Earlier this month, the Anaheim City School District hit parents with a letter and robocall, signed and recorded by Superintendent Linda Wagner, warning them about “aggressive petition gatherers” who might “pressure them” while “they may not be telling you” all the facts about re-starting Palm Lane Elementary as a charter school — and oh, by the way, district staff “have been told” by unnamed sources that these unsavory characters are also bribing people for their for signatures!
Of course, the Parents of Palm Lane Elementary United (PPLEU) deny the unsubstantiated hearsay to which the ACSD leadership gave its imprimatur and blasted out to parents. It should also be noted that the school district never contacted PPLEU regarding the allegations, nor apparently were the allegations to the District Attorney’s Office per the latter’s request for such information – even though the school district must have been aware of these accusations at that time of the DA’s request.
So what is this petition that parents are being asked to sign? Given the scare tactics employed by opponents and detractors of this effort, reading the petition would be a important in order to have an intelligent discussion. You can click here to read a PDF; I have also reprinted the text of the petition below (minus the section for name, signature, etc.):
This is a Petition of Parents, Legal Guardians, and Persons Holding the Right to Make Educational Decisions for Pupils, including Foster Parents who hold rights to make educational decisions, to transform PALM LANE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL in the ANAHEIM CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT into an independent charter school using the RESTART MODEL as described in CA Code of Regulations (CCR), Title 5, section 4804 and attached to this petition.
Under the Parent Empowerment provision in the California Education Code (section 53300-53303) parents have a right to petition a school district to transform an underperforming school. This petition seeks the signatures of the parents or legal guardians of pupils currently attending PALM LANE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL in order to transform it using the RESTART MODEL.
PALM LANE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL is eligible for the Parent Empowerment law due to its inadequate academic performance, and through this petition, we, the parents, are seeking to transform our school to ensure every one of our children has access to the high-quality public education they deserve but are not currently receiving.
Although we have the right under the Parent Empowerment regulations to select a specific charter school operator in this petition, we are declining to do so at this time. Instead, we intend to exercise our power under CCR, Title 5, section 4802.2 to solicit proposals from potential charter school operators and select the charter school operator that will transform our school after we successfully submit petitions to the school district representing 50% or more of our school’s enrollment. The final selection of the charter school operator will be made by a vote of the petitioners according to the process outlined in an attachment to this petition.
[SIDEBAR] To transform your underperforming school, please fill out the sections below for each child whom you will be representing. Your address is optional. For more information, all interested persons, the school district, and others should contact:
(1) Padres de Palm Lane Elementary United
(2) California Center for Parent Empowerment
Process for solicitation and selection of independent charter school
According to section 4802.2(d) of the implementing regulations for the Parent Empowerment law, upon declaration from the district that it has adopted the restart model without a named charter school operator, the Los Angeles Unified School District will notify the petitioners that they may solicit and select a charter school operator. The petitioners will have up to 90 days to make their selection. In order to facilitate this selection
process, the Parents of Palm Lane Elementary (Padres de Palm Lane Elementary) – circulators of this petition – will conduct a vote amongst parents who signed the petition in order to select a charter school operator, and that vote will be binding upon the petitioners’ selection. The selection will be made by majority (or plurality, if a majority does not exist) of the parents who cast ballots in the voting process.
PARENT EMPOWERMENT REGULATIONS
§ 4804. Description of Intervention – Restart Model.
A restart model is one in which an LEA converts a school or closes and reopens a school under a charter school operator, a charter management organization (CMO), or an education management organization (EMO) that has been selected through a rigorous review process. (A CMO is a non-profit organization that operates or manages charter schools by centralizing or sharing certain functions and resources among schools. An EMO is a for-profit or non-profit organization that provides “whole-school operation” services to an LEA.) A restart model must enroll, within the grades it serves, any former student who wishes to attend the school.
NOTE: Authority cited: Section 33031, Education Code. Reference: Sections 53202 and 53300, Education Code; and 20 U.S.C. Section 6301.
There you have it. Again – real radical stuff.
C’mon now. This is out the Milton Friedman playbook. Public education is a “monopoly” and charter starters linked to hedge fund folks want in on that profit. To act like you really give a damn about the education of children in the hood is laughable!
A very predictable response from you, GSR. It’s your way of avoiding engaging in a discussion of the issue and what, if any, objections you have to expanding parental choice and charter schools in public education. And in point of fact, I do care very much, and my school choice activism goes back more than 20 years.
So where does my tax money go, Matt? Does it stay in Anaheim, or even in California, or does it get paid to some corporate holding company for the benefit of hedge fund billionaires?
How much control will Anaheim residents and taxpayers (and parents, too, of course,) have over this Charter entity? Will there be some kind of School-Board-Meeting-equivalent to have our voices heard? And speaking of the School Board, do the people who will run these outfits have any “answerability” to us? I don’t suppose we’ll get to elect them through the democratic process, will we. So whoever runs these charter schools answers only to their Chairman of the Board or stockholders, and Anaheimers can go jump in Lake Irvine if they don’t go along with the program.
I don’t like it, Matt. We’re giving up local control of our schools, which admittedly are not perfect. But we can make changes to them through a well-established democratic process and, alleluia, we now have local control of funding, which means parents will have a real voice as to how funds are used at the schools their children attend (they need to go to School Site Council meetings and be sure to nominate themselves for the Council – I think nominations happen in mid-spring, April or May, yearly, but parents may attend – and will be welcomed – at any School Site Committee meeting at any school in the District.)
Whatever needs to be fixed in our schools, let US fix it. I’ve been around too long to put any trust in some hedge fund manager’s investment scheme.
And finally, I strenuously object to the ugliness, the vicious personal attacks, the innuendos of malfeasance, that have been rained upon Superintendent Linda Wagner and School Board Member Jose F. Moreno for the past two years by some of the persons leading this effort to privatize Anaheim schools.
The School Board, duly elected by the voters of Anaheim, selected Ms. Wagner as Superintendent a couple of years ago If she wasn’t doing a good job, she’d be gone by now. If you want to know more about her, please go to the district website(www.acsd.k12.ca.us) and have a look at her weekly newsletter. She’s a very interesting, energetic lady. Personally, I think she’s doing a superb job under very difficult circumstances.
Dr. Moreno is not my cup of tea, politically. I’m sure he’s a good father and probably a fine human being. I haven’t heard any complaints about his tenure on the Board (can’t comment personally, since I am the least likely District employee to ever attend a Board – or classified union – meeting.) He was ELECTED BY THE VOTERS OF ANAHEIM. If you don’t like him or his decisions, then run your own candidate SUCCESSFULLY. This is a democracy. The guy with the most votes wins. If your candidate failed, too bad, better luck next time. But you don’t get to endlessly badger the entire Board, put the whole school system in an uproar, bring in outside agitators, and try to take over the School District. That is not within a parent’s rights or the rights of a small group of unhappy (and misguided, in my opinion) parents.
So there, that’s it for today. I still think this whole mess needs to be looked into by a good, impartial, investigative journalist. This is ugly local politics at its perogee, and would make an excellent case study for some enterprising reporter – an honest one, one may hope.
“According to section 4802.2(d) of the implementing regulations for the Parent Empowerment law, upon declaration from the district that it has adopted the restart model without a named charter school operator, the Los Angeles Unified School District will notify the petitioners that they may solicit and select a charter school operator.”
I find it interesting that the petition filed by a local parent group references LAUSD in their petition, rather than ACSD. Was the wording of this petition just copied from one filed previously and elsewhere, with local names substituted (except here, of course)? It makes me wonder how authentically local and grassroots this movement is. Or perhaps is it the case that local parents are being “guided” by outside concerns, who have their own agenda that does not genuinely reflect the Palm Lane community.