Why the Los Angeles Times Missed the Biggest Education News this Week

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By Karen Wolfe. She is an LAUSD parent activist and supporter of public schools with children who currently attend district schools.

According to the Los Angeles Times, there was not much to report: “Protestors Add a Little Rain to Otherwise Sunny Broad Museum Opening Day.”

Not “Education Activists Rain on Eli Broad’s Parade” or even “Greedy Teachers Union Steals Thunder from Philanthropist”.

Maybe no LA Times reporter was actually at the protest like CBS and ABC News were. The LA Times article was written by an arts reporter who claimed there were 70 protestors. Maybe art is open to interpretation but, considering there were about 800 teachers and public education activists, how could she have been at the same demonstration?  If she was using Common Core math, she should have shown her work. They even got the chants wrong. You can watch the videos to get an idea of the numbers and to hear the clear messages: “Whose schools? Our schools! Don’t privatize; play by the rules!” “When students and teachers are under attack, what do we do? Stand up! Fight Back!” and “You want art for the masses? Fund art classes!”

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Another LA Times article about the protest was written by a crime reporter. Isn’t that taking the editorial board’s assumption of teachers being guilty until proven innocent a little far?

Seriously (sort of). Is the LA Times really confused about whose beat this was? Maybe they could assign an investigative reporter to find out why none of the six or seven education reporters showed up to get the scoop on public education activists protesting LA’s biggest art patron on his big day.

The education reporters certainly knew the event was news. UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl had already challenged Eli Broad to a public debate after Broad’s plans for a hostile takeover of LAUSD were leaked. And UTLA activists said Mayor Garcetti had called the union leader twice to ask him to call off the demonstration. At the event, Caputo-Pearl explained why UTLA had no choice but to bring the fight to Broad’s door. The crowd roared when he called “on all elected officials in Los Angeles to oppose Broad’s plan and stand for the schools LA students deserve.”

Still, the education reporters and editors deemed this Not News.

Maybe the old guard hoped the new guard would cover the protest. Maybe the new guard recused themselves because of a conflict of interest between their funder and the actual, factual content they might have gathered had they come to report on the protest.

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The new guard is Education Matters, the other education section of the LA Times–funded by Eli Broad and a couple of his friends. Now things are starting to make sense.

Education Matters is separate and was launched by the now former publisher, Austin Beutner, Eli’s billionaire buddy. Beutner speaks the same language as Broad. LA Observed said Beutner “innovates and cares deeply about the paper’s digital future.” It’s not a big leap from there to “iPads are a civil right!” That’s something those of us who follow Los Angeles public education (whom the Times’ old and new guard might refer to as “readers”) recognize as the conviction of Broad’s implementor in chief, former LA superintendent John Deasy.

When Beutner got the boot, insiders told other insiders who told the rest of us that the Tribune Co. got miffed that Beutner was looking out more for his pal Eli than the interests of the Tribune. Well, now Beutner and Broad are miffed. And miffed billionaires are plenty newsworthy. Not only do they make the news, as in headlines, but they want to make the news, as in buy the newspaper.

They don’t want no stinkin’ professional newspaper business deciding what’s news in their city. That kind of attitude is also familiar to education advocates. “Who needs professionals when we billionaires can make better (for us) decisions?” The billionaires even have regular folks in Los Angeles clamoring for local ownership of the newspaper as if it is a grassroots campaign. Who cares if the local owner uses it as a megaphone for his own purposes, a la Rupert Murdoch?

You can see the picket signs now: “Plutocrats for local control!”

Now that’s a demonstration you’d read about in the Los Angeles Times!

 

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