Sat, Apr

Please Get Off the Fence


EDUCATION POLITICS--Yesterday, the LA School Board agendized boardmember Ref Rodriguez's recommended changes to Prop 39 implementation. A copy of the resolution. 

The Board heard public comment from parents. This is what I saw and what I said.

I don't know who the blonde haired, blue eyed woman wearing the sport coat was. When the board members were an hour late, she huddled with three Latina moms and asked if they could hang just a little longer. She said the board members were on their way.

The reporter from the LA Times interviewed them but refused to acknowledge the woman in the sport coat.

Once the meeting started, two of the moms made public comment about how important it was for charter schools to keep their funding. One said the teachers union is trying to keep their schools from getting money for special ed. Stealing was mentioned. Another explained how much better special ed is in the charter school. The teachers at the regular school had tried to put her child in a special class. Now he has art.

Then I spoke. Here are my prepared remarks, and here is an audio recording of my four minutes. I sound strident, but damn. I can't believe we are fighting this fight. 

"I noticed that this resolution seeks to find an impartial group of people currently working on co-located campuses. As a parent who has been a charter parent co-locating, as well as a traditional host school parent, I wish you luck in that. You have all heard about the fences that divide co-located campuses. If you come to our schools, you won’t find anyone sitting on that fence. There are people firmly planted on one side or the other.

"So the best we can hope for is a balanced group from both sides of the fence: of people pushing for more privatization through charters, and those of us who seek support for our district public schools.

"I would request that you include in your discussion concrete examples in real life, many of which we have sent to some of you:

- The misrepresentation of waiting lists, including charters asking the public to sign even with no intention of enrolling in order to game the system to get more Prop 39 space. You check our work; you count the students in the classrooms we say are unavailable. Check the work on the waiting lists and make sure they’re official.

- The increased burden on the public district school that turns principals into multi-tenant property managers.

- An equitable allocation of classrooms—a charter classroom is considered full when there are 24 students and the district’s classrooms are sometimes well over 40.

"I share the anecdote of a charter parent confronting me on a public sidewalk near a shared campus and asking me, what is wrong with the charter, a vibrant vine, wrapping itself around the dying tree of the

district school?


"Lastly, the charter lobby informs parents of meetings like this so their voice will be heard. Please do the same. Tell your school communities that important policies like this are going to be discussed so that we have an opportunity to save our own schools and save public education. The public schools don't advertise; the charters do. Please do your outreach. It is odd to me that many charter advocates on the board and in the district proudly proclaim to be so, yet our district’s public school advocates remain quiet. We need you to speak up. Defend our schools. Defend public education.

Please, get off that fence."

There was no discussion among the board members. They will deliberate and possibly vote on the resolution at the next board meeting.

(Karen Wolfe is a public school parent, the Executive Director of PS Connect  and an occasional contributor to CityWatch.)



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