More LA…And, It’s Not Just PR — It’s Barr!

Though it’s thus far mostly eluded the national media (Democratic activist, Rock The Vote Founder, Steve Barr takes on education establishment on behalf of poor and minority parents, it writes itself!), what’s happening in LA at Jefferson High School is really profound, especially in terms of the implications. Basically, the high school is losing its freshman class to new, small, schools that are opening up around it. LA Times here, NPR here. Background here, here, and here.

Buried in the LA Times story is the crux of a big part of the problem here:

…Barr’s campaign has rankled A.J. Duffy, president of the district’s teachers union and a vocal critic of the largely nonunion charter movement. Duffy dismissed the significance of Thursday’s large turnout. “All it shows is that Steve Barr is a good salesman. He knows how to sell his product,” Duffy said. “And Jefferson, which is making strides, does not. But we’ll get there.”

Right, 1000+ poor families horribly deceived! ! But no. Actually the issue is that Steve Barr’s Green Dot Public Schools are just better schools than Jefferson High School is and parents want to send their kids there. Duffy’s statement shows (a) either a deadly condescension toward poor parents who are making these choices, they’re just victims of marketing! or denial inducing happy talk and (b) it shows the extent to which a lot of people believe that most of the problems the public schools have involve public relations rather than substance. Both sentiments hurt not help public schools as they are signs of an industry ignoring the problems it faces.

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