Collecting Campaign Cash is Not a Progressive Value

“Jesse Gabriel announced that his campaign has raised more than $500,000 for the upcoming April 3rd Special Election.”

- Jesse Gabriel

What do the former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s adviser David Crane, “symbol of the greed and money of the tech sector” Ron Conway and WalMart Chairman Greg Penner have in common? They are co-founders of Govern for California, an independent expenditure committee that seeks “to influence elections for the California Legislature under the state’s new top-two primary system”. Their efforts are focused on supporting moderates and Republicans. One of their beneficiaries has been Jesse Gabriel, who is running in Tuesday’s special election for Matt Dababneh’s seat.

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Ankur Patel Will Defend Public Education in the California State Assembly

“I commit to working to increase the amount of funding that goes to public education and specifically to students at their school site.”

- Ankur Patel

When choosing which politicians to back, the California Charter School Association (CCSA) seems to care more about how they will help them to avoid regulation than the candidates’ ethical values. In the LAUSD, they helped Ref Rodriguez defeat Bennett Kaiser only to have Rodriguez step down from the Board’s presidency after being indicted on felony charges that included perjury. During the  2016 election cycle, the CCSA spent $30,282 to re-elect Matt Dababneh to the California State Assembly after he sponsored a bill that would have limited the ability of school districts to conduct independent investigations of charter schools. In December 2017, Dababneh was forced to resign from office “after three women accused him of sexual misconduct, including a lobbyist who said he followed her into a restroom and masturbated in front of her.

26814916_143367379668978_5921430996742689002_n.jpgOn April 3, voters in Assembly District 45 will go to the polls to replace the disgraced Assemblyman. As an advocate for public education, I am endorsing Ankur Patel in this race. A win by the former School and Community Coordinator for LAUSD Board Member Scott Schmerelson would send a clear message to the CCSA that their days of purchasing politicians are over. Going forward, their schools will be held accountable for the public funds that they receive.

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My Daughter Sings the National Anthem

My daughter is on the autism spectrum and spends a portion of her day in a special day class. However, due to the efforts of the teachers at LAUSD's Kennedy High School, she has several opportunities for mainstreaming including ROTC and choir. In this video, she had the opportunity to sing the National Anthem with a general education peer prior to a basketball game. This is what mainstreaming should look like.

I wrote about this program in this article.

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Three Headlines That Got Buried Last Week

Her current scandals and controversies will continue throughout her presidency and we will make it honestly, look, it's gonna be virtually impossible for her to govern. Now, the Republicans have talked very tough and the Democrats. It's gonna be just another mess for another four years, folks. A mess. We've got to get back to work, right? I mean, we have to get back to work.

- Donald Trump, November 5, 2016

At no other time in history have we had access to so much information. Unfortunately, even with 24-hour news channels and the Internet, our news media provides us with very little depth. As an example, you probably heard plenty in the past week about trade wars, White House staffing turmoil and a possible summit with North Korea. But how many times did the talking heads and Internet pundits mention the following aspects of the stories:

 

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Parents Left In The Dark About Charter Schools

I think it is important that parents know what is going on.”

- Scott Schmerelson, LAUSD Board Member


Under the current rules of the LAUSD, “a charter school [is] required to notify all parents, guardians and teachers in writing within 72 hours when the District issues a Notice of Violations...and that the notification include the District’s rationale for the action”. However, no such notification was made after a Notice of Violation was issued to Granada Hills Charter High School on March 3, 2017, detailing unapproved alterations to the District-owned campus that “were a risk to the health and safety of [the school’s] students, staff, and other individuals.”  The Charter School Division staff did request “that they share that information with families because it was significant”, but the school’s administration refused to do so. To date parents and guardians have not been notified of the dangers existing in their children’s school and no formal action has been taken against Granada for breaking this rule.

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How Have Charter Schools Affected Students with Special Education Needs?

On February 20, 2018, the LAUSD School Board put the proposed Holding GHCHS Accountable to Their Charter on the agenda of their Committee of the Whole meeting. The following is the written statement that I provided to the Board:

Honorable LAUSD Board Members:

Chanda_Smith.jpgThis is Chanda Smith. She was an LAUSD student with special education needs who fell through cracks in the system. In 1993, lawyers from the ACLU filed a class action suit under her name. The result of that suit is a consent decree that the District is still struggling to comply with 22 years after it was signed.

Around the same time that Ms. Smith’s lawyers were filing their paperwork, California began its experiment with charter schools. Since charters claimed that this would give parents more choice, the LAUSD embraced these new types of schools and became the largest charter authorizer in the country. Did those in charge consider the effect on students like Chanda Smith? Were these students given more choices or were they left behind?

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Finding Hope in Florida

A gun has killed 17 of my fellow classmates. A gun has traumatized my friends. My entire school, traumatized from this tragedy. This could have been prevented.

- Kyra

Rubio.jpgIf the shooter in Parkland, Florida had been named Mohamad, we can be sure that Donald Trump would have immediately taken to Twitter in an effort to use the tragedy as proof for the need of his Muslim ban. If instead, it was Jesus or Jose, the subject of those Tweets would have been his border wall. Instead, the killer was just a run of the mill domestic terrorist who used a gun to kill 17 people in a high school. Therefore, we will be told to offer hope and prayers and ignore that this was the eighth school shooting in this new year. To do otherwise politicizes the tragedy and disrespects the victims and survivors and their families.

Bullshit.

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Granada Announces Expansion - But Who Gave Them Permission?

It's easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission.

- Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper

Granada Hills Charter High School has used its student-run newspaper to announce that its “Devonshire campus will open as a transitional kindergarten through eighth-grade school starting in the fall semester of 2019.” The article declared that “there is excitement from the community for this new change” but did not provide quotes from anyone in the community. In fact, Granada’s Executive Director, Brian Bauer, was the only person quoted by the author, which gave the article the feel of a press release carefully constructed by the school’s administration. While pushing Bauer’s agenda, it did nothing to address the many consequences for the surrounding community and the student body of Granada.

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California: Charter School Lobby Insists that “Public Charter Schools” Are Businesses, Not Public Schools

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Charters: Public Schools or Private Businesses?

It is the intent of the Legislature in enacting this act to do both of the following:
(a) Ensure that charter school governance is transparent.
(b) Ensure that monitoring and oversight of charter schools are conducted to protect the public interest.

-California AB 1478

CCSA.jpgAs recipients of public funding, one would expect that organizations running charter schools would be subjected to the same open government regulations that other government entities, including elected school boards, must follow. While it is not always convenient to conform to the Brown Act, the California Public Records Act (PRA), or the Political Reform Act of 1974, these provisions of California law help ensure transparency to the taxpayers.  Unfortunately, under the state Education Code, the charter industry is currently exempt from following these requirements, leaving parents of students in these schools blind to their operations.

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