What About the Los Angeles Times' Conflict of Interest?

The following Letter to the Editor was sent yesterday in response to the Los Angeles Times’ article “L.A. school board member Ref Rodriguez faces conflict-of-interest complaint over $285,000 in payments”. Unsurprisingly, it was not published:

As the accusations against LAUSD Board member Ref Rodriguez mount, it is important to note that the charges are not new. In fact, they were meticulously researched by activists including Robert D. Skeels during the 2015 election and delivered to the Los Angeles Times. Failing their responsibility to the voters, the Times not only refused to cover these allegations, their editorial board endorsed Rodriguez. One can only wonder if this lack of coverage has anything to do with the Time’s own conflict of interest - the $800,000 it received from privatizers like Eli Broad to sponsor its education coverage.

According to your article, “PUC’s senior managers said they uncovered the transfers...while responding to questions and requests from The Times”. If the Times had done their job when the actual events were taking place the voters would have had this information when they made their choices at the voting booth.

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The Standoff Continues: GHCHS Doubles Down on Non-Compliance

Well I know what's right, I got just one life
In a world that keeps on pushin' me around
But I'll stand my ground and I won't back down

- Jeff Lynne and Tom Petty

In the ten months since I first filed a complaint about Granada Hills Charter High School’s enrollment practices, there have been some incremental changes. Most importantly, while the original enrollment page had no provisions to compensate for the specific challenges that homeless students face, the school is now in compliance with the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act as its web page now includes a specific link for “Homeless and Foster Enrollment”.

Unfortunately, there are still areas where GHCHS is not in compliance. While the LAUSD’s Charter School Division (CSD) assured me, in a letter dated July 28, 2017, that the charter had “agreed to revise its enrollment form and website to provide further clarification regarding the distinction between admission and enrollment and what is requested after a student has been admitted to GHCHS”, the revisions released last week do not reflect these changes. On Tuesday, I provided this information to the School Board:

GHCHS_Requests_IEP.jpgMy name is Carl Petersen and I am a parent, including having two children who are on the autism spectrum. I realize how much money the charter school industry has spent to make sure that you do not regulate the charters, but you still have a responsibility to all of the children, including the most vulnerable, which is why it is very disappointing that I am here for the same issue on multiple occasions.

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Broken Promises: Another Failing Charter Gets A Pass

It’s not about the kids

- Monica Garcia

Snapshot_1_(10-8-2017_7-37_PM).pngWhen the LAUSD School Board handed control of Locke High School to  Green Dot Public [sic] Schools in 2007, the school ranked “among the lowest-performing schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District and in the state.” At that time, Green Dot’s Steve Barr said that if this public school was given to his unelected charter organization they would “work together [with parents and teachers] and make Locke a great school.“ He further promised that “people around the country are going to come to Watts and see what a great urban turnaround school looks like."

Ten years later nobody is calling on Green Dot to provide their key to success. In both 2015 and 2016, the California Charter School Association (CCSA) gave the school a Statewide Rank of one out of ten. The LAUSD Charter School Division ranks its Student Achievement and Educational Performance as “Developing”, or a two on a four-point scale. When compared to Resident and Similar Schools Medians, “Locke reclassified [English Learners] at a lower rate”, had “low graduation rates” during the past three years, and “has a high disproportionality suspension rate for African Americans and Students with Disabilities.”

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Bright Shiny Objects: Trump's Real Art is Diverting Attention

There’s a Sucker Born Every Minute

- Popularly attributed to P.T. Barnum

We need P.T. Barnum, a little bit, because we have to build up the image of our country

- Donald Trump

As Barack Obama left office the economy had “gained jobs for 75 straight months -- the longest streak on record." Of course, that had not stopped his successor from claiming that he had inherited a “mess” with jobs “pouring out of the country.” Still, even as Trump struggled to keep up with the numbers posted during Obama’s last year in office, his unshakable fans acted as if it was his accomplishments alone that had brought us to a point “close to what economists consider full employment.” Then on Friday the Labor Department announced that preliminary numbers show that winning streak has come to an end; “the United States lost 33,000 jobs in September”.

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Conference: Opposing Charter Schools

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Without Discussion the LAUSD Board Chooses a President

Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

- Paraphrasing George Santayana

Just months after assuming a majority of the LAUSD School Board, the charter supporters already find themselves embroiled in controversy. Their first selection for President, Ref Rodriguez, is facing felony charges and was forced to resign from the position. As they prepared to select a replacement, I addressed the Board and asked for them to follow through with their promise to put “Kids First”:

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Rookie Mistake?

I sent the following letter to the editor of the Los Angeles Times in response to the charter industry's op-ed diminishing the charges against Ref Rodriguez. It was not published.


If we are to believe Peter Cunningham’s September 21, Op-Ed, Ref Rodriguez’s alleged violations of the law should be ignored because they are a result of a “rookie mistake”. This reasoning ignores the fact that the defendant was employed by PUC charter schools as a treasurer, with a responsibility to understand financial rules. He was also asked by KPCC radio in 2015, about the actions that are now detailed in the felony complaint and denied that the donors were being reimbursed. This is a case of deception, not of ignorance.

Contrary to Cunningham’s assertion, perjury and money laundering are not “crime[s] with no victim”.  The actions described deprived “the public of information about the true source of a candidate’s financial support” making every voter a victim. Furthermore, it demonstrates the character of a man who is supposed to set an example for the 640,000 children of the District.

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JUST IN: Mónica García becomes new board president

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Monica Garcia is new LAUSD board president on 4-3 vote

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False Flag: Mistaking A Symbol for the Ideals It Represents

Trump_on_Flag_Burning.pngA 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.

Trump_merchandise.pngPerhaps 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”.

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