“Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!”
- The Wizard of Oz
Despite the fact that the California Charter School Association’s (CCSA) confidential plan to steal facilities from public school students was uncovered months ago, their lackeys continue to insist that Nick Melvoin’s School Performance Framework (SPF) is the only way for parents to understand how to evaluate schools. Instead of demanding transparency with access to the raw data and information about the services that schools provide, they want bureaucrats to decide what information is important and present a ranking system that eliminates the ability of parents to make their own decisions. While they plan to use this system to decide which schools should have to give up space to charter schools beyond what is already lost under Prop 39, they oppose using it as part of the charter renewal process.
While the SPF was supposed to have already been publicly released, its implementation has been delayed. Board Member Jackie Goldberg’s pending resolution would make this delay permanent by suspending “implementation of the SPF and any launching or utilization of the SPF — including any use of stars, scores, or any other rating system — in or on any District platforms.” At Tuesday’s meeting of the Curriculum and Instruction Committee, I was one of several parents who spoke in favor of Ms. Goldberg’s resolution:
To me, this entire resolution is summed up in the “whereas” that states:
Just how do certain values fit into a score of one to five?
How do you score a school for a teacher’s ability to connect with a student who is facing challenges and guiding them towards better choices in life? How is a school credited for helping my daughters meet their full potential as they face the challenges of autism? Does such a score reflect the pressure that charters like Granada Hills Charter High School place on their students? Pressure that is so great that students taking multiple AP classes must sign a letter promising not to commit suicide?
How do you rank things like that one to five?
To believe in this system you have to believe that standardized testing is the way to go. You have to believe in the value of the corporate testing industry that doesn’t take a raw score, they use their secret sauce to manipulate the grades that students have so that they fit on a curve.
With all that, then we look at this specific system. It was crafted by Nick Melvoin with the charter school industry, behind the backs of everyone else so that charter schools can get more access to public school facilities.
We heard about workgroups and focus groups, but who comprise those groups? Who sent out the invitations? Why weren’t they sent to the general public? Instead, the recipients were chosen from Nick Melvoin’s personal email lists that he created with Speak Up - a group that says that they represent parents but went before this board to make sure that District 5 was unrepresented after Ref Rodriguez was forced to resign. They said that Jackie Goldberg should not represent the district because she wasn’t Hispanic.
We need to do better and rating schools on a scale of one to five is not the way to go. To give away our public school facilities to the charter schools and harm our students, especially those with special education needs, is not acceptable. We need to do better and I hope that you will support this measure.
The three board members on the committee voted unanimously to recommend that the full board pass Ms. Goldberg’s resolution with an amendment that would put more data in the hands of parents. This was an interesting development given that Kelly Gonez is a member of the committee and was a sponsor of the original resolution that created the SPF. Consideration of this resolution will now be taken up at a future board meeting.
Carl Petersen is a parent, an advocate for students with special education needs, an elected member of the Northridge East Neighborhood Council and was a Green Party candidate in LAUSD’s District 2 School Board race. During the campaign, he was endorsed by the Network for Public Education (NPE) Action and Dr. Diane Ravitch called him a “strong supporter of public schools.” His past blogs can be found at www.ChangeTheLAUSD.com. Opinions are his own.