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Striking Los Angeles’ teachers take aim at charter schools

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 The growing number of charter schools in the Los Angeles County school system – and the school board’s support for them – is one of the most contentious issues in this week’s teachers’ strike in America’s second-largest school system.

United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) President Alex Caputo-Pearl last week accused district leaders of wanting “to starve our schools in order to justify cuts and justify handing more schools over to privately run charter schools.”

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School Superintendent Austin Beutner says that claim is baseless, but his supporters have strongly promoted charter schools, which are publicly funded but privately operated.

A 2017 school board election that pitted teacher unions against charter school backers resulted in a pro-charter majority on the board.

About one in five Los Angeles students now attend charter schools, and their enrollment has continued to grow in the past decade while overall enrollment in the district has declined. The city now has more charter schools and more charter school students than any other school system in the country, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Most charter school employees are not unionized.

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At a rally on Tuesday, teachers from three charter schools joined the UTLA strike, the first time that has happened. The teachers at those three schools run by Accelerated Schools, are represented by the UTLA.

KEEPING SCHOOLS OPEN
“What they’re demanding is basically fairness with other teachers in California, like having a voice and not being afraid of being fired the moment they use that voice on behalf of student needs or their own professional judgment,” American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten told Reuters. “They have an astronomical turnover rate.”

Thousands of protesters, many of them wearing red shirts and jackets in solidarity with their union, flooded the streets around the California Charter Schools Association in Los Angeles on Tuesday, chanting “We are the union, the mighty, mighty union.”

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Charter schools have grown in response to demand from parents for school options. The schools usually offer different approaches than traditional public schools, including programs that emphasize math, science or the performing arts, according to the California Charter Schools Association.

Nationwide, students at most charter schools perform about the same as their peers at traditional public schools, according to research from Data First at the Center for Public Education, which is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

“However, research also shows that students in charter high schools score higher on college entrance exams and are more likely to graduate high school and attend college than similar students in traditional public schools,” it said.

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District officials have kept schools open in Los Angeles and will offer regular after-school programs, mindful that working-class parents cannot afford independent child care during the strike. The district has hired about 400 substitute teachers, a move the union has called “illegal.”

Many parents have expressed support for the teachers and only around a third of the affected half-million students are showing up at school.

Reporting by Bill Tarrant, Alex Dobuzinskis and Dan Whitcomb; writing by Bill Tarrant; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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‘Smart rats jump a sinking orange ship’: Columnist predicts more Republicans will flee Trump

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New York Times contributing columnist Wajahat Ali predicted that more Republicans would likely flee President Donald Trump in the coming weeks.

Already, Trump's own officials, appointees, and staff are lining up to testify to the House committees, despite Trump saying they will not cooperate with any investigations.

"I believe smart rats jump a sinking orange ship, and if you don't believe me, you haven't paid attention to the last week," Ali told CNN's Don Lemon. In the past week, several of Trump's appointees have lined up to give a deposition or testify. Even outgoing Energy Secretary Rick Perry revealed in a Wall Street Journal interview, that Rudy Giuliani was to be the point person on all things related to Ukraine.

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CNN panel mocks the White House for promoting a photo of Trump looking ‘subservient’ to Pelosi

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The White House posted a series of photos of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) Wednesday after their meeting, showing Pelosi being the only person in the room literally standing up to President Donald Trump. It was an image that baffled the mind of at least one CNN panelist as to why the Trump people would be promoting Pelosi.

According to reports from those who were in the room, the president flew off the handle after Pelosi quipped that it seems all roads lead back to Russia for this president. It was at that point that Trump called Pelosi a "third-grade politician," though presumably, he meant "third-rate," and the meeting broke apart.

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Max Boot calls BS on Republicans for trying to claim Syria is Nancy Pelosi’s fault because of impeachment

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President Donald Trump is conducting foreign policy like a 1980s television character, according to conservative Washington Post columnist Max Boot.

In a panel discussion about the letter Trump sent to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdo?an, Boot mocked Republicans for suddenly trying to claim that Trump's withdrawal from Syria was Speaker Nancy Pelosi's fault because of impeachment. It is unclear if Republicans are confessing the president is too distracted by impeachment to be making foreign policy decisions or if they are blaming Pelosi for military decisions.

"I mean there's a lot of really lame Republican talking points out there, Don," Boot said to CNN host Don Lemon. "But to suggest, as Rep. Liz Cheney and others have done that somehow Trump's inexplicable decision to give the Turks the green light to invade Syria — that was somehow the fault of Nancy Pelosi because of the impeachment process? What?"

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