Larchmont Charter School’s High-Concept Constructivist Educational Programs “Help [Students] Continue To Grow [And Become] Able To Gain Entrance To The College And Career Path Of Their Choice” — And Amy Dresser Held — Supreme Boss Of The LCS — Will Use All The Force Of Her Personal Relationships With Stratospherically Elite LAUSD Staff To Get A Family Friend An Ultra-High-Powered Internship In Nick Melvoin’s Office — Which Is A Much More Realistic Picture Of How The Ruling Class Reproduces Its Power Than All That Booshwah About “Gain[ing] Entrance” Through Education

Here’s the short version of charter school theory from the point of view of the privatizers: people who run public schools are dumb and incompetent which is harmful to kids therefore pay a bunch of zillionaires and their usefully idiotic minions to create private schools and run them with essentially no oversight and they’ll innovate the hell out of everything and also the kids will be better off, so yay!

Just for instance, consider the Larchmont Charter School, a self-proclaimed fermentatory constructivist1 hotbed of quantumly cosmic disruptive innovation, diverse by design, guided by the idea that racially integrated classrooms are good for the kids of color, who gain all the apparently myriad benefits of going to school with the white kids.2 And what they claim is that they’re going to teach these putatively disadvantaged3 kids how to pull themselves via an extraordinary education right on up:

The high expectations of Larchmont Charter School’s High School Program prepare students for college … rigorous college preparatory humanities, mathematics, and science instruction from quality educators who focus on the unique needs of the learner through the constructivist lens … positively address challenges occurring in the world around them … leadership and arts opportunities … grow as well-rounded, successful persons, able to gain entrance to the college and career path of their choice.

And although around this blog we never ever take any of these people at their word for anything because it’s turned out always, every last time, that they were lying, well, at least I’ll admit that if we were naive enough to take them at their word in this case all this nonsense wouldn’t be so bad. Teach poor kids, kids without the social connections to skip to the head of the line, kids whose parents can’t afford to pay a zillion dollars in bribes to get them into USC, teach them the skills they need to get into “the college and career path of their choice.”

But whatever the delusional conscience-easing narrative according to which these Larchmontane privatizers have managed to convince themselves they’re operating, the truth, as revealed by a massive steaming heap of emails I recently obtained from these antisocial parasites on the public realm,4 turns out to be quite different. Behold 27 emails, mostly between LCS supreme boss Amy Dresser Held and senior supremo-slash-advisory Icky Sticky Nicky5 staffer Allison Polhill Holdorff.6

These reveal a much, much different set of rules. When it comes to students, not even LCS students, who are friends of the family, Held is not so much about hard work, education opening doors, and so on. Instead she’s all like phone a friend for the kid, get her an internship. A service, I am going to go out on this limb now, I would wager, access to which she does not facilitate for the students whose career-path-choosing skills she’s meant to be cultivating, that she’s paid out of public funds to cultivate.

And even worse than that from Holdorff’s side, two months after she started in with these conversations between her and Held about internships LAUSD posted the position, presumably inviting members of the public to apply, but the fix was in, as you’ll see below. Many organizations have rules requiring jobs to be posted widely, precisely to preven the kind of nepotism you’ll see unfolding here. The conversation kicked off on December 14, 2017, when Held wrote to Holdorff thusly:


Hi Allison,

I hope you’re doing well! Reaching out with a favor (feel free to say no:). I have a close family friend’s daughter who is in community college and trying to figure out career stuff and is interested in potentially working in politics or the field of law. Naturally I thought of you!

I’d love it if she could meet with you both to pick your brain about careers in politics and law – what the education requirements are, what the work is like, any potential volunteer, internships or jobs she might look for to try the work out. I’m thinking when we’re back from break that first or second week could work. Let me know if that’s possible and she could meet you at the district or wherever works. Let me know and thanks in advance.

Amy


Amy Held
Executive Director
Larchmont Charter School
444 N. Larchmont Blvd. #207
Los Angeles, CA 90004
323.380.7893

amy.held@larchmontcharter.org


Yes. I’d love to chat with her.

Allison Holdorff-Polhill
310-804-8424


Subject: Re: personal favor to ask
From: Amy Held <amy.held@larchmontcharter.org>
Date: Fri, 15 Dec 2017 18:21:59 -0800
To: “Holdorff, Allison” <allison.holdorff@lausd.net>

You’re awesome – thank you! Hope you’re getting a break and that we can find time to meet up in the new year too. Let me know some good times for you in the new year and I’ll set it up for Wendy (that’s her name) to come meet with you. THANK YOU!
Amy

Sent from my iPhone



And after that profuse THANK YOU, well, Holdorff explains quite clearly that, of course, this is just a normal thing in that world these people live in. And not only that, but the request for conversation and advice has turned into an offer of an internship, which is probably what Held was asking for all along but one can’t just come out and say it:

From: “Holdorff, Allison” <allison.holdorff@lausd.net>
To: Amy Held <amy.held@larchmontcharter.org>
Subject: Re: personal favor to ask
Date: Sat, 16 Dec 2017 05:19:05 +0000

It’s Amy and a family friend. I can have her meet with others as well. If possible, I would like to have a dedicated intern.

Allison Holdorff-Polhill
310-804-8424

And here we are three weeks later. Has the matter slipped off Holdorff’s radar? No chance to find out, because here’s Held emailing in her inimitably cheerful tone to remind her of where they are at:

Date: Thu, 4 Jan 2018 12:53:24 -0800
Subject: Re: personal favor to ask
From: Amy Held <amy.held@larchmontcharter.org>
To: “Holdorff, Allison” <allison.holdorff@lausd.net>

Happy New Year Allison! Hope your holidays were happy! Writing to see if we can set up a time for the two of us to grab coffee and catch up and for you to meet Wendy (family friend). Any chance you have any time next week (any time after noon not on Friday would work for Wendy). Also – she lives in Culver City so westside works too if that’s easier. Let me know and thanks again!
Amy

Then there’s a whole flurry of emails, not really worth linking to individually but you can read them all on Archive.Org if you want to, where Held offers to bring Wendy out to Beaudry7 to worship at Holdorff’s feet but Holdorff is all like no, I will come to Culver City, and then they fix a time and then a place8 and hurray, it works out! And then it’s six weeks later, and again, at least by reading this email from Held to Holdorff, it appears that Holdorff isn’t focusing on Wendy’s needs, at least not sufficiently for Held:

From: Amy Held <amy.held@larchmontcharter.org>
Date: Mon, 19 Feb 2018 17:13:47 -0800
Subject: Following up re Wendy interning
To: “Holdorff, Allison” <allison.holdorff@lausd.net>

Hi Allison,

Hope you are doing well and that you got some downtime this weekend. It was great to see you a few weeks back and then I got to see Nick and Clayton when they toured our co-located campus shortly after.
Reaching out because I was a little delayed in getting Wendy the letter of rec but I believe she got it to you along with her resume. Wanted to touch base to see if you guys need anything further. I know she’s excited to hopefully help you all out as an intern.

Thanks,

Amy

Sent from my iPhone

And it takes Holdorff, who conceivably at this point is getting really sorry she even got involved with this whole internship favor-for-a-friend mishegas,9 two more weeks to send an answer, and it’s not cheerful, not enthused, but plodding, dutiful, socially required:

From: “Holdorff, Allison” <allison.holdorff@lausd.net>
To: Amy Held <amy.held@larchmontcharter.org>
Subject: Re: Following up re Wendy interning
Date: Thu, 1 Mar 2018 08:02:35 +0000

Hi Amy,

Sorry for the delay. I forward her information to Adriana in our office and will follow up.

Allison Holdorff Polhill

Senior Advisor & Director of Community Engagement

Office of LAUSD Board Member Nick Melvoin

w 213-241-6387 | allison.holdorff@lausd.net

c 310-804-8424

This email generated two responses from Held. The first, back to Holdorff, was cheerful AF. The second, to the famous Wendy herself, more sober:

Subject: Re: Following up re Wendy interning
From: Amy Held <amy.held@larchmontcharter.org>
Date: Thu, 1 Mar 2018 07:01:16 -0800
To: “Holdorff, Allison” <allison.holdorff@lausd.net>

No worries at all Allison – I know how busy you are:). Thank you!

Sent from my iPhone


From: Amy Held <amy.held@larchmontcharter.org>
Subject: Fwd: Following up re Wendy interning
Date: Thu, 1 Mar 2018 09:29:16 -0800
To: wendymendozap23@gmail.com

FYI – she just got back to me but sounds like someone in their office is following up so interning may be on – sorry for the delay.

Sent from my iPhone

Begin forwarded message:

Two more weeks go by, Holdorff writes to Held that there’s a posted internship and that Mendoza needs to apply for it. This is the smoking gun right here. Surely LAUSD has some kind of requirements that jobs be posted to a wide audience, precisely to prevent nepotism. But of course, nepotism can’t be prevented if people are willing to arrange things via back channels so that it looks like real searches are happening, even if they’re not at all:

From: “Holdorff, Allison” <allison.holdorff@lausd.net>
To: Amy Held <amy.held@larchmontcharter.org>
Subject: Re: Following up re Wendy interning
Date: Fri, 16 Mar 2018 15:05:29 +0000

Amy, we just need Wendy to apply for the internship which has posted.

Allison Holdorff Polhill
Senior Advisor & Director of Community Engagement
Office of LAUSD Board Member Nick Melvoin
w 213-241-6387 | allison.holdorff@lausd.net
c 310-804-8424

And then Held forwards this to Mendoza, Mendoza says she already applied, Held gives her some professional advice, and, finally, an email from a couple months later reveals that Mendoza did in fact get the job:

Date: Thu, 24 May 2018 15:54:05 -0700
Subject: Re: Co-located School Leadership Collaboration Summit
From: Amy Held <amy.held@larchmontcharter.org>
To: “Holdorff, Allison” <allison.holdorff@lausd.net>

Hi Allison,

Hope you are doing well! Wendy is so excited to be on board working with you all – thank you for making that happen! I know she’ll learn a ton. I saw Nick the other night at the Nat Damon book talk at Lindsay Sturman’s. You guys are doing such great work. I love that you’re doing this summit. I can only make it to the first day but will ensure we’ve got a rep there for the whole time.

Thank you!

Amy

So there you have it, friends! This is what these privatizing zillionaire minions are doing with the money, the resources, the blood and treasure they extract from the body politic like gold-digging lice. They’re advocating training and education for the lower classes as a way to get into college and to choose careers, but for their friends and family they’re calling in favors like mad.

And Allison Polhill Holdorff, despite the fact that she’s in a position of public trust and not meant to be using the resources entrusted to her for anyone’s illicit private gain is, well, using them for just that. But then, she’s a senior advisor to the school board’s most notorious pro-privatization member, so probably such behavior is actually a job requirement. And wait till I get more of these damn emails ready for publication! This little story is nothing at all compared to what’s coming.


Image of Amy Dresser Held is ©2019 MichaelKohlhaas.Org and has a little something to do with this nonsense found on the Internet one sleepless night.

  1. I really enjoy and appreciate the work of Jean Piaget, really do, absolutely. A couple things I’ve noticed in many long years of tangential contact with professional theorists of education is that first, none of them seem to understand a damn word the guy wrote and second, everything that comes out of their mouths after they say the word “constructivism” is a lie. The story I’m telling here is consistent, more than consistent, with these observations.
  2. This is an abbreviated but tragically accurate summary of their position. E.g. ” students in mixed-income schools showed 30 percent more growth in test scores over their four years in high school than peers with similar socioeconomic backgrounds in schools with concentrated poverty.”
  3. I’m not putativelifying the underlying facts here, just the way that the use of the word “disadvantaged” erases causality, complicity, and so on.
  4. I received almost a gig of emails from LCS, and it’s going to take me a while to prep the mass of them for publication, but stay tuned, and if you desperately need (or even just kind of want) access and know how to use an MBOX file, drop me an email at mike@michaelkohlhaas.org.
  5. Melvoin.
  6. AKA Allison Holdorff-Polhill. I’m sticking with the first form not for any reason beyond editorial consistency.
  7. LAUSD secret headquarters.
  8. Starbucks, bet you coulda guessed it.
  9. It’s Yiddish, charter school friends! It’s my impression that the intersection of people who know Yiddish slang and people who have the first freaking thing to do with the Larchmont Charter School is not just the empty set, it’s emptier than the empty set. It’s a quantum emptiness leap.
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