Thursday, November 7, 2013

Made me think of Liar's Poker...

I had the opportunity to attend "the beginning" of the joint LASD-BCS meeting/discussion tonight.  Unfortunately (for tonight, but fortunately for all other nights), I didn't realize that the meeting was being webcast, so I attended in person.  I left straight from the Oak Back-to-School night, and made it to the meeting/discussion a few minutes in.  I probably missed a couple of questions/comments from parents, because I as I came in some where still speaking and admonishing the board, but I made it in the for the beginning of the board discussions.  I will try to sum up what I heard, in a nutshell, but I'm sure that I could have missed some nuances (or frankly, some major points):

  • Participating in the meeting were two members of Bullis' board (Joe Hurd and John Phelps, I believe), along with two members of the LASD board (Mark Goines and Steve Taglio), and lastly, a mediator.
  • Joe Hurd presented his perspective of the situation, and Mark Goines presented his.  Following these presentations, the mediator set some ground rules, and the discussion commenced
  • The purposed of tonight's conversation was to discuss the "who can attend Blach aspect of the FUA", specifically the restrictions around younger kids attending.
  • LASD stressed that they are not only representative of the members of the LASD schools, but also of the community at a whole.  This is somewhat different from the BCS board's position, which is to represent the BCS community specifically.
  • Both sides seemed amenable to having an open conversation with the hopes of reaching a mutually agreeable conclusion
  • LASD stated that they needed a better understanding of how BCS wanted to use Blach if they were to be able to be more flexible with their offer
  • Both sides agreed to a 15 minute recess while BCS gathered some data and answers to provide more details around the questions.  And, I had a chance to drive home and listen to the webcast :)
  • BCS gathered the details, and age levels and numbers that they proposed to attend Blach.  Unfortunately, I missed these details, but they seemed to be able to provide enough information to allow the members of the LASD board to go back and speak with the rest of their board about augmenting the offer.
  • A key takeaway from the meeting was that although having the two boards meet and discuss in public, both would need to go back to their full boards before committing to, or making any changes.
  • At the end, there were questions/comments asked from the audience ranging from denigrating our publicly elected officials to "why are we having these conversations when the lawsuits have not ceased?".
My comment about "Liar's Poker" is in reference to the apparent secrecy around which many of the aspects of BCS revolve.  LASD seemed to spend the first half of the meeting repeatedly asking the same question: "Please just give us details about what you would like to do at Blach, so we can make an educated decision regarding what is best for the community as a whole".  BCS family members seem to be happy with the program, which is great, but if BCS wants to be a true PUBLIC school, then they need to be held accountable to the PUBLIC, not just the parents of the school.  This comment in bold is my assessment of the chasm that exists between the two sides, because it seems that BCS is hoping to have the best of both worlds: Take from the public coffers, but not be open with the public about what they're doing.  Something tells me that this is NOT what the taxpayers voted for when the approved the concept of "Charter Schools", which were specifically sold as an attempt to fix broken school systems, NOT a subsidized private education program in one of the best districts in the state?!?

In a nutshell, this discussion was a good first step, but there is still MUCH work to be done...

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