Parental Engagement

By Carl J. Petersen

Education issues as seen from a father's eyes.

Tony Thurmond Feels The Heat

I believe that it’s time to make our public education system in California among the greatest in the nation, and I have a plan to take us there.

  • - Tony Thurmond


Like a lot of other politicians who have been labeled “anti-charter school,” Tony Thurmond has not called for the end of these publicly funded private schools. In fact, he directly states that he “will support students in all schools, public, and charter”. What he has supported is “legislation to increase accountability and transparency in charter schools, and to ensure charter schools do not cherry-pick students and push out students with special needs.” The charter school industry does not want to be held accountable for the public funds that they receive. They have, therefore, unleashed $5.2 million is spending to oppose Thurmond, often in unethical ways.

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Unanswered Questions in the Race for California State Superintendent of Education

“We are largely unable to accept new offers to complete questionnaires”

- Marshall Tuck Campaign


The California Charter School Association and their allies have provided Marshall Tuck with enough cash to flood the airwaves with misleading ads, but with less than a week to go before the election, a whopping 16% of the electorate are still undecided or will not vote on the question of who will become the next California State Superintendent of Public Instruction. This should not be unexpected in a race where the goal has been to obscure the facts in favor of creating fear. It is a favorite tactic of the charter school industry.

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Prop 13 and California's Education Failures

A budget should reflect the values and priorities of our nation and its people.

- Mary Landrieu


In California State Superintendent of Education candidate Marshall Tuck’s TV advertisement, he points out that California is 44th in achieving education results. What he leaves unsaid is that this performance parallels our state’s lack of funding for our students. As noted by Dr. Rocio Rivas, “California ranks 43rd in per-pupil spending with an investment of less than $11,000 per student, which is below the national average of approximately $12,526. In addition, California is ranked 48th in class size.” As a comparison, in the 2014-15 school year, New York state spent $20,744 per student.

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Abandoned Representation

Recently, I was presented with an amazing opportunity in the private sector to work with some of the most brilliant and well-respected leaders in their industry. While I didn’t seek this out – sometimes tremendous opportunities find you”

- LA City Councilman Mitch Englander

Republican Mitch Englander spent $404,421.93 during his last re-election campaign in 2015. He was running unopposed.

The very next year, Englander ran for a seat on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. While the voters denied him the opportunity to move on, it was clear that he felt no obligation to complete the five-year term on the City Council that he had been elected to serve.

Last week, the councilman announced that he would be leaving his office at the end of the year. Like a cheating husband making excuses to his wife, he told his constituents that “he didn’t seek this out [but] sometimes tremendous opportunities find you“. Englander will become the executive vice president of government affairs for the Oak View Group, a company that “spent more than $52,000 this year to try to influence the council and the parks department on issues related to the Greek” Theatre in Griffith Park.

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Marshall Tuck's Financial Support of Convicted Felon Ref Rodriguez

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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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