Failing Charter Schools and the LAUSD Board's Choice

Data doesn’t close opportunity gaps. People have to do that, so we now need people to take action.

- Carrie Hahnel, EdTrust-West

It is easy to blame a public school for failing to successfully educate a child. Teachers and schools make easy scapegoats in a society that consistently fails at addressing generational poverty, fails to support children with disabilities, and fails at balancing the need to nurture children with the necessity of putting food on the table. In California, we defunded our schools with Proposition 13 and are still wondering why these same schools are not educating children to our expectations.

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Los Angeles: Austin Beutner and Cronyism

"Carl J. Petersen, a watchdog in Los Angeles, has untangled a web of cronyism surrounding Superintendent Austin Beutner."

Read the full article on Diane Ravitch's blog.

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The strange case of Sebastian Ridley-Thomas.

"And investigative ed blogger Carl Petersen connects more of the curious dots between Beutner, Sebastian and the bad seed lobbyist’s political potentate dad, L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas."

Read the full article on Capital & Main.

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Coverage of the LAUSD by the L.A. Daily News: News or Propaganda?

This article first appeared on LASchoolReport.com, a nonprofit education news site covering Los Angeles schools and California policy and analyzing where the Golden State fits into the national conversation surrounding K-12 issues

- Los Angeles Daily News


Three weeks after Candi Clark, Chief Financial Officer of the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE), spoke at a Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board meeting, the Los Angeles Daily News was still describing her appearance as “unannounced”.  However, the facts tell a different story. Documents obtained in a Public Records Act request by United Teachers Los Angeles show that the text of a speech was created on a District computer registered to Cheryl Simpson, an “LAUSD budget official” and shared with Clark. Her appearance was definitely not “unannounced” as it is clear that there was some coordination with officials at the LAUSD.

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The LAUSD Superintendent's Web of Deceit

Test Two may be more daunting — namely, explaining why [Austin Beutner] put a scandal-plagued and #MeToo-accused former State Assemblymember on the district payroll as a lobbyist.

-Bill Raden, Capital & Main

Instead of meeting with United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) in the days leading up to the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) strike, Superintendent Austin Beutner and Board President Monica Garcia were in Sacramento in an effort to “drum up lawmaker opposition to the teachers strike.” They were accompanied on this trip by Sebastian Ridley-Thomas (SRT), the son of “powerful L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas (MRT)”. While not publicly disclosed at the time, SRT was there as a paid lobbyist for the District.

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An LAUSD Star is Born

This Governing Board is held accountable to traditional public schools first.

- Tyler Okeke

In a system where money is considered speech, those who cannot afford to buy a microphone are at a disadvantage. As the teachers’ union and the charter school industry spend millions influencing LAUSD elections, the students the District is supposed to serve struggle to have their voice heard. Fortunately for them, their lone representative on the School Board, Tyler Okeke, spoke for them at last Tuesday’s Board meeting in a voice that could not be ignored.

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Los Angeles Asks For a Charter School Pause

This resolution does not impact a single LAUSD charter school or charter school student. It does not create a cap...and it doesn’t create a ban.

- LAUSD Board Member Scott Schmerelson

Vote NO on the charter ban!  #NoCharterBan

- California Charter School Association

The resolution before the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) School Board was relatively benign. Its passage would not actually change any policy. Instead, it would ask the state to impose a temporary moratorium on new charter schools within the District while state education leaders “conduct a comprehensive study to inform future policy considerations for charter authorization reform.”

The California Charter School Association (CCSA) described the resolution in completely different terms. According to them, this resolution was an all-out assault on their publicly funded private schools. Instead of attending class, hundreds of charter school students took buses to protest in front of the LAUSD headquarters on Beaudry. Some students cried as they pleaded with the Board to not shut down their schools.

Although the Board meeting was not set to begin until 1:00 PM, the line curved around the building and halfway up 4th Street by 8:20 AM in the morning. By some reports, the charter industry supporters had been lining up as early as 6:30 AM in order to ensure access to the meeting. After waiting for almost five hours, I gained access to the meeting and a chance to speak:

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Granada Hills Charter High School and the Case for a Moratorium

Resolved further, That the Members of the Board of Education request the Governor, the California State Board of Education and the California Department of Education conduct a comprehensive study to inform future policy considerations for charter authorization reform;

- Proposed LAUSD Resolution

Granada Hills Charter High School is the poster child for why a moratorium on new charter schools is needed in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). This single school is currently larger than 86% of all school districts nationwide and under its recently approved expansion, it will add another 1,425 students. Lacking the manpower, funding, and willpower to provide adequate oversight, the District stands by while this publicly funded private school underserves the special-needs community, pushes students into an independent learning program against their will, constructs projects that endanger the health and safety of students and staff, and spends public money without adequate controls.

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The Winners and Losers of the LAUSD Strike

The strike that nobody wanted is now behind us

- Austin Beutner

For six days Los Angeles teachers and an overwhelming majority of students stayed out of LAUSD schools. Instead, many walked picket lines in front of the schools where supportive parents honked their horns and donated coffee. Tens of thousands attended rallies downtown, sometimes in the pouring rain. The resulting contract was approved by teachers, but not without some vocal apprehension as both teachers and parents wondered if enough was won for the sacrifice that was made. Who actually came out ahead in the final agreement and who lost?

Winners:

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We Interrupt This Strike For a Regularly Scheduled Day Off

Students and families are counting on our schools to stay open

- Austin Beutner

By making the decision to keep schools open during the strike last week, Superintendent Austin Beutner and the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) School Board lost over $125 million in revenue from the state. This decision was made despite the LAUSD’s own admission that they could not keep all students safe during a strike and a warning from the union representing principals that the situation in the schools had become “dire.”

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