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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 4/7/19

The LAUSD School Board's Secret Committee

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Out of Order As LAUSD Board President, Monica Garcia has already removed Public Comment from .Special. Board Meetings. With this speech, she tries to silence those ...
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"Let's go to that committee."

- LAUSD Board President Monica Garcia

At the April 2, 2019 "special" meeting of the LAUSD School Board, the charter school industry was once again permitted to stack the public speaker list so that only their viewpoint was heard before action was taken on the renewal of Summit Preparatory Charter. Knowing that there was at least one person who was denied the ability speak against this renewal, Board Member Scott Schmerelson asked how he could institute a pilot program that would enable speakers to use Skype to address the Board remotely from local district offices. In response, Board President Monica Garcia suggested that "Mr. Melvoin's group and Mr. Crain (the Board's Secretary)...could probably figure out how to do a pilot." Melvoin followed up by saying "I think that it's a great thing for the Board Rule Committee to consider." Garcia agreed by saying "Let's go to that committee."

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The committee is coming back with their recommendations before the end of April"

- LAUSD Board Vice-President Nick Melvoin

According to Melvoin, the committee is supposed to present proposed new rules to the Board at the end of this month (before a representative for Board District 5 can be seated), but the official calendar does not show that any public hearings have been held by this committee, nor have any been scheduled. This committee has not released any agendas or minutes from their meetings. Therefore, the public has no idea what is being discussed by Melvoin's group or what entities are presenting information to them. Much like Superintendent Austin Beutner's plan to "Reimagine" the LAUSD, this rewriting of the Board rules is devoid of any transparency.

Melvoin's position at the head of this secretive committee should be of great concern to anyone who believes in the importance of open government. At last week's Committee of the Whole meeting, he suggested that the Board could "streamline" meetings by delegating more power to the unelected Superintendent. He has also backed away from his statement last week that his "office would be happy to look at [the changes" suggested by the "Board Meeting Accessibility to the Public" resolution and instead made light of the issue with the statement that people complaining "about how they won't speak at our public meetings while they are speaking at our public meeting." This statement ignores the fact that the discussion only occurred because it was forced on the agenda through the use of the state education code and that he personally delayed compliance with the request for six months. Melvoin also distorts the purpose of the resolution as it was clearly written to give broader access to the Board meetings for all stakeholders, not just those who have the ability to attend during the school day.

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Having the public express themselves to the elected School Board is clearly not a priority for the leadership that was installed by charter school industry supporters. While Board meetings are subject to the Brown Act and require that general public comment be heard, Garcia has declared that she can ignore this requirement if she declares a meeting to be "special." When speakers dared to work around this rule to speak against defunding elementary school libraries, she warned that they must "constrain their remarks specifically to the item or items" or they could be ruled "out of order." Signs are now posted in the Board Room warning those who address the Board that they "shall not make personal, impertinent, slanderous, or profane remarks to any Board Member". Members of the public are also prevented from bringing any signs into the room. The Board Members who put these rules into place are not the type of representatives that can be trusted to write additional rules behind closed doors.


Carl Petersen is a parent and special education advocate, 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 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 Opinions are his own.


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Carl Petersen is a father of five, including two daughters who are on the autism spectrum. His involvement in education issues began when the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) refused to provide services that his daughters' teachers (more...)

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This is something related to your article called the Delphi technique or method.

"The goal of the Delphi technique is to lead a targeted group of people to a predetermined outcome, while giving the illusion of taking public input and under the pretext of being accountable to the public."

Are You Being Delphied?

The Rand Corporation in the early 1960s developed the Delphi technique for the purpose of maneuvering segments of the public into accepting predetermined government policies. In the 1970s and '80s, it was ideally used to convince land owners of the merits of accepting joining and general plan maps. Now it is being employed to persuade the public to accept outcome-based education and the licensing of all employees, via endorsements in the Certificate of Initial Mastery (CIM) and Certificate of Advanced Mastery (CAM) programs, a.k.a. school-to-work.

The goal of the Delphi technique is to lead a targeted group of people to a predetermined outcome, while giving the illusion of taking public input and under the pretext of being accountable to the public. For the Delphi to work, it is critical that the targeted group be kept away from knowledgeable people who could lead them away from the Delphier's predetermined outcome.

One variation on the Delphi technique is to use a series of meetings. The attendees are often given a number or a colored card when they enter the room, to determine at which table they are to sit. The purpose of this is to break up the groups of potentially knowledgeable people who arrive together so that they will be sitting with strangers and therefore be subdued.

Typically, at each table is a facilitator, someone who will know which way to help "steer" the group. Usually the people at each table are instructed to answer among themselves some of the questions and arrive at a table consensus. Someone is chosen to speak for the table, most of the time it is the person who has been secretly pre-briefed about the desired Delphi outcome. The table spokesperson is the only one allowed to address the podium and the others have little opportunity to address the podium or the crowd directly.

Anyone knowledgeable enough, or brave enough, to speak out in opposition will not be welcomed. Often they are told from the podium, "We don't have time to discuss that now," or "We discussed that on another date," or "We can discuss that after the meeting." They will attempt to quiet, isolate, and discredit dissenters. After attending the Delphi meeting, participants may feel uneasy that they are in disagreement with the apparent majority. The Delphi technique is often successful in bluffing people into submission. Don't let them succeed. Call their bluff.

The Delphi technique often uses a series of surveys to bring about "consensus." The surveys are promoted as information gathering regarding the wishes of the targeted public, but in reality they are designed to manipulate the desired outcome. The survey will sometimes use a grading like, "agree all of the time," "agree most of the time," "agree some of the time," "agree not much," "agree never." Or, the survey grading will ask the respondents to use ratings like "most important," "moderately important," "least important."

The questions are typically "loaded" questions. An example is the question asked of Oregon teachers on a Delphi technique survey: "Do you agree or disagree that the following elements of H.B. 3565 [Oregon's Education Act for the 21st Century] will lead to improved student learning if implemented?" The survey listed such items for the teachers to agree or disagree with; "site councils," "increased accountability for school site and districts," "full funding for preschool programs to enable all students to enter school ready to learn," "extended school year," "certificate of initial mastery," etc. The question is patently "loaded." For example, site councils are not charged with improving student learning. Their function is to implement the state law, dole out professional development courses and money to selected teachers, and apply for grants from foundations and the federal government. For the teachers to answer, "agree" or "disagree", that the site councils will lead to improved student learning is misdirecting the respondent.

The Delphi surveys serve to "educate" the people taking the survey. After the first survey is taken, the respondents are given an analysis and told that most people agreed or somewhat agreed on the predetermined outcome. Then usually they are given another survey and asked if they can be flexible and try to rethink the "few remaining" areas of disagreement. When the series of surveys are accomplished, the respondents are told that the majority of respondents achieved "consensus" with whatever direction the pollers wanted in the first place.

These techniques were developed decades ago. The Rand Corporation has more recently been developing games that groups of business people, site council members, organizations, etc., can use to help "sell" people on collectivism, consensus vs. majority rule, etc.

Never, ever compromise when it comes to "right and wrong." With the right attitude you shouldn't care what people think, as long as you are standing up for what is right. Accept persecution gratefully.

Submitted on Monday, Apr 8, 2019 at 3:49:19 PM

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