Parental Engagement

By Carl J. Petersen

Education issues as seen from a father's eyes.

Marshall Tuck's Financial Support of Convicted Felon Ref Rodriguez

Tuck_14.12.18.png

Rodriguez’s misdeeds…made a mockery of the laws governing elections.

- LA Times Editorial Board

By the time the last vote was counted in the 2015 LAUSD School Board election, it was the most expensive school board race in the history of the country. The impending cost to run for the Board District 5 seat was clear from the beginning when challenger Andrew Thomas loaned his campaign $51,000 during the filing period ending September 30, 2014.  In order to show that he was competitive, charter industry candidate Ref Rodriguez knew that he had to prove that he was also capable of filling his campaign coffers. He ended 2014 showing that he had raised $50,001. The choices that he made in reaching this achievement would eventually lead to him pleading guilty to felony charges and resigning his Board seat in disgrace.

Read more
Share

The Largest Charter School in the Country Will Get Even Larger

A perfect example of what is wrong with the California law regarding charter authorizing.

- Scott Schmerelson

The average school in the United States has 507 students. Through the 2018-2019 school year, Granada Hills Charter High School is authorized for an enrollment capacity of 5,500 students.  This is more than the total number of students in 86% of all school districts nationwide. Included in the charter renewal petition submitted to the LAUSD this summer, the school sought to grow even larger by adding TK through 8th grades and 1,425 more students. Before the Board voted on this proposal, I made my public comment detailing the problems that already exist at the school along with new issues that were raised by the proposed expansion:

Read more
Share

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

Charter School supporters break the rules and switch wristbands.

Numbered wristbands will be distributed by District security officers to individuals in line outside of the Board Room doors starting at 8 a.m. Those who wish to attend this meeting should reassemble in numerical order by 12 noon to enter the Board Room and, if interested, to sign up to speak.

- LAUSD

Before the Internet enabled us to purchase concert tickets from the comfort of our own homes, people would line up at Ticketmaster outlets on the day they went on sale in an effort to get the best possible seats. For very popular acts, these lines would start forming early in the morning and could get very long. To ensure fairness and prevent fighting, security guards would attach numbered wristbands to the patrons that would ensure that everybody was served in the order that they arrived. Unfortunately, there was a good chance that many of the people at the front of the line had no real intention of attending the show. Instead, they were being paid by ticket scalpers who would resell them, at a highly inflated price to those who were unwilling, or unable to get to the box office early.

Read more
Share

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

"Where am I going to leave her today? I have to call in sick."

- Parent of Student enrolled in a closed charter school

Imagine if the LAUSD decided that one of their schools was draining resources from the District and decided to shut it down just days into the start of the school year. Of course, this would never happen. Part of the mission of public schools is to serve all students, even if some students cost more to educate than others.

Read more
Share

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.

Share

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:

Read more
Share

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:

Read more
Share

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.

Read more
Share

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.

Read more
Share

The LAUSD's Failure of Leadership

"By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail."

- Benjamin Franklin

On Wednesday, August 15, the LAUSD School Board met for the first time since Ref Rodriguez resigned in disgrace on July 23, 2018. Neither a discussion about scheduling a special election to fill the seat nor Board Member Scott Schmerelson’s resolution to temporarily appoint Jackie Goldberg were included in the agenda. However, the public could make their voice heard as long as they could tie it to “any item that is described in [the public] notice” of the meeting.

Board President Monica Garcia did not make it easy for the public to speak. The “Order of Business” showed that public comment would be the third item of the meeting, right after the Roll Call of Members and Pledge of Allegiance, and specified that it was to be “on Items to be discussed at This Meeting”. However, Garcia opened the meeting by pushing the comment period until the end of the meeting that was scheduled to last three hours. Undeterred, I delivered the following statement:

Read more
Share