We Are Public Schools We believe a handful of billionaires have too much influence over our local elections, and we ask that legislators stand by our students and families, in support of our neighborhood public schools.
Our elections should be determined by our communities, not outside money from billionaires with a sordid history of failed privatization schemes like Betsy DeVos, the Walton family and Eli Broad. It is about our students, parents and communities and deciding the best direction forward: Do we save public education or do we privatize it?
With what is happening in the Trump/DeVos administration, it is more important than ever to prioritize the voices of our students, parents and community members here in Los Angeles, and fight back privatizers who seek to take over our school board, as well as local and state elections.
Launching October 2017
This campaign includes more than 90 billboards, bulletins and bus benches across the city. The outdoor ads are also up in Huntington Park, where the City Council voted last year to place a moratorium on opening additional charter schools. CCSA, which opposes the moratorium, has spent more money this year in Huntington Park than has been spent there in the last 10 years combined.
Interactive Citywide Graphic Map locator
MAP IT: Just click on a point to get location address and details of billboard, poster or bus bench. Drag your mouse over map to see all points.
FEB. 6, 2017, LOS ANGELES — In highlighting the work of pro-public education advocates like Steve Zimmer and Imelda Padilla, United Teachers Los Angeles this week has launched the second round of its “We Are Public Schools” campaign featuring the good work of public school educators and their supporters, which will extend through March.
From Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos in Washington, D.C. to Eli Broad and Richard Riordan here in L.A., the campaign also exposes a handful of billionaires who are unfairly influencing local elections and education policy. They also push efforts through the California Charter Schools Association to rapidly expand charter schools at the expense of our neighborhood public schools. From the ‘fight back’ section of the We Are Public Schools web site:
“Our elections should be determined by our communities, not outside money from billionaires with a sordid history of failed privatization schemes like Betsy DeVos, the Walton family and Eli Broad. It is about our students, parents and communities and deciding the best direction forward: Do we save public education or do we privatize it?”
What are Community Schools?
UTLA believes every child has a right to attend a high-quality Sustainable Community School in their neighborhood. Around the country, community schools are having remarkable outcomes, such as: raising enrollment, attendance and graduation rates, increasing the number of students that go on to college, and decreasing the achievement gap, the dropout rate, and chronic absenteeism. Elements and programs of a successful community school are based on a needs assessment process, with all stakeholders involved.
We Are Public Schools Media Coverage
- October 31, 2016 — Diane Ravitch's Blog
The United Teachers of Los Angeles invited the powerful California Charter School Association to debate the issues surrounding the explosive growth of charter schools and their lack of accountability. The CCSA refused. Read more
- October 27, 2016 — The Huffington Post
In a full-page advertisement in the Sunday October 23, 2016 edition of the Los Angeles Times, the union representing Los Angeles teachers, challenged the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) to a “public debate on key educational issues relating to equity, access and accountability.” United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) ... Read more
- October 25, 2016 — The Washington Post
This is the last of a four-part series on California’s charter schools, often called the “Wild West” of the charter sector. It was written by former award-winning high school principal Carol Burris, who is now executive director of the nonprofit Network for Public Education advocacy group. Read more
Our Public Awareness Campaign
UTLA Public Awareness CampaignDownload
Amplify our Message through Social Media!Download
UTLA's “We are Public Schools” campaign highlights the good work of educators, parents and students who are fighting for fully funded public schools and who believe that billionaires should not be setting the public education agenda. The campaign features UTLA members, our students, parents and community members on more than 100 ads on billboards along major streets, on bus benches and posters in various community locations, alternating in English and Spanish.
The ads will be posted through September and continue online through the end of the year. In the ads, each person featured describes what public education personally means to them, in one word, including: “empowerment,” “community,” “imagination,” and “freedom.”
We are encouraging our partners, UTLA members, family and friends, to amplify our message through social media, so please check out UTLA’s Facebook page to like, share and respond to our posts, with a comment on what public education means to you. Also, be sure to friend our Facebook We Are Public Schools page. And please use these hashtags to promote:
The following is the press release sent on Aug. 29, 2016:
Los Angeles, CA – United Teachers Los Angeles is launching a public awareness campaign today, Monday, Aug. 29, highlighting the good work of educators, parents and students who are fighting for fully funded public schools and who believe that billionaires should not be setting the public education agenda.
“We Are Public Schools” will kick off with more than 100 ads on billboards along major streets, on bus benches and posters in various community locations, alternating in English and Spanish. The ads will be posted through September and continue online through the end of the year. In the ads, each person featured describes what public education personally means to them, in one word, including: “empowerment,” “community,” “imagination,” and “freedom.”
Maynard Brown has taught at Crenshaw High School in South Los Angeles for more than two decades. Brown was a successful businessman who left to teach at his high school. Through his business magnet, he has helped countless students get into college. Part of his curriculum involves students creating their own business plans based on needs assessments of their local neighborhood. Many of his students started their own successful businesses off of those plans.
During that same time, enrollment went from more then 3,000 students to less than 1,000 today, as multiple charter schools have opened nearby. Unregulated charter growth siphons students and funding from district schools. One charter school is co-located on his campus, using classrooms that should be for students that attend the district school.
“I see how parents are divided in my community, and it stems from a lack of a common bond like having their children attend the same school -- a neighborhood public school,” Brown said.
Since school funding is based on enrollment, when a student leaves a district school, the money goes too, leaving the school with less resources, year after year. A report, released earlier this year, said that Charter school expansion will cost the district more than $500 million just this year alone. The district also continues to carry infrastructure and oversight costs for charters, and the cost of the highest-need students, typically not served by charters.
LAUSD has more charter schools than any other school district nationwide and the number has more than tripled since 2005, when there were 58 charter schools in the district. Now there are 221 — a 287% growth in 10 years. Per Prop. 39, there are also 56 charter schools that are operating rent-free on district campuses.
Many of these charter schools are supported by the billionaires who opposed more school funding (Prop. 30) but then benefited from it.
The California Charter School Association, a lobbying arm of the charter school industry, hopes to put 1 million children in charters by 2022.
CCSA’s statewide privatization effort has been amplified locally by billionaire Eli Broad and the Walton family of Walmart, among others, with a widely criticized plan to undercut LAUSD schools by removing 50% of its students, forcing the district onto a path of bankruptcy. Broad has donated more than $1.35 million to CCSA since 2013.
Billionaires like Broad also continue to fund a massive privatization effort through campaign donations, engaging PR firms to sway public opinion and also owning major shares in media companies, including “The 74,” which owns the LA School Report.
“We are at a tipping point in Los Angeles and we must ask ourselves: Is it fair that charter schools continue to expand at the expense of our children who choose to remain in public schools?” said Brown, who has taught at Crenshaw High School for 26 years.
As funding for staff, materials and professional development dwindles, he has seen class size ratios rise to as much as 45 to 1. He said he joined the “We Are Public Schools” campaign because he wants to be a part of the solution to improve public education in Los Angeles.
“Quality education in inner city public schools levels the playing field in society, and allows all of our young people to believe in and achieve their dreams,” Brown said.