The Watchdog of LAUSD

For over seven years I wrote more than 650 articles for Examiner.com, an online site that is owned by a conservative who supports all that I oppose. For years I’ve wanted to find a non ad driven site to share my writing. Friday, they sent me a kiss off Email ending in “best wishes”. So here I am.

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Building A Room With My Dad

Becca and JessieThrough my childhood, my Dad and I were not particularly close. In a lot of ways the experience of his childhood haunted him and he did everything possible to make sure that mine would be different. In doing so, he left his own minefields for me to negotiate.

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Arrogance

 

Election season was clearly over on Tuesday afternoon as the LAUSD set about to fulfill the legal requirement of getting public input into the Local Control Funding Formula. Outgoing District 3 representative Tamar Galatzan did not even bother to show up to the meeting. District 2’s Monica Garcia left as public comment began. Even George McKenna’s seat was empty before the last speaker had a turn at the podium.

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Serving All Students

On Tuesday, the LAUSD Board will vote on reaffirming its commitment to “A-G Life Preparation for All.” Unfortunately, the title of this resolution is disingenuous as somehow, we have come to confuse “life preparation” with “preparation for college.” While I agree that any LAUSD student who wants access to college preparatory classes should be given the opportunity, we should not pretend that college is the only pathway to success. Any college graduate who is underemployed and struggling to pay off student debt will  certainly attest to the fact that college does not guarantee success. What the LAUSD really needs to do is recommit itself to serving all types of students

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The Unguarded Hen House

A district may not require students to purchase a cap and gown as a condition of participating in the graduation ceremony.”

-California Department of Education, 2013

 

“All students who participate in the ceremony must wear a cap and gown. After January 31,2015, caps and gowns are $60.00 (CASH ONLY) and are only available at Senior Clearance on June 3, 2015.”

-Granada Hills Charter High School


California taxpayers send more than $3 billion to privately operated charter schools every year. This money is supposed to be used to educate our children in a way that is consistent with the law, but there is little assurance that the money diverted from public schools is benefiting the students. Charter schools were supposed to bring more accountability to education, but local, county and state agencies lack either the tools or the will to provide the necessary oversight. This creates a situation where these schools are permitted to operate outside the boundaries of the law.

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Election Reform in the LAUSD

It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.”

-Sir Winston Churchill

 

To date, candidates and outside committees have reported spending $1,649,613.26 on the 2015 LAUSD School Board race for District 3. These funds not only ensured that the voices of the charter schools and the unions were heard, it also guaranteed that students and parents could not be heard above the din. Instead of voters having access to a much-needed debate about education issues, they were left to make decisions based on character assassinations and outright lies. Is it any wonder that only 8.6% of registered voters took part in the election? Factor in those who do not even bother to register and citizen participation drops to below dismal.

As long as we have a Supreme Court that confuses corporations with citizenship and money with speech, there is little that can be done about the amount that is spent on our elections. However, before we give up counting votes in favor of just handing offices to those who can raise the most money, there are steps that we can take to reduce the influence of money in LAUSD elections. Some of these the new School Board can take care of by themselves while others will require the cooperation of the City Council. Any action will require pressure from an active citizenry:

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Failure to Report

Breakfast in the Classroom was in place for almost a week at Sherman Oaks Center for Enriched Studies before the Los Angeles Daily News’ education reporter finally covered the controversy. Unfortunately, little reporting was done on the subject. The reporter simply quoted a district official without doing any research to find out if her statements were accurate.

Dina Lipton, a mother who was interviewed by the reporter found the article to be “disappointing.” In response she sent the following email to the reporter detailing her complaints:

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Our Turn

Like athletes, politicians are expected to declare victory in advance of their contest. The standard stump speech is expected to include the words “when I win this election, I will…” because the first job of the candidate is to get voters to contemplate them sitting in office. Using the words “if I win election” does not inspire that same confidence.

Tamar Galatzan takes things further and publicly ignores the fact that the election will even occur. As voters prepare to make their decision she has refused them every opportunity to compare her against other candidates by blowing off candidate forums. Instead of addressing the voters directly through the city’s free program to provide a video statement to the voters, she relies on the charter schools to spend over $900,000 trying to buy the seat for her. A student journalist and LAUSD graduate could not even get an interview with her. When addressing the concerns of parents, she promises them that she “will continue with my plan to ask the board and the superintendent to review the Breakfast in the Classroom program at the conclusion of the school year,” ignoring the fact that this will occur after the voters have spoken.

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Tamar Speaks

“We will not be making any changes to our procedures at this time.”

- Tamar Galatzan


After writing my last blog about the introduction of Breakfast in the Classroom at Sherman Oaks Center for Enriched Studies (SOCES), Tamar Galatzan  replied to parents about their concerns. Unfortunately, instead of addressing the concerns raised by the 98% of families who signed opt-out forms, she relied on the advice of the District’s legal department. The same people who concluded to it was permissible to claim that a middle school student can consent to sex with a teacher, have now decided “that parents have no constitutional right to require the district to obtain signed permission slips for participation in Breakfast in the Classroom.” The email exchange is as follows:

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The Dog Ate My Homework

The_Dog_Ate_My_Homework.jpgWhen the iPad scandal and MiSiS crisis forced John Deasy to suddenly resign in October, the School Board was forced to scramble for a quick replacement. In their haste, they ignored the baggage that accompanied former Superintendent Ramon Cortines, including “claims of sexual harassment,” and reappointed him to the position. The public was assured that this was only being done on an interim basis and that his contract would expire June 30, 2015.

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