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Original post made
on Nov 12, 2008
The Santa Clara Board of Education will most likely just rubber stamp the now yearly Bullis Charter School Fall Petition.
By doing so, the Board will once again bypass any sort of democratic process as the community was once again not even consulted by Bullis Charter School.
Regardless of the petition merits, such disdain for democracy is pretty sad for a school that accepts public dollars our of our property taxes and for a Board of Education that claims to be a "champion of public education"...
"Taxation without representation is ...."
It is for this reason we were against Mah retaining her seat.
Taxation without representation? I pay the LASD parcel tax and get nothing in return for it. Meanwhile over a million dollars per year is lost from senior citizens who opt out of the tax.
What is wrong with a middle school choice? The vast majority of BCS students would otherwise attend and overcrowd LASD schools. Los Altos residents actually make up the majority of the student population.
BCS gives LASD families a choice for their public education. LASD schools are all cookie-cutter based on the exact same mold. So much so that they wanted to redraw school attendance boundaries to keep the "proper" socio-ethnic mix.
My comment was not on the merits of the petition but on the very undemocratic nature of the process where a County Board and a Charter School make decisions without any consultation or coordination with the community paying the taxes.
It's especially unfitting when it comes to public education.
Unsurprisingly, the Santa Clara County Board of Education did its rubberstamping duties yesterday.
At a time of school budget crunch, a fair question might be why do we even have a Board of Education and what they are doing with 200+ million dollars (aside from making decisions -they don't need to finance- in lieu of a community).
The problem is the charter school law, and the county board members. These laws are very loose. When the district school boards deny a charter school petition, the charter school then has the right to go to the county board of education with their petition for a charter school. Unfortunately the county board can not deny this petition for a charter school, or for an expansion based on the district's financial situation, or ability to provide a facility, or how much this charter will negatively impact the rest of the district's public schools. The county board can only consider the merits of the petition: is the curriculum adequate and appropriate, does this curriculum offer something that the other public schools do not, do they have teachers for their program,etc.
I am not siding with the county board. They are pro-charter as is Grace Mah. They could may be look for loop holes, but they do not want to. So, the thing that needs to be fought are the charter school laws. They were initially written to help the parents whose children went to schools where the students were not getting a good education. They were not intended for areas such as Los Altos Hills or Palo Alto.
Now any time a group of parents want something different to what the public school offers( which they should get from a private school, or after school programs) they can threaten the boards with a charter school. This was done by Grace Mah and a few others in Palo Alto last year. They wanted a Mandarin immersion program. The board voted against it for many good reasons. Soon the board received a letter saying that if they vote in Mandarin immersion a request for a charter school will not be made. It was a threat. It worked. They now have their Mandarin immersion program. It splintered the community. Many parents in P.A. are still angry that a few students get a new immersion program, and the rest get no foreign language at all in elementary grades.
So, what is necessary is having citizens talk to their representatives about changing the charter school laws. And electing people for this county board who really represent their constituents. We need to pay more attention to who is on this county board and get Grace Mah off. She does not respect, nor act according to the democratic process. She represents herself and her family.
If anyone is still reading this thread- I just read today in the Post that the school board and county board of education in San Mateo voted against a charter high school, and they gave as one reason that finances do play a part in their decision making eventhough they know that the law reads that the financial status of the district can not be considered. It would be great for our county board to know that the San Mateo county board rejected a charter school and used finances as one of their reasons. Some of them (Grace Mah) may not be interested in this, as she is pro-charter; but Joe di Salvo may find it interesting.
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