El Rio Community School is a charter school opening in Highland Park in September 2020. Of course charter schools in California are subject to the California Public Records Act and so last summer I hit these folks up with a request. They demurred. I filed a freaking lawsuit. And, thank goodness, last week they started to produce records! The stuff they handed over is all interesting, even if it’s not close to everything they ought produce, and worth your time to look at:
⚝ Bank statements — January through July 2019. A rare look into the financials of an independent charter startup.
⚝ 58 pages of emails — And also a bunch of contracts between ERCS and various vendors.
Like I said, it’s all interesting. But here I’m focusing on two particular items. The second is the bank statements, and read on for that. The first is this contract between ERCS Supreme Commander Dr. Katie Chau and a peculiarly cult-like outfit called Reframe Labs. Reframe’s founder and CEO is Russ Altenburg, famously also chairman of charter school astroturf conspiracy Speak UP Parents. For context, it’s worth taking a look at the Reframe Labs manifesto, or at least this snippet here:
Continue reading Interesting New Records From Gentrification-Enabling Highland Park Charter Academy — El Rio Community School — Show How The Cultish Charter Grifters Known As Reframe Labs Funnel Public Money Into Their Own Deep Zillionaire Pockets — Reframe Labs By The Way Is Really Just A Front For Russ Altenburg — Also Chair Of The Board Of Astroturf Charter Lobbying Mafia Speak Up Parents — And How ERCS Supreme Commander Doctor Katie Chau Spent More Than $2K In Public Money — Meant For Educating Children — To Attend CCSA’s 2019 Annual Conference — And Learn How To Destroy Public Education — Which Is Appalling — And Ironic In A Bitter Way — But Not Surprising
Yes, this post is about another CPRA petition. If you don’t want to read through the reams of nonsense to get to the goods, here is a direct link to that petition!
Charter schools in Los Angeles serve a variety of social functions. There are white savior charter schools which operate in majority black/brown neighborhoods and seem to mostly consist of real estate and tax scams thinly overlain with implausible social justice rhetoric and toxic moral complacency. The Accelerated Schools are a paradigmatic example of this variety. There are zillionaire-serving schools, which play essentially the same role in 21st Century Los Angeles as segregation academies did in their day. Pali High and Granada Hills Charter High are good examples of this sort.
And then there are gentrification-enabling charters. Once the gentrification of a neighborhood has moved past the edgy urban pioneer stage and the pre-existing residents have been pacified to a sufficient extent, young families start to move in. Or the original edgies get smoothed down a little and start having kids. All these new arrivals need schools to send their kids to, and the neighborhood public schools generally won’t do for all the obvious reasons. The same reasons that the so-called legacy bars and restaurants won’t do.
The gentrification process requires new establishments with craft cocktails and $37 nitro cold brew lynx poop coffee drinks to satisfy the settlers, and the equivalent replacements for neighborhood public schools. Charters are an ideal (and recognized) way to fill this need, given that they can be relatively easily started from scratch and the kids of the soon-to-be-displaced so-called legacy residents relatively easily excluded. And they can be spiffed up with all kinds of shiny hipster-appealing educational baubles, like e.g. Waldorf or Montessori.
And of course Highland Park has been and is one of the most gentrificationally contested neighborhoods in Los Angeles. And the gentrification bars are there in force. And the coffee. And now, therefore, it is time for the gentrification charters to move in. Which brings us to the subject of today’s post, that is El Rio Community School, a Waldorf charter establishment approved by LAUSD last year and set to open in Highland Park in the Fall of 2020.
This school is in the intersection of three of my favorite subjects to investigate via the California Public Records Act, so when I first learned about it I immediately sent the supreme commander, Dr. Katie Chau, a request for the usual array of records. And ten days later Dr. Chau responded with a cryptic note that read: “Thank you for your email. El Rio Community School is authorized by LAUSD to operate a charter school in 2020, but the school hasn’t even opened yet. We don’t have any public records.”
Continue reading El Rio Community School — A Gentrification-Enabling Charter In Highland Park — Sued To Enforce Compliance With The California Public Records Act