By Howard Blume, LA Times/LA Now | http://lat.ms/14YvuL0
Parents from 24th Street Elementary School line up to cast ballots on the future structure of their school. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times / April 9, 2013)
April 10, 2013, 10:16 a.m. :: Parents at 24th Street Elementary School have overwhelmingly chosen a partnership between the Los Angeles Unified School District and a charter school to run the persistently low-performing Jefferson Park campus.
Among those eligible to cast ballots, 80% chose a proposal that combines the efforts of the school district with those of Crown Preparatory Academy, which already runs an unaffiliated middle school out of surplus space on the campus. The results were announced Wednesday morning.
The reconfigured program will have the district manage kindergarten through fourth grade and the charter run a program for students in grades five through eight.
“This is a very big day for parents,” said Amabilia Villeda, one of the parent organizers, speaking in Spanish to parents gathered Wednesday at a park near the school. “I want to thank everyone for your support in making this day a reality."
The 359 parents eligible to vote were those who signed a petition, under the state’s controversial parent-trigger law, to force aggressive change at the school. Their options include turning the school over entirely to an independently managed charter organization. Charter schools are exempt from some laws that govern traditional schools. Most are non-union, including Crown Prep.
In all, 190 parents cast votes and 179 were determined to be eligible based on who signed the original petition. Among these, 152 chose the partnership proposal. Fifteen voted for Crown Prep to run the campus on its own; nine voted for L.A. Unified to remain in control; three voted for Academia Moderna, another charter operator that submitted a bid.
The balloting took place from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday in polling stations set up under tents.
The petition drive was spearheaded by Parent Revolution, a group that has lobbied for parent-trigger laws across the country. Previous efforts have resulted in litigation with school districts and conflict among parents for and against it. School districts and employee unions have criticized the parent-trigger as unfair and divisive.
In this drive, L.A. Unified opted not to challenge the petition, but to submit its own reform plan and compete for the approval of parents. Under the plan, parents will participate in a hiring committee. Any teachers who wish to remain at the school will have to interview with this committee. Parents said they were impressed with the district’s ability to offer pre-school education and services to disabled students. They said they liked the charter because of its demonstrated ability to raise academic achievement.
“I’ve seen the struggle of some parents here that they’ve gone through so many problems with their children,” said parent Esmerelda Chacon. “I’m very, very happy with the results we got.” She added that her 8-year-old son is “going to like the changes for next year.”
The balloting was set up as a festive occasion, with activities that included face painting for children, piñatas and a raffle. A midday lunch of chicken, rice and tamales was provided for parents at the park. Later in the day, organizers supplied pizza and sodas.
- According to to the 24th St School School Accountability Report 24th St has 623 students.
- 359 verified signatures were obtained on the original petition. (I’m supposing here that a signature represents a student and that multiple signatures per student are not allowed. Similarly I presume that parent stakeholders with more than one enrolled child have multiple votes.)
- So, based on the above, 359 out of a potential voter base of 623 – or 57.6% decided the issue and pulled the parent trigger.
- Once the trigger is pulled, (don’t you love the firearms analogies?) any parents that did not sign the petition have lost their ability to vote going forward, creating an In Group (aka “Winners”) and Out Group (“Losers”) of parents.
I have a problem with that. It’s like saying that you didn’t vote in the primary (or the party you supported didn’t make the cut) so you can’t vote in the general election.
There is a name for this. It is “Antidemocratic”.
- So now, out of 359 In Group parents, 179 or 49.8% voted.
- Out of these 152 or 84.9% of actual voters voted for the accepted plan .
- By vote, 152 parents, or 24.3% of the 623 parents at the school support the plan.
That’s less than one quarter of parents at 24th Street Elementary who “overwhelmingly chose” the plan “P-Rev” wanted them to choose.
Remember ''Key Largo,'' the 1948 trapped-on-a-Florida-isle thriller that starred Edward G. Robinson as a gangster (what else?) and Humphrey Bogart as the good guy?
If not, herewith is a snatch of the dialogue, Robinson to Bogart, as dredged up the other day by The Boston Globe:
''Let me tell you about Florida politicians. I make them. I make them out of whole cloth, just like a tailor makes a suit. I get their name in the newspaper. I get them some publicity and get them on the ballot. Then after the election, we count the votes. And if they don't turn out right, we recount them. And recount them again. Until they do.'' - from the New York Times
And who exactly paid for the tents, face painting for children, piñatas and raffle; the midday lunch of chicken,rice and tamales; plus pizza and sodas?
When I vote in my elections in get a sticker.