In Partnership with The 74

Los Angeles parents show up in force to tell LAUSD to put kids first

Esmeralda Fabián Romero | November 7, 2017



A group of Alliance parents gather Tuesday outside LAUSD’s boardroom in support of their schools’ renewal.

Hundreds of people showed up Tuesday morning inside and outside LA Unified’s boardroom, most of them parents who were defending their children’s independent charter schools.

An unprecedented number of charter schools had been recommended for denial at Tuesday’s meeting, but in the end only three of the 34 schools on the agenda were turned down by the district.

Parents began arriving at 6:30 a.m. to the Beaudry headquarters wearing colorful shirts, holding banners supporting their schools, and chanting — mainly in Spanish “Si se puede!” (Yes we can). Most wore shirts from Alliance College-Ready Public Schools, the largest charter organization in Los Angeles and which had eight schools up for a vote on Tuesday’s agenda. All eight were approved.

Most of the parents outside the boardroom said they were there to “defend” their right to choose the best school for their children. Less than half a dozen others were there to support the district’s recommendation for denial of some of those charter schools, which they said they believe “are harming” their children’s schools.

Most of the charter schools up for renewal are outperforming nearby district schools, but the majority of the denials stemmed from the charters’ rejection of specific language required by the district in their petitions.

Here are some of the parents’ voices:

Nicky Stade, mother of a high school student at Alliance Alice M. Baxter College-Ready High School:

“I’m so excited to be here today to support renewal for my son’s school, Baxter High School, but also for all Alliance schools up for renewal today. We have so many supporters, we had a bus full of parents. I’m so moved to see that many families united today to put our kids first, because we believe their education is so important.”

Rosy Rodriguez, mother of a sixth-grader and a ninth-grader at Alliance College-Ready Public Schools:

“I believe in the right to choose and I believe in the good education they are receiving at Alliance. The school has given me the opportunity to participate in their education. They gave me all the tools that I need to build a good future for them. There’s no good reason why we should ask LAUSD for permission to deserve a good school in our community. We deserve good schools in our neighborhoods, good education for our kids, we shouldn’t be asking permission for that.”

Mirna Cardenas, mother of three students at LA KIPP LA Schools:

“As a mother of three students that attend KIPP schools, I’m here to support those schools because I have seen the effort and the success of KIPP offering our kids a high-quality  education and the focus they put on our kids not only academically but building their character, providing  family support and opportunities for us as parents. They not only educate the student but the whole family. I believe in KIPP values and mission, and that’s why I’m here to show my support to the school.”

Veronica Solano, mother of former students at Para Los Niños charter schools:

“I have a history with Para Los Niños of 25 years. My kids attended these schools since they were in preschool. These schools have proven to be better than traditional public schools for my kids. I have had my daughters attend both kinds, and Para Los Niños has proven to be much better academically. I understand when other parents are afraid that charters affect their regular schools, because more parents want now to have their kids in charters as they offer advanced education for our kids and more of us are choosing them, so regular schools are losing students.”

Antonia Cabrera, mother of students at Alliance College-Ready Public Schools:

“I came here to support the Alliance schools because it is where my kids are receiving the best education possible, and also because my kids are getting the best support at these schools for them to have a better future. As a parent, I’m very concerned about the possibility of their school being closed if they are not renewed, and by that I mean that the high-quality education my kids are receiving is at risk. I’m fighting for my kids and for my right as a parent to choose the best school for them. I know the decision made here affects my children’s future. I beg the district to approve the renewal of our school.”

Patricia Santiago, right, with other Para Los Niños parents watch the board meeting on TV from a cafeteria next to the boardroom.

Patricia Santiago, mother of students at Para Los Niños charter schools:

“I’m here because I want to support Para Los Niños, because at these schools parents are valued and they allow us to be directly involved in our children’s education. The take into account our opinions as parents, and we feel connected with teachers and can be really involved. As a parent, you try to find the best school for your kids in your neighborhood, but if regular schools are not the best, then you have to look for a charter as an option. As parents, we just want the best for our kids.”

 

CONCERNS ABOUT CO-LOCATIONS

Other parents voiced their concerns about charter schools sharing space on district campuses, which is a provision of state law. The parents showed up Tuesday to support UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl, who spoke to the media outside the board meeting.

Senta Newell, mother of two students at LAUSD Cowan Avenue Elementary in West Los Angeles:

“Our school is co-located with charter WISH Middle School and due to an alternative agreement, (LAUSD board member) Nick Melvoin gave our entire computer lab to the charter school. They took it away from us and not have replaced it yet. We used to share our resources before, but now it’s not an optimal co-location, also because this is an elementary school sharing a campus with middle school students, that itself should be reevaluated. We all know that there’s a lack of transparency and a conflict of interest, we all know charter schools gave so much money to Melvoin for his campaign and those interests are being put before my kids’ interests.”

Noemi Galindo, center, mother of a student at Marianna Elementary, outside the boardroom.

Noemi Galindo, mother of a student at LAUSD’s Marianna Avenue Elementary in East Los Angeles:

“We were never asked about having the co-location of a charter in our school. The principal just told us, and we didn’t even know what was a charter school. I think as parents we need to do research about these schools and how the district benefits from them because we are putting our kids’ public education in danger. We had to defend the parent center, the music classroom in our kids’ school, because of the charter co-location they were about to lose all those services. We as parents need to research about where those schools are coming from and defend our schools.”

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