Education issues as seen from a father's eyes.
By Carl J. Petersen
After writing about Calahan Street Elementary school last week, I received an email from Dr. Liane Jacob, who was the school’s principal until her retirement in September. From reading her correspondence, it is clear that she still has immense pride in the school that she led for 12 years and is deeply disturbed at the disruptions that the district’s interim replacement has caused. In her own words, “Calahan was a successful, warm, positive school in September. Now there is anger, bitterness, distrust, and change...Minor adjustments will occur with a change in leadership but the devastation that is currently ripping the school apart is tragic.”
In a district victimized by bullying from the top, it was refreshing to hear from someone who was free to speak her mind. Retirement has released her from control of the district so she is able to set the record straight from her new home in London. Her deep knowledge of how the school worked before her departure gives an indication of just how much the situation has deteriorated since the district has imposed their will on the school.Read more
Last week, Tamar Galatzan told the Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council that the LAUSD school board did not approve the controversial policy to automatically delete any email that was not specifically saved after one year. She maintained that it was “a staff decision. We did not approve it.” She also said that the “board doesn’t like” the idea.
While it is true that the Board has suspended the program while it holds hearings on the matter, this was only done after it voted 6-0 in September to spend $294,500 on a program that would make these deletions. When George McKenna, who abstained from the vote, asked why the one year term was chosen, the specific answer was because this was the term specified in the two-year old policy bulletin that Ms. Galatzan is now trying to distance herself from. Even if the Board did not approve the original policy, the vote for the computer program to make the deletions was a de-facto approval of the bulletin.Read more
According to the LAUSD’s Director of Maintenance and Operations, “it’s inevitable” that the district will have to place a request to sell more bonds on a future ballot. He says that “we want our students and staff to be in buildings and on grounds that are in good condition, where the roofs don’t leak and the air conditioning works.” I agree, but wonder why the last construction funds that the voters approved were not used for this purpose. They were supposed to be for repair and construction but then they diverted $1.3 billion dollars to purchase iPads.
I have always used a basic set of rules to decide if I will vote for a bond measure. First I determine if the item being funded is important. Next, I ask if there is an alternative funding mechanism. Finally, I make sure that whatever is being funded will have benefits over the entire life of the bond.Read more
The parents and teachers of Calahan Street Elementary school are angry, but that is not the emotion that affected me the most as I sat in on their PTA meeting last night. It was the genuine sadness. The meeting in the school library was standing room only and had the feeling of an intervention. Speaker after speaker expressed how much the school community meant to them and then went on to detail the many problems that they are facing this year. Unfortunately, there was not a happy ending as the subject of the intervention did not agree to take a trip to rehab. They only promised to try not to hurt the community when they went on their next binge.Read more
Elkis Hermida has already been convicted of lewd acts against a child and is serving time in prison for having a six month sexual relationship with one of his students. The student was 14 at the time. The girl’s parents then sued the LAUSD claiming that the district was negligent in the matter.
Tamar Galatzan was the guest speaker last night at the Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council meeting. When speaking about the ongoing MiSiS crisis, she stated that “It went live, it didn’t work. It turns out now that a lot of people within the district probably knew it didn’t work. The board did not know, we did not get one update on it. We found out that the system went live when we read about it in the newspaper.” When questioned by the council about how this could have been a surprise, she responded that “I don’t know what I know what I don’t know.” They further pressed her on how the Board can avoid similar problems in the future if they do not take responsibility for their lack of oversight. Ms. Galatzan said that she was “happy to take blame for not knowing about this, I just, I don’t know how I don’t how I don’t know what I don’t know about it.” She then went on to say that she holds the Superintendent and his staff responsible for it.
My wife and I believe that too much influence has been given to high-stakes, corporate testing and this has resulted in the placement of undue pressure on students. Therefore, at the beginning of the school year we exercised our parental rights under California law and signed the opt-out forms so that our children would not have to take these tests. Apparently this was not enough, as we later learned that our daughter’s high school had shut down their academic program for over half of a day in order to administer the PSAT to all students in the ninth through eleventh grades.
I remember taking the PSAT when I was in school and expected my children would take it in the same way. The test was given when I was in the eleventh grade and was administered on a Saturday morning so that no instructional time was lost. Since the student was responsible for paying for the test, it was administered on an opt-in basis. The results were supposed to give you an idea of how you would perform on the SAT and were also used for various national and state scholarships. Performance must not have been emphasized too much because, unlike the SAT, I do not remember how I scored.Read more
If the Board’s official announcement of John Deasy’s departure is any indication, then they have not learned much from his tenure. A resignation in disgrace was almost a foregone conclusion after Superior Court Judge George Hernandez Jr. ruled that the students of LAUSD’s Jefferson High School “have suffered and continue to suffer severe and pervasive educational deprivations,” but the Board worded their release like they were handing Deasy a gold watch as he headed for retirement.
Mismanagement of the MiSiS implementation, resulting in the interruption of education of thousands of students, was ignored as they celebrated “all of the successes of our students that have occurred during Dr. Deasy’s tenure as Superintendent.” Even worse, they stated they did “not believe that the Superintendent engaged in any ethical violations or unlawful acts” in implementing the $1.3 billion iPad purchase. They did this while acknowledging that the Inspector General had not even concluded his investigation.Read more
On Wednesday, Superior Court Judge George Hernandez Jr. ruled that the students of LAUSD’s Jefferson High School “have suffered and continue to suffer severe and pervasive educational deprivations” and ordered the state to step in to fix the problems. Hopefully, the state will be able to find an adequate solution for these students. In the meantime, as a father and taxpayer I have to question why there has been no “organized effort to help those students” from the district itself.Read more
- LA School Report
Bond funds are not picked from the free money tree. Every year the taxpayers of the district open their mail to see the various line items needed to pay off these bonds (plus interest) added to their property tax bills. Money received from investors today will become the responsibility of taxpayers who are yet to be born. They are owed the assurance that these funds were properly spent.Read more