Last month, I decided to take my 11 year old daughter, who attends an independent charter school, to the LA Teacher’s march, referred to as the ‘March for Public Education’ that took place in Downtown LA. We arrived at 11:30 AM when the march was in full swing and just in time to hear a few speeches made in front of The Broad Museum. One of the main reasons I decided to go and to take my daughter was because I wanted her to understand what was going on in the world of public education. I wanted her to understand why sometimes I drag her to long boring meetings, where I am constantly advocating for her school, local schools in my board district, and all students who attend LAUSD public schools. I wanted her to understand why I fight so hard to protect the quality public schools we have, which do not outweigh the struggling ones. I also wanted her to understand that there are many people who do not agree (or are not happy) with the kind of school she goes to, a charter school.
Once we finally got into downtown and got close to Grand Park, you could see a sea of red all throughout the streets. After we were finally able to find parking, we began making our way through the crowd. We definitely stood out since we were not dressed in red and we were not carrying signs. Once we got up to the front of The Broad Museum, there was a large stage and podium set-up, where people were beginning to speak. At first, the speakers brought up the current demands the teacher’s union is making. And they chanted about being ready to strike and fighting for their students.
Then the topic of charter schools came up, and my daughter started to pay more attention. She heard people say that charter schools are taking resources away from district schools, that charter schools are taking over, and basically that charter schools only care about money. As she stood there and listened, her body language started to change.
My daughter lowered her head and her shoulders came down. I was listening to the speakers, who were almost done, when she asked me if we could leave. She finally started to lift her head and look at me, with tears in her eyes she said, “Can we go now?” I said, “Yes.” I could see how what she was hearing for the first time was upsetting her. The last speaker was finishing up, she was a senior at Dorsey High School who was very angry with Superintendent Austin Beutner for not ending random searches at her school. Superintendent Beutner did not create the policy, but she said she was “pissed” at him for not ending it.
As we began to walk away and leave the crowd, my daughter asked me, “Mom, who will win this?” referring to the strike. And I said, “No one. No one will win this, and the ones who will suffer the most are the students just like you.”
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