conservative critics of public schools and teacher unions.
What do I think?
I think Melinda will win and the Bulls will lose in seven.