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Letter to Silver Lake NC Opposing Colocation of Micheltorena

by Robert D. Skeels Tuesday, Mar. 06, 2012 at 2:20 PM

Open Letter to Silver Lake NC Regarding motion opposing Prop 39 Colocation of Micheltorena Street ES

A group for schools, communities and families struggling against the divisive and inequitable law that allows private charter school corporations to seize and occupy space on public school campuses.Dear Silver Lake Neighborhood Council:

As an eighteen year 90026 resident and a long time supporter of Micheltorena Street Elementary School, I urge you not to cave into the California Charter Schools Association's (CCSA) pressure to remove the following motion from the agenda for the March 7, 2012 Board Meeting:

VIII.c. Motion: Micheltorena Elementary School – Charter Co-location (proposal to not support co-location between schools per LAUSD/Prop 39)

Firstly, the representatives of Silverlake residents deserve to make their voices heard on this important issue without interference from outside organizations with vested interests. The proposed colocation of Micheltorena Street Elementary School won't only be disruptive to Micheltorena and the immediate community, but the community at large and surrounding neighborhoods. In my observation Prop 39 is a divisive and inequitable law that allows private charter school corporations to seize and occupy space on public school campuses. As one of the social justice writers who documented [1] the ordeals of the Gabriella Charter Corporation colocation of Logan Street ES,  I can tell you firsthand how divisive and destructive Prop 39 Colocations are. Initial research by community members and myself have brought up some grave questions about Citizens of the World Charter (CWC) Corporation as well.

Moreover, the CCSA  is not an organization the Neighborhood Council should be acquiescing to. Perhaps a brief history of their organization is in order. The CCSA was co-founded and led for years by right-wing reactionary Steve Poizner [2]. Poizner, if you recall, was a gubernatorial candidate whose platform was viciously anti-immigrant, anti-woman, and anti-gay rights. Obviously, these are positions incongruent with the progressive families and residents of Silver Lake. The CCSA serves on behalf of the lucrative charter schools sector much like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce does for big business. The CCSA receives billions from ALEC allies, right-wing billionaires, and ideologically charged foundations to carry out a school privatization agenda. For example, the arch-conservative Walton Family Foundation recently handed the CCSA 15 Million Dollars  [3] for it's dubious activities which are ultimately all aimed at increasing market share for the burgeoning charter school industry. [4]

Yet this about more than whether CWC Corporation has a spotty past or whether the CCSA uses its vast wealth and political influence to disenfranchise communities. This is about Micheltorena Street ES, the tremendous progress it has made, and the exciting future it can have. As a longtime advocate of dual language immersion programs, I would be saddened to see the proposed Micheltorena program lose the opportunity to flourish because of a collocation. Public School principals under duress of brokering and peace-keeping between their public schools and the privately managed charter schools occupying their campuses aren't able to devote all their energies to their own school. We've seen this exhausting ordeal with Logan's Principal Luis Ochoa, who won the Echo Park Patch 2011 Person of the Year [5], despite the pressures of a colocation by their bad neighbor in Gabriella Charter Corporation.

Indeed, Micheltorena Street Elementary School families and the Silverlake community benefit greatly from their public school. It would be a tragedy not to use every available resource to resist the colocation of the school. As the Neighborhood Council is the voice of the community, I urge you to allow this vote and to support public schools against the tide of school privatization.

Advocating public education and social justice

Robert D. Skeels

[1]  Two articles on the tragic situation at Logan and
[2] Poizner founding CCSA and on immigration on women's rights and Prop 8
[3]  See LA Times

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