By Roxann Nazario
With nearly a week to digest what happened at last Tuesday’s board meeting, I’m left with an overwhelming feeling of hurt and disappointment. As we all now know, Nick Melvoin (BD4) was the only LAUSD board member who truly stood for students and voted against a resolution calling on the state to ban new charter schools for nearly a year.
In the past, Monica Garcia (BD2) and my board member, Kelly Gonez (BD6), have typically supported school choice, but that was not the case with this resolution. To say that parents of Board District 6 are disappointed in their board member would be an understatement. Last Wednesday, my phone was buzzing all day with calls and messages from parents who campaigned for Kelly, asking, “How could she do this to us?”
One fellow BD6 parent, Elisa Avalos, told me she was very disappointed in Kelly, but she was also “very proud of Nick because he's the one that actually listened to us.” Avalos and I are part of a core group of seven moms that supported and campaigned for Kelly in the 2017 election. We recruited fellow parents to help us knock on hundreds of doors and make thousands of phone calls urging voters to vote for Kelly. Over the past year and a half that Kelly has been in office, we met with her periodically to discuss issues, such the need for more high-quality middle schools. In the city of Sylmar, where I live, we have only two middle schools. My neighborhood middle school, Olive Vista, which my cousins and mom all attended, has a notorious reputation for rampant fights and bullying. I won't even mention the academics and low proficiency. The other option is PUC, which enrolls only about 300 students. I and a group of moms from Board District 6 had hoped and expected that Kelly would help us create more quality middle school options, but that has yet to happen, and now maybe it never will.
Our biggest fear, though, is that a moratorium is just the first step in a statewide effort to shut down our kids’ schools — even the most successful ones that serve kids well. We have faced this threat before with bills like SB808, which would have let LAUSD shut down all high-performing charter schools — merely because they compete for student attendance dollars. It also would have taken away a school’s right to appeal the decision to the county or state. In 2017, we fought very hard to stop SB808, which was also referred to as the “charter killer” bill. At the time, Gonez did not support this bill either. But the language of this resolution appears to open the door to the state acting against our schools’ very right to exist, yet again. We are also afraid this resolution will prompt the state to take away our kids’ right to an equal share of public school space. Prop 39, which guarantees our public school students have a place to learn, is fundamental to our schools’ ability to even exist. The study required by this resolution asks the state to look into changes to the laws regulating authorization and facilities allocations.Read More