United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) sees an open window in the COVID-19 national crisis. Led by Teach For America alumnus Alex Caputo-Pearl, UTLA sent a letter to LAUSD Superintendent Beutner and board members calling for a halt on all new charter co-locations for the 2020-21 school year.
That’s not all. UTLA also demands a moratorium on any new charter schools in LAUSD until COVID-19 is cleared by the California Department of Health Services. Even more cynically, UTLA claims that “charters over-project ADA” and attempts to leverage the Americans with Disabilities Act to shutter opportunities to Los Angeles families.
Unsurprisingly, this is par for the course. In the middle of a pandemic, UTLA finds room to sow division among public schools and further a long standing item in their extremist agenda.
The singular focus for LAUSD (and all school districts) should and must be on students and their families. Until every child is successfully learning online – including special needs students and English Learners – nothing else matters. This is not the time to advance personal agendas.
In stark contrast to UTLA, which is capitalizing on this crisis, L.A. charter schools are centered on serving all students, including those not attending a charter school. Teachers in charter schools are working around the clock to make sure California students, many whose only meal of the day comes from school, are fed, safe, and learning.
UTLA’s letter is shockingly out of touch with the urgent realities of L.A.’s families and students. Now is not the time for shadow games or petty politics. Rather, energy is better spent ensuring students have WiFi, a laptop, and access to a supportive teacher – by text, video or whatever means necessary.