Archives for category: California

A small group of billionaires has decided to change public education in Los Angeles. They want half the students in the districts enrolled in privately managed charter schools. This is an astonishing development. Who elected them to privatize large sectors of public education? This is a test of our democracy. Have the 1% gained control of our democratic institutions, to reshape as they wish?

Two important meetings are coming up soon. Please try to attend the “Get the Crooks Out of Public Education” press conference on August 17:

Repeal Charters Meeting And Action In CA

8/16 LA Organizing Meeting Of Repeal Charter Schools Laws In CA
Sunday August 16, 2015 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Coco’s Bakery Restaurant (meeting room) ( Please purchase food)
18521 Devonshire Street
Northridge, CA 91324
Please Register If You Will Be Attending-For Information and registration contact (415)867-0628

8/17Press Conference/Speak Out At Broad Foundation
Stop Destroying Public Education-Repeal California School Charter Laws
Get The Crooks Out Of Public Education
Broad Foundation
2121 Avenue of The Stars, Los Angeles
Monday August 17, 2015 12:00 noon

The Broad Foundation has just announced that it wants to double the number of public funded privately run charters in Los Angeles. This foundation has played a central role in pushing charters and privatization in the US and it has trained people like former LAUSD Superintendent Deasy who have been involved in systemic corruption. This “foundation” has placed not only management in public schools throughout the country but also has placed pro-charter and privatization supporters on public boards and agencies throughout the country. There is a sordid record of financial conflicts of interests and the concerted effort by Broad, Gates Foundation, Bechtel Foundation, Walton/Walmart, KIPP GAP, Pearson Inc, and a myriad of other profiteers to transform our public education system into a profit making scam operation that not only steals from the public but ends up re-segregating education in Los Angeles and the United States.

This press conference speak out will have teachers and supporters of public education speak out about specific violation of the education code, systemic corruption and the need not only to support the repeal of charters in California but for investigation and prosecution of the criminals involved in the massive privatization scam now going on in California and nationally.

This press conference is sponsored by
Voices Against Privatizing Public Education

Ballot Initiative to REPEAL the CA Charter School Act of 1992
For information (415)282-1908

It’s not too late to save public education in California! With Eli Broad and his fellow billionaires poised to privatize education in Los Angeles, it is time to say NO! Join the campaign to repeal the charter law in California.

Join Voices Against Privatizing Public Education’s efforts to repeal the California charter school law

There is a small grass-roots group that has been working diligently to create a ballot proposition to repeal the charter school laws. While a seemingly daunting task, there might not ever be another chance to do this before the privatizers eliminate public schools altogether (Eli Broad just announced his plans to cut LAUSD’s public schools in half). The group has an online petition that now has over 600 signatures. They also have a facebook group. (Open the link.)

Ballot Initiative to REPEAL the CA Charter School Act of 1992

Voices Against Privatizing Public Education

Most importantly, they have picked up a handful of key labor leaders and organizations:

AFT Local 6161 (Palomar Faculty Federation)

North County Labor Alliance

Escondido Public School Advocates

Bill Freeman- NEA Board member for California

Alita Blanc- United Educators of San Francisco

The coalition is working hard to get several more organizations on board, including local Democratic party clubs in several large cities. Please consider getting involved, and perhaps even endorsing the efforts of the group.

The Weekly Standard, a conservative publication, writes that Mayor Kevin Johnson of Sacramento (husband of Michelle Rhee Johnson) is caught up in a growing number of scandals.

Despite little national coverage, scandals surrounding former NBA star and Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson have been intensifying over past few months. Monday’s report at Deadspin is a good place to start — things have gotten so bad that Johnson’s allies are accusing a local paper that’s done a lot of damning reporting on Johnson of racism.

As Deadspin notes, there’s “a variety of sexual, financial, and ethical improprieties” swirling around Johnson. Among other things, the mayor is suing — and being sued — by the National Conference of Black Mayors. And Johnson is also accused of using public money and resources for his own personal benefit involving work done for the National Basketball Players Association.

That last scandal is particulary interesting, because it mirrors accusations made against him in 2009, when he was accused of misusing federal grants meant for the Americorps program by Gerald Walpin, the inspector general of the Corporation for National and Community Service….
Mr. Walpin made a referral to the United States prosecutor in Sacramento, recommending that Mr. Johnson and Mr. Gonzalez face criminal charges and be banned from future contracts.

According to Walpin, the chairman of the board of the Corporation for National and Community Service, Alan Solomont, was a major Democratic fundraiser and was unhappy with his reports pointing out the misuse of federal money. Johnson was also said to be close to the Obamas, and shortly afterward the president abruptly fired Walpin from his job. The firing set off a flurry of inquiries from a bipartisan group of senators concerned that Walpin’s firing had been been politically motivated. There were also allegations that the U.S. attorney in Sacramento, Lawrence Brown, filed an ethics complaint against Walpin to help lift a ban on Johnson receiving federal funds as well as curry favor with the White House. Brown was seeking a presidential appointment to become United States attorney for the Eastern District of California.

Now Johnson remains mired in scandal six years later and is being accused of allegations of corruption very similar to what was first alleged by Walpin. And in the intervening years, the Obama administration has acquired quite the reputation for selectively enforcing laws against compromised allies and for the vigorous prosecution of political enemies on dubious grounds. Johnson’s current troubles certainly suggest that the president was wrong to fire Walpin, and are an unpleasant reminder of the Chicago-style politics that have come to define this administration’s questionable uses of political power.

The Los Angeles Times editorial board sort of endorsed the parent trigger idea, even though the law passed in 2010 has produced no noticeable improvements. The expectation when the law was passed was that only 75 schools would be allowed to implement the “parent trigger,” but less than a dozen have even sought the authority. Efforts to gather parent petitions were spearheaded by a corporate reform group called Parent Revolution, which exists to promote the parent trigger. Parent Revolution received millions of dollars from “reform” foundations, but has produced meager results. There has been no groundswell of popular demand by parents to seize control of their public school.

The idea behind the parent trigger was that parents were yearning to seize control of the school their children attended and to turn it over to a charter operator. The assumption was that the school “belongs” to the parents (who may not be parents in the school next year), but not to the community that built it and funds it.

The editorial says:

The law, passed in haste in 2010 in an effort to empower parents at lower-performing schools, lets them force dramatic change if half or more of them sign a petition. They might demand the replacement of some or most of the staff or vote to turn their school over to a charter operator. They might even close the school altogether. Under the law, the parent trigger is an option only at schools whose scores on the state Academic Performance Index fell below the proficiency mark of 800 and that failed to meet their federal improvement requirements, called Adequate Yearly Progress, for several years in a row. The law limited the trigger option to 75 schools on a first-come-first-served basis to see how it played out; at the time, officials expected the number to be quickly met and expanded.
But that hasn’t happened. There have been only four schools in which parents filed petitions that succeeded in forcing a change. Parents at five more schools used the petition process as leverage to negotiate changes, a much less disruptive process, without ever filing an actual petition.

It is hard to know whether these changes have resulted in improved academic performance because the state has for the moment stopped reporting test scores during the switch to new standardized exams. Yet it’s encouraging to see that parents have some clout, especially low-income parents who felt their children were stuck at problematic schools. That was the original idea: to give deeply frustrated families a chance to take action when educators ignored them.

So, nine or maybe ten schools have used the parent trigger, despite intense efforts by Parent Revolution and major foundations to promote parent takeovers. There is no evidence for improvement in these nine schools. And there is no evidence that students had low scores because “educators ignored” parents.

In Adelanto, where the parent trigger was implemented, the petition was signed by a majority, but many parents did not understand what they had signed and tried to withdraw their signature; a local judge would not permit it. When it came time to pick a charter operator, the parents who had not signed the petition were not allowed to vote. So a minority signed the petition, and a minority of a minority selected the charter. That was not “parent empowerment.”

The Los Angeles Times concludes:

A new trigger law should create stricter guidelines to target truly low-performing schools, and should prohibit school closures through petition. Trigger petitions must be made public, with all parents informed, and the larger community given a chance to be involved. When a petition prevails and parents are considering proposals for changing management of the school, all parents should have a voice and a vote in the decision, not just those who signed the petition.

The parent trigger remains an intriguing if so-far-unproven idea, but the time has come to start imagining a more thoughtful version.

I disagree. I don’t believe that users of a public service should be given the option of privatizing it on behalf of the public that paid for it, past and future. This is akin to allowing riders on a public bus to vote to sell the bus to a private bus company, or letting tenants in public housing vote to sell the project to a developer. A local public school belongs to the community, not to those who are using it this year.

The parent trigger is fairy dust. California should get rid of a bad law and concentrate on proven strategies to improve schools and improve the lives of children and families.

“Students Matter,” the Silicon Valley-funded group that launched the Vergara lawsuit to block teacher tenure in California, is now suing 13 school districts for their failure to use test scores in evaluating teachers.


The goal is to compel the entire state to use value-added-modeling (VAM), despite the fact that experience and research have demonstrated its invalidity and lack of reliability.


The Southern California school systems named in the latest filing are El Monte City, Inglewood Unified, Chaffey Joint Union, Chino Valley Unified, Ontario-Montclair, Saddleback Valley Unified, Upland Unified and Victor Elementary District. The others are: Fairfield-Suisun Unified, Fremont Union, Pittsburg Unified; San Ramon Valley Unified and Antioch Unified.
“School districts are not going to get away with bargaining away their ability to use test scores to evaluate teachers,” said attorney Joshua S. Lipshutz, who is working on behalf of Students Matter. “That’s a direct violation of state law.”


The plaintiffs are six California residents, including some parents and teachers, three of whom are participating anonymously.


In all, the districts serve about 250,000 students, although the group’s goal is to compel change across California.


“The impact is intended to be statewide, to show that no school district is above the law,” Lipshutz said.


The plaintiffs are not asking the courts to determine how much weight test scores should be given in a performance review, Lipshutz said. He cited research, however, suggesting that test scores should account for 30% to 40% of an evaluation.


The current case, Doe vs. Antioch, builds on earlier litigation involving the Los Angeles Unified School District. In 2012, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled that the school system had to include student test scores in teacher evaluations. But the judge also allowed wide latitude for negotiation between the union and district.


The court decision was based on the 1971 Stull Act, which set out rules for teacher evaluations. Many districts had failed for decades to comply with it, according to some experts.


Will the Silicon Valley billionaires help to find new teachers when the state faces massive teacher shortages based on the litigation they continue to file?





Early returns show Scott Schmerelson defeating Tamar Galatzan, and Ref Rodriguez defeating Bennett Kayser.   Galatzan and Rodriguez are the preferred candidates of the California Charter School Association.   Big money came from CCSA and another PAC to defeat Bennett Kayser. It appears that big money won, unless there is a last-minute surge in a low voter turnout.

The big money didn’t pour so much into the Schmerelson-Galatzan race.

We always hope that David can defeat Goliath, and sometimes he does. But not always.

So, the election–if current trends continue–is a wash. Not a victory for the charter industry, not a loss for public education. A wash.

Seth Sandronsky and Duane Campbell respond to an article in The. Sacramento Bee that blamed Democrats and public school teachers for urban riots and uprisings.

They write:

“Public schools, teachers and their union lobbying efforts at the state Capitol are unable to address what really ails low-income households. There are too few jobs with livable wages in California. Nearly 1.3 million adults are officially unemployed, while California’s poverty rate is tops in the nation.

“At the same time, the Golden State also leads the United States in the number of billionaires – 131, up 23 last year, Forbes reports. We have an oligarchy amid broad-based poverty and inequality. Is this the fault of public education?

“Deindustrialization of Oakland, like that of Baltimore, creates a group of citizens who have no place in the mainstream. Police and prisons are their bitter fate in our new Gilded Age.

“Why are public schools, teachers unions and Democrats to blame for that?”

Read more here:

Julian Vasquez Heilig reports that the school board of Santa Ana, CA, will decide today whether to hire TFA to teach students with disabilities.

Why would anyone hire the least experienced, least prepared youngsters to teach children with the greatest needs?

I posted about the state of education in California, where Governor Jerry Brown pushed through a tax increase to benefit schools, State Superintendent Tom Torlakson suspended the stakes attached to tests while the Common Core is phased in, and where there have been thus far no negative consequences attached to the new regime of Common Core and its assessments. Several teachers wrote to complain that the post was far too positive, so I changed the title to a question rather than a statement. As backdrop remember that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger slashed the education budget by many billions and appointed charter advocates to a majority of seats on the state board. The California Charter Schools Association is politically active, supporting candidates who support their agenda.


This comment was posted, without a name attached.



I am not even at liberty to write what I know or feel comfortable to share what I have experienced for the fear of what “they: will do to me (yes, I know, nothing can happen to me, truth is a defense to defamation claims etc., but the fear and paranoia persists).


I have taught on the East Coast (not comfortable even sharing which city) and extreme necessity led me to CA.


WHATEVER YOU ARE IMAGINING in CA as “BAD”, it is worse than that. The corporate takeover is beyond insidious. This is happening in rural communities—and most CA is THAT– where people outside the state don’t even know about the worst exploitations that are going on, where principals are just figureheads, and consultants from LA and Silicon Valley are hired at unconscionable rates. The parents are often illiterate or don’t know any better in these communities. The politicians are in the hands of the big companies (I can’t even name industries for the fear…) This is the first time I have ever written a comment here. I have no words to express how bad it is. But God is my witness, when the day comes when the fear has subsided, my words will be the brightest light to shed on what is actually going on there. Whatever “negative” articles exist about Success Academies and such, nothing compares to what is actually going on in CA.


Thank you for changing the title.

More than 50% of the junior class at Palo Alto High School did not take the Smarter Balanced Assessment. It is hard to know whether the high test refusal at Palo Alto High School was a genuine opt out or just smart kids who knew that the Smarter Balanced Assessment didn’t count for anything. California has a law permitting students to opt out of testing if their parent signs a simple form.

Officials at the school said that next year they hoped everyone would take the test because it will affect the school’s state rating.


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