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On LAUSD's urgent need to pressure CNCA to revise the CRES #14 charter

by Robert D. Skeels Thursday, Apr. 21, 2011 at 12:50 PM
rdsathene@sbcglobal.net 90026

When LAUSD V.P. Flores awarded CRES #14 to Camino Nuevo Charter Academy (CNCA) against the wishes and explicit votes of the Echo Parque community, and against the express recommendation of the Superintendent, she promised she would address the grievously problematic issues with CNCA's proposal regarding their exclusive and inflexible language program. Instead, nothing has been done to resolve this major point of contention between the corporate charter school operator and the community they will soon occupy.

"Parents having decision making power over a budget is not a sustainable model." — Ana F. Ponce (CEO, CNCA Corporation)

The EastsiderLA's Becky Koppenhaver reports in New Echo Park school to bend on bilingual instruction that the corporate executives of Camino Nuevo Charter Academy (CNCA) are insisting that they "revised their instructional model  in response to the needs of the community."

The lavishly paid CNCA COO Truong and CNCA CEO Ponce are being evasive and perhaps even mendacious. CNCA's official charter submitted to LAUSD still does not contain language specifically outlining a Mainstream English option. This is covered in length here:

Open Letter to LAUSD Board Regarding Grave Issues with CNCA's Charter for CRES #14

Given that CNCA's single minded executives have been, to put it kindly, less than honest on many occasions, community members should demand that the LAUSD force CNCA to put this so-called "revised instructional model" in writing into their charter. Otherwise, there is no way of holding them accountable. In short, CNCA's charter must specify a Mainstream English option. While social justice activists would have liked to see them offer more, akin to that of the public school plan submitted, we'd be satisfied with seeing these market share minded charter charlatans follow the law and listen to the community at the very least.

In fact, all of our groups and associated Echo Parque/Historic Filipinotown community members need to press this issue with the District and CNCA now, before it's too late. Without this being in writing, CNCA Corporation is under no obligation to offer a Mainstream English program. Furthermore, they could offer something that appears to be Mainstream English, or offer some like it at first to appease the community and then drop it latter.

At this point, there are no provisions in their charter for CRES #14 addressing what the community is demanding. CNCA is not used to having to listen to the community, so they're scrambling to figure out how to make their one-size-fits-all corporate model appear to accommodate our neighborhood's diverse population and needs. We need to demand that they serve every child, and that verbal assurances are not sufficient.

While charters are technically legal documents between the school district and the private operators of the charter schools, they offer little in way of accountability. Most courts [1] have found that charter schools are not "public entities." This always works in their favor. What this means is that even if we get CNCA to commit to what the community wants in writing, we have little recourse to hold CNCA accountable. So much more so if we don't get them to commit to it to writing. After all, CNCA's CEO Ana Ponce and her executive staff are tasked with increasing market share and keeping their costs down, so they are naturally far less concerned with what the community wants.

Community members in District 2 and District 5 should be calling their Board Members every day demanding CNCA revise their charter to fit the needs of our community!

District 2 Mónica García
monica.garcia@lausd.net
(213) 241-6180


District 5 Yolie Flores
yolie.flores@lausd.net (213) 241-6383

_____
NOTES
[1] Two examples are the California Court of Appeals (2007-01-10) and the 9th Circuit US Court of Appeals (2010-01-04).

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