False Flag: Mistaking A Symbol for the Ideals It Represents
A confession - I have burned an American flag. In fact, I have burned a few. On one occasion I even involved my young children in the process. We removed the worn, faded flag that had stood outside our house since September 11, 2001, folded it neatly into a triangle and placed it on the flames within our fireplace. In doing so, I showed them how to fulfill our patriotic obligations under section §176 of the U.S. Code. This section states that “the flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.”
Perhaps this is nothing more than an example of why it is a bad idea to formulate presidential policy in 140 characters or less. However, it is more likely that Trump is unfamiliar with how the law suggests how “respect for flag” should be shown. Otherwise, he would not have announced his candidacy in front of a wall of American flags. The code is very clear that the flag is not to be used as decoration and that instead “bunting of blue, white, and red, always arranged with the blue above, the white in the middle, and the red below should be used”. Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. and the Republican National Committee would also not be selling shirts emblazoned with the flag in violation of prohibitions on using it as “wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery”, “for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever” and as “a costume or athletic uniform”.Read more
Rules? Where we’re going we don’t need…rules.
“This is much ado about nothing”
- Attorney Mark Werksman
According to the Felony Complaint against Refugio (Ref) Rodriguez, he and his cousin allegedly conspired in a scheme that hid the source of almost $25,000 in campaign donations from the public. While a lawyer involved in the case maintains that this is “a small amount of money”, the amount donated by each of the listed donors has raised suspicion since the time of the original filing. As noted by KPCC in an article dated February 5, 2015, “Rodriguez collected $21,000 in campaign donations from employees of his charter school network, Partnerships to Uplift Communities” including “a handful of his workers – a janitor, maintenance worker, tutor — [who] are donating at or near the contribution limit, $1,100.” Rodriguez insisted at the time that “the employee contributions weren't coerced and will not be reimbursed”, but the District Attorney charged both the Board member and his cousin with “25 counts of ‘assumed name contribution’” for allegedly using Rodriguez's own funds to pay back the donors. While it is not illegal to lie to the press, lying on a campaign contribution report will subject you to a felony charge of perjury.Read more
Good news on chronic absences and the budget, despite a ‘structural deficit’ — a wrap-up of board action
Four independent charter schools run by the Inner City Educational Foundation Public Schools were approved for their five-year renewal, but a few board members were still concerned about low test scores at the schools, and a lack of a plan to help English learners. The ICEF prompted board member George McKenna to read a commentary about not renewing under-performing charter schools.
Board member Richard Vladovic noted that some of the redesignation of English learner students was below the district’s level, and said it was unacceptable. Board member Kelly Gonez noted that the students showed some improvements overall, and board member Monica Garcia said the schools have made great strides.
But parent and former candidate for school board Carl Petersen said that the ICEF schools have failed in their mission and have a high suspension rate and lack enough behavioral support.Read more
On Deaf Ears: My Public Comment to the LAUSD Board
On September 12, 2017, the LAUSD School Board was set to take a vote to approve several charters for five-year renewals, including ICEF Innovation. However, before doing so they needed to hear public comment. The following are my remarks before the Board:
We are told continuously that the purpose of charters is innovation and experimentation. Looking at this school’s website, it seems that their experiment is taking Gifted and Talented methods and applying that to the entire school population. This is interesting in itself because 0% of the student population is identified as Gifted and Talented. But that was their experiment.
I guess that we could have a debate about whether it is great to be experimenting with children, to begin with, but that is the law. However, part of experimenting is we have to recognize when the experiment has failed. When the California Charter School Association itself gives a statewide ranking of the school a three out of ten, in my book that is a fail. How can we continue with the same process? It failed, so why not stop it?Read more
Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil, See No Evil: The Failures of LAUSD'S Charter School Division
“State law provides that an authorizer is not liable for debts, obligations [or] liabilities so long as [they] provide appropriate oversight. We believe we are providing appropriate oversight.” [emphasis mine]
- José Cole-Gutiérrez
As the District slides towards bankruptcy due to declining enrollment, the LAUSD School Board acted on Tuesday on another round of charter renewals and material revisions. Oblivious to the effects of refusing to oversee the charters under its jurisdiction, the Board approved these requests ignoring the shortfalls of these charters:
The ICEF chain of charters requested renewals for three of its locations. The chain has a laudable goal of “maximizing academic achievement” by focusing on the tenet that "if you teach students at the bottom 25% as though they are the bottom, they will always stay at the bottom." It, therefore, uses a model that “is designed to improve the education of disadvantaged and underserved students by applying the same ‘acceleration’ techniques used with gifted and talented students” as if children are widgets that can be manufactured to spec.Read more
Means, Motive, and Opportunity: Forcing the LAUSD School Board to Act
“Charter schools may not enact admissions requirements or other barriers to enrollment and must admit all students who apply, just as traditional public schools cannot turn away students.”
On Tuesday, August 23, 2017, I made a third presentation to the LAUSD School Board about the enrollment practices of Granada Hills Charter High School (GHCHS) and the Charter Schools Division’s lack of enforcement of the school’s charter. The following are a transcript of my remarks:
I came before this Board in June to show you what I had found out about Granada Hills Charter High School and their enrollment practices. At that time, the Charter School Division was instructed to look into the matter and get back to me. The letter that I received in response is, to be polite, disappointing. This is included in the packet that I have provided to you.Read more
Change.org Petition: Stop GHCHS From Discouraging the Enrollment of Special Ed Students
According to the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Charter School Division (CSD), “requesting a copy of a student’s IEP (Individualized Education Program) or information contained in a student’s IEP during the pre-admission stage creates an inference...that the charter school may be using this information to ‘counsel out’ or otherwise discourage students with disabilities from seeking admission” For this reason, Granada Hills Charter High School (GHCHS) charter includes a statement that they “shall not request or require submission of a student’s IEP, 504 Plan, or any other record or related information prior to admission” (emphasis mine). Despite this prohibition, the school’s Enrollment For Incoming Students, enrollment entry page and New Student Information page on the GHCHS website still asks parents to submit IEP and 504 plans.
The LAUSD CSD was notified on March 12, 2017, about these violations of the school’s charter but did not force them to comply. The School Board was made aware of this lack of action on June 13, 2017. Over two months later, GHCHS has not been forced to make the appropriate changes.
If you believe in the importance of giving equal access to all educational opportunities and would like to demand that the LAUSD School Board do the same, please sign the Change.Org petition asking the LAUSD Board to pass the Holding GHCHS Accountable to Their Charter Resolution.
Resolution: Holding GHCHS Accountable to Their Charter
Whereas, Granada Hills Charter High School (GHCHS) is authorized through the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD);
Whereas, “the charter authorizing entity is responsible for ensuring the charter school operates in compliance with all applicable laws and terms of its charter”;
Whereas, the GHCHS charter states that the school “shall not request or require submission of a student’s IEP, 504 Plan, or any other record or related information prior to admission, participation in any admissions or attendance lottery, or pre-enrollment event or process, or as a condition of admission or enrollment”Read more
The People's School Board?
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
- The First Amendment
Apparently, the Bill of Rights is not something that LAUSD General Counsel David Holmquist or his staff was taught in law school. After I wrote an email to Board Member Ref Rodriguez in December 2015, Holmquist responded that there was “no legal support” for the assertion that Rodriguez’ use of the block feature on a Twitter account linked to his LAUSD sponsored web page was a “government supported abridgment of free speech.” Instead, he maintained that “under the law, communication, even communication with a government entity, is not unfettered.” He did, however, state that he was “open to reviewing” any “legal authority (e.g., statutes [sic], regulations, case law, etc.) supporting” my position. The message was clear - if you want to avail yourself of your rights in the LAUSD, you had better be prepared to pay for legal counsel.
Sold to the Highest Bidder - The Charters Assume Control of the LAUSD
“Although comparison of GHCHS’ current demographic data to the data of other schools in the surrounding community does show differences in the numbers and percentages of students in various subgroups, historical demographics data shows that GHCHS has generally increased its diversity over time. For example, in its current approved charter, the school reported that, since its prior renewal in 2008, it had experienced...a 5.0 percent drop (32.3 to 27.3 percent) in its White student population.”
- LAUSD Charter School Division
As the school year begins it is clear that the students of LAUSD’s public schools are on their own. The charter industry and their allies spent $11,459,786.26 in the last election cycles purchasing a majority of the LAUSD School Board seats and they are now cleared to operate without even the minimal oversight that was previously provided. Under this new regime, the LAUSD’s Charter School Division (CSD) refuses to take action against charters, even when presented with evidence of wrongdoing.Read more