And it's been countless hours not only on City TV 35, but most the radio on Mark "Mr. K Germain's (old) KABC show, and now on his K-Talk 1150 show warning about concerns with the mayor's shady AB 1381 bill, and now shady takeover of the LAUSD school board through his 4 out of 7 majority. (And it appears as though Marlene Kanter will be cooperating with the other four, on certain occasions.)
One thing was pretty clear by reading the annunal order of business and by attending yesterday's meeting: The four mayoral backed boardmembers are there to keep Superintendent David Brewer on a tight leash, and not really let him take charge and do it his way.
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Dr. Richard Vladovick appears to be the CM Parks of the bunch (fiscalist), but didn't attack Brewer, too hard, on an issue he challenged; and Brewer ended up getting the flexibility he needed on the issue.
It's obvious though, that Yoli Flores Aguilar is the "bad cop" in the mayor's camp, who appeared to be reading a speech of a piece of paper in front of her. And it sure did sound exactly like the stuff ZD has heard out of mayoral spin doctors (some seen here on this blog). Hilarious. And as soon as she came off the page, she tanked.
Then, this rookie boardmember (Yoli Flores Aguilar), decides to start pushing around Superintendent Brewer, hollering how there's waste and beuracracy to find the money she was demanding.
Hey Yoli...chill out, babe. We all know LAUSD is a black-hole of waste and beuarcracy: But your second meeting is not time to start looking like you are the enemy of the school board. You gotta work on your diplomacy. A little PR panashe.
I mean Yoli, take a look what I said. I had a lot more to say, and everyone has heard me say it on radio, tv and blog. But that was my first meeting, so I didn't go in blazing like my 50th Council meeting. You are only on your second meeting. So chill babe! You're being devicive.
Meanwhile, the future does NOT look good for LAUSD for all the reasons I feared a year ago on Mr. K's show. You basically have a Brady Bunch situation. Two famlies thrown together and told to play nice in the sandbox.
But they are deciding to play "tug of war". What you have is the previous three members of the school board (and probably David Brewer) who are towing the teacher's union line (pulling UTLA's side of the rope); while you have the other four members on a mission to take the ball out the failing LAUSD hands. (Sorry when I say "failing", that DOES seem to be the perception.)
That's where mi amigo Steve Barr comes in. One of the big issues at LAUSD was Locke in Watts, that was there for approval of a first time Charter partnership between a private operator (Green Dot) and LAUSD.
This deal is different because it's not just LAUSD approving a Charter School for Barr's Green Dot to operate. At Locke, we are talking a "partnership" between the Broad/Gates backed "public school" operator and LAUSD.
I asked Barr if Charter's are a better idea because they can produce better results for the same amount of money (or less money) because they don't have the beauracy of LAUSD, isn't teaming up with LAUSD dragging down the efficeincy, right off the bat?
Barr says his goal is to help LAUSD learn how to operate like a Charter themselves. Teaching them his model and tricks of the trade. So instead of just giving LAUSD some sushi, he wants to teach them how to fish.
And Barr says he is perfectly willing to work with LAUSD in any capacity in helping the school board operate more like a Charter. (Which is supposed to be more efficently operated.)
AND, I was fortunate to be able to walk over to Green Dot offices, just down the street from LAUSD (temporary headquarters only) and I got to see the whole operation. And I must say, it does look pretty steal. Looked a lot like the radio stations I used to work at. And the small staff of employees ran about 10 schools out of the office.
Now, ZD has blogged and shouted about his concerns with the charter movement regarding the $20 billion construction and facilities budget and the "front-end loaded" management contracts that allows way too much of the money to be skimmed off the top, the way people are concerned Charters are skimming all the top students off the LAUSD crop.
However, ZD does feel, even if a CERTAIN amount of the money is falling off the truck in the proccess, if Charter operators are able to raise the API scores; then I guess it can't be any worse than the money being wasted by the public LAUSD.
See, Charters fall into that catagory of "taking public money and handing it over to the private sector through non-profit groups. But they are not required to fill out a form 700 and there is no accountability.
Now here are a few problems I see with Charters, besides previously mentioned issues.
Now Green Dot HAS proven to go into some pretty challenging districts and improve API scores. (Especailly in reading. Math seems to be harder to catch students up to par with once kids are at the high school level. So Green Dot hopes to open some middle schools to start teaching math earlier.) Point is, if ZD is not mistaken, Steve has gone into some pretty tough districts and improved the situation.
So now Eli Braod and Bill Gates have invested in Green Dot. And Barr has a long history with ZD's amigo Antonio V, of the 213. Waaaaaaaaaaaaay too long of a history for the comfort of some of ZD's LAUSD mentors. But you can't turn back time, Steve Barr has ten schools; he has the knowlegable David Tokofsky working with him; and yeah...Although Green Dot isn't the only Charter operator out there, isn't it kinda the mayor's prefered vendor? Of course.
So with the relationship with the Mayor's office, Broad and Gates (and whoever else) backing his effort; I think Green Dot wants to open about 100 charter schools in the LAUSD district.
Only problem is where are they going to build them? All the existing (already built) space is taken up by commerial owners like Cushman-Wakefield, or whoever. So it's always easier and cheaper to build a new school, I guess.
So if there isn't enough space to build a hundred new schools (500 students per school), look for a bunch of people to start losing their homes under Eminent Domian, if Green Dot is able to "max-out".
Now, maybe they should be able to take the ball and run with it, because everyone knows it's easier and cheaper to buy a new tv, than to fix a broken one. So the mayor, barr, four board members (and everyone who wears their color tshirts) feels LAUSD and their status quo teachers union need to be stripped of the ball.
Now some folks do not like the way the mayor's team (and Nucklehead Nunez' team) played ball during AB 1381 and during the board elections. (Where mayor spent millions of privately raised dollars from people pending aprovals on some pretty big projects with the city.)
But as far as the Mayor, Barr, Broad, Riordan, Nunez and anyone else who wanted COMPLETE mayoral takeover, if not this watered down version: You can't argue that they needed an intervention. And Charter schools SHOULD be able to do the job better because they can have smaller classroom sizes, more attention to the student, less beuracracy and all that.
And the reality is, you ain't gonna fix LAUSD this way. It's a tug-of-war, I think Brewer is the greatest and I wish I could go with him, but there's way too much beuracracy and diviciness and the direction is heading to Charters.
So here are some concerns:
* If Green Dot wants to do a hundred schools, is the community gonna roll over when homes have to be taken. (Tenant displacement)
* There are MANY different Charter operators. You got Green Dot and you got Semilla. So like any industry, bad competition gives the whole industry a bad name. Here's the concern. If you have a hundred Charter schools with a hundred different operators, how do you control the uniforminty and standards? At that point, it's all about the API. But then, you better make sure every single Charter is re-approved each year based on one thing and one thing only: API scores. And if you miss them "X" amount of years in a row...ADIOS!
* Charters are paid by per student attendance. So if you have problematic kids in some of these Charters, they are not disciplined or kicked out because it means less money to the school operator. So they don't crack down on problem kids at some of the shadier Charters.
But overall, as concerned as ZD is about taking public money and handing it over to private non-[rofit operators who are not required to fill out a Form 700, and all the conflicts ZD has expressed concern and proof of regarding Charters, and the "front-end loaded" management contracts concerns (that skims too much off the top, and you have Belmont Part Infinity.
HOWEVER, ZD does feel after meeting Steve Barr of Green Dot that the guy believes in what he is doing, believes he has the plan and can replicate it. And he has the leadership qualities to move it forward and have people like Bill Gates and Eli Broad support you.
My computer time is about to end. And that's a great place to end this starting point thread about LAUSD.
Looks like it's gonna be a tug of war between the mayor's team and the teachers union. With the union supporters trying to defend a guerilla warfare attack by Villaraigosa's team. And ZD says LAUSD is going down. Next step, with more students going to Charters, the mayor's team will want to cut LAUSD administration budget accordingly.
AND WHY DOES ZUMA DOGG THINK THIS VIDEO SHOWS THE FUTURE OF EDUCATION. (Medium, not content) I hope to bring more of this to LAUSD and Charters.