Parental Engagement

By Carl J. Petersen

Education issues as seen from a father's eyes.

Abandoned Representation

LA City Councilman Mitch Englander is leaving for a cushy new job and all I will get is a lousy bill for a special election.

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Marshall Tuck's Financial Support of Convicted Felon Ref Rodriguez

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State Superintendent of Education candidate made multiple political donations to disgraced former LAUSD School Board President.

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The Largest Charter School in the Country Will Get Even Larger

Does the LAUSD have the capacity or the will to ensure that students are safe and tax money is spent appropriately at an even larger Granada Hills Charter High School?

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Are Ticket Scalpers Missing an Opportunity at These School Board Meetings?

Parents jump through hoops for the privilege of addressing their elected representatives in three minutes of public comment at the LAUSD Board Room. My proposed resolution would help boost parent attendance.

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Will Students Drown in a Charter School's Ocean of Debt?

Former PUC Parent expresses frustration with school closure. Photo courtesy of Dr. Rocio RivasThe LAUSD should ensure that they understand the financial condition of charters before approving them to operate within the District.

Read the article on K-12 News Networks The Wire.

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Supporting our Teachers

In a recent op-ed, Gloria Molina attempted to absolve the L.A. School Board of responsibility for their refusal to fund the education our students deserve. In response, I sent the following letter to the editor of the Los Angeles Times. It was not published.

 

As the LAUSD tries to pit parents against teachers, it should be noted that the union’s proposed contract would reduce class sizes, ensure that there is a full-time nurse in every school and put full-time librarians back to our secondary schools.

The District says it would like to put “kids first” but cannot find the funds. There is no money left after spending $400 million to build (and rebuild) the Belmont Learning Complex atop a toxic site, $1 billion on the failed iPad project, $111.5 million for the botched MiSiS system and $139 million settling the Miramonte sex abuse cases.

Parents will ultimately decide who wins this fight as empty classrooms would force the District to look elsewhere in the bloated bureaucracy for the cuts needed to give students the education that they deserve. My two LAUSD students and I will be joining their teachers on the picket lines.

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Second Largest School District Faces Teachers Strike

Board.jpg"There is currently an effort to call for a strike that pits adults versus adults when students and their families will bear the brunt of a strike action."

- LAUSD School Board

Having gladly accepted the title of “a gadfly at the school board meetings”, I have a natural tendency to be suspicious of the LAUSD’s marketing materials. This is particularly true when the document is titled with the very 1984 sounding “Just the Facts.” However, recognizing that the union’s first priority is to represent the best interests of the teachers, I realize that their contract demands are not going to automatically line up with the needs of families. With this in mind, I dove into the gap that divides the two sides. I have broken the issues down by what the District states the United Teacher Los Angeles (UTLA) claims are:

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How Can a Charter School Renew or Expand Without a Legitimate Governing Board?

"A material revision of the provisions of a charter petition may be made only with the approval of the authority that granted the charter."

- FCMAT

Having already billed itself as the largest charter school in the country, Granada Hills Charter High School (GHCHS) has submitted a charter renewal that would change the school to one that serves Transitional Kindergarten to 12th and add 1,425 students. Unfortunately, the Governing Board that approved this charter petition does not include the type of members outlined in its current charter. In my prepared testimony for the LAUSD School Board, I pointed out that this should invalidate the charter renewal petition:

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The Charter School Industry Puts Bigotry Front and Center

"Appointing a non-Latino candidate like Goldberg to the seat, even temporarily, ‘is definitely not in the spirit of the law. It would seem contrary to what LAUSD’s own commission did’ when it drew the district."

- Political Consultant Mike Trujillo

Speak Up is a pro-charter group that was formed in the Palisades on the west side to support Nick Melvoin’s candidacy for the LAUSD Board but was disguised as a way that “parents could join together and push for education that puts kids first.” However, the conduct of Speak Up members prior to and during Tuesday’s Board meeting was meant to cause division in a way that should never be tolerated in front of our children. In a missive released on August 20, they opposed the resolution by “Valley Republican Scott Schmerelson” (Schmerelson is not registered as a Republican) who sought to appoint former Board member Jackie Goldberg to the vacant Board District 5 seat until a special election could be held. Given Goldberg’s extensive record which would enable her to be an effective Board Member on day one, they lied to say that “she opposes school choice” when, in fact, she co-founded an organization that simply calls for “transparency, equity, and accountability” in these publicly funded schools. They then quoted a member of LAUSD’s redistricting commission to make the case that Board District 5 was a “majority-Latino seat” and that Goldberg was, therefore, unqualified because of her ethnicity.

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Flushing Your Money Down the Toilet

"Team Granada: It was nice meeting with you yesterday to discuss possible solutions to the challenges you’ve gotten yourselves into with non-DSA approved improvements to your campus."

- Jim DiCamillo, Architect

Private businesses operate under a model that has built-in accountability. If a corporation does not generate profits, then the shareholders will demand a change in management. Therefore, when those running a corporation invest in capital improvements, they will make sure that the proper steps are taken to preserve shareholder value. Proper planning will occur, permits will be obtained and quotes will be acquired to make sure contractors offering the most value are utilized.

A charter school like Granada Hills Charter High School has no such accountability. Instead of a Governing Board approved by the investors, Granada’s administration selects the people who will oversee their operations. The state will divert education funds to their coffers regardless of how this money is misspent. As a result, the administration has ignored normal business practices and wasted money that was supposed to be used to educate students.

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