Tag Archives: Charter Schools

Johnathan Williams Of The Accelerated Schools Charter Empire And Marie Rumsey Of Zillionaire Terrorist Front The Central City Association Of Los Angeles — Working Together To Destroy Public Education In Los Angeles — One Of Their Weapons? — Commercial Real Estate Of Course — With Guest Appearances By Nightmare Zillionaire BID-Adjacent Clown Crew — Tom Gilmore — Adele Yellin — Steve Needleman — Wayne Ratkovich — Who Should Mostly Be In Literal Chains Rather Than Email Chains — But Here We Are In 21st Century Los Angeles

As you may recall, I got interested in charter schools in Los Angeles during the recent UTLA strike, and after learning that they are subject to the California Public Records Act I submitted a bunch of requests, and after a little amateurish obstructionism the goodies are starting to trickle in.1 Today’s installment is this small set of emails between Johnathan Williams, founder and head honcho of charter school empire The Accelerated Schools, and various people associated with zillionaire terrorist front group The Central City Association.

And one thing I’ve been learning recently, confirmed by these emails, is that there’s an extensive nexus of relationships among BIDdies and Charterites. BIDdies and their hired guns, like e.g. Jessica Lall and Noel Hyun of the CCALA, serve on many a charter school board. Their companies fund charters, arrange their real estate deals, introduce their executives around in the local zillionaire communities, and so on. Ultimately this shouldn’t have been a surprise to me, although it was.

Both BIDs and charter schools serve the zillionaire privatization agenda. Both are attacks on the public realm, seeking to destroy it so that it can be replaced with private institutions even more firmly under direct zillionaire control. The emails at hand give the tiniest glimpse into this world, just consisting of zillionaires and charterites passing names and email addresses around trying to find a place where the staff of one of Williams’s schools, the Wallis Annenberg High School, can hold a two day retreat.

But don’t be turned off by the triviality of the subject. The real story here is the existence of the network that allows such transactions as these to be negotiated seamlessly, effortlessly, genially, without friction. The shared presupposition of the value of charter schools revealed by the fact that no one questions it. That’s ultimately what we’re learning about, and such knowledge, like all knowledge worth having, comes a speck at a time. Until a vast panorama is revealed, like pointillism. Turn the page for transcriptions and links to the emails!
Continue reading Johnathan Williams Of The Accelerated Schools Charter Empire And Marie Rumsey Of Zillionaire Terrorist Front The Central City Association Of Los Angeles — Working Together To Destroy Public Education In Los Angeles — One Of Their Weapons? — Commercial Real Estate Of Course — With Guest Appearances By Nightmare Zillionaire BID-Adjacent Clown Crew — Tom Gilmore — Adele Yellin — Steve Needleman — Wayne Ratkovich — Who Should Mostly Be In Literal Chains Rather Than Email Chains — But Here We Are In 21st Century Los Angeles

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At The March 18, 2019 Meeting Of The West Adams Neighborhood Council When The Charter-Free Zone Resolution Was Considered — Kate O’Brien Of New Los Angeles Elementary School Distributed A Document To The NC Board Putatively Refuting The Position Of The Baldwin Hills Elementary School Parents Who Were Seeking The Resolution — Here’s A Copy Of That Document! — And Here Is Not A Refutation Of The Refutation — Because It’s Self-Refuting!

Super-short recap! New Los Angeles Charter Elementary School was forcibly co-located on the campus of the public Baldwin Hills Elementary School leading to a great deal of tension which came to a head during the UTLA strike in January and NLA boss Brooke Rios said that her school would try to find somewhere else to have their school but then they couldn’t find another place so parents from the public school proposed an anti-charter-school resolution to the West Adams Neighborhood Council which approved it by a vote of 8 to 3 and you can read a copy of the resolution here.

And here’s some video of the whole damn meeting, or at least the part where they’re discussing the charter school stuff. And right here, just after the NLA elementary school principal, Kate O’Brien, comes on to speak her piece, she mentions that she’s prepared a document that’s “just a response to the resolution.” The purpose of tonight’s post is to provide a copy of that response, which I just recently obtained from the super-helpful president of the West Adams NC, Mr. Steven Meeks.

As I said in the title, though, the thing is self-refuting. So I won’t insult you by commenting on or even mocking the damn thing. There is a transcription after the break so you can mock for your own self! OK, take it back! I can’t help it! Just take a look at this one little bit:

The document the Baldwin Hills Governing Council submitted repeatedly refers to New LA as “privately invested” and “operated by corporate investors.” New LA is a public school funded by public money.

The problem here is that even if what these privatizers at New LA is saying is technically true in some highly mediated fashion, the point they pretend to contradict, not to understand, that charter schools are “privately invested” and “operated by corporate investors” makes perfect unmediated sense. And no one has ever convinced anyone of anything ever by pretending not to understand what they’re talking about.

It’s an entirely true fact that charter schools in general were created by laws which exist only because zillionaires paid zillions to pass them. The laws are administered by school board members and other electeds who owe their seats to zillionaire payola. Without zillionaires there would be no charter schools in California. And zillionaires don’t get to be zillionaires without being corporate investors, or at least their daddies were.

And when it comes to New LA in particular, well, just look at their board of directors. There are basically two kinds of people on there: corporate investors and people who work for other schools whose boards of directors are also full of corporate investors. There’s no plausible sense in which it’s false to say that New LA is operated by corporate investors.

And as for being a public school? Well, when people talk about public schools, or public anythings for that matter, what they generally mean is institutions every aspect of which is under public control by people chosen through a direct political process. Like LAUSD schools, which are controlled directly by an elected school board. Not at all like New LA, which is controlled by a board of directors chosen according to some opaque and non-political process, and staffed by staffers hired by the board. Not public.

And as far as the money being public? Well, obviously that’s not what’s meant by public. Public money supports all kinds of private institutions. Being supported by public money doesn’t make an institution public. This statement is a disingenuous non sequitur. Anyway, turn the page for the transcription of the response.
Continue reading At The March 18, 2019 Meeting Of The West Adams Neighborhood Council When The Charter-Free Zone Resolution Was Considered — Kate O’Brien Of New Los Angeles Elementary School Distributed A Document To The NC Board Putatively Refuting The Position Of The Baldwin Hills Elementary School Parents Who Were Seeking The Resolution — Here’s A Copy Of That Document! — And Here Is Not A Refutation Of The Refutation — Because It’s Self-Refuting!

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Baldwin Hills Elementary School Parents Present Resolution To West Adams Neighborhood Council Declaring School A “Charter Free Zone” — Co-Locating Privatizers From New Los Angeles Charter Schools Speak In Opposition — But ‘Twas All In Vain As the Neighborhood Council Approved The Resolution — Which Of Course Is Advisory But This Is An Important Symbolic Victory For Public Education In Los Angeles

Since January I’ve been following the story of New Los Angeles Charter Elementary School and its forcible colonization of Baldwin Hills Elementary School. I was inspired by the UTLA strike and this fine article by Daniel Hernandez of LA Taco. And after a relatively minimal amount of fuss I managed to obtain a small cache of emails that revealed a great deal of tension between the privatizers and the public school, which inspired the privatizers to seek another school site for the 2019-2020 year.

However and sadly they were unable to do so and hence are forced to spend at least one more year being universally scorned on the BHES campus. Which brings us up to last Monday, March 18, 2019, when a brave and determined group of BHES parents brought a resolution to the West Adams Neighborhood Council asking them to declare the BHES campus a “charter-free zone.” There is a transcription of this remarkable document after the break.

So I attended the meeting and made video of the BHES segment.1 And you can watch the whole thing here on YouTube or here on Archive.Org, which is extra good if you want to download it. The NC Board gave each side seven minutes to speak on their positions. Also, Vernail Skaggs of LAUSD spoke to explain how the co-location process works. There was vigorous public comment as well, and in the end the Board voted 8 to 3 in favor of supporting the resolution and declaring Baldwin Hills Elementary School a “charter free zone.”

NC resolutions are advisory even on the City of Los Angeles, and since LAUSD is completely independent of the City government, they’re even less than advisory in that context. Nevertheless, this is an important victory. The more NCs and other community groups in Los Angeles speak out against charter schools the more incentive City politicians will have to oppose them. The school board and the legislature take the opinions of our City pols seriously,2 so even though this resolution is symbolic in itself, it’s nevertheless an important piece of a large-scale anti-charter movement in Los Angeles.

Like I said, the whole video is definitely worth watching. But it is over an hour long. Turn the page for links into the highlights with a little commentary, not to mention a little mockery. There’s also a transcription of the resolution itself.
Continue reading Baldwin Hills Elementary School Parents Present Resolution To West Adams Neighborhood Council Declaring School A “Charter Free Zone” — Co-Locating Privatizers From New Los Angeles Charter Schools Speak In Opposition — But ‘Twas All In Vain As the Neighborhood Council Approved The Resolution — Which Of Course Is Advisory But This Is An Important Symbolic Victory For Public Education In Los Angeles

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New Los Angeles Charter Elementary School To Continue To Co-Locate At Baldwin Hills Elementary School For The 2019-2020 School Year Even Though Everyone Is Unhappy About It — LAUSD Gave NLA No Other Choice According To Executive Director Brooke Rios — But In Order To Assuage Tension New LA Will Not Use Any Additional Classroom Space — Will Be Forced To Increase Class Size To Accomplish This — Desperate Search For New Site Continues With Formation Of Board Committee

You may recall that the recent UTLA strike inspired me to spend a little time using the public records act to look into the state of charter schools in Los Angeles, and one of the ones I’m looking into a little is New Los Angeles Charter Schools. After a little of the usual nonsense I was able to obtain a bunch of emails relating to the strike.

The story behind the story, well-told in LA Taco by Daniel Hernandez, is that the public Baldwin Hills Elementary School is forced by state law to cede part of its campus to New Los Angeles Charter Elementary School, a process called co-location. It’s never been a comfortable arrangement but the strike brought everything to the surface, and the emails revealed that New Los Angeles executive director Brooke Rios didn’t think it was possible to continue co-locating there given that everyone hated them:

It is clear that the strike gave voice to the mounting tension between Baldwin Hills and New LA. To be frank—we are not welcomed there. Our Prop 39 offer will be issued on February 1, and it is likely that we will be offered one more classroom at Baldwin for 18-19. It is difficult to imagine another year on that campus after this week, and I am eager to consider other solutions.

Proposition 39 created this co-location system, and the Prop 39 offer that Rios talks about there is a formal offer from LAUSD allocating public school space to a charter school. And given that the offer would issue on February 1, I made plans to attend the next meeting of the board of directors to see what was going to happen. And if I’m going to attend, I’m going to film, of course.

So last night they held the meeting out at their secret headquarters on Washington Blvd. just east of Hauser. I rode the bus all the way out there and taped the whole damn thing. So behold! Eighty four minutes of mind-numbing mumbling with a few really interesting things interspersed. Watch it at your peril, but also take a look here where Brooke Rios discusses the Prop 39 offer. To everyone’s dismay New Los Angeles was offered space at Baldwin Hills Elementary School and given no choice at all in the matter.

And Rios announces that New Los Angeles will seek not to exacerbate the tension any further by not taking up any more classroom space than they have been taking. So they’re not leaving, but they’re not expanding into more classrooms. This is going to require a significant increase in class size, which Rios and some board members anticipate will make parents pretty unhappy and might even induce some of them to move their kids to another school. How does Rios propose to deal with this desperate situation? Like any good bureaucrat, she’s forming a committee of the board! The committee will be looking for affordable privately-owned space that doesn’t involve co-location, which has turned out to be unreliable.

It was interesting but not surprising that throughout the discussion at the board meeting, no one on the primarily white board of directors or staff even mentioned the racial aspects of the situation, well explained by Hernandez, which is that the charter school is taking up space that could be used to serve the primarily African-American student body at Baldwin Hills.

It’s heartening to see that protests, shunning, and similar social action1 can actually lead to charters leaving co-located schools, or at least really trying their best to leave! There really aren’t other tools available to the parents of public school children to rid their campuses of privatizers, forced on them by state law. Nothing got settled at last night’s meeting, but I will continue to follow the story. Turn the page for a transcription of some of the discussion.
Continue reading New Los Angeles Charter Elementary School To Continue To Co-Locate At Baldwin Hills Elementary School For The 2019-2020 School Year Even Though Everyone Is Unhappy About It — LAUSD Gave NLA No Other Choice According To Executive Director Brooke Rios — But In Order To Assuage Tension New LA Will Not Use Any Additional Classroom Space — Will Be Forced To Increase Class Size To Accomplish This — Desperate Search For New Site Continues With Formation Of Board Committee

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State Legislators Connie Leyva And Patrick O’Donnell Introduce SB126 — To Clarify That Charter Schools In California Are Subject To The Public Records Act — And The Brown Act — And The Political Reform Act — This Will Formalize And Extend Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s Recent Published Opinion On The Matter

You may recall that California State Attorney General Xavier Becerra issued an opinion in December 2018 stating that charter schools in California were subject to the Brown Act and the Public Records Act. And recently, despite some ill-founded pushback, I was able to use the CPRA to get some pretty interesting information out of a local charter school, New Los Angeles.

But AG opinions aren’t law, and evidently there is still some uncertainty about the matter, for instance see this article by Tony Butka in CityWatch LA. So yesterday, state legislators Connie Leyva and Patrick O’Donnell introduced SB126, which states explicitly that charter schools and the organizations which run them are in fact subject to the Brown Act, to the Public Records Act, to the Political Reform Act of 1974, and to certain ethics laws.1

If this passes into law, and why should it not, it will be an incredibly useful tool for activists, the fruits of which you’ll be reading about here and elsewhere for the foreseeable future. Turn the page for the legislative analyst’s description of what the bill would do.
Continue reading State Legislators Connie Leyva And Patrick O’Donnell Introduce SB126 — To Clarify That Charter Schools In California Are Subject To The Public Records Act — And The Brown Act — And The Political Reform Act — This Will Formalize And Extend Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s Recent Published Opinion On The Matter

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Emails From New Los Angeles Charter Schools About The UTLA Strike Shine Some Light On Various Interesting Matters — Uncomfortable New LA Charter Co-Location At Baldwin Hills Elementary School Will Probably End Soon Due To Tensions Exposed By Pickets — “We Are Not Welcomed There” Says New LA Charter Boss Brooke Rios — Speaking Of Pickets, New LA Charter Staff Filmed UTLA Strikers At Baldwin Hills Elementary — And Copies Of CCSA Anti-Union Propaganda And Some Info About Astroturf Demonstration — And A Poignant Little Episode — New LA Charter Teachers Quasi-Union Asks Rios If They Might Please Also Maybe Get A Raise Too If UTLA Does — Pretty Please?

I hadn’t thought much about charter schools in Los Angeles for quite a while, but as happened for many people the dazzling success of the UTLA strike brought them back into my attention. Combine that with the fact that they are subject to the California Public Records Act and the next step was inevitable! And the first of the many many requests I have out came in recently! Part of which I wrote about the other day!

After a little of the usual back and forth about what’s required by the law, New Los Angeles Charter Schools head honcho Brooke Rios actually did hand over the goods. And thus did I drag myself all the way out to the corner of Washington and Burnside, where they have their secret headquarters, and sit in the office of operations director Xochitl Lira and scan a ton of paper! And it’s all available on Archive.Org!1

I chose New LA because of this fine LA Taco article by Daniel Hernandez about the tensions created by that school’s so-called co-location on the campus of Baldwin Hills Elementary School. To summarize Hernandez’s piece is to degrade it, so read it, but co-location, in which LAUSD schools are forced by the 2000 Proposition 39 to yield space to charter schools if it’s not actually being used to house an actual class, is the main site of contention.2

It has really hurt the LAUSD schools who lose space to charters. And the space lost to New Los Angeles Charter was a big issue with UTLA picketers at Baldwin Hills Elementary, who shouted slogans like “Privatization leads to segregation” and “Privatizers take a hike!” And, according to some of the emails I obtained today, it looks like the pickets were successful in that New Los Angeles will be looking for a new space for next year.

The emails also demonstrate the tension there during the strike, with police being called, with New LA staff filming the picketers, and so on. There are links and transcriptions below the break. Also below the break are links to a wide variety of fascinating emails about other strike-related topics. There are propaganda pieces from the California Charter Schools Association, giving talking points, tips for handling worried parents, polemics on how bad it is that everyone hates charter schools, and so on.

There are rumors about charter school kids being targeted on public transportation and so on, leading New LA to suspend its dress code during the strike, there are organizational communications having to do with the astroturf pro-charter rally that the CCSA organized outside the LAUSD board meeting where a recommendation for a charter cap was voted on.

And, most poignant of all, there’s a pleading letter from something called “The Teacher Collective” asking Brooke Rios in a markedly subservient tone if New Los Angeles teachers will also get a raise if the UTLA teachers win one in their strike. Sounds like some folks are ripe to be organized! Turn the page for links to everything and transcriptions of some things!
Continue reading Emails From New Los Angeles Charter Schools About The UTLA Strike Shine Some Light On Various Interesting Matters — Uncomfortable New LA Charter Co-Location At Baldwin Hills Elementary School Will Probably End Soon Due To Tensions Exposed By Pickets — “We Are Not Welcomed There” Says New LA Charter Boss Brooke Rios — Speaking Of Pickets, New LA Charter Staff Filmed UTLA Strikers At Baldwin Hills Elementary — And Copies Of CCSA Anti-Union Propaganda And Some Info About Astroturf Demonstration — And A Poignant Little Episode — New LA Charter Teachers Quasi-Union Asks Rios If They Might Please Also Maybe Get A Raise Too If UTLA Does — Pretty Please?

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Annals Of Public Records Act Bullying Tactics — Brooke Rios Of New Los Angeles Charter Schools Tries An Old Dodge — Sadly Commonplace Among CPRA Obstructionists — “Your Records Are Ready And You Can See Them As Soon As You Give Us $90” — But Then Backs Off In Less Than Two Hours After Being Told That The Law Requires Inspection For Free — Sadly, The Only Unusual Thing About This Episode Is The Short Time Frame

What with the recent unrest in the teacher/labor community which, as you know, led to a historic victory which, for the first time ever, led to the school board recommending a cap on charter schools in Los Angeles, well, and what with Xavier Becerra, the attorney general of California, just recently issuing a historic opinion stating definitively that charter schools are subject to both the Brown Act and the Public Records Act, yes, what with all that, I thought it might be interesting to hit up a few of these zillionaire-beloved trojan horses with some requests for information.1

And one of the ones I hit up in the first round was the New Los Angeles Charter Schools. You can read my request here, sent to NLA boss Brooke Rios, seeking information contained in emails about discussions their administration had about the UTLA strike.2 And roughly within the statutory time-frame, I received a response letter from Rios quoting a bunch of aggro copypasta lawyerese, citing the attorney/client privilege exemption, and informing me that they had 363 pages of responsive material and that I had to pony up $90.75 if I wanted to see the goods.3

Now, that’s $0.25 per page that she was proposing to charge me for copies. The CPRA at §6253(b) allows agencies to charge “fees covering direct costs of duplication,” which it’s doubtful that $0.25 is given that most copy machines cost about $0.02 per page and even FedEx Office only charges $0.13 per page, and they’re making a profit from that. I’m told by those who have reason to know, though, that this is essentially an unwinnable argument in court,4 given that, e.g., the Los Angeles County Superior Court charges about $1 per page for freaking PDFs, and those are the same judges one would be asking to declare $0.25 excessive.

Another problem with Rios’s problematic proposal is that emails are electronic documents. The CPRA at §6253.9(a) requires agencies to provide copies of electronic documents in electronic formats, whereas Rios has obviously printed these emails out on paper and wants to require me to accept and pay for paper copies. Of course, the “direct cost” of making copies of electronic files is $0.00, so her insistence on charging $0.25 for paper copies is a violation of that section as well.

But the real kicker is that the CPRA does not allow agencies to charge for access to records. They’re only allowed to charge for copies of records. This is codified in the CPRA at §6253(a), which states in pertinent part that “[p]ublic records are open to inspection at all times during the office hours of the state or local agency and every person has a right to inspect any public record, except as hereafter provided.” Nothing in the law says they can charge, and so they can’t charge. By insisting that I pay $90.75 before getting access to these records Rios was poised to violate this requirement of the law.

And sadly Rios isn’t the only public official in the world to think of this bushwa means of CPRA obstructionism. It’s commonplace, and it’s essential to push back on it whenever it’s encountered. Thus did I send Rios a response outlining these facts and offering her the choice of providing me with electronic copies for free or letting me come in and scan the records myself with my scanner.5 And although many public agencies take the untenable stance that they can charge exorbitant fees for access to records, not many back down as quickly as Brooke Rios did. It took her less than two hours to concede that I had the right to see the records and make my own copies at no charge.6

It is a very sad situation indeed that public agencies are allowed to attempt to intimidate people who want to look at records, and that it’s necessary not only to understand one’s rights thoroughly but be willing to push back against unsupportable CPRA aggression in order to be able to exercise the right to access public records. It doesn’t seem like the legislature is going to fix this7 any time soon, so right now we have no choice other than to know our rights and push back, push back, push back. And turn the page for transcriptions of everything!
Continue reading Annals Of Public Records Act Bullying Tactics — Brooke Rios Of New Los Angeles Charter Schools Tries An Old Dodge — Sadly Commonplace Among CPRA Obstructionists — “Your Records Are Ready And You Can See Them As Soon As You Give Us $90” — But Then Backs Off In Less Than Two Hours After Being Told That The Law Requires Inspection For Free — Sadly, The Only Unusual Thing About This Episode Is The Short Time Frame

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