Parental Engagement

By Carl J. Petersen

Education issues as seen from a father's eyes.

LAUSD Board Moves to Cut Public Speaking Time

Ignoring the proposed “Board Meeting Accessibility to the Public” resolution, Nick Melvoin seeks less public input on education issues.

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Mishandling Data to Create Failing Schools

How can schools that are designed to serve children with specific needs be judged by the same criteria as those serving the general population?

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The Los Angeles Times' History of Putting Kids Last

As the paper of record for those who want to privatize our education system, the Los Angeles Times endorses a candidate for the LAUSD School Board even after saying that she does not have any “insightful or original” ideas. They did have good things to say about Jackie Goldberg.

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Stealing Scarce Education Funds From LAUSD Students

The District has not received payments from Community Preparatory Academy for the months of January 2017 through June 2017, which total to $82,240.97 currently owed to the District.

- LAUSD Charter School Division


The LAUSD School Board took the rare step of considering the denial of a charter school’s renewal during their April 2, 2019, “special” meeting. In reviewing the hundreds of pages of documents supporting this recommendation, it was clear that the Community Preparatory Academy (CPA) has been in trouble since it was opened five years ago. During public comment I summarized the worst of their offenses for the Board:

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The LAUSD School Board's Secret Committee

Let’s go to that committee.”

- LAUSD Board President Monica Garcia

At the April 2, 2019 “special” meeting of the LAUSD School Board, the charter school industry was once again permitted to stack the public speaker list so that only their viewpoint was heard before action was taken on the renewal of Summit Preparatory Charter. Knowing that there was at least one person who was denied the ability speak against this renewal, Board Member Scott Schmerelson asked how he could institute a pilot program that would enable speakers to use Skype to address the Board remotely from local district offices.  In response, Board President Monica Garcia suggested that “Mr. Melvoin’s group and Mr. Crain (the Board’s Secretary)...could probably figure out how to do a pilot.” Melvoin followed up by saying “I think that it’s a great thing for the Board Rule Committee to consider.” Garcia agreed by saying “Let’s go to that committee.”

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LAUSD School Board Member Scott Schmerelson Steps Up

Board District 3 will look at that proposal for resolution and we will iron it out...We will give serious consideration to everything you said because it is all true

- Scott Schmerelson

While the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board has promised for years to address complaints about  difficulties that parents and other members of the community face when trying to participate in school board meetings, it took a member of the public using the education code to place an item on their agenda for it to finally be addressed. At Tuesday’s Committee of the Whole meeting, the Board heard from parents who supported the “Board Meeting Accessibility to the Public” resolution before discussing the item. As the person who brought forward the proposed resolution, I was given the opportunity to speak first:

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If the LAUSD's Goal is "Parent Engagement", What is the Plan of Action?

Complaints about the many obstacles that the public faces when they attempt to participate in meetings of the Los Angeles Unified School District Board are close to universal.  Parents of children enrolled in charter schools and those in District schools all seem to recognize that there is a problem with a system that requires them to line up hours in advance because the Board Room is not large enough to hold the number of people who show up, particularly when there are contentious issues on the agenda. While other local districts hold their meetings in the evening, the LAUSD hold theirs during the school day which means that working parents, students, and teachers are usually not able to attend.  Since the Board limits the number of people who can speak on a subject, frustrations mount when opposing sides are not given equal opportunity to present their arguments before a vote is taken.

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The LAUSD Empire Strikes Back

“Why, you slimy, double-crossing, no-good swindler! You’ve got a lot of guts coming here after what you pulled.”

- Lando Calrissian

Much to the chagrin of Los Angeles Unified School District’s (LAUSD) Superintendent Austin Beutner and his charter school industry supporters, parents overwhelmingly backed the District’s teachers when they went out on strike in January. At one point, less than a fifth of LAUSD students were attending class, even as principals pleaded with and threatened parents to send their children to school. One survey taken during the work stoppage found that 80% of Angelenos were supporting the strike.

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Improving Democracy: Ranked Choice Voting

In the end, the ultimate winner has the support of at least half of voters  —  not a terribly radical idea in a democracy.

- Lawrence Lessig

In Los Angeles, the allegedly cash-strapped school district will spend approximately $2.4 million in the special elections to replace disgraced former Board member Ref Rodriguez. This is money that won’t be available to reduce class sizes, give students with special education needs the services they need or ensure that every school is staffed with a trained librarian. Even worse, it will be used in an electoral system where the vast majority of those eligible to participate will not do so and little will be done to promote the exchange of ideas between candidates.

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The Voters Have Spoken. Is the LAUSD Listening?

I believe there should be an election. I’ve been consistent for 12 years.

- LAUSD Board Member Dr. Richard Vladovic

The students in the Los Angeles Unified School District’s (LAUSD) Board District 5 have been unrepresented since Ref Rodriguez was forced from office on July 23, 2018. Considering the fact that the charter school founder pleaded guilty to crimes related to his election, these constituents have not been represented fairly since the day he took office. Board Member Scott Schmerelson offered a resolution that would have given them representation by appointing Jackie Goldberg to the seat until an election could be held. However, after a meeting poisoned by bigotry, the Charter backed Board Members sided with Dr. Vladovic to leave one-seventh of the District’s stakeholders unrepresented.

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