Green Dot had the support of local parents and, according to the Los Angeles Unified School District’s attorneys, met all the legal requirements for getting the new charters. But Lauritzen cast the decisive vote against it, dashing the hopes of a needy community. And why? Lauritzen says it’s because Green Dot failed to provide enough information about its plans – a claim that seems to overlook the company’s well-documented success. The real reason, it would seem, comes down to simple politics. Lauritzen, a retired Canoga Park High teacher and longtime union activist, owes his political career to United Teachers Los Angeles, which bankrolls his campaigns. And the UTLA resents Green Dot, which encouraged its staff to unionize but with a different union. So Lauritzen – along with two other UTLA-supported board members – betrayed the LAUSD’s students and arguably violated the law by voting down the charters. Of course, the three say union politics had nothing to do with their decision. But that claim is belied by Superintendent David Brewer’s assurance that Green Dot still might have a chance if it partners with UTLA. “This is not over,” says Brewer. “We’re still talking to Green Dot and to UTLA.” That tells us all we need to know about who’s calling the shots here. And it’s not independent board members looking out for the best interest of their communities. It’s political hacks who take their marching orders from the special interests that fund them. Fortunately, Valley voters have an opportunity to reject this broken system in next month’s school board runoff race. That’s because Lauritzen faces a tough challenge from education reformer Tamar Galatzan, a strong supporter of charters and change in the LAUSD. Galatzan denounced the board’s decision on Green Dot. “We need to give parents alternatives,” she said, “and with this vote the school board not only has gone against state law but they’ve condemned thousands of students to the failed status quo.” Galatzan is right. Which is why Valley voters can do no better than to vote for her – and against Lauritzen – in May.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! IN Los Angeles’ ongoing education debate, each of us must make a choice: Will we save our failing schools or preserve a corrupt regime that benefits only a few narrow interests? Voters get to make that decision in May, but the Valley’s school board member, Jon Lauritzen – who just so happens to be up for re-election next month – made his decision clear last week. Lauritzen chose the special interests over L.A.’s kids. At issue was a board vote on whether to grant highly successful Green Dot Public Schools eight new charter campuses around Locke High School in Watts.
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