The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Los Angeles Schools:
A Pot of Money for Big Business

Sep 29, 2014

Thousands of Los Angeles students came back to school last month to find their schools in total chaos. This is how a student at a South Bay high school described it: “Students have the same three classes back to back. Some kids don’t even have a schedule at all. And most of us had to wait weeks to get into the right classes and change our programs.” She added that as many as 60 students were crammed into classrooms “like sardines.”

L.A. school district officials blamed the disaster on glitches in the computer system that tracks the students and makes their schedules. But some of the worst problems that students face – for example the overcrowding of the classrooms – are certainly nothing new. For years, the L.A. school board has been consistently raising the bar for the maximum number of students allowed in a classroom, exceeding 40, and even 50 in some high schools. And in past years, there was no “computer glitch” for district officials to blame that on – it was because they eliminated teachers, consistently, year after year.

This failing computer system cost the district 20 million dollars. And it’s not the first time district officials are spending big on junk. The previous computer system, which has been thrown out, had cost the district 112 million. Just last month, amid a corruption scandal, the school board suspended a 500-million dollar contract with computer-maker Apple and publishing company Pearson to supply hundreds of thousands of overpriced iPads. A few years ago, the district spent $95 million on an automated payroll system which underpaid teachers and led to lawsuits. … It’s a long list.

It’s all in plain sight: Big corporations keep milking L.A. school district’s six billion budget, for hundreds of millions of dollars at a time, without even bothering to half-way provide the services they are supposedly getting paid for. And the district officials, who shovel all that money to these companies, turn around and say “there is no money,” laying off teachers and other staff, and cramming 60 students into dilapidated classrooms.

To these officials, these lackeys of the capitalist class, public money is there only for handouts to their bosses – not for the education of working-class children, who depend on public schools.