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Private educators have long had it out for public schools. Charters are part of that effort

Private educators have long had it out for public schools. Charters are part of that effort
Members and supporters of United Teachers Los Angeles rally outside the California Charter Schools Assn. office in downtown Los Angeles during the L.A. Unified School District teachers' strike on Jan. 15, 2019. (Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: We strongly disagree with David Osborne’s view that the proliferation of charter schools is not responsible for the Los Angeles Unified School District’s financial problems.

Since the early days of school voucher ballot measures, private and parochial schools have attacked public schools and tried their best to get public money for their private institutions. Public education is the foundation of democracy and crucial to fulfilling our constitutional mandate of equal opportunity for all.

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Charters were examined by the League of Women Voters in many different states and found to fall short of the advertised goals. We support the L.A. teachers union.

Bill and Sylvia Hampton, San Diego

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To the editor: Osborne debunks many of the distortions made by United Teachers Los Angeles leaders about charter schools, which were magnified by the media without much clarification.

Charter schools have been demonized by teachers unions as the product of billionaires trying to grab public funds. These misleading claims distract from the unions’ real concern: that most charter teachers have declined to unionize.

Charter schools attract students because they offer a superior and free alternative to some poorly run schools. I am a firm supporter of unions, but it is disheartening that UTLA’s leadership attacks charters as the problem.

Judging by their growing enrollment, charter schools are succeeding. Are they a threat, or are they the answer? Visit one and find out.

Gail Maeda, Laguna Niguel

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To the editor: I beg to differ with Osborne’s statement that “LAUSD’s unions could easily lower health insurance costs [by requiring] retirees to shift to Medicare as their primary insurer once they hit 65.”

After 31 years as a teacher in LAUSD, I pay more than $4,000 annually to Medicare, which is my primary insurer. According to my 2018 W-2 form, my income came to about $66,000 minus taxes. Although I qualified for Medicare through work outside the district, I am not allowed to collect Social Security in California without it being deducted from my state teacher’s pension.

In addition to paying into the retirement system, working teachers also need to contribute to tax shelters — 401(k)-style plans, in other words — and to buy long-term care in advance of retirement if they are to live comfortably in Los Angeles.

Katharine Paull, Kagel Canyon

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