Labor, community blasts billionaires, defeats AB 1217

With statewide labor solidarity and community support, the billionaire carve-out bill known as AB 1217 was defeated last week. With strong campaign efforts by UTLA members and allies, including our affiliates, the NAACP, LA County Democratic Party and the state PTA, our message and organizing was powerful enough that the bill was never brought to a vote by the Senate.

AB 1217 was co-authored by State Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra (D-San Fernando) and State Senator Anthony Portantino (D-La Canada Flintridge), but was propelled by Eli Broad, Mercury PR and the California Charter School Association, to create a publicly funded, but privately operated STEM school in LA that would have bypassed the local School Board, parents and educators. This was a power grab by Broad and a continuation of his “some kids, not all kids” strategy to remove students from public schools and into an unaccountable privatized system.

Late Friday, Sept. 15, the bill was ordered to an “inactive file” at the request of Portantino, the co-author of the bill whose district resides in the San Fernando Valley.

 “Many leaders are saying they haven’t seen a coalition act with such precision and energy in Sacramento in a long time,” said Alex Caputo-Pearl, President of UTLA. “Investing in our existing STEM schools — not a billionaire carve-out that would take away local control — is how we help equity and access for all students, including students of color and our most underserved students.”

On the same day, another bill UTLA has been organizing support for, AB 1360, which calls for equity, access and due process rights for charter school students, is on its way to Governor Jerry Brown. After passing both houses, Brown is expected to sign it into law, before Oct. 15.

UTLA, the nation’s second-largest teachers’ union local, represents more than 35,000 teachers and health & human services professionals who work in the Los Angeles Unified School District and in charter schools.


Cross post from UTLA