Caravan of Strikers Go to the Beutner’s Home

A caravan of about 40 teachers, parents and students gathered in front of LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner’s home in the Riviera section of the Palisades.

Striking Teachers, Parents Visit Palisades

About 40 parents, teachers and students met in the parking lot of the Annenberg Community Beach House around 5 p.m. on Thursday, January 17.

The people were transported in vans and cars to Toyopa to the Palisades home of William Siart.

An organizer was asked why they went to Siart’s house, and Circling the News was told “because he believes in the privatization of public schools and favors charter schools.”

When asked which charter schools Siart was involved with in Los Angeles, the organizer said, “I don’t know.”

According to the Wall Street Journal, Siart is Chairman at Great Public Schools Now, Chairman at Excellent Education Development (ExED), Chairman at Western Asset Income Fund and Chairman at Western Asset Premier Bond Fund.

He is on the Board of Directors at The J. Paul Getty Trust and University of Southern California. He received his undergraduate degree from Santa Clara University and a master’s degree in business from UC Berkeley.

ExED websites notes “We are a mission-driven nonprofit committed to helping charter schools create efficiencies and implement sound business practices that ultimately allow school leaders to direct more of their time and energy to the classroom.”

But, the handout given to the press on the street, accused Siart of being one of a wealthy elite that was pouring “millions into an effort to hijack LAUSD schools and divert much-needed resources from students.”

The handout accused Siart of being a “member of secretive and elite social clubs with histories of racism and exclusion” and “his true colors are seen in his membership in several elite golf clubs” specifically the Los Angeles and Riviera Country Clubs.

Around 7 p.m., the strike caravan then went to LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner’s home in the Riviera.

Several speakers shared their demands in Beutner’s driveway.

Ruby, a parent of a student at 10th Street Elementary, wanted to make sure Beutner knew their demands including smaller class sizes.

Marcia, a senior from Dorsey High School, said “William Siart has to keep your hands off our schools. Do not make charter schools, do not fund charter schools.” She then said that the privatization of schools “will push us out of our communities.”

A parent made a plea for more nurses, saying that when her kid first started school there was a nurse one day a week and that she worked at getting a nurse a second day. She ended her speech “We will not let you privatize our schools: we need nurses five days a week.”

The group chanted “Billionaires can’t teach our kids,” and waved flameless candles.

In a New York Times January 16 story “L.A. Schools Leader Says, ‘Strike Is a Rallying Cry, but What Does It Lead To?” Beutner said, “There’s a lot misinformation about who I am or why I’m doing this.

“My dad came from Germany fleeing the Nazis,” he said. “My mom was a schoolteacher, public-school teacher all her life — in New York, in New Jersey, in Michigan. I succeeded beyond my wildest dreams then had a bit of a setback 10 years ago when I broke my neck mountain biking. I almost died. The next chapter has given me the chance to make a difference. I’ve tried to give every kid the same opportunity I was given in public education.”

The people striking did NOT hand out the following information: in 1994, Beutner founded The Beutner Family Foundation with a focus on philanthropy and education for economically disadvantaged people.

Beutner founded Vision to Learn in 2012. This nonprofit provides children with free eye exams and free glasses by bringing a mobile eye clinic to schools.

In 2014, his vision nonprofit partnered with Compton Unified School District to bring eye exams and glasses. It has also partnered with the LA Clippers Foundation, which supports the Inglewood Unified School District. In 2018, more than 600,000 LAUSD students received free eye exams and students in need received free glasses.

In a Tuesday interview with ABC, Nick Melvoin, the vice president of LAUSD said “Our problem is we’re being told by the county and the state not only do you not have the money the teachers are asking for, but you don’t have the money to operate your district.”

Talks between the Teacher’s Union and LAUSD resumed today, January 17.

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4 Responses to Caravan of Strikers Go to the Beutner’s Home

  1. Ruth W. Mills says:

    Thank you, Sue, for your typical carefully-researched reporting. The information you provide about Beutner’s parents and his own life gives another perspective to the angry, accusatory tone so prevalent in this strike. While I totally support the teachers in their desire for smaller classes, full-time personnel such as nurses, librarians, and counselors, and yes, higher pay, I can’t help resenting the lumping of all charter schools into one movement of evil and greed. As a teacher at Palisades Charter High School, which worked hard to wrest control of our school away from LAUSD, and which is therefore not directly affected by the strike (our own UTLA representatives are currently in contract negotiations with our own administration), I know how beneficial the charter movement is to school communities willing to do the work of running their own schools. One of the problems with many charters is that their employees are not represented by unions, which representation was written into our charter document at Pali. I have not been vocal on either side of this strike, because as a teacher at PCHS, I don’t feel I have a right to offer my thoughts about a painful situation of which I am not a central part. I do think, however, that balanced reporting like yours is important, so that neither side is painted with a simplistic brush.

  2. Tom Meade says:

    Thank you, Sue. The restraint, the fair mindedness in your coverage is palpable.

  3. Gretchen Arnold says:

    Ruth Mills … thank you for your comments and sue … excellent report

  4. Alan Goldsmith says:

    Sue, You provide important background info that I have we not seen in other reporting.

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