Archives for category: California

The University of California released this statement:

The San Francisco Chronicle reported:

UC system to ease admissions requirements; no more SAT, letter-grades: The University of California will temporarily suspend the SAT standardized test requirement for students applying to its campuses for the fall 2021 semester due to the coronavirus outbreak, officials announced Wednesday. UC also will dispense with letter grade requirements for admission. Officials said there will be no rescission of admissions offers due to students or schools missing official final transcript deadlines. “We want to help alleviate the tremendous disruption and anxiety that is already overwhelming prospective students due to COVID-19,” said John A. Pérez, chair of the Board of Regents, which is the governing board for the school system.

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond announced that public schools are unlikely to reopen this calendar year due to the coronavirus.

California public school campuses are unlikely to reopen for the remainder of the academic school year in response to the coronavirus pandemic, state Supt. of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond said Tuesday in a letter to school district officials.

“Due to the current safety concerns and needs for ongoing social distancing it currently appears that our students will not be able to return to school campuses before the end of the school year,” Thurmond wrote. “This is in no way to suggest that school is over for the year, but rather we should put all efforts into strengthening our delivery of education through distance learning.”

Earlier, Thurmond had resisted suggestions that there was no hope for returning to campus. His letter Tuesday represented a shift of direction.

His statement also echoed remarks from Gov. Gavin Newsom at a midday Tuesday news conference:

“We have more work to do: internet connection, rural issues, and still trying to address the anxiety of parents like me and my wife and millions of others about whether or not kids are going to go back to school this calendar year or not,” Newsom said. “I have been clear in my belief they will not, but let me announce formally what the superintendent of public education believes and what the superintendents believe and expect that announcement in the next day or two.”

When their performance was canceled due to the pandemic, the Chamber Singers at Chino Hills High School in California found another way to perform.

Watch this beautiful performance of “Over the Rainbow.”

This video was widely reposted and went viral.

Creativity! Hope! Persistence! Resilience!

NEWS RELEASE

California Teachers Association
1705 Murchison Drive
Burlingame, CA 94010
http://www.cta.org

Contact: Claudia Briggs at 916-296-4087

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 18, 2020

California Educators Appreciate Gov. Newsom for Ongoing Leadership in Executive Order to Suspend State Testing

SACRAMENTO — The California Teachers Association applauds Gov. Gavin Newsom’s ongoing leadership and commitment, and hearing educators’ call to suspend statewide standardized testing this year for California’s students. CTA President E. Toby Boyd issued this statement on behalf of 310,000 teachers and the students they teach:

“We appreciate Gov. Newsom’s leadership and quick action in suspending all statewide mandated testing for this school year. On any given day, and under the best circumstances, test scores alone fail to tell us how a child is doing and where they need improvement. That would be even more certain for students in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic aftermath. Test scores would mean nothing but a source of stress for our kids. Anxiety and emotions are rampant among us and we need to take this time to focus on the needs of our students, their health and safety, and ensuring they have nutritious meals.”

CTA is providing multiple resources for educators, students and families at http://www.cta.org/covid-19. CTA urges educators, students and their families to follow the guidance provided by the California Department of Public Health and believes state and local officials should coordinate with school districts and county offices of education to ensure uniform messages are provided to students, families, and staff.

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The 310,000-member California Teachers Association is affiliated with the 3 million-member National Education Association.

Claudia Briggs, Communications Assistant Manager, California Teachers Association (EST).

The California Teachers Association exists to protect and promote the well-being of its members; to improve the conditions of teaching and learning; to advance the cause of free, universal, and quality public education; to ensure that the human dignity and civil rights of all children and youth are protected; and to secure a more just, equitable, and democratic society.

Governor Gavin Newsom said that schools in California are likely to close for what remains of the school year.

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-03-17/schools-closures-mobilize-meals

“California public schools are likely to be closed for the remainder of the school year in response to the escalating spread of coronavirus, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday afternoon.

“I don’t want to mislead you,” he said to parents and educators during an afternoon press conference.

“Nearly all school districts in the state, 98.8%, are closed in response to the coronavirus pandemic, Newsom said. The state education department is assembling detailed guidelines on how schools can attempt to continue teaching 6.1 million students out of their classrooms in the weeks and months ahead.

“The announcement comes as the Los Angeles school district on Tuesday was ramping up “grab and go” food services to help feed more than half a million children displaced by the closing of schools due to the coronavirus outbreak.”

This interview on KPCC-NPR in Southern California by Larry Mantle was conducted a few days ago.

Mantle made it clear–at least to me–that he favors charter schools, so I was constantly asked to defend my criticism of them. I later learned that Los Angelenos know Mantle as a charter champion. One of the hypothetical questions are posed was “what would be wrong with a district that was half public schools, half charter schools?” Another time, he praised Eli Broad and wondered why I didn’t regard him as a generous philanthropist. You get the drift.

When the callers were put on the air, all of them were charter parents who challenged me.

There were no questions or comments from public school parents.

The parents who called in do not believe that charters divert funding from public schools, where most of the state’s children are. I suggested that they google Gordon Lafer’s study, “The Breaking Point,” which documents the many millions that three California districts lose to charters. I also suggested that California has been underinvesting in its schools for many years and is now below the national average.

I think every parent has the right to make the choice they think is in the best interest of their child, but I think every policymaker is responsible to improve and prioritize the public schools that enroll 85-90% of all American children.

In AIRTALK’s tweet about the show, which appeared pretty quickly on March 11, the show’s tweet says that I consider the 2010s to be “banner years” for public schools. This is ridiculous. Whoever wrote that line obviously did not read the book. The 2010s were a time of budget cuts, teacher shortages, the combined negative effects of NCLB and Race to the Top, VAM, Common Core, and worship of mandated standardized testing. It was a horrible decade for schools, with the only bright spot being the rise of the #Red4Ed movement in 2018. I am assuming that no one at AIRTALK read the book. The topic of conversation was: How dare you dare to question the need for and value of charter schools?

The show takes about 20 minutes. Listen and tell me what you think.

This decision was announced on March 11:

Metropolitan News-Enterprise

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Court of Appeal:
Nonprofit Chartered Schools Are Not Exempt From County Property Taxes, Assessments

By a MetNews Staff Writer

The Court of Appeal for this district yesterday affirmed Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Monica Bachner’s determination that a nonprofit charter school is not impliedly exempt, under the California Constitution, from payment of property taxes and special assessments.

The plaintiffs—Los Angeles Leadership Academy, Inc., which operates schools in Lincoln Heights, and two nonprofit public benefit corporations that own the land—brought suit for refunds and declaratory relief, contending that their schools, like public schools, should not be taxed.

Justice Elizabeth Grimes of Div. Eight wrote the opinion affirming Bachner’s judgment in favor Los Angeles County Assessor Jeffrey Prang and others.

Public Schools’ Exemption

Public schools are expressly exempt, under the state Constitution, from paying taxes and, it has been held, are impliedly exempt from paying special assessments, Grimes recited.

She wrote:

“We find no support in statutory or case law for plaintiffs’ implied exemption claim. Plaintiffs cannot establish that charter schools are public entities for purposes of exemption from taxation. Plaintiffs’ policy arguments to the contrary—that charter schools should be treated like public entities because monies taken for taxes and special assessments reduce monies available for educating students, and put charter schools at a competitive disadvantage with other public schools—are properly addressed to the Legislature, not to this court.”

Grimes noted that in the 2006 case of Wells v. One2One Learning Foundation, the California Supreme Court held, in an opinion by then-Justice Marvin Baxter, that while charter schools are “part of the public school system” for some purposes, they are not entitled to governmental tort immunity.

Legislative Specification

The Legislature has specified the circumstances under which chartered schools are a part of the public school system, Grimes said, pointing out:

“Notably absent is any suggestion that charters schools are to be treated like school districts for taxation purposes.”

The case is Los Angeles Leadership Academy v. Prang, B292613.

Thomas R. Freeman, A. Howard Matz, Hernan D. Vera and Fanxi Wang Bird of Marella, Boxer, Wolpert, Nessim, Drooks, Lincenberg & Rhow, represented the plaintiffs. Joel N. Klevens of Glaser Weil Fink Howard Avchen & Shapiro joined with Los Angeles Deputy County Counsels Nicole Davis Tinkham and Justin Y. Kim in arguing for the assessor.

Copyright 2020, Metropolitan News Company

California spends less per pupil than most states. Its schools have been underfunded for decades.

Reverse the many years of neglect and support the children by voting YES on Prop 13.

Editorial : Yes on Prop. 13

“Prop 13 is a statewide bond measure that will raise $15 bllion to use for immediate costs, to fix crumbling schools, upgrade emergency response equipment and basically make the structures our students learn in more modern and safe.

”It has nothing to do with the 1978 ballot proposition that capped property tax rates in California. It has nothing to do with the Schools and Communities First ballot proposition about tax loopholes that will be on the ballot this fall.

”Most major newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, have backed Measure 13 noting that our school campuses aren’t exactly in the best shape. However, the usual coalition of anti-tax groups and conservative newspapers are making the argument that Californians already pay too much for education and that the measure has “sneaky” language that changes the formula for how schools receive state funding and how new housing is build near school districts.

”California currently ranks 31st in per-pupil spending compared to the rest of the states in the country. No matter what other statistics you hear about various bonds and propositions, that number is what it is: too low on the rankings.”

The Orange County School of the Arts is one of the most popular, most sought after, and most elite charter schools in the nation. Now it is locked in a battle with the local board of Educatuon about its admission policies.

Its students are whiter and more affluent than the surrounding community.

The Santa Ana Unified School District had made demands for change.

Last fall, OCSA applied to renew its charter with SAUSD, something state rules require must be done every five years. The district staff responded with a scathing 37-page report that found:

The schools “admission/enrollment policies and practices have encouraged applications from high achieving and well-resourced students and discouraged applications from those in the under-represented protected classifications.”

The numbers of “Hispanic/Latino, English Learners” and low-income students were so small at OCSA, it was impossible to meaningfully compare achievement to other district schools.

In sharp contrast to other middle and high schools in Santa Ana, OCSA reported no students who were homeless.

Mandatory meetings where school representatives set expectations that parents make donations of more than $4,000 a year to cover the costs of teaching the arts.

Since that report came out, KPCC/LAist got access to details Santa Ana Unified investigators did not uncover, including the current “Parent Funding Agreement” distributed at mandatory meetings.

While district officials openly say that OCSA is a high-quality school, they also say its policies exclude local, mostly Latino students while welcoming a wealthier, whiter student body that isn’t reflective of Santa Ana.

For example, while apparently struggling to find qualified local disadvantaged students, OCSA has admitted students from other counties, states and occasionally even other countries…. The board decided not to go as far as denial — instead, board members went with another recommended course: Vote to renew OCSA’s charter on the condition that the school work with the district to correct the alleged violations.

OCSA reacted swiftly, and fiercely. The school’s founder said the pushback from the district is payback over a lawsuit OCSA filed against the district last year over special education funding (that’s a whole other act in this drama — we’ll get to that). He also said there was nothing for OCSA to correct.

So the school stopped trying to work it out with the district, and started looking for another oversight agency.

Now, the issue is in the hands of the Orange County Board of Education, the body charged with taking up appeals of charters denied by their local authorizers. They don’t have long to make a decision — OCSA’s current charter expires on June 30.

This is an astonishing report about the destruction and privatization of public schools in Oakland, California, and the billionaires who facilitated the looting of that city. The article by Eugene Stovall appeared in “Black Agenda Report.” The audacity of this attack on public education is astonishing. The mechanism for the destroyers were graduates of the Broad Academy, known as Broadies. Since billionaire Eli Broad gave Yale University $100 million to take charge of his program, someone should warn Yale about its record.

Read it all. It will take your breath away.

Stovall writes:

Eli Broad (rhymes with “toad”) conconcted a scheme to privatize Oakland’s public schools and produce a revenue stream for his billionaire cronies.

Operating unethically and illegally, Broad managers used their training to cripple and plunder Oakland’s schools.”

Eli Broad is a liberal Democrat. He opposes Trump’s Muslim ban, immigration policies and withdrawal from the climate change treaty. In fact, like Democratic billionaires Tom Steyer and Michael Blloomberg, Broad opposes Trump’s entire right wing agenda. However, just as the Trump Foundation created the Trump University scam, the Eli Broad Foundation created the Broad Superintendent Academy, an educational enterprise that has become so successful that it is now associated with the home of the Skull and Bones Society, Yale University. But despite its aura of respectability, the Broad Superintendent Academy is no less a scam than Trump University.

Billionaires Want More

Eli Broad created two Fortune 500  companies, Kaufmann-Broad Homes and SunAmerica Bank. With an estimated net worth of $6.7 billion, Eli Broad ranks as Forbes  Magazine’s 78th wealthiest man in the United States. But like many billionaires who create mechanisms to increase their wealth, Broad created a “non-profit” academy as his entré into the private education market. The Broad Superintendent Academy attracts applicants who willingly pay exorbitant tuition fees for the chance to get placed in a top management public education position. Broad academy applicants do not need educational degrees or teaching certificates. Neither are they experienced teachers or successful school administrators. The Broad academy is uninterested in strategies for improving student achievement and does not teach its students about fundamental educational issues, pedagogies and methodologies. The Broad academy only indoctrinates and commits its students to the privatization of public education and the generation of revenues for private corporations. Broad Academy attendees are taught the disruptive management tactics needed to ignore “best educational practices.” They are taught how to overcome objections when mandating school closures and school property sell offs to the billionaire-owners of private schools. When Broad placed his academy graduates in management positions at the Oakland Unified School District, they left a trail of fiscal mismanagement, budget overruns and demoralized staff, students and teachers. Operating unethically and illegally, Broad managers used their training to cripple and plunder Oakland’s schools.

The Broadies Who Plundered Oakland’s Schools

In 1998, Eli Broad recruited Jerry Brown, the former Governor of California and a former presidential contender, to become mayor of Oakland. Broad needed someone with Brown’s political clout with the Democratic Party to implement his plan to privatize Oakland’s schools. Broad had been a close personal friend of Jerry Brown’s father, Pat Brown, and had financed all of Jerry Brown’s political campaigns. Now Broad realized California’s top Democrat and his control over the statewide Democratic Party machine gave him a unique opportunity to make money from private education.

Broad’s scheme to privatize Oakland’s public education resources required the support of other billionaires capitalizing on the private education market. Netflix founder, Reed Hastings, a Bay Area resident with a net worth of $3.7 billion, was associated with the multi-million dollar Rocketship Charter Schools. The late founder of The Gap, Don Fisher, with a net worth of $3.3 billion, was associated with the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP), one of the largest chains of charter schools in the country. With a net worth of $3.5 billion, John Doerr, partner in the investment firm, Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers, the firm that brought Google and Amazon to the market, cofounded the New Schools Venture Fund which sucks public school resources into for-profit K-12 corporations. Another critical partner in Broad’s clique of billionaires was the bishop of Oakland’s catholic diocese, a representative of the multi-billion dollar, worldwide Vatican empire. With its profound interest in co-opting public funds and real estate for its own network of parochial schools, Oakland’s catholic bishop gave Broad’s unholy coalition a solid block of votes that not only put Jerry Brown in City Hall, but changed Oakland’s charter into the ‘strong mayor” form of government, that gave “Boss” Brown the power function as Eli Broad’s “bag man.” In return for its electoral support, the diocese of Oakland received a multi-million dollar cathedral on the downtown shore of Lake Merritt.

Once “Boss” Brown controlled City Hall, Reed Hastings went into action. Hastings funded another charter amendment that gave the mayor the authority to pack the school board with his own unelected appointees. Greasing the wheels of the Democratic machine, Hastings financed the passage of a State Assembly bill that permitted charter schools to operate without  accreditation and to hire teachers without  teaching credentials. Then Hastings funded the Proposition 39 campaign to force local school districts to share revenues with charter schools. “Boss” Brown’s buddy, Democratic Governor Gray Davis, who later was recalled on corruption charges, put Reed Hastings on the State Board of Education. In the meantime, Don Fisher gave Jerry Brown’s wife, Gust Brown, the position of CEO over The Gap Corporation.

Getting Control Of The Schools … And The Money

In 2001, the Oakland Unified School District had a $37 million budget deficit. The district’s fiscal managers decided to resolve the shortfall by borrowing from its construction fund, a practice other California school districts in similar situations routinely used. But Brown and Broad saw the school deficit as an opportunity to advance their scheme.

Brown contacted Tom Henry, CEO of the Fiscal Crisis and Management Team (FCMAT), a firm located in Sacramento and staffed by lobbyists and political hacks. Brown used Henry’s services, on occasion, when he was governor. FCMAT did “hit” jobs for anyone willing to pay. Brown paid Tom Henry to prevent Oakland from solving its fiscal problem. FCMAT lobbied the State Attorney General, Bill Lockyer, the former Democratic Assemblyman from Alameda, to rule that Oakland’s plan to borrow construction funds was a violation of state and local law. Then Henry worked with Don Perata, the State Senator for Alameda County, to lobby a bill through the state legislature that forced the Oakland school district to accept a $100 million loan to cover its $37 million shortfall. In addition, the bill put the Oakland school district under the control of a state administrator to be appointed by Jack O’Connell, the State Superintendent of Public Education. When Jack O’Connell campaigned for state superintendent, he received financial support from Eli Broad’s billionaire cabal. Reed Hastings contributed $250,000, John Doerr $205,000 and Eli Broad, himself, contributed $100,000 to O’Connell’s campaign. With the state takeover of Oakland’s schools, O’Connell agreed to appoint anyone “Boss” Brown wanted. Thus Eli Broad and his cronies got complete control over the $63 million slush fund  forced on the Alameda County tax payers. Jerry Brown described the state takeover as a “total win” for Oakland’s schools. In reality, the state takeover was a total win for Eli Broad and his billionaire cronies. For the tax payers forced to repay the loan and for the Oakland school children whose schools were plundered by malicious billionaires, the state takeover was a disaster.

The Table Was Set And The Feasting Began

The Democratic state superintendent of education, Jack O’Connell, appointed Randolph Ward, a graduate of Broad’s superintendent academy, as Oakland’s state administrator. Ward appointed Arnold Carter, another Broad academy graduate, to serve as his chief of staff. Both state administrators appointed a bevy of Broadies  to fill the Oakland school district’s top management positions. Then Ward implemented Broad’s privatization agenda. He closed public schools and opened charter schools. He created additional management positions for Broad academy graduates and issued multi-million dollar consultation and construction contracts to private corporations. Randolph Ward gave Broad’s billionaire cronies complete access to the $63 million slush fund created by top Democrats, Jerry Brown, Bill Lockyer, Don Perata, Jack O’Connell, Tom Henry as well as other members of “Boss” Brown’s Democratic machine.

When the state took over the Oakland schools in 2002, Randolph Ward fired the superintendent, Dennis Chaconas. When Ward resigned in 2006, Broadie Kimberly Statham replaced him. A year later, Statham left and her chief of staff, Vincent Matthews, another Broadie, took her place.

In 2008, Oakland Assemblyman Sandre Swanson broke with “Boss” Brown and introduced a bill to force the state to relinquish its control over Oakland schools. Eli Broad gave a Sacramento lobbyist $350,000 to oppose Swanson’s legislation, but Swanson’s bill passed and local control was returned to the Oakland School Board. In July 2009, the school board hired Anthony “Tony” Smith as the district’s superintendent.

Smith was not associated with Eli Broad. However, even though local school board resumed control over the schools, Eli Broad was not finished, He funded a front group, Greater Oakland [GO], which financed the election of five Broadies to the Oakland school board. In 2014, the Broadie school board forced school superintendent Tony Smith to resign and appointed another graduate from Broad’s academy, Antwan Wilson , Oakland’s next school superintendent, resuming Broad’s decade-long privatization scheme.

A Decade of Corruption

Under Randolph Ward, Oakland Schools struggled with the overwhelming debt imposed by the Democratic Party machine. When Ward left Oakland, millions of dollars went missing with him. Though FCMAT received a multi-year contract to help manage the debt, Tom Henry provided little substantive support, financial or operational. In 2007, Jerry Brown left Oakland for his cattle ranch in Northern California. In its 2007-08 report, an Alameda County grand jury investigation found that the Oakland Unified School District had been looted.

Between 2003 and 2006, Ward shut down 14 public schools and opened 13 charter schools. He increased the district’s shortfall by nearly $15 million. Ward’s successor, Kimberly Statham, another Broadie, opened 4 charter schools and Broadie Vincent Matthews, who followed Stratham as state administrator, opened 9 charter schools. Under state control, the district’s debt ballooned from $37 million to $89 million while school enrollment, the district’s primary source of funding, dropped from 55,000 in 2002 to 38,000 in 2009. When Assemblyman Sandré Swanson forced the state to return local control, Oakland’s schools had $5.6 million less than what was reported and a total of $9 million unaccounted for and completely missing. But with the return of local control, the district’s fiscal mismanagement problems only worsened. Eli Broad now directed his Broadie school board to support his schemes. 

Antwan Wilson: The Most Corrupt Broadie Of Them All 

When the Broadie school board replaced Tony Smith with Antwan Wilson, it hired a thoroughly corrupt, incompetent and morally reprehensible superintendent to run the Oakland Unified School District. Ignoring all budgetary, ethical and legal constraints, Wilson zealously implemented Broad’sprivatization plan. Wilson overspent the school district budget by overpaying Broadie administrators and conniving with Broadie consultants. In 2015, though the school board authorized only $10.4 million, Wilson paid consultants $22.6 million. The board approved only $7.1 million for administrators and supervisors, but Wilson spent $22.3 million. From July 2014 to January 2015, Wilson spent $22.3 million on district office managers while Smith spent only $13.1 million the entire previous year. From 2013-2014, Tony Smith spent $10 million on classified managers, but in 2015-2016, Antwan Wilson spent $22.3 million. Under Wilson, the number of students shrunk, but spending for administrators and supervisors with teaching certificates grew from $13.9 million in 2013-2014 to $20 million in 2015-2016. Wilson increased spending on outside consultants from $22.7 million in 2013-2014 to $28.3 million in 2016-2017. In Wilson’s last year with Oakland schools, he exceeded the budget for consultants by 32 percent.

These revelations galvanized Tom Henry’s FCMAT into action. Henry immediately lobbied for another state take over even as he collaborated with the Broadie school board to close even more schools and make even more valuable real estate available to billionaire-owned charter schools. But without Boss Brown’s backing, Henry was unsuccessful in getting Governor Gavin Newson’s support for another state takeover.

Open the article and read the ending. It doesn’t get better for the students of Oakland. Eli Broad, Jerry Brown, and their allies used Oakland as their Petri dish. Oakland was raided and looted. Antwan Wilson left Oakland to become chancellor of the D.C.schools, where he was booted out after seeking preferential treatment for his own child. Upon Wilson’s abrupt departure, the mayor of D.C. replaced him with Lewis Ferebee, superintendent of Indianapolis, who is also a graduate of the Broad Academy.