Monday, February 27, 2012

Please come battle New West Charter on Tuesday!

Please come battle New West Charter on Tuesday!Join hundreds of community members, students, teachers and parents are going to City Hall in force to protect West LA from the effects of that the relocation of New West Charter could cause, namely:

  1. Insane traffic at all hours of the day
  2. Use of public funds to gain a rent subsidy just because they are near a Title 1 Elementary school
  3. Possible continued underserving of the local West LA community and its students by a charter that doesn't answer to the community itself
  4. Please examine the attached documents for more info!

Show up at City Hall (200 N. Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012) on February 28, 2012 3:00pm. Be counted by politicians and take a stand against something.

Please call Councilman Rosendahl on his cell phone: (310) 367-0237 and remind him of his responsibility to his constituents!

February 22, 2012

Re: CPC-2011-1923-CU-SPR

Councilman Ed Reyes
Councilman Jose Huizar
Councilman Mitch Englander
Councilman Bill Rosendahl

Cc: Len Nguyen

As a member of the WLA Neighborhood Council’s PLUM committee, I have consistently voted to oppose New West Charter School’s expansion into the site at 1905 S. Armacost in our modest, already-congested, West Los Angeles neighborhood. I live six blocks away, and not only will this project destroy the livability in the immediate vicinity of this location, but it will have severe ramifications for the entire, surrounding community.

You have to ask yourselves why the administrators and parents are so gung-ho about sending their kids to school in a WAREHOUSE…with no lawn, no cafeteria, no gymnasium. Why do they want to transport them to OUR neighborhood from various parts of the greater Los Angeles area?

Is it because they have a sweetheart deal whereby the state (we taxpayers) will subsidize most of their rent at this boxy, brick, shell of a building? Is it because it’s a block away from OUR neighborhood park which is already at capacity with daily, private school activities? Is it because it’s not far from our LAUSD high school, University High, and they feel entitled to muscle onto their campus to use THEIR gymnasium and THEIR other facilities?

Quimby funds that compensate us for the overdevelopment of our community’s up-zoned areas have gone into Stoner Park to enhance it for OUR local residents…not for a bunch of interlopers who eye it as a commodity they can come in and usurp.

From the first time the New West representatives came to a neighborhood council meeting, the administrators and parents have painted a rosy picture about high-performing students having a quality education while turning a blind eye to the negative impact they would impose on the surrounding community. We want ALL our neighborhood children to have a high-quality education. This issue before you is not a referendum on private schools. This is about the inappropriate use of a warehouse which is directly across the street from very modest R-1 houses, some occupied by elderly people who’ve lived in our neighborhood since the early 1950s.

We have an abundance of private schools occupying industrial space within a quarter mile of this location. We already deal with their traffic and cut-through traffic from businesses in Santa Monica that pass through WLA in huge, sluggish numbers. At least the other private schools were obligated to implement significant mitigation measures to ease the burden on our community, most importantly…school busing. New West Charter School’s answer to the question about busing is, “We can’t afford it.” Their answer to whether they could cut down the size of their student body has always been, “We can’t afford it.” Their answer to the proposal to divide their student body between two different sites is, “We can’t afford it.” New West at this Armacost location??? WE can’t afford it!

They SAY they will carpool and give bus passes to their students and have them ride bikes, but we know that’s not practical for parents and kids from all over town. There is no viable way for them to mitigate the impact of 875 students coming into this peaceful neighborhood and no way to mitigate the impact of morning drop-offs and afternoon pick-ups in this already-burdened community.

The enforcement measures they propose are tied to contracts between the parents and the school. Theoretically, if a student is not car-pooling, he can be expelled. Do you really think they’re going to expel high-performing students who help keep their API up, just because they don’t follow the transportation guidelines? Of course not!

Their proposed car-pooling figures are so unrealistic as to be laughable.  Their plans for queuing cars in our neighborhood are absurd and are presented as if they’re happening in a vacuum instead of in a heavily-trafficked neighborhood.

The fact is, the City has no mechanism for enforcement which could hold New West Charter School’s feet to the fire if and when they were to violate the conditions they say they’d agree to. Their demeanor at our neighborhood meetings demonstrates that they won’t even care if they’re abusing the privilege of situating THEIR school in OUR neighborhood. New West Middle School, at its present location on Pico Blvd., with a smaller-size student body has a history of hostility toward nearby businesspeople. And the best indication of future behavior is past behavior. They are not good neighbors now, and there is no reason to believe that they will be respectful, considerate, compliant or fair with the members of our local community. If you allow New West to set up shop in our residential area on Armacost, there will be no recourse for the residents and nearby business owners who will suffer from the congestion, the dangerous pedestrian and traffic conflicts, the noise, the parking on our streets…

What would our WLA neighborhood GET out of putting New West Charter School at 1905 S. Armacost Ave.? Nothing but headaches, inconvenience and ongoing dangerous situations.

Our residents wouldn’t be fighting a school that served our local community. They’d be more sympathetic if an under-enrolled, local, public school which was the “victim” of changing demographics, needed to bus public school children from other Los Angeles neighborhoods. But this project serves OTHER people’s children who live in OTHER communities and seeks to stuff them and their commuter traffic and their noise and their trash and their parents’ cars on back-to-school nights in the middle of a neighborhood that gets not ONE OUNCE of benefit from their intrusion.

I implore you to vote “NO” on this proposal. There may be a good location for New West Charter School’s proposed expansion, but it is not at the site they currently have their eye on.

Marilyn Noyes
WLANC PLUM Committee member


Save Pre-School in LAUSD Rally and Press Conference

Please join the parents of 28th Street, Roberti and Trinity Early Education Centers, along with UTLA Central Area as we protest to Save Pre-School in LAUSD. We cannot allow LAUSD to close down our Early Education Centers and SRLDP programs.

What: SAVE PRE-SCHOOL IN LAUSD Rally and Press Conference
When: Thursday, March 1st 2012, 3:00pm
Where: LAUSD Building, 333. S. Beaudry Ave. Los Angeles CA 90017
Who: Parents, Teachers, and Community Groups and you!

March 1st is also a National Day of Action to Save Public Education. Many Universities will be staging walkouts, teach-ins, and other actions. We join in solidarity with these student activists as we know that the road o college begins at Preschool!

Communities and Families Resisting Proposition 39 Charter Colocations


Communities & Families Resisting Proposition 39 Charter Colocations

"Colocation is eviction... It doesn't mean sharing, it means displacement." — NY State Senator Bill Perkins

A facebook group for schools, communities and families struggling against the divisive and inequitable law that allows private charter school corporations to seize and occupy space on public school campuses.

Communities and Families Resisting Proposition 39 Charter Colocations


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

What Nury Martinez and Mónica García want to cut while privatized charter schools increase market share

Por que digamos: Mónica García y Nury Martinez de LAUSD ¡No a las recortes a nuestra escuelas adultos y nuestra escuelas publicas!

United Adult Students of Los Angeles. The Voice of Adult Students in Greater Los Angeles.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Truth about Proposition 39 Colocations

A look at the divisive and inequitable law in California that allows private charter school corporations to seize and occupy space on public school campuses. Special thanks to Cheryl Ortega for the Spanish translation.

The Truth about Proposition 39 Colocations

First published on Echo Park Patch

The Truth about Proposition 39 Colocations

"Colocation is eviction... It doesn't mean sharing, it means displacement." — NY State Senator Bill Perkins

Gabriella Charter School Corporation has illegally occupied the Auditorium the public school community at Echo Park's Logan Street Elementary School
Photo by Cheryl Ortega
Passed with the backing of the multi-billion dollar charter school industry, Proposition 39 is a law that forces public school districts to provide space for private charter corporations on existing public school campuses. The deceptively worded legislation demands our schools make any "free space" available to charters. In most cases this free space turns out to be computer labs, English Language Learner rooms, arts and music rooms, and other vital services that are surrendered. Once established on public school campuses, charters create a divisive two tier system which are frequently based on class and race. In addition to dividing communities and causing ill will, these charter corporations often begin to encroach more and more public schools space over time.

We saw this terrible scenario played out at Logan Street Elementary School, which has been collocated by the Gabriella Charter Corporation for several years. Not satisfied with occupying more space than they were originally allotted under their Prop 39, Gabriella seized Logan's auditorium over the summer of 2011 and turned it into their office for several weeks. Following this incident, they also annexed several classrooms that had just been painstakingly restored by the Greater Echo Park Elysian Neighborhood Council. In the process of taking over these rooms, Gabriella's staff removed all of the existing furniture, computers, and materials, haphazardly piling these items up in adjacent rooms, damaging both rooms and items in the process.

Gabriella Charter Corporation dumped the contents Logan Street Public Elementary School's room 32 into room 31 without asking or notifying anyone.
Gabriella Charter Corporation dumped the contents Logan Street Public Elementary School's room 32 into room 31 without asking or notifying anyone. Then they moved their office from the auditorium into room 32. Some of the furniture should be recognizable

Photos by Lisa Baca-Sigala
The photos on the right were taken during these events at Logan. We have seen many similar incidents at other collocated schools throughout the district. The following online articles chronicle the Gabriella incursion:

Gabriella Charter Corporation further encroaches Logan Street Public Elementary School

Occupation of Logan Street School Rooms by a Corporate Charter Continues

The film The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman also exposes the damage that collocations cause, especially in terms of the charters taking over the best parts of school facilities for themselves while relegating the public school students to basements and other undesirable locations. New York communities have long been fighting the scourge of collocations, and community groups like the Grassroots Education Movement (GEM) are on the forefront of that struggle.

Charters Are NOT Public Schools

Despite all the marketing hype promulgated by deep pocketed trade associations like the California Charter Schools Association, charter schools are not public schools. Instead charters are privately managed entities whose only claim to the word public is the fact that they drain public funds. Dozens of court cases have ruled that charter schools are not "public entities." Two well known examples include the following:

The California Court of Appeals (2007-01-10) which ruled that charter schools are NOT "public agents."

The 9th Circuit US Court of Appeals (2010-01-04) which ruled that charter schools are NOT "public actors."

Moreover, the US Census Department expressed difficulty in obtaining information from charter-voucher schools because the are NOT public entities.

Charters Exclude the Local Community

The private, unelected boards of charter schools ignore the needs of communities. More often than not charter schools boards have no educators or community members. For example, the fourteen member board of CNCA Charter Corporation, which was awarded the local CRES 14 campus against the explicit wishes of the Echo Park community, is packed with bankers and venture capitalists with no connection to the community or the families enrolled at their school. Likewise, Gabriella Charter Corporation's board has repeatedly refused to inform community members where or when they hold their board meetings.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

LAUSD board votes to postpone budget decision

Our favorite Social Justice Educator, José Lara, is featured at the 1:39 mark. This isn't over, we have to keep fighting and keep pressuring officials to find solutions. Visit for next steps.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Resistance begins with organizing: Social Justice Schools Conference Report Back

First published on Schools Matter

"How do we help students and teachers to stop blaming ourselves and each other and start working together to change the system?" — CEJ Student Activist

Labor/civil rights leader and author Bill Fletcher spoke to the attacks on the public sector, the need to project an alternative social vision, and the critical need for an organizing strategy.UCLA's Professor John Rogers discusses the relation of school struggles in contrast to increasing income inequality.We ended the conference with a "make the banks pay" rally in front of the notorious tax deadbeats Chase Bank.
Photos by Robert D. Skeels, see the entire set.

We're beginning to see scattered resistance to the corporate school privatization agenda of the Billionaire Boys Club, ALEC, and Arne Duncan. Across the country we are seeing parents stand with educators against the scourge of standardized tests. Parents Across America is a representative cross-section of many of those on the forefront of these battles. In New York we've seen powerful movements by entire communities and groups like the Grassroots Education Movement (GEM). GEM brought us the watershed The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman. Seattle activists have opposed charter schools in the backyard of one of the most infamous charter supporters around. Oregon organizers passed Tax Fairness with their Measures 66 and 67. In Florida authentic parent groups opposed the charter trigger law imported by right-wing astroturf groups. In my neighborhood community members and parents from Micheltorena Street Elementary School and Elysian Heights Elementary School have begun fighting back against proposed colocations (read corporate charter occupations) imposed by the corporate Prop 39. These struggles, and many more, hint at a nascent organized resistance to the corporate privatization fatalism our rulers say we have no choice but to accept.

In order to overcome the vast resources of those pushing the neoliberal school privatization project, it's going to take increased organization, engagement, and political education of community members, educators, activists, parents, and students. The recent Social Justice Schools Conference held jointly by Coalition for Educational Justice (CEJ) and Progressive Educators for Action (PEAC) did just that. I want to reproduce this report I received from a CEJ member Rosa Jimenez in order to instill a sense of hope along with an understanding that this type of organizing takes work. I myself attended this amazing conference, and also assisted the organizing committee that put it on. It's no small work to organize these type of events, but over two days hundreds of people were reinvigorated, educated, inspired, and armed with new tools to continue the fight against the privatization of our public schools.

Social Justice Schools Conference Report Back

by Rosa Jimenez

Dear Educational Justice Community,

THANK YOU so much to those of you who were able to attend CEJ's and PEAC's Social Justice Schools Conference on February 10 and 11. Over 200 people attended this historic convening. This was more than a one-time event, it was a critical moment to regroup and redefine a new strategy for meaningful educational reform. The entire conference was volunteer-led and volunteer-driven. Registration, childcare, and lunch were all free. We hope that the event reminds all of us that we can continue to create the spaces that we need in order to move forward our work and our communities' rights!

Students, UTLA teachers, parents, community-members, and a few charter school teachers discussed the attacks our schools and communities face. We also focused on education policies, our vision for how we want schools to be, and specific pedagogical practices that support genuine student learning.

On Friday evening, civil rights and labor leader, Bill Fletcher challenged the audience to shift UTLA into a Social Justice Union — one that aligns itself with students, parents and community in the fight for real education justice. He described how the public sector is under attack and that unions must be committed to democracy, organizing and aggressively challenging ineffective education policy. Students, parents and teachers then engaged with each other about his speech, in small groups, and then posed questions to him about the connections between rebuilding the union movement in this country and the occupy movement, and how to get unions to be committed to issues beyond pay and other narrow trade union issues, but aligned more with what students and parents are fighting for such as economic and racial justice.

On Saturday morning, conference attendees heard panelists speak to a broad set of issues we must address as we build social justice schools. John Rogers, Director of UCLA's Institute for Democracy, Equity and Access, spoke about how neo-liberalism, education policy and the economy are structured so that there are fewer jobs, higher incarceration rates and less money going toward education than in decades past. He then offered up ideas on what unions and community orgs can do to put out a vision for real change and the need to organize around it. CEJ student leader Taylor Broom, CEJ parent leader Kahllid Al-Alim, and I then spoke about on the ground organizing we have done at our schools through CEJ, PEAC or independently to challenge the attacks on education and promote real change. Additionally, Taylor spoke about how schools should be focused on more than just test scores — that schools should also be focused on what students need — like providing college counselors, small class sizes, electives like Black and Chicano/Latino history and literature, and other electives that students want to take. Students asked critical questions like "How do we help students and teachers to stop blaming ourselves and each other and start working together to change the system?"

The conference then moved into workshops. Many of the workshops showcased working examples of how we can create the education that students, teachers, and parents want and need. There were workshops on developing critical literacy skills and a love for learning, community-based education programs that engage students in deep thinking and action, alternatives to the school-to-prison pipeline and the need to stop truancy ticketing, dual-language immersion programs and more. While this conversation has been happening separately for many years, this conference brought together union members and community members in an important step towards growing our ability to work together. As a 5th year teacher who has been RIF'd four years in a row and as a young Chicana and mother, I found the dialogue inspiring — it gives me hope in a time when the attacks keep growing. It reminded me that I am not alone in thinking that what we need is movement!

The sign at this CEJ student workshop said: 'Who are the 1% and what do they have to do with public education?'
Photo by Ronni Solmon. The sign at this CEJ student workshop said: 'Who are the 1% and what do they have to do with public education?'

While the adults were in workshops, students from ten different schools participated in a student-led section of the conference. This was a space for youth to discuss with each other the systemic problems of public school funding, how the 1% influence education policy (and what to do about it), racism and inequity, and what kind of changes students feel need to be made in schools so that schools better meet their needs.

The conference ended with a lively and theatrical action at Chase Bank, a few blocks away. It was a fun way to end the weekend and make connections between the underfunding of our schools, the 1%, and our willingness to take things into our own hands...

We were thrilled to have the Raza Ed Committee, Latino Caucus, Women's Progressive Caucus and United Valley Caucus endorse this conference and it was great to see rank and file and union leaders from other unions come out to support as well. We know that it will take all of us together (and many many more) to transform our own union and to work more systematically in the long-term to organize for educational justice with our communities.

These are crucial conversations in era where elite education "reformers" are the ones shaping and promoting educational policies for our schools. These reformers include Bill Gates, Eli Broad, and Richard Riordan who represent the 1% that the Occupy movement critiques. Their policies and strategies coming from the 1% for educational reform ignore the reality that our schools and our communities do not have what they need and deserve. This conference set us on a course to define our own educational reform needs together. We cannot and will not have elite business people who have their own interests in mind determining the future or our public schools which are supposed to be for everyone.

It would be great to hear from others who were in attendance about what you experienced and got out of the conference!

Thanks again to everyone for participating in this important and inspiring process of creating social justice schools.

Rosa Jimenez
UCLA-CS Social Studies Teacher
Coalition for Educational Justice Steering Committee Member
Progressive Educators for Action Member
Conference Coordinator


Monday, February 13, 2012

ALL OUT: Tuesday, February 14 Rally “Stop the Insanity”! 1-5pm at LAUSD (Beaudry)

ALL OUT: Tuesday, February 14 Rally “Stop the Insanity”! 1-5pm at LAUSD (Beaudry)


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Charter Schools and Students with Disabilities by Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA)

"It is not legally or morally acceptable that these so-called “schools of choice” that are concentrated in urban communities and supported with public funds, should be permitted to operate as segregated learning environments where students are more isolated by race, socioeconomic class, disability, and language than the public school district from which they were drawn." — COPAA (Charter Schools and Students with Disabilities p. 42)

On the heels of the recent damning Southern Poverty Law Center report Special Education in New Orleans Public Schools, which further exposed the lucrative charter-voucher industry as a bastion of discrimination, comes this equally condemnatory paper from the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) illustrating how the "market model" of charters and vouchers abjectly and utterly fails the most vulnerable and disadvantaged of all students.

Charter Schools and Students With Disabilities Final


Wednesday, February 08, 2012

LAUSD Adult Education Students Resist Devastating Cuts Desired by Coalition for School Reform Funded Trustees


Monday, February 06, 2012

Save LAUSD Adult Ed English Spanish Rally Feb 9, 2012 1:30-3:30pm Flyer

Save LAUSD Adult Ed English Spanish Rally Feb 9, 2012 1:30-3:30pm


Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Mónica García y Nury Martinez de LAUSD ¡No a las recortes a nuestra escuelas adultos!