JUST IN: Steve Zimmer concedes in LAUSD board race, Kelly Gonez leading in District 6

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The Politics of Retribution

A plan for ensuring best and fair practices for charter operators, including results that indicate positive impacts on the achievement gap, inclusion of all students, fair labor practices, and parent engagement practices.

-Steve Zimmer, 11/13/12

 Betsy Devos, Eli Broad, and Michael Bloomberg have spent millions of dollars pushing to privatize our public schools with disastrous effects for school districts like the LAUSD. Much of this spending is not used to benefit students in any way, but to influence elections. This spending has swelled to the point where once again Los Angeles has broken the record for “the priciest school board race in U.S. history.”

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You Can't Keep a Bad Charter Down

No question about @MagnoliaSchools academic superiority - questioning your reading skills.

-Alex Johnson, VP LA County Board of Education

 

Specifically, the CAASPP results in ELA and Math indicate that in both 2014-15 and 2015-16, 0% of the school’s English Learner (EL) population met or exceeded proficiency.

- LA County Office of Education Staff

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As the LAUSD prepared to take the unusual step of not renewing the charters of three Magnolia Science Academies last October, their chief executive claimed that “it would be wrong to punish kids [for poor management] by closing strong schools.” After the vote, the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) released a statement complaining that charters were no longer “evaluated mostly on the degree to which they were helping students learn.” Ignored by both parties was the fact that the CCSA itself had ranked one of these schools as a one out of ten, which in no way can be considered “strong”. The other two were at best average with ranks of four and six.

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Steve Zimmer: A Last Stand Between Public Education and the Privatizers

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As a special education and parent advocate who has run twice in LAUSD elections under the rallying cry of “Change The LAUSD”, my first inclination is to recommend against a vote for the incumbent in the District 4 Board race. However, as the election of Trump has shown, voting with a “throw the bums out” mentality can be disastrous if the people who fill these voids are less interested in fixing what is broken than burning the whole thing down. Nick Melvoin and his supporters’ plans to push even more students into charters falls into the latter category and will only serve to bankrupt the District, taking away opportunities for those left behind.

In some ways, Melvoin represents the Status Quo for the District. After all, the LAUSD “already has the highest number of charters - more than 200 - of any school system in the country”. These privately run organizations are largely unregulated by a Charter School Division that is headed by a former employee of one of the groups pushing to elect Melvoin. While tagged as anti-charter by the CCSA, this Board has only rejected nine charter renewals during the last five years. This includes the several from Celerity charters, whose offices were raided by the FBI. This inadequate scrutiny of charters would be lessened even further by a Board with a pro-charter majority.

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A Day Without Janitors

By Sydney Thiroux/Granada Hills Charter High School


Picture a campus of over 4,000 students at lunchtime. A line that seems to be about a mile long forms on the way to the cafeteria. Some students are buying snacks from the vending machines. Other students, like myself, bring their own lunch and snacks. Now picture what that campus looks like after lunchtime. All kinds of wrappers and half-eaten meals are strewn everywhere. I have even seen my peers throw away perfectly good salads without even opening them. Janitors definitely have their work cut out for them.

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Moving Past 100 Days: The Lies Continue

Perhaps Donald Trump’s greatest talent is his ability to feed fake news to his fans without interference from the mainstream press. In his signature move, he piles on a bunch of smaller lies and then follows up with an outrageous statement. The press then covers the controversy while ignoring the other nuggets. Meanwhile, his base reads them, sees that they have not been refuted and accepts them as truth. Perhaps this is one explanation for the fact that while his approval rating sits at a historically low 42%, only 2% of his voters regret their decision.

This weekend’s events marking Trump’s first 100 days in office provides an example of the problem as the press gets lost in their coverage of his “deeply disturbing” speech in Harrisburg while ignoring Trump’s weekly address. Meanwhile, this address contains outright lies that feed Trump’s alternate reality. Since our impotent press has failed to provide any type of fact-checking, I’ll do their job for them:

"My fellow Americans, I truly believe that the first 100 days of my Administration has been just about the most successful in our country's history.

If Trump is not lying with this opening statement, then he is surely delusional. The hundred-day was initiated during the FDR administration as he responded to the crisis of the Great Depression and acted accordingly. Obama faced a Great Recession that was threatening to deepen and acted quickly by ushering in a stimulus package. Even if Trump had the ability to display this type of leadership, the circumstances of a deep, overwhelming crisis do not exist that would enable him to unite the country around a solution.

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The First 100 Days: Trump Builds His Wall

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Stacking the Deck?

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Moreover, ‘lower achieving students’ is not a protected class.

  • Brian Bauer, GHCHS

This week, Granada Hills Charter High School (GHCHS) will attempt to win its sixth national Academic Decathlon championship in seven years. If this were a high school sports team instead of an academic one, the improbability of this accomplishment would probably be more of a focus but instead, it is blindly celebrated. No one seems to ask how it possible for a school that is supposed to draw from surrounding neighborhoods to consistently dominate a competition in a way that can only be compared to the winning streaks of the Harlem Globetrotters or the USA’s Olympic basketball Dream Teams. There is no doubt that members of Granada’s team work hard to achieve their success, but does the demographic makeup of this school give their team an unfair advantage?

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Above the Law?

The LAUSD Board will be voting on whether they support a package of anti-charter laws that would threaten our schools’ funding, flexibility to implement the programs best for our students, and our ability to continue serving our families.

-Granada Hills Charter High School

Real estate records show that on March 17, 2005, a “Bayer, Brian” whose address was “11141 Tampa Ave” purchased a property at 10600 Zelzah Ave., across the street from Granada Hills Charter High School (GHCHS). According to tax records, this house was still owned by “Bayer, Brian” on August 20, 2006. However, on December 11, 2008, a Grant Deed was filed stating that there was “an error in the name of the grantee in the original deed recorded on March 17, 2005.” At that point, GHCHS became the registered owner of the property.

If it is true that Brian Bauer, aka Brian Bayer, was accidentally recorded as the owner of the house on Zelzah, it is unclear why it took three and a half years to correct the mistake. The Governing Board is responsible for the $440,000 spent on the property and should have immediately noticed that the deed to the property had “accidentally” been given to their Executive Director. The charter is subject to a yearly “independent” audit, but these auditors also seemed to miss this major problem. As the authorizer for GHCHS, the LAUSD is responsible for oversight and conducts annual reviews. For three and a half years they also missed the problem.

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A Tale of Two School Districts

We are also exploring another option, which is to petition LAUSD. This is promising for many reasons, one of which would be the relative ease in finding a site. We would still seek to locate in the same general geographic area, but Los Angeles has greater inventory

-International Studies Language Academy

Despite having a school board that is alleged to be anti-charter, the LAUSD approves a lot of these publicly funded private schools.  In fact, “no other school system in the nation has more charters or charter students than L.A.” Renewals for these charters are “routinely approved”, even when they have low academic achievement and fail to meet their obligations to special education students. Having their offices raided by the FBI does not preclude a charter operator from being offered co-located space in District schools, potentially disrupting the education of LAUSD students. In the meantime, the LAUSD hurls towards bankruptcy, partially due to the loss of students to the charter industry.

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