Carl J. Petersen: Parents Group Issues Statement Opposing Lawsuit Against The LAUSD
Carl Petersen is a writer and advocate who has kept close tabs on the ins and outs of reform in Los Angeles. LAUSD has emerged as one of the hot spots in the ongoing debates about reopening school buildings; now, some astroturfers have decided it’s time to sue the district, and an actual grass roots group is opposing them.
For months, Nick Melvoin’s Speak Up and other groups have been demanding that the LAUSD ignore the risks of COVID-19 and reopen school campuses. While these groups claimed that they were speaking for a majority of parents, the Los Angeles Times reports that when parents were asked about their plans “about 37% of [LAUSD] elementary school students would return, along with 24% for middle school and 16% for high school.” Those numbers do not include parents who have not yet responded to the district’s survey, the majority of whom “are projected to remain in remote instruction.” Clearly, Speak Up and their compatriots had not spoken to enough parents beyond the charter school families that they represent.
Speak Up’s executive director, Katie Braude, blames the overwhelming number of parents who are keeping their students home on “relentless negative messaging.” This statement disregards the experience of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) communities who have been hit much harder by the pandemic than Braude’s supporters on the West Side. Seeing family members and friends die of COVID-19 tends to give parents a different view of the risks that are involved in sending children back to LAUSD campuses.
The Freedom Foundation is another group ignoring the majority of parents who have decided that distance learning is currently the best choice for their families. Like Speak Up, the group falsely claims that “a growing number of LAUSD parents of color have begun publicly calling for schools to re-open for families who want and need in-person learning options.” In spite of the fact that the LAUSD is scheduled to begin reopening campuses this month, the Freedom Foundation found four parents, some of whose children do not even attend LAUSD schools, to sue the school district to force a return to in-person instruction. The lawsuit also seeks to prevent UTLA from negotiating with the district to ensure safe working conditions for teachers. This falls in line with the group’s mission of reversing “the stranglehold government unions have on our state and local policymaking.”
Opposing this lawsuit is Parents Supporting Teachers (PST), a public education advocacy group in Los Angeles that has over 25,000 followers. It is the only organically created group of this size exclusively dedicated to parent communication and education support in the LAUSD.
It’s a crazy story of privilege and politics. Read the entire post here.