Wednesday, November 17, 2010

GHSNC Endorses Granada Hills Charter To Run Valley Region High School #4

Granada Hills South Neighborhood council on Thursday voted to endorse Granada Hills Charter's proposal to run Valley Region High School No. 4, better known to Giga Granada Hills readers as George W. Diddley High.

Of nine original applicants, the remainder dropped out or consolidated with what is now the only other applicant, LAUSD's Local District 1.

GHSNC member Brad Smith said, "From my point of view, based on GHCHS' track record and the detailed executive summary of their plan for VRHS#4 they have provided to the public, including their very strong fiscal record, GHCHS made a very compelling case. They have a very successful program, and I think the odds are in their favor they will be able to duplicate it at VRHS#4."

GHSNC member Julie Carson, who teachers at LAUSD's Rinaldi Adult Center and is that school's UTLA chapter chair, however, was the sole vote in favor of Local District 1's plan. "For me, there’s a larger issue here than choosing either GHCHS or LAUSD to run this school. It has to do with the whole idea of the school board’s Public School Choice initiative to giveaway schools to outside operators. Basically the school board has said 'We don’t know how to fix the schools, so here, you try.'" Carson feels that the solution to LAUSD's ills "isn't to turn every public school into a charter, but to make sure that the reforms and successes at charters take place in every LAUSD school."

Smith objected to the Local District 1 plan's lack of specifics. "The District, unlike GHCHS, has been unable to tell us who the faculty will be at VHRHS#4 if District 1 has the opportunity to manage the school, or lay out much of their plans for curriculum or their financials. Given that the school has been in the works for years, and the school choice plan came forward more than year ago from the school board, that is disconcerting."

However, the final decision will be made not by the Neighborhood Council but by the LAUSD board, after a recommendation by the superintendent of schools, sometime in January or February of 2011.

6 comments:

  1. Last night Northridge East Neighborhood Council voted to wait until both Local District 1 and GHCHS have submitted their plans and the plans have been made public before voting to support them because really...how can you vote to support a plan that you aren't aware of yet?

    I'm not sure what detailed executive summary of GHCHS's plan Brad is referring to. Their plan has not been submitted yet and is not due to be turned in until December 2. What Brad Smith and GHCHS saw was a powerpoint presentation about the current GHCHS.

    That school has nothing whatsoever to do with the Valley Region High School #4. Those are two separate schools and GHCHS cannot run them the exact same way. It's impossible. They won't have the same amount of money. They won't have the same population. Since GHCHS has not turned in their plan yet, I find it disingenuous on their part to lead the community to believe they have. Perhaps Brad Smith can post the "specifics" here that GHCHS has provided. I've also not heard who the new teachers will be and the idea that GHCHS has what... already hired teachers for a school they haven't been awarded control of... is crazy, not to mention untrue. Small learning community schools need to hire teachers who agree with the plan and are on board with teaching in that type of school as opposed to a huge, overpopulated school. Perhaps Brad can also tell us who those newly-hired teachers are.

    As Vice President of a NC, Brad should know that you have to (are supposed to) gather public opinion/comment before making a recommendation to the City Council. The same is true for those who wish to operate the new high school. That is what LAUSD Local District 1 is doing now. Thank you Northridge East Neighborhood Council for doing your due diligence!

    I believe there is also a layer that is missing from the article. There is a team of objective people that will include teachers, community members, etc. who will review both plans. They will look at the curriculum, Rubrics, and other various components of the plan and they will make a recommendation to the Superintendent. Then the Superintendent will review both plans with his staff and THEN make a recommendation, which the LAUSD School Board members may or may not pay attention to because they have the ultimate decision for their February vote.

    The public will also have a chance to vote in January. That includes teachers, students, community members, and any other stakeholder.

    I am proud of the scores of Local District 1 schools, which covers the West Valley and I'm sick of people lumping in the entire LAUSD and all eight of their districts, with LAUSD. I know it's very trendy to bash them right now and to support charters but there are far too many components of this complicated issue for anyone to do that. I am proud that Local District 1 doesn't just lump GHCHS with the charter schools who have had misappropriation of funds, etc. That is who I would like to see educate my children and Local District 1 deliberately will not bash GHCHS, which ultimately could be their demise since so many people just bash LAUSD and probably couldn't explain the difference between Local District 1 and the seven other local districts.

    I believe this is comparable to the issue of Neighborhood Councils and their money. Imagine if they were all lumped in with the NCs who misappropriated money...

    Good luck to Local District 1!

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  2. Dear Kim -

    Actually, there is a pretty detailed multi-page summary of GHCHS' proposal available; it is a different document than the ppt they have shown, but does include quite a bit of detail, including financial, curricula, and staffing information.

    As far as gathering public opinion and comment, GHSNC has heard from proponents of both applicants, and sponsored a public forum specifically for the applicants to present their ideas, at a time and place that was convenient for roughly 100 stakeholders to attend.

    I have listened to both sides's ideas, and have attended meetings at both GHHS and Patrick Henry to hear what they have to say...and probably more significantly, my wife and I have four children in public schools, including Balboa, Holmes, and Granada Hills High. Our children have attended LAUSD programs from Mommy and Me through the Adult Education program (including Rinaldi ACS); pre-K at Northridge MS and Granada elementary; grade school at Andasol, Dearborn, and Balboa; middle school at Nobel and Holmes; and now high school at Granada. So if nothing else, we have some first-hand experience, and mostly positive, with both applicants.

    I believe our children have done very well in LAUSD, which has some very talented people locally who do a tremendous job with very limited resources - and I am not a "charter over all" partisan, by any stretch of the imagination. I would never support a for-profit charter operator without any track record in our community.

    However, GHCHS does have a track record, and a very impressive one. LAUSD District 1, and the district as a whole, both also have a track record operating comprehensive high schools. From my vantage point, there is a clear contrast.

    You disagree; fair enough, but I think we can do so civilly. One hopes so, at least.

    All the best,

    Brad Smith

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  3. Brad,

    I'm sorry but I still believe that your NC made a decision too quickly on an issue that they have not heard both sides of. Local District 1 has NOT finished their plan and submitted their application. GHCHS has NOT submitted their application. That is what I mean when I say that you haven't heard both sides. Therefore, the questions I posed to you above have not become public knowledge. It would be impossible for GHCHS to have detailed staffing information. But I would like to see that document. Perhaps you could forward it to me or post it here. Or direct me to a link where it can be found. Thanks in advance!

    I know you "heard from" both applicants and sponsored a forum for them. Unfortunately, neither of the schools presented a "plan" at your forum. I was there. We've already discussed this though so there is no sense in rehashing it.

    As long as other neighborhood councils don't follow the same irresponsible lead that yours took. You tried to talk NENC into taking a stand last night. It's shocking that you're doing this before the public vote in January, before the applications are due on December 2 and before the vote by the LAUSD Board in February. It makes one wonder why your NC is rushing into this with partial information. You cannot fault me for praising them for their fairness.

    I too, have had children in several area pre-school, elementary, junior high, and high school. (admittedly I didn't do Mommy & Me) I was however, a very involved parent and an elected member of the School Leadership Council.

    I'm glad your children did well at LAUSD. Most children do. Most all of the teachers I've dealt with at LAUSD have been awesome and I'm happy that many great teachers are on the writing team helping to write the not-yet-released plan. I support the teachers that make up LAUSD. I find it sad that they are constantly barraged with negativity because they are LAUSD. Therefore, all teachers are lumped in with LAUSD right along with the board members, the administrators, the Superintendent, the principals, the union and all 8 Districts. It's unfair to them. That is another article though...

    I definitely disagree about who should run VRHS#4, and I don't believe I was uncivil.

    I did pose a few questions about the process that your NC took before having all of the information on hand, that you chose not to answer but I don't think asking questions is uncivil.

    Regards,

    Kim

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  4. Dear Kim -

    If you want more information about either applicant, I'd expect you could ask them for it...they both seem willing enough to share, given the number of flyers and e-mails I've seen lately.

    But here's my question for you - what, exactly, would be the point for an NC (or any other community group) to wait until after the (non-binding) public vote in January, or - especially - after the vote by the LAUSD Board in February?

    That would be like waiting until Nov. 3 to vote in the last election...

    You may not care for it, but the school management application process exists. It is an initiative of the elected LAUSD Board - Ms. Galatzman, Ms. Flores, et al. - they came up with it, and flawed or not, it is their process.

    So given that, why blast the GHSNC board? Obviously, every member who voted at the last meeting felt they had enough information to make the call for one applicant or the other; apparently even those supporting District 1 were irresponsible for not waiting until after the LAUSD Board makes its decision, in your view...

    We took the opportunity to be heard on an issue that is, quite literally, the largest public investment in our community since Kennedy HS was built - and this was a bad decision, in your eyes?

    Look, I am a firm believer in neighborhood councils; there's a reason I've volunteered as such for the past six years. However, I am under no illusions whatsoever about our organizations' mutual lack of clout. Both of our neighborhoods have been run over by the powers that be more than once, and we both know that NCs have yet to have any real voice in City Hall, and much less with regards to the LAUSD.

    However, because of the process the LAUSD Board put forward exists, there is, however fleetingly, an opportunity for GHSNC to actually weigh in on a significant issue in our town - in the case of VRHS#4, which applicant will manage a $100 million facility, with a $10 million annual operating budget, and the responsibility for educating 1200 local children.

    Given that, there is every reason to speak up at this point - and no reason not to.

    Take the opportunity. He (or she) - as I said at Northridge East Wednesday night - who hesitates is lost.

    Best,

    Brad

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  5. You asked: But here's my question for you - what, exactly, would be the point for an NC (or any other community group) to wait until after the (non-binding) public vote in January, or - especially - after the vote by the LAUSD Board in February?

    I never suggested that anyone wait until after the LAUSD vote in February. I suggest to all NCs who feel the need to weigh in that they wait until both plans are released after December 2 and before the February vote.

    He who rushes make uninformed decisions.

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  6. Kim:

    You really do have to stop misrepresenting the test scores between GHCHS and LAUSD. No one to my knowledge has made that comparison. What has been compared are the scores between GHCHS and surronding high schools in the valley, a valid comparison in my view.

    Here are the overall 2010 API scores (source Calfornia Dept of Educaton):

    GHCHS: 874
    El Camino: 798
    Cleveland: 756
    Taft: 745
    Northridge Acd: 725
    Kennedy: 695
    Monroe: 648

    And in fact, GHCHS Student's with Disabilities scores match Monroes overall score at 648. GHCHS has similar scores for all subgroups.

    As for GHSNC voting before the plans have been submitted, every board member had sufficient information to vote. I'm proud our board members took a stand, and I'm proud of Julie Carson who stood alone with her vote. Given the fact that you have made this a very partisan issue, and it is crystal clear that you will not change your postion once you read the plans (assuming you do), please don't criticize those who have also made up their minds after hearing both sides.

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