LAUSD issues offers to charters at local traditional school campuses No charter petitions offered at Venice High, Mark Twain and Westminster

Posted April 4, 2013 by The Argonaut in News
BACK AGAIN – Marina Del Rey Middle School teacher Naomi Roth (center in back row) lost her journalism room to Goethe International School two years ago. Now Goethe, after initially planning to leave the school, has accepted LAUSD’s offer to colocate for another year at the middle school.

BACK AGAIN – Marina Del Rey Middle School teacher Naomi Roth (center in back row) lost her journalism room to Goethe International School two years ago. Now Goethe, after initially planning to leave the school, has accepted LAUSD’s offer to colocate for another year at the middle school.












By Gary Walker
Charter operators seeking new homes for the 2013-14 school year recently received the names of locations that they will consider as part of a state law that allows these schools to share facilities and use classrooms on campuses where the Los Angeles Unified School District deems them available.
The Westside, in particular District 4, has become a highly desirable place for charter supporters in recent years.
While at least six local schools could have a charter sharing their campus in August, three are not on the final summary list, which contains the names of the schools where LAUSD is offering space.
Venice High School and Mark Twain Middle School in Mar Vista joined Westminster Avenue Elementary School in Venice as schools that did not make the list, which was released April 2.
Prop. 39, a 2000 voter approved ballot measure, provides charter operators with the opportunity to have space on traditional school campuses where classrooms are considered underutilized or vacant. School districts tender offers to charters at schools where these classrooms exist and charters then determine to accept or deny them.
While it is state law, not all campus-sharing, or colocation, arrangements have gone smoothly.
During 2011, dubbed “colocation spring” due to the number of charter petitions requested and offers given during the months between April and May, a number of schools in District 4, which includes Mar Vista, Venice, Westchester and Del Rey, publicly stated their opposition to charter organizations coming onto their campuses.
Among the concerns of the faculty, parents and administrations at these schools were losing what they see as valuable classrooms that served as parent centers, intervention rooms and sometimes laboratories.
At Marina Del Rey Middle School in Del Rey, teacher Naomi Roth lost her classroom where she taught English as well as the adjacent room, where her students produced the school’s newspaper during “colocation spring.”
“(The loss of the journalism room) is a direct result of this law that seems to be a good idea for some, but not for a lot of students of traditional schools,” she lamented in a 2011 interview.
Westchester Secondary School, a charter co-founded by Westchester parent Ann Wexler, was offered 12 classrooms at Bret Hart Middle School in Los Angeles.
“The mission and vision of our charter is to be a community-based school in the Westchester area. We need to be in Westchester or as close as possible,” Wexler told The Argonaut. “If we have to open elsewhere, our top priority will be to get back to Westchester as soon as possible.”
Goethe International School, which features a German curriculum, has been offered 10 classrooms at Marina Del Rey, where it has colocated for several years. Initially, the charter had planned to leave at the end of the school year but has reportedly accepted the district’s offer.
Another charter, Citizens of the World, has been offered seven classrooms at Stoner Avenue Elementary School in Mar Vista and eight at Braddock Drive Elementary School in Del Rey.
Two Westchester schools might also have company for the next academic year. Ocean Charter has been offered 14 rooms at Westchester Enriched Magnet School and WISH Charter got four at Orville Wright Middle School.
Amino Westside Middle School has accepted a colocation at Cowan Avenue Elementary in Westchester. Amino Westside, a Green Dot school, has colocated with Cowan for two years and is a favorite of some Venice and Mar Vista parents seeking a middle school alternative to Mark Twain.


    Virg O

    The biggest problem that charter schools have is the lack of materials. Amino Westside does not even have textbooks for their sixth graders. They work with xeroxed copies of papers. I am not even sure they have purchased books because students are getting xeroxed copies of worksheets from copyrighted books. They have no workbooks either that I can tell. I believe they are in violation of the law for not providing each student a book, and they are also violating copyright laws that are intended to protect the publishers. I would love to hear an explanation from them.

    Kristin Duerr, President PTSA Venice High

    I had no idea the problem had grown so big and is affecting so many schools. I began my teaching career at Stoner Elementary and I am shocked to hear this news. Thank you Mr. Walker for keeping the community informed. Our fight will continue to increase our enrollments at our neighborhood schools and prove to the community that the best choice for education begins at their local school. Why do people think we need more choices?

    Lauren Steiner

    Please note that Occupy Venice has entered this fight as we see it as part of the larger trend in this country to privatize all public goods. It is yet another corporate attempt to own the Commons. This co-location rider was slipped into Prop 39, and no one knew that they were voting for this when they voted for more school funding. We think that taxpayer money should be used to fund all the existing programs at the schools before being diverted to charters. “Fund Us First” is our slogan. We are creating a separate but unequal situation on these campuses where the charters have smaller class sizes and better resources. Ultimately, we need to repeal this co-location provision before these co-located charters take over the campuses entirely. In the meantime, we are helping to organize the broader community to join the parents and teachers who wish to fight this co-location issue in Venice. Stay tuned.


    Charters should not be granted IN THE FIRST PLACE if unable to provide basics. As they are supposed to be “as good as or better than” public schools, I’ve always been perplexed as to why they are allowed to “join” the Williams Settlement:

    Instead of supporting our regular public schools, legislators have been swayed by the lobbying and political donations from California Charter School Association and their big business backers who are stealing us blind. The ultimate goal is for these businesses to ultimately grab our public land. Who else has more primo real estate in LA than LAUSD?

    I don’t see how destroying parent centers, journalism and other enrichment classes in a typical school will make it better. We are dumbing down education.

    Charters are notorious for refusing to enroll students with disabilites, English Language Learners, foster and homeless youth. They should not be allowed to share campus space, especially if discriminating against students and violating their civil rights.


    As the elected UTLA Chapter Chair at Venice High School, I want to publicly thank and commend the parents at Venice as well as the broader Venice community for their support during our recent battle to avoid being forced to give up classroom space to outsiders. Years of budget cuts have led to loss of programs and personnel at Venice, not just teachers and counselors, but clerical and custodial employees, making it more difficult for all of us to give our students the education they deserve.

    The slogan “Fund Us First” is right on–rather than promote all that is bright and shiny and new, the District needs to support the schools we have, restoring what was cut before bringing in new programs. Teachers and staff at Venice would love to try innovative ideas, but with 40+ students per class and zero money for instructional materials, it’s pretty hard.

    Speaking of Prop 39, it’s not quite correct to say that the co-location provision was “slipped in.” It was added as part of the political calculus to draw charter school support for the initiative–no one foresaw that it would morph into the beast that it is today, as a cudgel for deep-pocketed charter schools to force their way onto campuses. Yes, it needs to be fixed, but meanwhile the state needs to restore the funding we need. Prop 30 last year stopped the downward spiral that California schools had been on, but much more is needed.

    A few examples of how far we’ve fallen: 1. A few years ago, the state funded 8 full days of time for teachers to do professional development. Now zero. 2. The state used to fund class size reduction to 20-1 in 9th and 11th grade English classes, and in 9th grade algebra. Now those classes have the same enormous class sizes as everyone else. (As an English teacher, I can testify to the enormous impact this has had on helping struggling students become better writers.) Shop classes used to be limited to 25 students, usually for safety/equipment reasons, now they are the same as the rest, or have been eliminated as not “college-prep enough.”

    I could go on, but unless we start to seriously support our public schools, here in Venice and across the country, we may lose them.

    Thanks again to all who have supported Venice High School and our other community schools.

    Brad Jones
    UTLA Chapter Chair
    English Teacher
    Venice High School


    If parents would only attend their local schools, show their support to them, and rally for the needed changes in public education (downtown), we could have a truly great public education system. We don’t need charters, we just need to be unified.

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