Monday, May 11, 2009

If not us, then who?

An article published this weekend highlights the attempts of Green Dot Charter Operator Steve Barr , billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad , the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce and the Service Employees International Union to fund a Parent's Revolution, in which parents are enlisted to demand more from LA schools.

from the L.A. Times article:

Risk-taking charter school operator Steve Barr is launching an effort through which parents would wrest political control of the L.A. school system from unions, school bureaucrats and other entrenched interests.

The plan is for parents to form chapters all over town and improve schools, one by one, using the growing leverage of the charter school movement. The goal is to unite a city of overworked and isolated parents with a brash promise:

If more than half of the parents at a school sign up, Barr's organizers say they will guarantee an excellent campus within three years. They call it the Parent Revolution.

With parents, they predict, they'll have the clout to pressure the Los Angeles Unified School District to improve schools. They'll also have petitions, which Barr and his allies will keep at the ready, to start charter schools. If the district doesn't deliver, targeted neighborhoods could be flooded with charters, which aren't run by the school district. L.A. Unified would lose enrollment, and the funding would go to the charters instead of to the district.

Based on past performance, the school district would be challenged to meet parents' heightened expectations, Barr said. "We're not trying to prove the district is doing things wrong. But our kids are at stake."


The Parent Revolution "has never been raised with me," (LAUSD Superintendent Ramon C.) Cortines said. "I'm somewhat taken aback by this, but I look at a traditional school and a charter school as choices for parents. I think that competition is healthy, but I don't think any of us have all the answers. We should be collaborating." [ed. note: this guy's a bigger loser than the Admiral. Word. -DL]

On a recent night in Tujunga, before Parents Union organizer Mary Najera could even begin her pitch, she listened to parents unload at a neighborhood gathering.

Among concerns: Local activist Lydia Grant [another pesky ed. note: Lydia is a Friend of Beckford and a tireless activist in her community - DL] was worried about the lack of outdoor lighting at the nearby middle school; people felt unsafe after dark. A grocery store worker said that her disabled daughter had been taunted in school by gang members and that no adult had intervened. A third woman complained of a teacher who called her daughter "lazy" and a "loser." Formerly an A student at a private school, the girl is feeling lost after one semester in her crowded public school that she said was not nurturing.

Parents couldn't sign Najera's petition fast enough -- and the Parents Union had not even targeted Tujunga. Mark Twain Middle School in Venice and Garfield High in East L.A. will be the first to officially take part.

A man suggested they call their affiliate the "I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore" chapter.

Najera assured them: "This is a legitimate threat to the school district. And this is how we have to play to be heard. This is going to steamroll."

Things are starting to get infinitely more innerresting, ain't they???


Anonymous said...

I can imagine that Mark Twain Middle School parents would be very interested in supporting reform efforts. I observed two classes there while I was earning my teaching credential. A student set off an actual stink bomb in class when I was in the room. This happened five years ago and I doubt that conditions have improved at all.


Debbie Lopez said...

I honestly don't know how you teachers work under those conditions.

You're saints.

Lowell Brown said...

I applaud the Beckford Parents for encouraging District parents to attend Friday's event at Balboa Park. I am the parent co-founder of Granada Hills Charter High School. We dug in our heels and stopped LAUSD and the Teachers' Union from taking our neighborhood school into the ground.

This is a moment of change for LAUSD.

We must support Superintendent Frank Cortinas in bringing about change. He is not beholding to LAUSD, and he is a strong, credible voice of direction. It is up to us as parents to show our numbers in the streets, and to refuse to watch our increasing tax bills be WASTED. There is plenty of money in LAUSD to provide for our children. If Frank Cortinas has the parents of Los Angeles standing behind him the Teachers Union (UTLA) will have to come to the table and quit sucking the budget dry with its demands for lifetime health benefits. General Motors couldn't afford it without going under, and LAUSD cannot either. Our new teachers need to know the truth: the union is not going to be able to deliver the yellow brick road any longer.

Not at the expense of our children.

I will see you there.

Please feel free to share my comments with your parents, and let's mobilize our numbers throughout the Valley.
This is our grocery money they're wasting.

Sonja Eddings Brown
Former Board President
Granada Hills Charter High School