Saturday, January 29, 2011

Banana Republic PSC Elections Camino Nuevo Corporate Charter Style

"We need to say no to the neoliberal fatalism that we are witnessing at the end of this century, informed by the ethics of the market, an ethics in which a minority makes most profits against the lives of the majority. In other words, those who cannot compete, die. This is a perverse ethics that, in fact, lacks ethics. I insist on saying that I continue to be human...I would then remain the last educator in the world to say no: I do not accept...history as determinism. I embrace history as possibility [where] we can demystify the evil in the perverse fatalism that characterizes the neoliberal discourse in the end of this century." — Paulo Freire and Donaldo Macedo, "Ideology Matters"

When democratically elected community members, parents, and teachers comprise the board of directors for a school, then we can begin to speak of social justice.
How do you subvert democracy?

Start by stuffing the ballot box. Burgeoning Corporate Charter Voucher Empire Camino Nuevo chartered buses and buses full of outsiders to vote at CRES 14 PSC advisory on both Thursday and Saturday. We community activists caught them today, as the above photo attests. Camino Nuevo also enlisted the help of dozens of paid staffers from the vile poverty pimping 501C3 Families That Can (FTC), run by the reactionary right-wing businessman Antwaune Goode. The FTC staffers assisted the CNCA people in trying to convince voters to hand CRES 14 over to their private corporation.

CNCA's enforcer Hoa Truong, A Broad Residency in Urban Education product.
After snapping the photo I approached and asked the CNCA's COO, the smug and sullen MBA Hoa Truong (yes business degrees trump education degrees at corporate charter schools) if the buses had been paid for by Philip Anschutz or Eli Broad (Truong is a Broady by the way [1]). He snarled no. I then said "they better not have been paid for out of my property taxes." He retorted, "I can assure you they weren't." While Mr. Truong didn't volunteer the identity of who paid for the busses, we can guess it might have been one of their plutocrat donors, one of their obscenely wealthy board members, or given their own bloated six figure salaries, perhaps even Ana Ponce or Hoa Truong themselves [2].

Later in the day a churlish woman from the infamous California Charter School Association (CCSA) overheard us talking about the buses and interjected that they were only busing in parents from the attendance area. When we asked her how she knew that, she said "I just know." Then she said "UTLA did it last year." I was within earshot of the conversation and shouted, "you mean Green Dot" referring of course to the buses they hired for their former proxy group LAPU/Parent Revolution last year. Come to think of it, Para Los Niños did the same last year too. Of course the CCSA woman was lying outright, but doing anything to increase their clients' market share is what the CCSA exists for in the first place. Given CCSA's Jed Wallace dubious distinction of being a pathological liar, so it isn't surprising his employees follow suit.

According to the CCSA's fact free website:

Some volunteers, often parents of children attending the charter school and members of the community, serve on schools' governing boards. Every charter school is required by law to have a board of directors that is ultimately responsible for what the school does.

Really? Sign me up Jed ol' boy! I'm not aware of a single Charter Management Organization that allows community members on their unelected board of directors. CNCA's board is a perfect case in point. In 'Social justice hedge fund managers' and 'social justice investment bankers' at Camino Nuevo? I enumerate excerpts of the titles and experience comprising their unelected board. Charter schools claim to be public schools, but the only thing the do related to the public is take public money. Back to CNCA, like I wrote recently on Dissident Voice:

While several of these well-to-do CNCA Board Members have found crafty ways to make money off of education, not one of them is an actual educator, and none of them have been teachers or principals in a K-12 setting. Furthermore, for an organization that claims community roots, there sure doesn't seem to be anyone representative of the community on that board. If they are to wrest CRES 14 from the public, we will have no input over how the school is run.

CNCA has nothing like School Site Councils or Governing School Councils found at public schools. Parents, students, teachers, and community members will have to be content with the decision making of the wealthy elitists discussed above.

Of course, PSC was designed from the outset to skirt democratic processes and true self determination of communities. It pits community volunteers and overworked teachers against Charter Management Organizations with huge marketing and advertising budgets. It pits small member funded organizations like Coalition for Educational Justice against plutocrat funded 501C3 privatization organizations with multimillion dollar budgets. [3] It pits the community against each other, and causes false dichotomies all around. Neoliberal poster child and Gates Foundation employee Yolie Flores, like all right-wing reactionaries, has always demonstrated a "profound hatred of democracy," [4] and her brainchild, PSC proves that beyond any doubt.

We fought the good fight to try and keep CRES 14 a public school. While we hope we won the advisory vote, that alone isn't enough. First off, CNCA's well heeled Ana Ponce is very close friends with both LAUSD Board President Monica Garcia and Vice President Yolie Flores. Secondly, as we learned with 93% vote last year to keep the very exclusionary corporate charter Para Los Niños from seizing part of Evelyn Thurman Gratts Elementary School, the advisory vote is just that. The privatization wing of the LAUSD board gave the school away to the corporation anyway. We also have to remember that LAUSD itself is rife with paid employees of the the Broad/Gates/Walton Triumvirate whose sole role at the district is to facilitate privatization and assist the corporate charter-voucher sector:

Private money is paying for key senior staff positions... raising questions about transparency and the direction of reforms in the nation's second-largest school system. — Howard Blume (Los Angeles Times Education Staff Writer)

The PSC advisory vote was designed to give us the appearance of democracy. If we vote for the public school, the board can give it the the charter and say "they submitted a better plan." If the public school looses, they say, "see the community wanted the charter." Real democracy will exist when every school is run democratically by the communities, not by plutocrats on unelected charter boards, and not by bureaucrats at Beaudry.

We can only hope the CRES 14 will become a public school run by Local District 4 and Echo Park Community Partners Design Team Plan. For those that missed out on the voting there is an online petition and physical petition to keep the school public!

_____
NOTES
[1] Broadies are graduates of the plutocrat's privatization boot-camp — The Broad Residency in Urban Education. It's sorta like the School of the Americas for poverty pimps and privatization pushers. Please see THE BROAD REPORT for the best coverage on this. I'd prefer to call them Broadytes, since it sounds appropriately like troglodytes.
[2] See note six (6) in Crafty Camino Nuevo Charter Charlatans for Ponce's ability to stack major paper at the public's expense. School privatization pays very, very well.
[3] Examples: Parent Revolution, Families in Schools, Alliance for Better Communities, Families that Can.
[4] I'm filching the phrase "profound hatred of democracy" from the distinguished Dr. Noam Chomsky. I'm quite sure he would approve of my use of it here.
[5] I know there's no five, but I could resist reminding everyone that the foppish millionaire from Benedict Canyon, Ben Austin, was thrown off the State Board of Education.

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Corporate Camino Nuevo Charter's Ana Ponce trying to explain CNCH's 94% remediation rate at the CSU

Vote for LD4 and Echo Park Community Partners Design Team Plan

Please participate in the PSC 2.0 advisory vote, and of course to vote for the public school plan (Local District 4 and Echo Park Community Partners Design Team Plan) as opposed to the privatization plan proffered by the outside corporate charter-voucher company CNCA.

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Public Education Activists: Answers to very important PSC 2.0 questions

"[S]ome charters are known to discourage less academically inclined students from enrolling." — Los Angeles Times

California Charter Schools Association Charlatans are a vehicle for vouchers
CRES 14 Para La Comunidad volunteers were out this weekend and this morning encouraging parents to participate in the PSC 2.0 advisory vote, and of course to vote for the public school plan (Local District 4 and Echo Park Community Partners Design Team Plan) as opposed to the privatization plan proffered by the outside corporate charter-voucher company CNCA. We will be leafleting for the remainder of the week.

Several parents have asked us important questions about eligibility to vote, whether they needed ID, and more.

Fortunately UTLA's website has the answers to these questions and more

http://utla.net/psc2

Voting Categories and other League of Women Voters "Bill of Rights" (in English)

Voting Categories and other League of Women Voters "Declaracion de Derechos" (en Español)

Electioneering Guidelines and Other FAQs (League of Women Voters)

If you are defending a new or PI school from Flores-Aguilar's corporate charter-voucher takeover resolution, familiarizing yourself with the content of the above mentioned documents is paramount. If you are a CEJ, UTLA, or other public school supporter wanting to volunteer in these last few weeks to defend public schools from outside takeovers, let me know and I'll try to direct you to the most appropriate organizer.

Also on http://utla.net/psc2 is the voting calendar, public schools on the corporate chopping block, and much, much more. Please avail yourselves with this valuable information.

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Monday, January 24, 2011

Get out the Public School Vote for CRES 14 during this week's PSC 2.0 Advisory!

"If corporate charter-voucher schools were obligated, like public schools, to educate every child, we would see the proliferation of charters disappear almost overnight. Take the profitability out of the equation, and charter schools would return to their original mission." — Robert D. Skeels (Coalition for Educational Justice)

Getting out the vote for Local District 4 and Echo Park Community Partners Design Team Plan
Vote for LD4 and Echo Park Community Partners Design Team PlanVote for LD4 and Echo Park Community Partners Design Team Plan
Vote for LD4 and Echo Park Community Partners Design Team Plan

Yes, that's me braving the Saturday afternoon sun passing out public school flyers.

Many of us volunteered several hours this weekend reminding our neighbors of the PSC 2.0 advisory vote this week which will determine whether our brand new school remains a public school or is handed over to the private corporation CNCA. We'll be volunteering many mornings this week to do the same. Contact me if you want to volunteer to help us try and keep school privatization and corporate charters out of Echo Park / Historic Filipinotown.

Come vote for the Local District 4 and Echo Park Community Partners Design Team Plan for Central Region Elementary School 14 (CRES 14).

Thursday, January 27, 2011 from 6:00 — 9:00PM
Union Avenue Elementary School (Cafeteria)
150 S. Burlington Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90057

Saturday, January 29, 2011 from 9:00AM — 3:00PM
Rosemont Elementary School (Auditorium/Theater)
421 N. Rosemont Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90026

There hasn't been much local news on the advisory vote with the exception of the Eastsider LA blog. Public education advocates have been having some pretty spirited debates with CNCA and CCSA employees on the comments sections of these two posts.

Echo Park’s newest school will soon be finished but who is going to run it?

Campaign heats up for control of new Echo Park school

Although I've made numerous comments on the two articles, the following was in response to the latter of the two. It's important because it sums up some of the highlights of the public school plan as opposed to the corporate charter takeover plan.

A quick correction to the above article. There are only two plans. The public school plan -- which is the LD4 & Echo Park Community Partners Design Team plan, the other plan which was submitted by the private corporation Camino Nuevo Charter Academy (CNCA).

By all accounts CNCA is a corporate entity, with a unelected board of wealthy investment managers and business types that don't live in our neighborhood. If CRES 14 is handed over to them, we will have no input as a community into how it would be run, despite the fact that our tax dollars paid for it. For an in depth look at CNCA's board and much more, please see the following article: Crafty Camino Nuevo Charter Charlatans

The LD4 & Echo Park Community Partners Design Team plan features the following:

  • Parent and Community decision making. The composition of pilot schools include parents and community members on their Governing Boards -- these aren't just advisory positions, they are actual decision making positions! Our community, our school, our self determination.
  • All inclusive. The community plan is for a public school, which unlike corporate charter-voucher schools, are obligated to educate every child. CNCA doesn't provide full facilities for special needs children (see article above).
  • Community Plan, as opposed to a plan formulated in a corporate boardroom by people who have no roots nor connection to our neighborhood.
  • Project Based Learning, which provides students with opportunities to work collaboratively with connections to real world situations.
  • A community resource. The LD4 & Echo Park Community Partners Design Team plan was written with the idea that CRES 14 can become a school that provides resources to the entire community. Some first considerations are to secure recreation and computer lab facilities once the school is running and grants are secured. Since it is a community plan, there will be ongoing dialog as to how the school can serve the region.

These are only some of the features the public school plan includes. If the district turns CRES 14 over to Camino Nuevo, our community looses all control over the school. Please vote for the LD4 & Echo Park Community Partners Design Team Plan, as it is the only one that allows us the right of self determination. Furthermore, public schools educate every child, which to my reckoning should be required of any entity taking public money.

Local District 4 and Echo Park Community Partners Design Team Plan

For more information on this community based public school plan contact:

Cheryl Ortega 323-823-8775
Shannon Corbett 213-241-0132
Ronni Solmon 323-246-5653

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Big Finance and Big Business paying for corporate charter school advertisements

In an age where our communities are seeing the last of the public commonwealth sucked up by the profit machines that are charter-voucher schools, advertising and marketing have become key aspects of the move towards privatization. Most EMO/CMO charter-voucher schools have budgets for this, but just in case, the well heeled bosses at the Granada Hills Chamber of Commerce want to make sure you understand and act upon their corporate message. Hence this message and photos submitted by an avid solidaridad reader, exposing the dark underbelly of the business community's tampering in affairs once reserved for people with an understanding of pedagogy.

Granada Hills Charter HS is running an unprecedented publicity campaign in a bid to take over VRHS #4 in Granada Hills. The curriculum for the new school includes International Baccalaureate and AP courses. What kind of student will this curriculum attract? In addition, there will be no football at the new school, but there will be a 7 period day and mandatory summer school for incoming students. Since this new school is in a "Zone of Choice," no student is required to attend. Will this kind of school really relieve overcrowding at local high schools like Kennedy and Monroe? Or will it become a satellite campus for the high performing Granada? With 45% of Granada's students gifted/talented, and extremely low percentages of special ed, ELL, and socio-economic disadvantaged, will a fair demographic representation of neighborhood students actually enroll in another school run by Granada with a curriculum geared towards the highest performers? Our tax dollars were meant to pay off the bond issues to relieve overcrowding, not to provide an opportunity for administrators to increase their compensation by opening another cloned version of itself.

Paid for by the Granada Hills Chamber of Commerce
Say no to corporate interests, vote for public schools not charters!Say no to corporate interests, vote for public schools not charters!

photos taken by our avid reader

We can also see a bit of the John Birch Society effect here too. Word on the street is that the upscale and predominantly white business community would like to keep other folks out of the new school. How better to do that than a highly specialized charter school with a curricular focus and student population that only a chamber of commerce member could love?

Show the lords of finance capital and the other business types grazing the buffet at the country club that we want public schools to remain public. Vote for the Local District 1 with Monroe HS (K. Hancock) & UTLA plan. See the schedule and location to vote. Look under VALLEY REGION HIGH SCHOOL #4.

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Gates' Yolie Flores displays an all new level of mendaciousness on ACLU settlement

"Hedge funds are always looking for ways to turn a small amount of capital into a large amount of capital. A wealthy hedge fund manager can spend more than $1 million financing a charter school start-up. But once it is up and running, it qualifies for state funding, just like a public school... It is extremely leveraged philanthropy" — Predatory Hedge Fund Manager Whitney Tilson in bold, rest of quote is Joe Nocera

Support Parents and UTLA against LAUSD and corporate charter cash cows
Don't know if people caught the evil princess of privatization's latest fact free op-ed on the Daily News, but I had some choice words in response to her mendaciousness:

Classic Gates Foundation employee propaganda: "...trumps the research that seniority does not guarantee effectiveness." A single peer reviewed study that backs your wild and specious claim?

Ms. Aguilar, when brave people like Martin Terrones, Julie Van Winkle, Sean Leys, and Jose Lara held a hunger strike to protest the layoffs at schools including John Liechty Middle School, YOU GLEEFULLY RIFED (LAID OFF) THE VERY SAME TEACHERS YOU ARE NOW SAYING SHOULD HAVE BEEN RETAINED — ALL THE WHILE KNOWING THAT LAUSD HAD OVER A HALF A BILLION DOLLARS IN RESERVE!

A craven act so despicable, I lack the vocabulary to describe it adequately. No teachers should have received RIFs when the district had so much funds on hand — that's true "intransigence." Furthermore, had LAUSD continued to comply with the Rodriguez v. LAUSD settlement, we never would have arrived at this point! Since that settlement didn't serve the interests of the Broad/Gates/Walton Triumvirate, you and the Mayor's other board allies came up with quite an underhanded deception.

Here's a great quote from one of my readers: 'Yolie Flores Aguilar once said to me and others during the hunger strike that the threat of "recall" was not going to work on her, that not passing the budget would put the many progressive programs this school board has put into effect in jeopardy, like "all day kindergarten", and that her passion for public education cannot be questions. [sic]' In other words, as you say, a "disproportionate number of their teachers, nearly two-thirds, were laid off in a period of two years" because you voted out of political expedience rather than in the interest of anyone's "civil rights." By the way, whatever happened to all day kindergarten?

You can tell yourself that you're meeting "needs of children" all you want, but the checks you're cashing from the plutocrats whose agenda you serve demonstrate the only motivation you've ever had.

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Crafty Camino Nuevo Charter Charlatans

This article was first published on Dissident Voice

Keep the PUBLIC in public schools
Over the weekend USPS delivered an expensive looking, glossy, four color marketing brochure from Camino Nuevo Charter Academy (CNCA) chock full of misstatements, spurious data, and outright lies. CNCA is trying to pilfer a new school from my neighborhood [1] under the cover of notorious Gates Foundation employee, and outgoing LAUSD board member, Yolie Flores' corporate charter industry handout resolution — PSC.

Before looking at the details of the school in question, and why Camino Nuevo shouldn't get its corporate claws on more public property, let's take a quick look at what type of operation Camino Nuevo runs.

One of Camino Nuevo's slick marketing phrases is "We are College Ready, College Bound!" The latter may be correct, due to nefarious arrangements corporate charters have with many colleges and their deceitful method of getting students placed in such institutions. The former on the other hand, is beyond disingenuous, it's just plain dishonest.

According to the Fall 2009, CSU Freshmen Admits database* [2] the number of Camino Nuevo High School Charter students that were NOT proficient in mathematics was an absolutely astonishing 94 percent. This almost unfathomable statistic is all the more glaring when compared to its peers.

Mathematics Proficiency
Camino Nuevo High School Charter 06%
All County High Schools 51%
All California High Schools 62%

One would hope that a charter company capable of producing such captivating marketing materials would at least make a better showing in English proficiency. Nope. According to same source cited above, the number of Camino Nuevo High School Charter students NOT proficient in English was also a dubious 94 percent.

English Proficiency
Camino Nuevo High School Charter 06%
All County High Schools 40%
All California High Schools 51%

What is that charter supporters say about market forces and competition producing better education results again? When more than nine out of ten high school graduates from a high profile Charter Management Organization have to take remedial courses at college, that's proof positive market solutions don't work period! Less than one out of every ten Camino Nuevo graduates don't have to retake high school level courses. So much for market efficiency. College ready, indeed! What CNCA is doing here is beyond unethical, it should be criminal to take public tax dollars and produce results like that.

CNCA's slick flyer boasts of a 96% graduation rate and a 73% college placement rate,  there's no mention of sporting some of most abysmal remediation rates of all of the CMOs in Los Angeles on their flyer [3]. That said CNCA only runs one high school, the rest of its schools are K-8.

This brings us to Camino Nuevo's designs on Central Region Elementary School 14. CRES 14 is a beautiful new school paid for with taxpayer money to relieve overcrowding from Union ES and Rosemont ES. The school is on the Western edge of the Echo Park/Historic Filipinotown area, and by virtue of being located on the West side of Alvarado Street, is in Board District 5. While community forums [4] in the area overwhelmingly saw many parents upset that there wasn't going to be a new middle school in the region (like LAUSD's board cares what the community wants), many were also vexed at the idea of another disruptive charter being opened. You see, the horrors created by the colocation (read occupation) by Gabriella Charter School on the location of a real public school — Logan Street ES — had many Echo Park parents fuming. Instead of listening to the community, LAUSD board members Monica Garcia and Yolie Flores haven't only decided on CRES 14 being an elementary school, they've also made sure it was up for grabs for their wealthy friend Ana F. Ponce.

At another forum, where the CRES 14 Community Plan was presented in opposition to CNCA's slick marketing blitz, Ponce tried to convince the audience that her well funded operation was a community organization. Of course, people that live in the community saw right through that.

Ana Ponce, a slick businesswoman, whose only education experience prior to boarding the Camino Nuevo gravy train was a three year stint at TFA, feigned shyness and self deprecation at the presentation. She mentioned to those gathered that she "didn't have much public speaking experience," as if this woman who deals with the privileged staffs and even founders of The Annenberg, Broad, Eisner, and Gates Foundations and her affluent Board of Directors doesn't have any experience talking to groups.

At the end of the presentation, during the question and answer session, noted public school teacher and social justice activist Jessica Kochick asked Ponce directly "how much decision making power do parents have at CNCA schools?" Ponce's agonizingly patronizing answer was, "we just love input from parents." Input, not decision making.

Like all corporate charters Camino Nuevo humors parents by listening to their input, but all decisions are made by their unelected boards stacked with bankers, hedge fund and investment managers, and other well heeled business types. Unlike public schools, where parents have real input and decision making on School Site Councils, ESBMM, or Governing School Councils at Pilot School, parents and community members are shut out of the privately managed mechanizations of charter schools. A perfect example of this is when Green Dot Public Schools closed Ánimo Justice by fiat, despite the parents' desperate pleas to keep the school open.

One of the most disgusting things on the Camino Nuevo Charter Academy flyer I received said was the bullet point that stated:

Camino Nuevo schools: are run by, and designed, for each local community;

Run by the community? Camino Nuevo has an unelected board of directors comprised almost exclusively of investment management executives, high powered lawyers, and other wealthy business types that hold their meeting in private. With nary an exception, these rich board members do not live in the neighborhoods their charter company ostensibly serves. Parents, much less the community, have no real tangible input into how Camino Nuevo operates on any level. Like all corporate charters, there is a dearth of information about Camino Nuevo's finances. By all accounts outsiders with no connection to our neighborhood. Despite all this, CNCA executives constantly try to paint themselves as part of the community:

"Charters have been serving the same communities for years and are a part of the community tapestry already — we are not outsiders," Ana F. Ponce, executive director of Camino Nuevo Charter Academy, wrote to Cortines. [5]

Someone should explain to Ms. Ponce that there's a wide gulf between being self-serving and serving the community. Her note to Superintendent Cortines couldn't have been more reprehensible in either content and tone. In fact, Ana Ponce's bloated six-figure compensation package is OVER FIVE TIMES THE AVERAGE INCOME of the community members that she claims to be part of the same "tapestry." [6]

While we're talking about six figure salaries, let's not forget the President of the CNCA Board, Philip Lance, who has found a way to pull down money from his board gig. Simultaneously operating Pueblo Nuevo Development, another 501c3 "non-profit," Lance is shown making off with a cool $140,000 in association with CNCA [7]. Perhaps we're starting to see how Ponce's "tapestry" analogy works: there's a rich tapestry woven from gold and silver threads, held by the parasitic management and board of CNCA; and there's also a threadbare "tapestry" left to the rest of us in the neighborhood, as our public school resources are drained to feed the maw of the corporate charter cash-cow.

To better illustrate the class character and outsider status of Camino Nuevo's fourteen member Board of Directors, let's look at its composition.

Camino Nuevo's Board of Directors
0 Actual Educators
4 Hedge Fund/Investment Managers, Venture Capitalists, Brokers, Bankers
3 Business Executives
2 Education Product Vendors/CMO Executives
1 Practicing Lawyers
4 Other

While several of these well-to-do CNCA Board Members have found crafty ways to make money off of education, not one of them is an actual educator, and none of them have been teachers or principals in a K-12 setting. Furthermore, for an organization that claims community roots, there sure doesn't seem to be anyone representative of the community on that board. If they are to wrest CRES 14 from the public, we will have no input over how the school is run.

CNCA has nothing like School Site Councils or Governing School Councils found at public schools. Parents, students, teachers, and community members will have to be content with the decision making of the wealthy elites discussed above.

While Ponce is quick to attack anyone associated with public schools, she has no problems backing her fellow well heeled members of the CCSA and other charter-voucher industry shysters. When DFER's Gloria Romero used her corporate charter insider status to rake in an incredible amounts of funding from the usual corporate sources, Ponce chipped in money towards Romero's failed efforts to place yet another public office (Superintendent of Public Instruction) under the vested interests of charter schools. [8]

CNCA marketing materials also boast of their bilingual programs. Yet judging the information from everyone I spoke with, this is somewhat misleading. These aren't bilingual immersion programs that are designed to empower and provide a superior education. Instead CNCA's bilingual programs are used to bring their students up to English proficiency and then move them over to English only classes.  Moreover, there isn't a bilingual program for monolingual English speakers to learn another language like many public schools have. In addition, there is no option not to participate in the bilingual program. Parents don't have a "choice" to whether they enroll or not. We'll look a little more closely at this in a future article.

Furthermore, while Camino Nuevo's special education numbers are a little better than other corporate charter-vouchers schools, they're still not stellar. [9] There's more. According to a long time activist for special needs children and ELL rights:

On special ed - At Cres 15, I was told by the principal that there were no "special day" classes. The services that they provide for students with IEP's are speech and RSP.  These are considered mild needs in the special ed world. They are not expensive compared to providing services for autistic children, severely emotionally handicapped children or others with serious needs. These children, evidently,  do not attend CRES 15 (Jose Castellanos Charter Academy)

It's more than likely that the children discussed are "counseled out" [10] of the school. This in turn is related to how expensive it is to provide services for autistic children, severely emotionally handicapped children or others with serious needs. Following their corporate model, anything that cuts into the bottom line of a CMO has to go. If corporate charter-voucher schools were obligated, like public schools, to educate every child, we would see the proliferation of charters disappear almost overnight. Take the profitability out of the equation, and charter schools would return to their original mission.

So there we have it, Camino Nuevo, for all its boasting and glitzy marketing, doesn't perform all that well academically, has a bilingual program in name only, and short changes children with special needs. There is one thing CNCA is very good at, and that's creating a very lucrative opportunity for its executives and several board members. Well, their marketing department is quite good too.

At the end of the day, I wonder if the fancy brochure I got in the mail was produced using public funds. As corporate charters vie for ever more market share,  budgets for advertising, marketing, and presentations escalate and funds that should be used for education are wasted in that way that only markets can. Of course, the greatest waste would be for LAUSD to hand over our brand new public property over to this nefarious private Charter Management Organization. Remember, a charter is a contract between a public entity and a private company — like Steve Neat says "'Public charter' is an oxymoron." Please reject Camino Nuevo Charter Academy dubious designs on our new school. Please support the local school plan for CRES 14, which includes a wonderful bilingual program, will be run by the community and teachers, and so much more. Let's keep CRES 14 a public school and demand that there be no more outside takeovers.

_____
NOTES
[1] Central Region Elementary School 14 (CRES 14)
[2] California State University First-Time Freshmen from California High Schools Regular Admits, Fall 2009 *We need to temper this data with the understanding that the sample size is 16 for math and 17 for English. My rationale for quoting the data with the sample sizes in this footnote are twofold. First, the sample size is clearly stated on the CSU database site. Secondly, the charter industry consistently uses similar statistics without mentioning any confounding factors or standard deviation that would interfere with their marketing claims. I feel using the CSU data as is was actually more honest than CMOs boasting about APIs without mentioning their attrition rates and other confounding factors.
[3] You don't need a PhD in Education from Loyola Marymount University to know that the marketing numbers Camino Nuevo claims are fraudulent after examining the data from the California State University System.
[4] I attended the forum held on Friday November 12, 2010 at Echo Park United Methodist Church.
[5] L.A. groups bid to run 30 schools
[6] Comparison made using $26,757 median household income for S. Burlington Ave, 90057 on (CNCA's Burlington K-8 Campus) Los Angeles Times Mapping LA Project versus Ponce's whopping $140,639 compensation package CNCA Form 990 (2008) Part VII Section A. Ana F. Ponce's recent fortunes by the numbers: $140,639 (2008 990), 129,900 (2007 990), 135,312 (2006 990).
[7] CNCA Form 990 (2008) Part VII Section A
[8] How to Buy a Candidate: Gloria Romero for CA Superintendent of Public Instruction Did I mention that Romero is DFER?
[9] Pilot Study of Charter Schools' Compliance with the Modified Consent Decree: The executive summary of the report, and the data tables from the report.
[10] What does counseling out look like in practice? I wrote about this recently:
What charter-voucher schools usually do is tell parents "your child is welcome here, but we don't have the facilities to provide them with everything they need, we will do our best but..." At this point parents make the only rational decision they can make, and that is to place their child in a public school — a school where the obligation to educate every child comes before profit and executive salaries. The cynical charter-voucher operators are then able to say "the parent voluntarily withdrew their child, they chose to return to the district."
CNCA brays about being a "school of choice" of their website. Perhaps the above is what they mean.

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CEJ Community Forum to Discuss Preventing Outside Takeovers of Public Schools

CMO Corporate Charters discriminate against SWD, Special Ed, and ELL students! Support CEJ in its struggles for educational justice!
Will Our Schools be given away to outside Charter Companies?

If you are a community member or have a child at Dorsey, LA High, Johnnie Cochran, 42nd St Elem or any school feeding into Dorsey, Crenshaw or LA High, then...

PLEASE COME TO THIS MAJOR COMMUNITY FORUM
If the schools are given away, all the teachers and school employees can be removed and there may not even be one unified school anymore.
BUT WE CAN STOP THIS FROM HAPPENING!!!

Please join us as we strategize how to stop the give-away and unite to make our schools the best schools in the city

Thursday, January 20, 2010 5:30-7:30
Los Angeles Bahai Center
5755 Rodeo Road, 90016 at La Cienega
Parking Entrance on La Cienega, (across from Target, in between Taco Bell and 7–11, enter through the Large Black Archway)

Childcare, PIZZA and Translation will be provided.

This forum is co-sponsored by UTLA-West Area and the Coalition for Educational Justice

Please Contact Rosa Jimenez at 909-753-9007 if you have questions.

¿Serán Regaladas Nuestras Escuelas a las Componías Chárteres?

Si ud. es un miembro de la comunidad o tiene un niño a Dorsey, LA High, Johnnie Cochran, 42nd St Elem o cualquier escuela que manda sus graduados a Dorsey, Crenshaw or LA High, entonces...

POR FAVOR VENGA A ESTE GRAN FORO COMUNITARIO

Si se regalan nuestras escuelas, es posible que todos los empleados sean despedidos y no sea una escuela unificada.

¡PERO NOSOTROS PODEMOS PREVENIRLO!
¡Por favor unámonos para formar una estrategia para impedir este regalando de nuestras escuelas y como unir para crear escuelas que van a ser las mejores en la ciudad!

El Jueves, el 20 de Enero, 5:30-7:30 pm
Los Angeles Bahai Center
5755 Rodeo Road, 90016 a La Cienega
Entrada para estacionar en La Cienega, (al otro lado de Target, entre Taco Bell y 7–11, entren por el arco grande negro)

Cuidado de niños, Pizza y Traducción serán proveídos

Este foro será patrocinado por La Coalicion Para Justicia Educativa (CJE) y UTLA.

Por favor llame a Rosa Jimenez a 909-753-9007 si tiene preguntas

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Ben Austin channels Sarah Palin substituting his Triggers for her Targets

There's despicable, then there's despicable, then there's Ben Austin.

Defend Public Schools from Corporate Charter-Voucher Charlatans
Highly paid school privatization advocate Ben Austin has been lashing out publicly with ever more vitriol since he ignominiously lost his seat on the California State Board of Education and his supposed moment of triumph in Compton, chronicled in Jill Stewart's trashy masseuse and porn ad pennysaver became mired in controversy and very real accusations of his organization's malfeasance.

The foppish millionaire from Benedict Canyon, Austin, and his minions like Gloria Romero, Gate Rose, and the ultra-reactionary troll Anthony Krinsky have been attacking community members, teachers, administrators, reporters, and anyone else willing to speak truth to their power with an hereto unknown degree of hate speech. Using language that precisely mirrors that of Sarah Palin's tirades, these corporate charter-voucher sector employees have reached an all new degree of hyperbole and bombast. Like the teabaggers and Palin, their vicious attacks and language are a sure path to violence and community strife. Of course there isn't a dime's worth of difference between the DFER, CCSA, Parent Revolution and the teabaggers to begin with.

One of the best essays I've seen so far addressing this trend is Martha Infante's Words Matter on the InterACT blog. She takes on the importance of our word choices and the focuses on how the dominant narrative about teachers has taken on the same character. Of note is her closing paragraph:

As we left our board meeting, with heavy hearts, the significance of the mass shooting began sinking in. I thought about the power of words and imagery that so many throw around carelessly. I thought about words and phrases such as "trigger," "dropout factories." I think about former Senator Gloria Romero comparing Compton educators to "batterers" and wondered whether the writers of those words ever stop to think about the consequences of their prose. Has the moment arrived where enough is enough? Because it is impossible to believe that continuing down the road of uncivil, polemic rhetoric can in any way enhance or improve our educational system, on which our democracy is built.

In all fairness I am somewhat of a polemicist myself, and can be quite vicious attacking wealthy school privatization pushers and poverty pimps. The difference of course is that they hold all the cards, where we community activists have little more than our polemics. After all, in their corner they have the wealthiest people in the world, The POTUS and Secretary of Education, Oprah, the entire corporate media, high profile filmmakers, a host of astro-turf 501C3 proxies, and so on.

Back to Austin and his corporate entourage's verbal war on the community. In a recent Huffington Post op-ed entitled McKinley Elementary Parents Continuing Their Fight for Change, Austin, a man with NO SCHOOL AGED CHILDREN of his own and who lives in the exclusive Benedict Canyon region of Beverly Hills makes outrageous and inflammatory accusations towards the parents of McKinley. Namely he smears Pastor Lee Finnie, a parent of three children enrolled in McKinley ES and a member of the Parent Teacher Association. Finnie, father to a special needs child who he had to withdraw his child from a local charter-voucher school that wouldn't educate his child, found refuge at McKinley — a real public school obligated to educate every child. Not fooled by false promises that Celerity and Austin hold out about special education [1], Finnie and many other parents have resisted the hostile take over of their school by the wealthy charter interests. Austin goes so far as to accuse Pastor Finnie and the PTA of "underground, secretive, unethical, unregulated, and possibly even illegal" activities. Such unconscionable accusations are reprehensible, repugnant, and revolting.

Here are my comments that appear after Austin's unbelievably insensitive and hostile attacks on the McKinley ES community:

Not a peep about how Parent Revolution's deputy director, Gabe Rose, created a fraudulent group called McKinley Parents for Change posing as a Compton parent? Your staffer, Yuritzy Anaya admitted that to the community.

Update on the veracity of McKinley Parents for Change

Nothing on the trigger law's proposed regulations barely mentioning admitting all students within an attendance boundary, having no language discussing charters being REQUIRED to fully accommodate special education, SWD, or ELL? The closest thing appears in §4806 under "Permissible activities. LEA may also implement comprehensive instructional reform strategies, such as: ... (C) Providing additional supports and professional development to teachers and principals in order to implement effective strategies to support students with disabilities in the least restrictive environment and to ensure that limited-English-proficient students acquire language skills to master academic content;"

In other words, programs for children with special needs are entirely optional — not required. The charter-voucher industry has found yet another way out of the obligation to educate every child!

Astroturf Spawns Ever More Astroturf, Plus Parent Revolution Lies about Celerity Special Education Again!

Amidst vicious and unfounded accusations of deception and dishonesty towards McKinley parents like Pastor Finnie, there's no mention that your staff may have destroyed important documents pertinent to the Attorney General's investigation of your organization?

Seems the above mentioned incidents are "underground, secretive, unethical, unregulated, and possibly even illegal" activities being omitted from your narrative. Must be the $15,000 a month the Walton and Gates Foundations pay you Mr. Austin.

Austin and Krinsky are both close friends and fellow Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman acolytes. Krinsky noticed his BFF Austin wasn't receiving any love on Huffington Post and had to chime in. In his accustomed third grade screed he accuses the PTA of being "accessories" to the teacher unions' "nefarious agendas." He calls hard working dedicated teachers "crooks who simply won't let our [sic] children go." Since Krinksy has NO children of his own, the "our" is way beyond disingenuous, it's an outright lie.

My follow up comments to Krinsky:

So by Mr. Krinsky's "logic" the PTA, a grassroots organization where parents have actual organizing power is nefarious, while the the entirely astro-turf Parent Revolution funded by the Walton Foundation, The Gates Foundation, and in the past by the Broad Foundation, Annenberg Foundation, Reed Hastings and other plutocrats, somehow cares about the same victims that their funders' relentless pursuit of wealth and avoidance of paying taxes made poor? Hate to break this to you Mr. Krinsky, but Atlas Shrugged and the Fountainhead are fictional accounts, as is your 'logic' supporting your well heeled friends at LAPU/Parent Revolution.

For a refresher on Parent Revolution's (neé LAPU) founding, see the infamous Annenberg Document:

Green Dot Public [sic] Schools & Los Angeles Parents Union

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NOTES

[1] See Astroturf Spawns Ever More Astroturf, Plus Parent Revolution Lies about Celerity Special Education Again! for more on this. Also know that Celerity Educational Group farms out, or outsources, the special education and students with disabilities in order to cut costs and pay their executive's bloated salaries. This separates children from both their siblings and peers, further marginalizing them.

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Friday, January 07, 2011

Responding to questions of teacher evaluation and performance

"Our public schools need to be in the control of parents and the community, as opposed to businessmen who see the $23 billion budget as a means to giving no-bid contracts to their cronies." — Charles Barron (Brooklyn City Councilman)

CMO Corporate Charters discriminate against SWD, Special Ed, and ELL students!
Today a reader wrote me asking the following:

I am in a debate with a friend of improving teacher evaluations and teacher performance as a necessary political move for UTLA. She sent me these to pdfs from stanford [1]. Do you know this Stanford program at all? Or any of the folks, like the Milken institue or Stuart Foundation?

First off, it is entirely disingenuous of the corporate reform crowd to assert that UTLA (or any teachers' union for that matter) aren't interested in improving evaluations and performance. You might want to point your friend to this:

Teacher Evaluation Workgroup

If they're are really interested in this we could set up a meeting with UTLA folks. You might want to remind your friend that both authentic evaluations and professional development were key points in UTLA's contract re-opening press conference.

Dec. 15, 2010: Contract Re-openers Press Conference

In other words, this is a "political" move they've made, but the corporate style reformers will continue the dominant narrative that teachers somehow oppose reform. What they oppose is the false reforms designed to shovel more public funds into the corporate troughs. Education reform the union way contains an excellent list of union initiated reforms.

As for these ideologically stilted documents [1] you've included. Bear in mind that Stanford hosts the extreme far right wing think tank Hoover Institution. Hoover, in turn, publishes EducationNext, a reactionary publication featuring writers like Andy Smarick [2] and Rick Hess. So we always have to be wary of education "studies" coming out of Stanford. While I respect people like Linda Darling-Hammond to a degree, we need to be careful with anything from Stanford because of who funds them and who they serve.

Much of the language in these documents belies their far right origins. Statements like: "Most evaluations pay little or no attention to the performance of a teacher’s students," [1] are thinly veiled recommendations for highly discredited methods like Value Added Methodology (VAM). Education experts like Dr. Stephen Krashen and Dr. Diane Ravitch have written extensively against such nonsense. Here are some short Krashen pieces.

Does "value-added" have any value?
Value-added shouldn't be used at all.

Milken Institute is that of the infamous junk bond scoundrel Michael Milkin, a winger whose leanings are the same as the Broad-Gates-Walton triumvirate. An amazing piece on those plutocrats is: Got Dough? Public School Reform in the Age of Venture Philanthropy

I hope that's enough for you to continue your debate. I know sometimes even good intentioned people are caught up in the corporate school reform maelstrom. The thing to bear in mind is that we need to be stressing the works of Paulo Freire more than ever when we are discussing reform. Genuine school improvement will come with more collaboration between communities, parents, students, and teachers, not imposed by plutocrats, hedge fund managers, and right wing think tanks.

_____
NOTES
[1] The PDF files refered to are the Full Report and Executive Summaries of A Quality Teacher in Every Classroom: An Evaluation System that Works for California
[2] Smarick is of course Ben Austin and Marco Petruzzi's political muse. We talk about Smarick's privatization roadmap used by the CCSA/DFER camp in CCSA and Market Share: Setting the Table for Vouchers.

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Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Marco Petruzzi and other Magnanimous Wealthy White Men

"We have no money. We're a non-profit. We don't have a rich guy that even [sic] gives us extra." — Marco Petruzzi (CEO Green Dot [Public] Schools) lying to children about astronomical donations by Eli Broad, William Gates III, The Walton Family, Reed Hastings, Donald Fischer, et al.

Privatizer Marco Petruzzi. Stand up to Green Dot's corporate charter-voucher racism
In response to that scoundrel Petruzzi's quote in Howard Blume's latest piece.

The well heeled Marco Petruzzi pays himself a staggering $215,742 a year and then has the nerve to talk about "a fight for resources amongst the poor?" How absolutely despicable and disingenuous is that? He also pays Steve Barr $198,855 and has been known to give out gifts to his cronies like Ben Austin $94,475 (2007 990 PII-A) for "consulting." What a lucrative gig! How magnanimous of these wealthy white men to consider the poverty they so gleefully take advantage of.

Sadly most of this newly allocated money for special education will be pocketed by these charter charlatans while they outsource these children's' education and further marginalize them by separating them from their siblings and peers. To be sure Vielka McFarlane, Marco Petruzzi, Caprice Young, and all the other vultures are probably meeting with their financial advisors right now to see how they can turn this latest windfall from the taxpayers into a personal bonanza.

Charter-voucher executives are rolling in the money while anti-teacher goons criticize unions for providing 50-60K a year jobs to people who actually work with children. Go figure. Results? Let's talk results. Green Dot sports three schools with the lowest 100 APIs in the County. They also feature five schools in the lowest 35 average SAT scores in the County. So much for the private sector.

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