Sun, Sep

Charters are One and Two In Academic Decathlon … Get Over It!

LA’S SCHOOLS AND OTHER MUSINGS-Granada Hills Charter High School won the LAUSD Academic Decathlon. Again. Ho hum. (Photo: Some of the Granada Hills team.)

(I am being sarcastic – if I were given to emoticons and happy faces I’d go there …but I ain’t!)

The achievement of the GHCHS team – and all the competitors in the AcaDeca is truly astounding. That LAUSD routinely crushes all the competition in the state and national completion is all the more so. We are doing something right in LA Unified.

To those who bristle at the word ‘charter’ in the names of the one-two finishers, get over it.

Both schools started out as traditional District neighborhood high schools and both were AcaDeca powerhouses before they converted. They are both very large schools – larger and whiter and more-middle-class-than-the-LAUSD-norm demographics. They have the luck-or-good fortune of residential (as opposed to racial or ethnic) segregation, ghettoization by-zip-code/property-value …but they also have real Title One inner city schools like Marshall and Franklin and Garfield and Bell breathing down their neck, gaining, keeping them honest.

The rising tide is raising all the boats. And there’s a King Tide next week.


I SPENT A COUPLE OF DAYS THIS WEEK in Sacramento, the legislative season is young, the bills don’t have numbers yet - and many of the politicians are getting used to their new jobs – or their new colleagues. They have closed-off the west entrance of the Capitol (architecturally the ‘front door’) - symbolically making the government safer and more cost efficient …and making it a little harder to enter+navigate a building only slighter easier to enter+navigate than 333 S. Beaudry.

I observed the touched-up larger-than-life former Governor Schwarzenegger’s larger than life official poster (I mean portrait)

And two things became apparent:

There is bipartisan support for new measles vaccine legislation – to make the personal exemption harder or impossible

And bipartisan support for a new state school construction bond – with only those working for the governor opposed.

I must add that there is grumbling in Sacramento about LAUSD’s funding of student computers and educational software with school construction bonds – and who better to grumble at? Here I state unequivocally that NO STATE CONTRUCTION BOND MONEY went to funding the project formerly known as the Common Core Technology Project – funding came from local bonds. That makes none of us here in LA any happier – but the politicos and taxpayers of the State of California are not on the hook!


WHILE I AM CORRECTING MISPERCEPTIONS: I wrote earlier that Superintendent Cortines was listed on their website as being on the board of the LA Fund for Public Education. While he still is listed as such, I have been reliably informed that he is not.


THE ED COMMITTEE OF U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES is busy marking-up and reporting-out legislation to revise No Child Left Behind/The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (NCLB/ESEA).

If it sells it will be the “Student Success Act.”

Hooray! This is long, long overdue… but the committee’s bill seems intent on eliminating the carrot and strengthening the stick (Cut funding, eliminate Annual Yearly Progress [AYP] and keep testing) and grants flexibility to states on how+where to spend the decreased funds. (“How about a statue of Stonewall Jackson carving the Ten Commandments into a stone wall? That’s educational!”) We called this ‘categorical flexibility’ when it was used to hammer education in California; D.C. is calling it “portability’. The White House is up in arms saying that ‘portability’ defeats the purpose of the original 1965 ESEA. The Republicans in the house can’t see the downside in that.

But we must realize the “The White House” in this instance is not necessarily the voice of progressive reason in the Oval Office. It is the voice of Arne Duncan defending his turf – he who brought us Race to the Top and the Common Core ‘State’ Standards and more Waivers than the amber waves on the fruited plain.

By the way, I was told in Sacramento the Common Core are henceforth to be referred to as ‘The New Stronger California State Standards.” Get some today! This demonstrates the power and mystery of naming things. You may have noted I didn’t say “henceforth+forever.” That was not an omission. Stay tuned.


STOP PRESS: While I was editing and assembling this issue Sunday morning I was half-paying attention as the KLCS replay of Tuesday’s board meeting droned in the background (I missed the live show!) There was a deep discussion about the new Early Start Calendar …and the Board delayed their decision until the March meeting so additional research and thought could go into the process. 

While I agree that putting-off the decision makes making family summer vacation and childcare plans difficult, I also agree that the conversation is needed – and invite all stakeholders, students, parents and educators – to weigh in. Please don’t wait for the March meeting - contact your board member and/or the superintendent at the numbers or emails below.


THE SCHOOL BOARD ELECTION: Later on in this issue I will make endorsements, to be taken with a grain of salt – or salt-substitute, if you are on that diet.

I need to rant a bit about the disreputable tactics of the California Charter Schools Association's political action committee CCSA Advocates’ locally sponsored independent expenditure committee: Parent Teacher Alliance.

(There are three degrees of separation – but they are attached.) Take a look at this: CCSA SPONSORED "PARENT TEACHER ADVOCATES" HITS NEW LOW IN ANTI-KAYSER TV SPOT.  It is true that the CCSA never called Mr. Kayser a racist, but as Steve Lopez wrote: They implied it. Their TV ad last week doesn’t say that Kayser is a pro-pederast/”bad teacher” lover – or that’s he’s responsible for everything Dr. Deasy ever did-or-didn’t do. They don’t say he is given to dropping and breaking coffee cups as a metaphor for something a little darker …or something they don’t want to talk about like his Parkinson’s disease – but they imply it. They don’t claim to be The PTA, but they have the same initials.

On or before March 3rd please vote your heart, or your conscience or your professional affiliation. Don’t copy my homework, do your own! If the only reason you read this blog is to find out where I stand so you can vote the other way – more power to you! Just vote – let’s break the single digits on Election Day!



(Scott Folsom is a parent and parent leader in LAUSD. He is the former President of Los Angeles 10th District PTSA and represents PTA as Vice-chair the LAUSD Construction Bond Citizen's Oversight Committee. Scott is a member of the California State PTA Board on Managers. He blogs at the excellent 4 LA Kids … where this perspective was originally posted.)





Vol 13 Issue 14

Pub: Feb 17, 2015

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