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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 9/17/19

Manipulating Data for the Benefit of Charter Schools

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Carl Petersen
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"Because there are no facts, there is no truth

Just data to be manipulated

I can get you any result you like

What's it worth to you?

Because there is no wrong, there is no right

And I sleep very well at night

No shame, no solution, no remorse, no retribution"

- Don Henley, The Garden of Allah

After a summer filled with revelations about confidential dealings between the California Charter School Association (CCSA) and Nick Melvoin, one would think that this Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) board member would take some time to regroup. Instead, Melvoin charged ahead during the first meeting of the school year by placing an item to updated board rules on the agenda. It was his fourth attempt to pass the changes that had been formulated behind closed doors. Unlike a previous attempt, this new version did not reduce the amount of time allotted for public comment. However, he still seemed dead set on reducing transparency, as I noted in my public comment:

Nick Melvoin's Breach Of Confidentiality Will Nick Melvoin be investigated for divulging confidential information to his benefactors at the California Charter School Association (CCSA)?
(Image by YouTube, Channel: Carl Petersen)
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Again, it would be really nice if the creation of these rules had been done in the public realm and with the public able to have some input into what was happening here. If they had, perhaps the rules would state that these meetings could only take place when most parents, teachers, and students could participate. Instead, you meet during school hours.

In reviewing these proposed rules I did notice that there is a line stating that "Board Members shall maintain strict confidentiality of any confidential matters discussed in closed session consistent with the Brown Act." Given that these rules are coming from Nick's Secret Committee, I know where this is directed; Melvoin was not happy with another board member actually letting the public know what had happened during the superintendent search. I thought that we were looking for more transparency, not less.

It seems that at the same time Melvoin was complaining about another board member, he met behind closed doors with the CCSA while they were in the process of suing the district. Apparently, Melvoin was revealing information about that lawsuit to the CCSA.

I would like to know if anyone is investigating Melvoin's release of this confidential information. After all, if someone is suing the district, they should not be getting information obtained from our lawyers about what strategies are being used in defense of LAUSD.

Also, in these confidential documents that were obtained from the charter school industry, we find out why the School Performance Framework (SPF) is being imposed on the district. It turns out that the charter schools want to use it to get access to school facilities beyond what they are getting through Prop 39.

Again, where do loyalties lie? These are private schools trying to get access to our public facilities and Melvoin is going to help them by using the SPF. So let's not pretend that this is all about giving parents information. Assigning a Yelp type score that has been calculated by "crunching data" so that it gives you the results that you want is not giving parents information.

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Carl Petersen is a parent, an advocate for students with special education needs, an elected member of the Northridge East Neighborhood Council, a member of the LAUSD's CAC, and was a Green Party candidate in LAUSD's District 2 School Board race. During the campaign, the Network for Public Education (NPE) Action endorsed him, and Dr. Diane Ravitch called him a " (more...)

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