Parental Engagement

By Carl J. Petersen

Education issues as seen from a father's eyes.

The District's Deaf Ears

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Shut up! Sit down!

-Ben Stern

Under Bennett Kayser’s leadership, the LAUSD’s Budget, Facilities, and Audit (BFA) Committee exposed details of John Deasy’s iPad program that helped lead to the former Superintendent’s resignation. Kayser was rewarded for his efforts with a campaign to unseat him that was heavily funded by the California Charters School Association (CSSA) and other corporate education “reformers.” After an election that included accusations that were not ethically sound, a $25,000 “Voteria” payout to one lucky voter and an attack based on Kayser’s Parkinson's diagnosis, Ref Rodriguez replaced Kayser on the Board. The effects of this change have already been felt in the District.

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The Learning Curve of the LAUSD Shutdown

I as Superintendent am not going to take the chance with the life of a student.”

-Ramon C. Cortines

In hindsight, it is easy to look at the threat that was emailed to LAUSD Board members and say that the District overreacted by shutting down the schools for the day. Monday morning quarterbacks have the convenience of knowing that no bombs were found in a thorough search of facilities and that New York schools made it through their day without incident. Yes, the email does read like it was written by a terrorist’s fanboy and it is legitimate to ask why a person looking to kill as many people as possible would provide any type of warning, but Cortines had lives of 640,000 students in his hands. No matter how small the actual risk, I think that he can be excused for not wanting to take any chance with those lives. As long as they are willing to learn from the experience, the District should be given a pass.

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Controlling Information

Democracy must be built through open societies that share information. When there is information, there is enlightenment. When there is debate, there are solutions. When there is no sharing of power, no rule of law, no accountability, there is abuse, corruption, subjugation and indignation.”

-Atifete Jahjaga

During the last Budget, Facilities and Audit Committee meeting the LAUSD Charter Schools Division (CSD) claimed that they provide “high-quality charter school oversight”, are “stewards of the public trust” and take “stakeholder questions, concerns and claims” seriously in their efforts to bring “transparency” and “accountability” to the publicly funded but privately run charter schools. There is no denying that these catchphrases look great in a Powerpoint presentation and hold great promise for the students, taxpayers and other stakeholders of the district. However, to have any real meaning these words need to be backed up with actions by an agency that itself has transparency to the public. Unfortunately, when tested the CSD’s actions do not conform with their stated mission.

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The LAUSD Board Strikes Out

Resolved, That the LAUSD Board of Education of the City of Los Angeles opposes the Broad Foundation plan and all initiatives that present a strategy designed to serve some students and not all students

-Scott Schmerelson

When a leaked copy of Eli Broad’s Great Public Schools Now Initiative was published by the Los Angeles Times, the public was given insight into what the Ed “Reform” movement’s plans look like before they have been cleaned up by the marketing department. While students should be the reason for any education system to exist, in this document they were reduced to “market share” and tools for creating a system that will become “a model for all large cities to follow.” While claiming that this new model would be better for students, the initiative’s metrics were not set up to measure student achievement. Instead, they measured how well the program performed at increasing the size of the publicly financed, private school system with three stated “objectives: (1) to create 260 new high-quality charter schools, (2) to generate 130,000 high-quality charter seats, and (3) to reach 50 percent charter market share.”

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Saving Money by Shortchanging a Special Education

For 13 years [we have] known what we should do for Special Education and we have ignored it as a district.”

-Ramon C. Cortines, LAUSD Superintendent

It cannot be denied that Special Education costs a lot of money. In fact, the Independent Financial Review Panel says that it “is one of the fastest growing parts of the LAUSD budget.” When done well, Special Education can be labor intensive, requiring classrooms with extremely low staff-to-student ratios and sometimes even more one-on-one time. Experts in speech and occupational therapy are needed to fortify regular instructional time. The District must make accommodations so that those with physical disabilities can have full access to school facilities. Transportation is needed to get students to the schools that provide their required programs. These services do not come cheap, but they are all essential components to provide a Special Education.

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A Parent's Evaluation of the LAUSD Charter School Division

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LAUSD: Rescind the TFA contract

Sign The Petition Here (Even if you do not live in Los Angeles): LAUSD: Rescind the TFA Contract

Cancel the contract that pays Teach for America (TFA) to recruit untrained interns to teach our vulnerable special education students. Identify reputable programs to recruit graduates and student teachers who are committed to the teaching profession, to our schools and our students.

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Saving Summer?

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Tax Spending Without Representation

 GHCHS.jpgCharter schools allow parents, teachers and the community to transform our public school system.”

-California Charter School Association

As Eli Broad prepares to implement his plan “to reach 50 percent charter market share” within the LAUSD, now is the time for Angelenos to begin asking what this privately controlled system would look like. While Broad claims that his takeover of public education will bring an “expansion of high-quality charter schools in Los Angeles,” is there any proof that existing charter schools have reached this standard of excellence? Do charter schools help to “ensure that no Los Angeles student remains trapped in a low-performing school,” or would this expanded network of publicly funded private schools continue to cherry-pick the easiest to teach students who are more likely to increase their school’s reported test scores. Most importantly, do these schools actually want “parents [who] are effectively engaged” or will their right to elect representatives to the governing boards be revoked once these schools are established?

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An Attempt At Engagement Falls Flat

 

Sign.jpgThe best way to predict the future is to create it

Steve Zimmer and George McKenna made clear where their loyalties lie when they joined Monica Garcia and Ref Rodriguez to block public access to the finalists in the search for a new Superintendent. At the October 13th Board meeting, Monica Ratliff proposed a resolution that would have made “the finalists public, but her effort failed.” With Scott Schmerelson and Richard Vladovic voting “yes,” only one more vote was needed to ensure an open process. Despite the significant support that both Zimmer and McKenna have received from the supporters of public education in past elections, neither felt that the public deserved a final say on who will be the next leader of  our district.

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