It Is Not Enough to Claim Inclusion

2017-summer-edition-of-living-education-emagazine.jpgMainstreaming of students with special education needs requires training, effort and a focus on student need.

My wife sat heartbroken as she watched my daughter’s classmates shunned her as she tried to interact with them. Despite the fact that most children on the autism spectrum have difficulties establishing social interactions, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) had decided that the chaos of lunch period was an appropriate time to provide a “mainstreaming” opportunity. Without any professional assistance, she would leave the confines of her self-contained classroom to eat with children without disabilities in an effort to improve “academic achievement, self-esteem, and social skills.” She was making a valiant effort, but the other students also lacked training and could not get past her quirks. It was hard to see how this was doing anything but damaging her self-esteem.

The results did not get any better as my wife entered into a general education classroom to observe another effort at mainstreaming.  While in the special day classroom, my daughter had received focused attention to keep her on task in the curriculum. However,  in this general education classroom the teacher was responsible for teaching an entire class and did not have time for students who could not keep up. Therefore, the students with special needs were placed in the back of the room and given games to play with on their computers. Was just being in the same classroom as students without disabilities supposed to provide academic achievement? Segregated from the rest of the class, she certainly was not improving her social skills.

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Indivisible?

I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

- Francis Bellamy, 1892

In these times of hyper-partisanship, the reciting of the pledge has become a competitive sport. I have long noticed that Tea Party types like to emphasize “under God”, perhaps to compensate their imagined attacks on their Christianity. In the Trump era, progressives have taken to putting an emphasis on “justice for all” in a display of resistance. Still said out of habit but ignored in deed is poor “indivisible”. There is little room for such a quaint notion as the opposing sides prepare to engage in verbal, and sometimes physical, battles.

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Arthur Schaper: A Law and Order Republican?

Arthur Schaper disrupts another Huntington Park City Council meeting. Is this what Republicans mean by "a nation of laws"?

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The Content of Their Character

Arthur Schaper and his band of merry racists display the content of their character after disrupting a Huntington Park City Council meeting...

Make America Great Again, #Resist the hatred.

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New LA Unified school board is marked by its diversity, but can they get along?

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The Blackwhite World of LAUSD's Charter Schools

BLACKWHITE...a loyal willingness to say that black is white when Party discipline demands this. But it means also the ability to BELIEVE that black is white, and more, to KNOW that black is white, and to forget that one has ever believed the contrary.

- George Orwell, 1984


Catherine Suitor, the Chief Development Officer of Alliance College-Ready Public [SIC] Schools is correct when she states that “encouraging parents to be involved should not be seen as a negative thing.” However, her response ignores the real issue raised by my testimony before the LAUSD School Board which is how far can a charter go before “encouragement” is actually “intimidation”? If volunteering “is not mandated,” then why does her organization keep track of the number of hours for each student? If publishing this data on the school’s website was truly meant to be “completely [the] opposite of shaming”, why are the number of hours included on the list? If the publication of this information “is a way to recognize and congratulate those who are involved”, why are the hours listed under the students’ names and not according to the people who actually “volunteered”? If the school’s “parents are eager and welcomed to be involved”, why are they not allowed to vote for their representation on the Governing Board? Instead, this Board, itself appointed by an outside organization, appoints two parents ensuring that dissension is not given a voice.

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July 4: A Day to Celebrate Our Heroes:

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LAUSD charter division looking into complaints brought by former school board candidate

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Is the LAUSD Charter School Division Providing Any Oversight?

We look at their websites, not only at that time but in their oversight.

Our oversight is “proactive and responsive.

- Jose Cole-Gutiérrez, LAUSD Charter School Division

The LAUSD is “the largest district charter school authorizer in the nation, with about 250 independent and affiliated charter schools serving over 130,000 students.” The Charter School Division is responsible for ensuring that these schools comply with the law and their charters. Unfortunately, this oversight is not as thorough as it needs to be. On Tuesday, June 20, 2017, I brought this issue to the attention of the LAUSD School Board with the following public comment:

Good Morning. My name is Carl Petersen and I am here to follow up on the public comment that I made last week regarding Granada Hills Charter High School (GHCHS). Specifically, I’d like to respond to José Cole-Gutiérrez’ statement that the Charter School Division is “proactive and responsive” in their oversight.

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PRESS RELEASE: Holding Charters Accountable For the Public Funds That They Receive


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The LAUSD’s Charter School Division claims to provide “proactive and responsive” oversight. The facts show otherwise.

 Last Thursday, with the unanimous passage of the following resolution, the North Valley Democratic Club became the latest organization to express concern about the enrollment practices at Granada Hills Charter High School (GHCHS):

The North Valley Democratic Club expresses concern with the following discrepancies in demographics between Granada Hills Charter High School (GHCHS) and Northridge Academy High School (NAHS): Special Education (2012-13) GHCHS 6%, NAHS 14%; English Learners (2012-13) GHCHS 3%, NAHS 8%; Homeless Students (2015-16) GHCHS 0, NAHS 7; Free and Reduced Price Lunch (2012-13) GHCHS 49%, NAHS 65%. We ask that the LAUSD report on what steps the Charter School Division has taken to ensure that GHCHS is properly following the rules governing enrollment.

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