EDUCATION POLITICS--Every single year since Proposition 39 was passed, facilitating infrastructure spending at schools by lowering the supermajority vote requirement for funding measures to 55% – ever since that passed in 2000 there have been collateral effects to infrastructure beyond mere fiscal impacts.
Each and every single year there’s a fight for campus boundaries at LAUSD district schools, brought to you as collateral damage from Proposition 39.
Under the guise of “Public School Choice”, charter schools – which are public in the sense that they utilize public tax dollars, but private in the sense that they are not subject to public sunshine laws regarding tax dollar spending or the institutions’ governance – these “public” charter schools are authorized to petition LAUSD for “allocations” on its campuses, which displace the existing public district schools housed there.
This means that chaos reigns within literally hundreds of LAUSD schools year after year as one set of institutions scrabbles for space that is vital for their operations, and another set of institutions fights to retain their physical and instructional integrity.
Everyone, on all sides believes they are getting a short stick, and the agency in the middle, the LAUSD Charter School Division (CSD), is the focus of everyone’s animosity.
If CSD were to operate more transparently there would be less feeling of inequity all around. If CSD were to reveal its Prop 39 operations step-by-step in real-time then inequities could be caught before codified; apparent inequities would be precluded from materials either immediately-dated or irrelevant.
For example, a CSD Board Report presented at the January 16, 2018 board meeting justifying 18 multisite Prop 39 “preliminary” allocations, shows a ‘classroom fill rate’ of 24 (+/- 2) students per charter school classroom.
Meanwhile LAUSD bulletins state policy for staffing traditional public high schools at a ‘rate’ of 34-42.5 students/classroom (this rate varies by school type and mitigating circumstances within these schools too. It’s complicated, so please see bulletins for more details).
This leaves the searing sense among some families that LAUSD’s CSD is interpreting CA state legislation inequitably. Apparently charter “public” schools are staffed at a rate that may be nearly one-half the size of traditional charter schools. That is, by policy LAUSD may allocate staffing for 77% more teachers per charter school pupil (42.5/24) than for traditional public school pupils.
As pointed out at this Local-District west Prop 39 allocation process meeting by a parent (at 1:08), traditional public school parents have been forced to accept unpopular staffing cuts for years. No one wants this, but the RIFFs and downsizing has been wheedled involuntarily year after year as we all are urged to tighten belts.
Meanwhile the Prop 39 process evaluates classrooms as “empty” at this unacceptably-high “fill rate”, and allocates the reclassified “empty” classrooms to charter schools at a fill rate which is half that of traditional public schools’.
And everyone’s unhappy. Charters and traditional public schools alike suffer chaos and instability that is antithetical to learning. The resources devoted to this annual Kabuki are astonishing and derivative: wouldn’t you rather simply add a teacher on staff than someone to evaluate an unknown algorithm that calculates how to shuffle fractions of students into inadequately staffed classrooms scattered piecemeal across adjacent neighborhoods?
Geesh. You couldn’t setup a more unwieldy system if your name were Monty Python.
But there’s more – oh so much more. Imagine a shrouded algorithm that calculates the performance space for a School of Performing Arts as “empty”. This is an end-member test of absurdity. This “answer” should result in lights that flash TILT: DOES NOT COMPUTE.
And yet, thousands of school kids are now living with this incalculable threat to their instructional space, surrounding one school alone. LAUSD’s renowned Academy of Performing Arts is slated to lose their Black Box Theater, a corporate-sponsored Sound Lab, their district-mandated textbook and Restorative Justice rooms, the student government and collaboration rooms, counseling and dual-enrollment (with community colleges) rooms fulfilling the modern imperative to extend compulsory schooling to grade 16. Rooms to support our very most vulnerable and needy students are in jeopardy: tutoring rooms and English-language learning support rooms.
This comprehensive High School is a school that works, but the way LAUSD implements Proposition 39 will break it. Hamilton HS, the school that wishes to co-locate there (City Charter), and schools in a domino effect all across the landscape are all rendered by the process of co-location less effective, less successful, and impoverished.
Co-location is not good for kids.
Co-location is not good for schools or Education.
Co-location is not good for taxpayers.
Proposition 39 needs to be reformed because it is dismantling public education one classroom at a time.
It suggests new meaning to the term: Charter School Division.
(Sara Roos is a politically active resident of Mar Vista, a biostatistician, the parent of two teenaged LAUSD students and a CityWatch contributor, who blogs at redqueeninla.com). Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.