Friday, August 30, 2013

To "almost" quote the great Allen Iverson - "We're talking about PRIORITIES"?!?

Sometimes I'm not sure what to write, but then it just "comes to me".  In this case, thanks to Bob Baxley, for "bringing it" :)

A direct quote of what I saw from Bob on my Facebook News Feed this morning:
"I wonder what to make of a moment in my Facebook feed where BCS posts a photo of some of their staff visiting their sister school in China while LASD posts a photo of all the food they've raised for Second Harvest here at home. 

It's an interesting contrast of priorities and celebrations. 

Not judging. Just observing."

Thursday, August 29, 2013

I was able to attend the latest Long Term Facilities discussion tonight

Many thanks to Peter, Francis, Doug, Tammy, and Mayor Waldeck for continuing the conversation, and maintaining a constructive attitude.  I missed the beginning of the meeting, but I believe that today's meeting revolved around discussing the proposal that BCS produced for an agreeable Long Term Strategy (that would hopefully get us out of prop-39 hell, and provide a foundation whereby BCS and the district would have visibility/safety for 15+ years.
I think that it is a goal that we all seek, and I hope that these board members continue to have these constructive conversations - thanks again.

I do wish that the short term facilities discussions were as productive, or even happening, but I suspect that we will hear more next Tues at LASD's board meeting (hopefully the BCS board will be in attendance).

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Segregating Suburbia: A bi-coastal story

I grew up about an hour-ish away from Princeton, and I was completely oblivious to the existence of this "segregation", but perhaps it didn't exist 40 years ago.  As I think I've said before, I was aware of Public schools (which I attended), and Catholic schools (these were the only Private schools of which I knew) and I had friends who attended both.  In the end, they served different "customers", and were not "competing for resources".  Given what I have learned about Prop 39, I feel like it was a bit of a "bait and switch", because I felt like I was voting to reducing politicking and provide better school options where the current public options were failing (I was picturing "Waiting for Superman" in my head), but instead, I was subsidizing schools to compete with successful public schools, on an unfair playing field.

For those of us who may feel like we are involved in a never-ending local battle, this story below shows that these challenges exist on both coasts...

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Details of YAL (yet another lawsuit) emerge

Finally, we received service today of another lawsuit from BCS.  (we received notice it was coming on Nov 1, along with the facilities request for next year).  Once again they are using CEQA to challenge District actions.  I find this an odd disconnect.  In the negotiations, BCS Board members have told us that we have the ability to essentially ignore CEQA and do whatever we want.  In these lawsuits, though, they allege that we haven't followed it properly.  That's a very strange set of positions to take.  This latest lawsuit from BCS challenges the placement of a portable on the Egan campus, in space not used by BCS.  That building is used to conduct classes for special needs students.  I don't think I could conceive of an action from BCS that would paint them in a less flattering light.  Start with a law BCS is currently violating, a law which they claim the district has the power to ignore.  Use that law to attack services we provide for a group of students that not only need additional services, but are part of a legally protected group (special needs).   Top that off with community allegations that BCS doesn't serve that same group of students.

Here is the paperwork for the lawsuit
Bullis Summons
Verified Petition for Writ of Mandate (the actual lawsuit)
Notice of Election to Prepare the Administrative Record
Notice of Related Case  (asks the court to join this lawsuit with the existing CEQA lawsuit)
Civil Case Cover Sheet
Notice to the Attorney General
Proof of Service
- Courtesy of LASDObserver

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

I've always wanted to go to Australia... :)

Hope to see lots of people there tonight...

Subject:tonight's kangaroo court
Date:Tue, 12 Nov 2013 14:37:52 -0800
From:David Roode <>

Michelle Sturiale  suggested that I email you my opinion about your 
alleged hearing tonight regarding purported problems with the Bullis 
Prop 39 facilities this year.

My main problem with your actions concerns your collective dishonesty in 
this so called usage agreement.  First you refuse to negotiate it and 
then you act as if you had.  In the slides for your meeting tonight I 
see a totally bogus timeline regarding your steps in preparing the usage 

Most importantly, in one step you hold out that you believe that the 
Bullis June lawsuit was finally ruled upon.  What was ruled upon was 
just a motion for a peremptory writ which would have obviated the need 
for the CEQA  portion of the lawsuit by completely changing (redoing) 
the facilities offer.  This ruling in no way touched upon the usage 
agreement or indicated the end of or a failure of Bullis's June 
lawsuit.  Yet you keep representing to the public that this lawsuit has 
been resolved in favor of the district.

When you look at the letter you sent to Bullis alleging various so 
called violations, it is notable in the specifics it leaves out, such as 
the specifics of the time(s) of the alleged violations and the response 
made by Bullis in each case.  It will be a miracle if they show up at 
your board meeting tonight and they cannot really respond to the 
itemized list in your letter because of the lack of specifics.

I urge you to seek outside mediation and to stop wasting the resources 
of the taxpayers of the district in all these frivolous actions, which 
make a mockery of cooperation and honesty.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Bridge Building ... at least by the kids...

Just got back from the LASD board meeting, and I am happy to report that the board heard loudly and clearly that the district schools are not in favor of closing down a district school to hand over to BCS (as they requested by asking for Covington this year).  The meeting started off with a fun and entertaining presentation by about 8 Oak 3rd graders who were discussing the process that they went through, and their creations, in the bridge building exercise.  To hear them eloquently speak and describe their design process was a treat.

Most of the rest of the meeting consisted of multiple sessions of community input around the BCS request for Covington, and how LASD should respond.

Another highlight of the session was Francis La Poll saying that BCS would adhere to the LASD limitations in the timeline requested, so hopefully we we avoid yet another lawsuit.  Additionally, LASD acquiesced to BCS' requests, and agreed to meet "out of the public eye".  I commend the board's desire to do what is necessary to bring this situation to resolution, but I just hope that this works better than it did the last time.

If only the board members were as good at "bridge building" as the 3rd graders...  It was an interesting juxtaposition.

Monday, August 19, 2013

A, seemingly, very educated perspective

Although I'm disappointed that the cadence of public discussions has disappointingly ground to a halt, I did just learn of this new blog. Although I don't know the author, nor can verify the source an accuracy of the info, it does seem to be a very educated perspective. Enjoy...

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Who Wants to be a Millionaire?

Because, if you a student in a Santa Clara public school, you may very well just be losing a lifeline.  I have been fortunate enough to be able to meet our Superintendent, Dr Xavier De La Torre, and through a few chats that I have had with him, I have gained a deep respect for him and what he is trying to do for our children, and ALL of the students in Santa Clara county.
I emphasize the word 'all' because he seems to understand that our most powerful and influential people have a responsibility to help those that need it the most, and unfortunately our system is set up to do the exact opposite.  Whether it is a private or charter school created to enable student segregation (albeit under the guise of "I just want what's best for MY kids"), or one of our fine public schools, there seems their seems to be an innate inequity between the "haves" and "have nots", and whether we intend to or not, most of us are furthering this divide. 
Each time we volunteer at "our child's" school, we are growing the chasm, whether we intend to, or (most likely) not. 
I have had some good conversations with our superintendent about how we might be able to bridge this divide, but I fear that he may not be around long enough to see it come to fruition.  The SCCBOE relocated his family, of five children along with him and his wife, because they felt that he was the best candidate for this prestigious position. 
Hopefully the county board members who have significant impact on OUR (I mean ALL Santa Clara county students, not just the wealthy ones) students' futures will be able to see past influential benefactors and future political clout, and continue to support our superintendent and all our children. Otherwise, we may be taking away a lifeline from the very kids who need it the most.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Confused by public comment

With family in town, I was not able to attend the LASD board meeting. I had hoped to watch it live, but technical glitches prevented that, so tonight, I was finally able to watch. I was surprised that there were only two public comments, both by BCS parents asking LASD to stop the lawsuits and spend the money on the kids. Is anyone asking the BCS board of this, because last that I knew, most of the lawsuits (and wasted money) were initiated by them. Oh, wait, I remember, the "public" is asking the only PUBLIC school board to respond to the public.  Now, I get it...

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Won't Back Superman?!?

Tonight, I finally had an opportunity to watch "Won't Back Down".  I remember many years back watching "Waiting for Superman", and leaving the theater fired up that something had to be done to "fix" our educational system.  I didn't have the same feeling after watching "Won't Back Down". I feel like my eyes have been opened to the "media propaganda" where charter schools are positioned as the solution for failing inner-city schools, while taking not-so-subtle jabs at teachers unions, etc.

I can't wait for the next epic installment of  "Won't Back Superman", where a bunch of rich suburban families are able to divert public dollars from failing inner city schools in order to have state- subsidized private education for their children. Perhaps this could be sponsored by the attorneys who are making millions each year off our kids?!?

Monday, August 12, 2013

Marketing: an aggregate of functions involved in moving goods fromproducer to consumer

So, I was forwarded Bullis' latest marketing video, and for some reason, I took the time to watch it while walking the dogs. As usual, Bullis does an exceptional job with their marketing, and I'm sure that they also provide a great education for the kids whom they selectively admit into their program.
My beef is not with the quality of education that they provide to the families who can afford to pay their "tuition", it is the fact that I don't think that "choice" is a "god given right" that we all deserve when there are so many children who are not receiving an adequate education. This is where I believe the government should be spending their time and effort.
Add to this the fact that BCS has decided to sit on a large sum of money in their foundation while continuing to sue LASD for facilities, when they could have self-sited all along, and I have to wonder about whether BCS is as much of a scho, as it is a political statement by the wealthy. 
Anyway, for those of you who might want to see this marketing video, here it is:
As Alanis Morrisette once said, "Isn't it Ironic" that two of the board members in this video have stepped down from their board?!?

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Sad day for Santa Clara County PUBLIC school students

It looks like the big money behind the charter school movement and the board has run a good man out of town :(
I wonder what shill the board will find next, who won't stand in their political way or attempt to impede their "charter progress"?!?  
I hear that Ken Moore will have some more time on his hands soon...

Ah, the trials of being a "public" school

Hopefully this letter below is a sign that the SCCBOE is becoming more serious about actually "monitoring" BCS (you know, the role that they signed up for as authorizers), but I fear that this might be a mere appeasement to the public who is concerned about the school's practices. I guess we'll see at renewal time... (sorry, reposting this because I didn't do it correctly last night. Now, you should be able to see/download the letter from the SCCBOE)

Thursday, August 8, 2013

I used to like "The Depot"...

Having worked in San Carlos for 8+ years, I was very fond of "The Depot" for breakfast meetings.  Unfortunately, the "Depo" that I sat through the past few nights wasn't nearly as good. Along with a few other members of our community, I had the opportunity to see the deposition of Ken Moore and David Spector (partial) by an attorney from Reed Smith regarding the never-ending legal battles between LASD and BCS.
Although the content was rather dry, there were a few interesting tidbits that arose from it, like;
- the BCS Foundation was formed with the mission of returning public ed to west of foothill (ie the hills). For those who are not as aware of the history, I believe that this all spawned from the closure of the only public LASD school in Los Altos Hills.  From what I understood, LASD had some hard decisions to make, due to declining enrollment, so the decided to close the smallest school in the district.  In hindsight, I don't think that they realized the power and fortitude of the people who they angered by this maneuver.  Not to mention the town/leadership of Los Altos Hills.
- the "site fund" that was initial formed from $5mil in donations had been collecting interest.  Over time, this interest was used to fund lawsuits against LASD. Over more time, some of the principal has been used too. Guess LASD knows what it is up against now...
- influential parent volunteers spearheaded the fundraising and site identification. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Conclusion of depo...

Listening to David Spector being deposed in 2013, and the attorney deposing him spins him in a few interesting circles, but one that confused me a little bit - when the attorney asked him if BCS would have been given a school for the original offer of 3 million (which apparently was BCS' offer for the Bullis site in LAH) would they have dropped the litigation?  Mr Spector responded that the lawsuits are about "more than getting a school".  Was he referring to something else in Los Altos, or was he talking about a broader political movement?!?

Another interesting point was a review of an email from an original donor of the "Site Fund". This donor was concerned about the impacts of the lawsuits upon the community, and asked that the funds specifically be allocated to purchasing a site, and not lawsuits. Mr Spector didn't really have a response to this concern, although he did talk for a bit...

Another funny back and forth:
Deposing attorney: so, you said that there is a Site Fund that was used to pay for litigation, but in your view there was no "litigation fund".  And the single largest expense of the site fund has been litigation, but in your mind this is not a litigation fund?!?  Abbott and Costello would be proud - Who's on first?...

An email from Spector to a community member:
To make a donation on our legal fund all you need to do is make a check payable to "BPESF" and write "for Legal Fund". But wait, there's no legal fund, right???

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

First board member declares for LASD race

I'm a bit behind in this post, but aside from my forgetfulness, that is largely due the conflict in my mind and not wanting to hurt anyone for whom I have such respect. Martha was a fellow parent at Oak elementary, with one of her three daughters in my daughter's class. She is a very respected member of the community, and does a lot for the girls (especially through her Girl Scouts leadership). I was quite saddened when she decided to pull her girls from Oak to attend BCS, but I respected her decision to do so. When I saw the article in the town crier about Martha running for the LASD school board, my initial gut reaction was one of concern. Normally, I would be 100% behind an LASD parent running for the board, and against a BCS parent, because of the history of vitriol, litigation, etc between BCS and LASD. While I understand that LASD is our "community school district", and anyone in the community should be eligible to sit on the board, I can't imagine how anyone associated with BCS could fairly hold a seat on the LASD board, given BCS' litigious nature, and the fact that unfortunately much of the LASD board's time appears to be dealing with the various lawsuits brought on by BCS. If there were ever a conflict of interest in being on the LASD board, it would seem to me that being affiliated with BCS would squarely fit the criteria. As has been the case from the beginning, I'm still hoping that BCS gives up their "political/financial war that they have waged upon the citizens of Los Altos", and decide to self-site. Lost in the more than a decade (yes, we can now say this) of fighting is the fact that many charter schools self-site. Can you believe what a wonderful school, and addition to our community, BCS could have been if they would have just used their ample funds to self-site, and still have the same wonderful programs. LASD would have more than $1million more for the LASD students every year, and I'm sure that BCS would have the same. Funny, that I've never heard this perspective from someone associated with BCS. I always hear "we deserve", or "we're being discriminated against", but not "here's what we can do for the broader Los Altos community" - starting with self-siting, partnering with LASD, providing facilities and programs for the disadvantaged, etc". Now, that is a message that I could really get behind. Alas, I'm not holding my breath. All of this being said, I truly like and respect Martha and her family. She is a pillar of, and an asset to our community, and would make a wonderful member of the BCS Board.