No end to schools' battle over space Schools & Kids, posted by Editor, Mountain View Voice Online, on Mar 29, 2012 at 12:41 pm
Another court ruling has been handed down in the years-long battle over classroom space between Bullis Charter School and the Los Altos School District. Yet, neither the charter school nor the school district appear to be anywhere near a compromise.
Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, March 29, 2012, 11:37 AM
Posted by mb, a resident of the Whisman Station neighborhood, on Mar 29, 2012 at 2:33 pm
Mr. Goines is incorrect. The court in Ridgecrest Charter School vs. Sierra Sands Unified, specifically stated " "Contiguous" means "touching along all or most of one side" or, more generally, "near, next, or adjacent [to]." (Webster's New World Dict). The requirement that charter schools be provided with "contiguous" facilities presumably means the facilities must be contiguous to one another, i.e located at or near the same site; otherwise, there would not appear to be any reason for including the term in the statute. Section 47614 does not say that a charter school's facilites must be "reasonably contiguous", or "as contiguous as possible without disrupting a district's other students." Also, the Court goes on to state that there is some tension between the "shared fairly" and "reasonably equivalent" requirements in section 47614 of the one hand and the "contiguous" requirement on the other. "We think it must at least begin with the assumption that all charter school students will be assigned to a SINGLE site, and attempt from there to adjust to the other factors to accomodate this goal." Lastly, the Court says: "We have little doubt that accomodating RCS's facilities request will cause some, if not considerable, disruption and dislocation among the District's students, staff and programs. But Section 47614 requires that the facilities "should be shared fairly among all public school pupils, including those in charter schools." Frankly, with a decision like Ridgecrest before us, I dont understand why LASD is being so unreasonable. Wont be surprised if LASD's unreasonableness ends up having it to pay BCS's attorneys fees on top of paying its own. Dont blame BCS parents for asking and fighting for what they are entitled to. LASD parents your problem is due to the LASD board and inability to make sound decisions.
Posted by JJS, a resident of another community, on Mar 29, 2012 at 4:29 pm
As usual, BCS people talk TONS about the law and ZERO about morality. What they are doing is WRONG and all they have to hide behind is the figleaf of a couple of loopholes their extremely-high-paid super-lawyers dug up.
Bullis Charter School takes money away from typical kids in LASD. By ignoring special needs kids and foisting the burden of our obligations from the past entirely on the least-able to pay for it, they maintain their rich-kids-only school using litigation (which is why the BCS leadership is dominated by lawyers).
BCS should be taken private or shut down. Rich people should pay for their own private school, not make the less-advantaged pay for it--no matter what they think "the law" entitles them to do.
Posted by dc, a resident of another community, on Mar 29, 2012 at 4:58 pm
If Joanie really cared about morality, she would have apologized months ago when the district was found to be at fault by the appeals court. Instead, she has blathered on and on about how honest and righteous she is. Hope you feel good about your blogs, videos and continuing to deny 10% of the district facilities so your little munchkin gets to keep them all.
I have no idea who you are but I am starting to imagine your child as Violet from Willie Wonka. "But I wanted Blueberry!"
BCS parents sleep well knowing some day their kids will be firing your kids.
Posted by Taxpayer, a resident of another community, on Mar 30, 2012 at 8:34 am
Wow, mb, thank you for your post--very helpful! I appreciate that someone has taken the time to actually read the law about contiguity and set it forth concisely (and in a framework showing how LASD continually MISINTERPRETS and twists the law into something it is not). I applaud your post and appreciate your simple, straightforward analysis. One can only hope that LASD's new, additional lawyers will guide LASD to the conclusion that splitting BCS into two campuses is unlawful and uses taxpayers resources not for the kids of the district but for their own political gain. This should be about the kids, but the money spent defending illegal conduct is draining resources that could go to kids' programs and educational improvements. When will the taxpayers wake up. Thanks for your sound reasoning... spread the word.
Posted by get real, a resident of another community, on Mar 30, 2012 at 8:44 am
You apparently weren't at the LASD Board meeting, where no one from BCS got up to speak.... about sharing at Covington. It all falls on deaf ears anyway. The BCS Board had their own Board meeting that night, and Smith and Goines wonders why no one got up to speak? Why bother! The District parents are afraid to say anything negative, as their kids sit in the LASD classrooms and the ones who spoke of safety and traffic and biking did so without complaining about sharing. The details were so vague who could possibly comment with any substance. Plus, the photo in the paper was a joke. BCS has enough "in-District" students that 11 acres for BCS is a factor to consider. Yet, LASD wants the community to "discuss" allocating one of four wings to BCS and "sharing" the common areas of a 11-13 acre site? There's nothing to discuss. It was a red herring from the beginning and it contradicts LASD's own policies against putting more than 600 students one any one elementary school campus
Posted by JJS, a resident of another community, on Mar 30, 2012 at 9:27 am
The groundswell of criticism on the Internet over Bullis Charter School continues to build. Please check out my blog here: Web Link .
Today I talk about the concept of "creaming", which explains how Charter schools don't really solve ANY real-world problems but merely concentrate the most advantaged students into a single school, leaving the lower performing and expensive students for public schools to educate.
While this THE core issue for Charter schools across the country, BCS may be the most EXTREME example of this in the entire USA (not the 1%, but the .01% as it were).
So while BCS wages its battle with lawyers and courts, honest citizens are waging a counter-attack with reason and words.
Posted by mb, a resident of the Whisman Station neighborhood, on Mar 30, 2012 at 10:48 am
What is causing the problem here is ignorance and/or denial of the facts and the law. Facts are:(i) BCS kids are for most part in-district children and thus entitled to the same rights as LASD kids, and(ii) BCS parents pay property taxes too and actually receive less per student than do LASD students. Also, if you read the applicable case law it is clear that LASD is being unreasonable. Educate yourself and read it for yourself. Don't allow others to interpret it for you. I guess that is the big difference between LASD and BCS. LASD adheres to a follow the pack mentality and BCS promotes its students to be individuals and think for themselves. Here is the link to the case law: Web Link
Posted by JJS, a resident of another community, on Mar 30, 2012 at 11:38 am
@mb: We all pay property taxes, nobody here is disputing that (which makes that a "straw-man attack" in case you were wondering).
What the BCS people have figured out how to do is divert MORE of those tax dollars to their OWN children and AWAY from less advantaged kids.
Please read the complete financial analysis of BCS/LASD here: Web Link .
And yes, we know: you have case law, statues, regulations, politicians, and bla-bla-bla-bla-bla. What you ACTUALLY HAVE are the best and most expensive lawyers the billionaire founders of BCS can buy to sue our school district.
Stop hiding behind "the law"--it's a hollow argument. It's transitory, especially since BCS is now having the side-effect of creating an army of anti-charter school warriors here in Silicon Valley.
As for the NASTY SMEAR about our public school children having "pack mentality", that's ironic since that is a quote right out of the BCS PR Firm Talking Points. Were you one the 20 BCS people to attend the "media training" we glean from the BCS filings? Do you regularly get the emails (orders) from Wanny telling you what today's talking points are?
LASD, let's be clear, cannot hire an expensive PR Firm like BCS can and has, and has not and cannot "organize" like BCS can and has. The individual PTAs, LAEF, KPAO.org, BullisCharterScam.org, myself, LASDVoices.blogspot.com, and MANY OTHER INDIVIDUALS all operate COMPLETELY INDEPENDENTLY from LASD and each other.
We are a loose (LOOSE!) collection of parents opposing what BCS is doing to our community. Your mindless insults to the contrary are just that.
Posted by mb, a resident of the Whisman Station neighborhood, on Mar 30, 2012 at 12:29 pm
JJS: it's impossible to discuss this issue with you in a meaningful and intelligent way because you make up facts, attack and are a bully. What makes our nation great is that we are “a nation of laws, not of men,” as best said by John Adams. So, we need to acknowledge, respect and follow the law; and not throw a tantrum when we dont like it. With regard to the "pack mentality"; let's get our facts straight and not wrongfully attack. BCS and Wanny do not do "media training". The notion of allowing every kid to be him/herself,is something I personally experienced when I transferred my special ed kid from an LASD school to BCS. BCS provides an alternative to the cookie cutter educational program offered by LASD. Also, you exaggerate and make it sound as if BCS parents are these super rich parents having these poor LASD parents pay for the BCS kids' education. You are WRONG, BCS parents aren't more wealthy nor are their being educated at the cost of LASD kids. Although, it may be true that BCS parents are more educated and hence chosen a better public education program for their kids. BTW, you seem to have a hang up with money, "more expensive" does not mean "better". More substance and stronger foundation equates to better.
Posted by JJS, a resident of another community, on Mar 30, 2012 at 1:54 pm
As usual, BCS people accuse me an others of "making things up" but they will NEVER NEVER NEVER let us know exactly WHAT facts we made up. That's a secret I guess.
I'll ignore your baseless insults about our top-ranked public schools and those us us among the "less educated" who choose them over BCS. (You ARE, however, reinforcing every stereotype about BCS people right now and for that I thank you).
BCS parents pay (because they MUST PAY lest the school cease to exist) on average $5000/year per child (an amount, you'll be surprised to learn, is actually a lot of money for some people--and completely out of reach for most).
Out of 4500 parents in LASD, only about 40 of them donate to LAEF at this level versus over 400 at BCS. It's quite logical to assume, then, that BCS has the very richest parents in the District by far.
After legally-required overhead items, "typical" LASD kids have around $6000 per year to spend on their education, whereas BCS has about $13k to spend--over twice as much and this is NOT INCLUDING the "extra" fundraising that goes on for specific programs.
BCS is the rich kid's school with more than twice as much money to spend on their programs because parents subsidize the school. It's exactly like a publicly-funded private school. That's a fact.
Posted by mb, a resident of the Whisman Station neighborhood, on Mar 30, 2012 at 3:34 pm
As the saying goes: "If the facts are on your side, pound the facts into the table. If the law is on your side, pound the law into the table. If neither the facts nor the law are on your side, pound the table." Seems like LASD has been pounding the table for years.
Posted by Satisfied LASD Parent, a resident of another community, on Mar 30, 2012 at 5:43 pm
"mb", LASD parents are not "pounding the table", as you say. We are quite happy with our outstanding neighborhood schools and with our school district which is the best in the entire state. I'm sorry that you don't like the facilities which have been allocated to BCS. You made a conscious decision to enroll your child in BCS and you knew the facilities which had been allocated. Stop demanding that LASD close one of our high performing neighborhood schools to accomodate your choice!
Posted by Deborah B Simms, a resident of another community, on Mar 31, 2012 at 12:33 pm
I am very concerned that a group lead by PTA presidents and others is trying to end school choice in our community. They have asserted that they are united against Bullis Charter. My kids were in the LASD schools a while ago and they were OK programs, but I always thought that they could do a better job. BCS seems like it is offering a great program, and now it has a long waiting list. Wouldn't be better for everyone if parents had choices for their child's education? Schools should be about teaching and learning, PTA's should focus on that. Uniting against teachers and parents at another school doesn't seem very moral to me.
Posted by mb, a resident of another community, on Mar 31, 2012 at 12:52 pm
Deborah, your claim that the LASD PTA presidents are "against Bullis Charter" is a gross distortion of the facts (and you know it). The PTA presidents are against Bullis Charter displacing an existing high performing neighborhood school. I'm not sure why this stance would come as a surprise to anyone. The parents at Covington do not want to see Gardner Bullis closed down and vice versa. School choice is great but let's not close great schools because some disgruntled parents are still trying to settle an old score with the school district.
Posted by JJS, a resident of another community, on Mar 31, 2012 at 2:02 pm
@Deborah -- Thanks for your interest in "school choice". Please send your check for $40,000,000 for new campus to the District at your earliest convenience, and about $1m per year to cover the overhead as well.
Seriously, saying, "I WANT IT! I WANT IT! I WANT IT!" without regard to how anything is paid for--and/or what OTHER things you will NOT GET because of the trade-offs being made is not helpful.
Where would the cuts happen? Special-needs kids? Shorter school years? Bigger class sizes? Who should be sacrificed because what some people WANT?
BCS absolutely CAN be a valid, expensive (but paid-for) indulgence in our community if people stopped thinking of it as a revenge plot and stopped imagining it's a "superior model" that should replace our public school system.
I have a complete vision of how BCS *could* properly fit in here: Web Link .
The key is to be HONEST and understand that CHOICE COSTS MONEY (but the GOOD NEWS is that here in our community, we have TONS of the stuff). If we thought of BCS as a "an (expensive) choice" and not "a replacement", then it would actually start to make sense.
Posted by Deborah B Simms, a resident of another community, on Mar 31, 2012 at 2:54 pm
It's my view point that it is in fact the LASD parents are the ones that are being unreasonable. I am wondering why we are so concerned about schools closing. This district closes schools and moves kids around all time, just like every other school district in the area. I think we need to honor the families that would like a choice, I think it is the best thing for our community.
It's been awhile since my kids were in school, but I remember how all the schools would fight for resources, it was always the schools that had someone of the board that seemed to get more of the cookies. I just think it's sad that we can't seem to give BCS a chance, it seems like many in our community are interested in the school. I have seen quite a bit a selfish behavior, but most of it seems to be coming for LASD. I just don't get why we can't give this great school a chance, it really deserves one.
I also don't really get you Joan J Strong.... you really seem very angry. I find it kind of frightening, for the sake of yourself and your family members please try and evaluate your actions, making talking things out with your love ones would help.
Posted by po, a resident of another community, on Mar 31, 2012 at 3:37 pm
Molly, why is it that when we discussed sharing Covington with BCS, it was "sharing" or "co-locating?" And if we do the same idea but with the significantly smaller GB, it is somehow closing the school? Couldn't it maintain it's identity if it desired? And wouldn't that mean there were still 10 schools and 10 campuses?
Posted by Deborah B Simms, a resident of another community, on Mar 31, 2012 at 3:46 pm
I don't know which school should close. As I understand most of the students at BCS are LASD kids, so shouldn't they have a school as well? Doesn't that mean that as kids go to BCS the other schools end up with less kids? I guess which ever school is the smallest should be the one that should be turned over to BCS. I don't really have an opinion on that though, iI am sure that would be very difficult, but I know we have closed schools and moved kids around before.
I recently watched Waiting for Superman, which I found very interesting and would recommend it to anyone who is interested in the school reform movement. One of the schools in the movie was a charter high school in Redwood City the process for getting into the school was a lottery, isn't that what Bullis Charter does here? My understanding from the movie is that the way it was supposed to work is that the charter and the district schools compete for students with the parents choosing. A couple of my neighbors go to the charter school and they really love it. It just doesn't seem fair that they are shoved into portables at Egan. Thank you for not getting angry in your last post, I hope I don't upset with you with this one.
Posted by JJS, a resident of another community, on Mar 31, 2012 at 4:05 pm
@Deborah -- Is that your reaction to anybody who disagrees with you? You attack them personally with nasty remarks? Very mature.
We DID close a school here in LASD a number of years ago. It went down as the single-biggest mistake this community has every made (it caused BCS to happen for starters) and nobody in their right mind is ever going to do it again. Closing schools destroys communities. Nobody wants that, and "sharing" is far, far preferable because at least you keep the community intact.
Diane Ravitch, former asst. secretary of the DOE--and one of the founders of the Charter movement--reviewed the movie Waiting for Superman here: Web Link . Check it out.
Posted by Deborah B Simms, a resident of another community, on Mar 31, 2012 at 4:18 pm
I didn't mean it as a personal attack, but you are very angry. Diane Ravitch is someone I am familiar view. She has been around for a long time. In fact I think I read a book by her back in the 90's. So I will go and check out your link.
Posted by JJS, a resident of another community, on Mar 31, 2012 at 4:51 pm
@DBS: Um, yes, my opening sentence was "sarcastic". Your response was "innuendo". You obviously took it far too personally and lashed out with personal insults--which you can't seem to stop repeating.
Maybe, then, YOU are the one who is angry and is a threat to your children and needs counseling? (Not that I would make such an obviously baseless statement about somebody typing a response into a comments section, but by way of illustration...).
Posted by Deborah B Simms, a resident of another community, on Mar 31, 2012 at 5:24 pm
I went and looked at your link, although looking at your last post, maybe I should have just ignored you. You really are very angry. You post often and you are always putting things in caps, which means that you are YELLING.
Diane seems very anti charter. I found that interesting because the book I read by her, The Language Police was critical of school reform movements and the teacher's union. I guess now she is completely in the teacher's union camp. Unionized Teachers are definitely the villains of waiting for superman, so I can see why she wouldn't like the movie. I found this link from National Review in which Jay P Greene writes about Diane Ravitch:
Posted by Get real, a resident of another community, on Mar 31, 2012 at 8:47 pm
LASD PTA is trying to interfere with the contractual relations between BCS and the County. They are rallying Trustees at the County to "protect their interests" (which by the way conflict with the law requiring equitable sharing of taxpayer assets.) It sounds like as long as there is a Blue Ribbon, high performing school, it's still perfectly acceptable to treat charter school students different (a form of, dare I say, discrimination). So, under their thinking, only when a District has something less than a high performing school, then and only then are they required to follow the law that Californians passed about 20 years ago. With that mentality, California schools will never rise to the top of the nation's ranking and Californians will be doomed to have their economy run by those raised as children elsewhere. Way to go PTA--who-hoo, the national PTA will be so thrilled with your behavior, as will our community, who is served by choice and a different kind of approach to education. Forget liberty and the pursuit of freedom--let's ALL be alike and have nothing unique to offer!
Posted by Idea, a resident of another community, on Mar 31, 2012 at 9:11 pm
I have an idea--Don't engage with JJS. S/he is irrational, angry, and not worthy of a response. As my father taught me, never argue with a fool, because an onlooker will not know which is the fool. So, let's all take a breather and not even engage with JJS (Joan Strong). Just let him/her rant and ignore the nonsense of his/her posts.
Posted by question for lasd Mandarin students, a resident of another community, on Mar 31, 2012 at 9:30 pm
Quick question for LASD parents who have after school programs at LASD schools: How much do you, LASD parents of Mandarin students (at each particular LASD school) have to pay (and to whom do you pay) for your child(ren) to take the after school Mandarin class? Other after school programs offered at LASD schools?
Posted by JJS, a resident of another community, on Apr 1, 2012 at 12:50 am
Yes, Diane Ravitch, one of the founders of the Charter movement, after seeing what Charters do in the real world, is now firmly anti-charter.
And no, neither she--nor we--respond to SMEARS like, "you must by in the teacher's union camp if you are against Charter schools".
And no, I don't read the National Review or watch Fox News every day or worship Glenn Beck or listen to Rush Limbah.
I DO get that the current Republican fascination with Charters has absolutely NOTHING to do with educating kids and EVERYTHING to do with a cynical and short-term political move to reduce funding for Democrats since teachers unions are big Demo donors (and now Charters are big Repub donors).
As somebody who grew up "republican" I simply cannot believe that the party has reduce itself to this--completely forgetting its roots and supporting whatever wins them the next election no matter what the long-term implications.
So yes, I understand that The Party has commanded you to be in favor of Charter schools replacing the public school system--and so you are--but some of us have "children" in the middle of this so please leave us out of it and find another way for your candidates to win their elections. Thanks.
Posted by Deborah B Simms, a resident of another community, on Apr 1, 2012 at 8:26 pm
I can see why some might not like the National Review. I found a couple left of center articles about Diane and I have posted links to them below. I really wonder what has happened to her, I think that she might be getting a little drunk with her new found popularity with the unions, bless her heart. I hope it's not dementia.
Posted by JJS, a resident of another community, on Apr 2, 2012 at 8:50 am
Most people would not consider an organization run by a private board accountable to nobody but itself (like that of BCS), "public".
BCS is a "private school that receives public money".
Even advocates of Charter schools usually consider this concept, "privatization"--that is not disputed.
The core problem with Charter schools is that they are cruel in their overall effect (see my blog posting about "creaming" here: Web Link ).
By engaging in "educational gerrymandering", they simply take the very best students and separate them from the more difficult students which they leave for public schools. This usually makes their test scores look amazing (BCS is a notable exception to that) and the students who DO get to be grouped with the elite give them rave reviews.
Charters are a perfectly fine concept as long as you have no moral issue with putting the weakest in our society at a disadvantage, thus ensuring they will stay that way.
The dishonest thing, though, is that this is all done in the name of "closing the achievement gap"!
Now, back to our issues here, I'm sure many are thinking, " 'closing the achievement gap'? what does that have to do with our top-ranked, well-to-do area? what's any of this have to do with BCS?".
The answer is, nothing.
BCS super-lawyers found a loophole in the law that allowed them to "buy a Ferrari with Foodstamps" in which they used a set of laws meant for disadvantaged areas and low-performing schools in one of the richest and highest-scoring areas in the world.
Posted by mb, a resident of another community, on Apr 2, 2012 at 1:31 pm mb is a member (registered user) of Mountain View Online
Firstly there seems to be another person with oppposing views who's using the same initials (mb). So, to clear up the confusion I'll change mine to MSB.
Contrary to LASD's belief and the falsity disseminated by LASD to the public, if you were to read the Act and the court's opinion the Charter Act was not enacted to address solely disadvantage areas and low-performing schools. According to the Court opinion (word by word)there were seven goals; none of which state it is to address only a certain economic segment of the population:
"The Act was adopted in 1992 “to provide opportunities for teachers, parents, pupils, and community members to establish and maintain schools that operate independently from the existing school district structure ….” (§ 47601.) Charter schools were identified as a means to: (1) improve student learning; (2) increase learning opportunities, especially for low-achieving students; (3) encourage the use of innovative teaching methods; (4) create new professional opportunities for teachers; (5) offer parents and students more choices within the public school system; and (6) give schools a way to change from a rule-based to a performance-based accountability system. (Id., subds. (a)-(f).) Assembly Bill No. 544 (AB 544), which amended the Act in 1998, added a seventh goal to this list: to “[p]rovide vigorous competition within the public school system to stimulate continual improvements in all public schools.” (§ 47601, subd. (g), added by Stats. 1998, ch. 34, § 1.)"
Posted by mb, a resident of another community, on Apr 2, 2012 at 1:46 pm mb is a member (registered user) of Mountain View Online
MSB. From having experienced both an LASD school and BCS, one of the biggest differences I see between LASD and BCS is that LASD spends all year teaching to the test, and instead BCS educates the whole child. That's why when LASD raves about its test score it means nothing. It's all about memoralization and learning test strategies. Highest-scoring has come at a big cost for LASD students.
Posted by Joan J. Strong, a resident of another community, on Apr 2, 2012 at 2:13 pm Joan J. Strong is a member (registered user) of Mountain View Online
Having experienced both LASD and BCS arguments, one of the biggest differences I see between LASD and BCS is that BCS people spend all of their time smearing our top-ranked public schools and citing arcane regulations which they say justifies their existence.
Will BCS ever follow the letter and the intent of the Charter laws? No way. It would be the same as shutting the school down.
You see, if they had a similar mix as LASD of difficult-to-educate kids their test scores would plummet and so would their enrollment numbers. Very, very few parents would send their child to a school that costs $5000/year per child and is a pariah in the community AND has lower test scores.
So the super-lawyers at BCS (including the ones on the BCS board) work day and night to make us all forget why we voted for the Charter laws in the first place.
The interpretation above (i.e. "the 'or' interpretation"), for instance, would lead one to believe that if you created a Charter school solely to "(4) create new professional opportunities for teachers;" and for instance spent your entire budget on training teachers to be gardeners--then you'd be operating perfectly well within the Charter laws.
Another interpretation is that you don't get to pick and choose which part of the law you would like to follow--and that in the wider context and IN THE WAY CHARTER LAWS WERE SOLD TO VOTERS, that 47601.2 actually IS a key pillar of the law, if not the MOST IMPORTANT part of the law.
But that's arcane lawyer stuff. Can anybody, with a straight face, say that the Charter laws as they were approved by the voter REALLY envisioned a bunch of billionaires getting revenge on a local school District?
Posted by Ron Haley, a resident of another community, on Apr 3, 2012 at 5:49 pm Ron Haley is a member (registered user) of Mountain View Online
Did LASD ever announce why they fired their law firm? I'm wondering if it was because LASD felt they were getting bad advice or whether the law firm didn't want to be associated with a client that continued to act "in bad faith"?