- Dr. Seuss
The Grinch in our LAUSD tale does not actually live north of Whoville, but works in the fortress located downtown at 333 So. Beaudry Ave. He is a faceless bureaucrat who does not actually work with children. Instead he sits in his cubicle crunching numbers and reading the latest education theories written by people who he deems qualified on the subject because they have a lot of money. According to his calculations, our students are not failing because of furlough days, poorly maintained buildings or the lack of funds for music, art and vocational training. The problem is Christmas!
“Then he got an idea! An awful idea!” He sent out a memo to schools far and wide: Christmas is cancelled and those found celebrating will be properly admonished. The fearful principal at Nobel Middle School quickly complied, sending word to teachers at the last minute that there was to be no celebrating before winter break. It did not matter if goodies had already been baked, supplies purchased or lesson plans completed. Policies make the oversized-district easier to manage and cannot be ignored.
The worse part of the whole mess is that like Calahan Elementary, whose problems I have chronicled before, Nobel is an affiliated charter school. Tamar Galatzan had pushed schools to create these charters to exploit the state’s education funding laws. However, these loopholes were closed when the the state’s Local Control Funding law passed and the funds are no longer available. Another benefit of an affiliated charter was supposed to be more control for the parents, teachers and administrators of the school site. Unfortunately, the district has reneged on this promise as well.
The cancellation of holiday celebrations is not the first time administration of Nobel has gone against the wishes of the parent community. Despite widespread opposition, a uniform policy was put into place this year and there were reports that parents who chose to opt-out of this policy, as is their right by state law, were bullied as they tried to submit their paperwork. Children who opted out were informed that they could not participate in the leadership program because real leaders would wear the uniform. Parents have been dissuaded from speaking out against policies with which they disagree because it prevented the school from “reaching consensus.” One parent was even illegally told that she was not allowed to video public meetings for distribution to working parents who could not attend the meeting.
As an advocate for public schools I fear that schools like Calahan and Nobel are ripe for picking by charter school corporations. The
parents did what they were told was best for their schools and took on the additional responsibilities of becoming an affiliated charter. Now with the additional funding gone and the district still forcing policy, why not take the district out of the picture altogether? Could this have been the goal all along by a board members who seek to privatize our education system?
What I hope that these parents see is that a full fledged charter may simply force their student out of the school if they disagree
with their program. The current Board members also do not hold charter schools accountable to those students needing special education services or to English Language Learners. The true solution to this problem is to change the LAUSD board so that it has members that support the empowerment of parents. On that basis, I ask for your vote on March 3, 2015.