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on May 3, 2013
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correction: Doug Smith is President of the LASD School Board, not the Superintendent.
I agree with him that BCS has been trying to find ways to avoid having meetings open to the public. BCS acts like a private school, not the public one they claim to be.
Ask Doug Smith if the teachers at LASD have meetings that are closed to the public. I'm pretty sure they do. At a charter school, the parents have a level of involvement on par with staff. The meetings that Mr. Smith is critizing are not meetings of the BCS board. They follow the Brown Act. The private meetings are between parents and staff. Some board members are there too because they are also parents.
Mr. Smith's blog continues to try to rile the community and escalate the conflict. He should really reflect on what he is doing to pit neighbor against neighbor.
This is a funny problem because politics in coming in the way of real solutions. Everybody pitch in and take the best from both and get away from pointing fingers at each other.
1. Bullis started because the original school in Los Altos Hills closed down. They should build a second story on top of the new Bullis Gardner School and learn to get a long. I would recommend every alternate classroom be the charter so that the two groups attend each others classrooms and learn to get a long. Dont bring it to the courts and say we cant work together. It is our tax money that the Superintendents/BCS Principal and others are wasting.
2. BCS is striving to address the needs of the advanced students. LASD is striving to help the bottom third. To me it sounds like the two should work together. LASD working openly for the mid to bottom third and BCS working to help the mid to top third. They can over see the academic progress of all the children who are interested in an advanced curriculum. Let BCS have a second story in every school. Pour in the advanced academics into all the schools. We are so tired of having to find ways to keep our children in engaged at LASD.
This way the BORED smart technologically minded children of LASD are not all applying for the lottery to get into BCS privately while suffering LASD. Doug Smith should acknowledge why the problem exists in the first place.
The PTA and staff are all controlled by individuals who are not working, who have devoted their lives to serving lunch to the children at lunch time and who want to keep LASD education standards low so that it is less competitive. This is really boring for a certain section of smart kids who then develop bad behavior, bullying etc. and just get depressed if they are not interested in occupying their time with destructive activities. It was such a big deal to get a simple Science Fair going at Almond.
3. Stop playing politics and share Bullis Gardner at the very least and then make a second story, dont start a new school. Lets not have a lottery for BCS. Just open admission to all students who want a more advanced curriculum taught using project based and general learning as well.
4. Focusing too much on project based learning is bad as it is like studying a toe nail in depth but forgetting how the foot functions. l. All children should have to study in depth the whole unit but do a project on part of it.- not listen to presentations from other children to learn about the unit as the main source of information.
5. Get rid of formal classrooms where children have to stare at the teacher and instead get them buiilding, making, working on stuff and engage them in challenging tasks suited to their level of learning. Get them excited. My child believes so strongly, never let school come in the way of a good education. She has done that to perfection.
6. She goes to our local public school to socialize. Among other things, she has to figure out what clothes to wear and how expensive they need to be so that she is not ostracized (read 300 dollar jeans), to share notes on how to comb her hair and roll her eyes and apply nail polish. She has to make sure she is caught up on the best silly pictures of her friends and non friends on instagram. It could not hurt to know about the latest boyfriend prank that was played and if there was none then at least her friends can join together to gossip privately in public and exclude someone at the lunch table and get a thrill from it. She is great at pleasing the teacher as a teacher's aide and will definitely be running for a leadership position in high school because she knows how to get long, who to get along with, who to exclude and what not to do in school. Look too interested in academics.
6. If as adults we cannot recognise the merits of both schools as well as their limitations, we will never as members of the public maximize their contributions. BCS can never be like LASD and vice versa. The reason BCS is popular is because it is different.
7. Having said that BCS should stop being secretive and share all its financial data. It should act with honesty and integrity. So that we as parents can stop trying to buy more land and spend more money. We should act responsibly and build up. That is the more environmentally friendly way with a better carbon footprint and a better social footprint as well. BCS is not the enemy. So stop it. BCS principal, please LASD is not your enemy. You are all playing games to make yourselves as individuals indispensable. May be both places should fire the superintendent and the principal and find two leaders who really know how to solve problems rather than waste our money.We should focus on how to get the best from the two institutions.
8. The Two superintendents/principals must set an example to the students by showing how they can actually solve problems rather than litigate each other. If you dont have those skills LASD Superintendent, then quit as you are asking parents to go from meeting to meeting and wasting our time, threatening to have our schools closed and blaming it on BCS when the solution is right in your face.
9. In Mountain View, all the new developments have more than one story. In Los Altos, where people have acres and acres and acres of land, they cannot understand the benefit of compact living. One benefit is Getting along!! not just admiring your own backyard.
I am not saying develop Los altos hills with buildings en masse but Bullis Gardner can easily take a second story and so can all the other schools. No need to buy more land. Put a Bullis floor on every school and run advanced programs in all the schools for all the children. Dont minimise it but offer it to every child that is interested. Let Bullis manage that as their whole focus is the more advanced child. Why ask them to also attend to special needs. Let LASD enjoy their special needs programs to its merit.
The Superintendent is forcing everyone to cater to the bottom third for personal reasons I am told.
10. It is healthy for kids to run up a flight of stairs. They will live longer and get more exercise. On average, people who have stairs in their home live three years longer.
ADD A SECOND STORY, PROVIDE THE STEPS TO FREEDOM, GREATER HEIGHTS AND A BETTER VIEW!
Ah, nice to see the private charter school feels entitled to have private meetings. Unfortunately, we taxpayers are the ones getting stuck with the bill!
Hey Matt Raschke,
Why don't you tell us again how easy it would be for NEC students to walk or bike to Egan? Crossing El Camino and San Antonio? No problemo!
BCS parents don't care if these kids get hit by a car as long as BCS gets their own campus at Covington. That is all you care about.
Let's get really real about the oddball coalition that thinks this rich charter school is the better choice: 1-parents seeking privilege in a private school environment who don't want to pay private school tuition 2-tiger moms who can't let educators do their job and must insert themselves into every darned thing 3-overschedulers who can't stand the thought of little Jonny having 30 minutes of 'wasted' personal time 4-discriminators fleeing an integrated classroom 5-hills families still holding a decade old grudge against the district 6-anti union extremists 7-school voucher advocates 8-social climbers who want to mix with the billionaires 9-fans of privatization of everything 10-parents who were raised in other cultures that were raised to look out for number one and have an underdeveloped appreciation for "we the people"
Agatha, the problem with so many of your ideas is that they are simply illegal.
For starters, BCS cannot position itself as a school catering exclusively to the "top third" is this would be plainly against the charter school laws under which they exist. Yes, they probably already do this "on the sly", but they cannot legally do so. Their charter has been called into serious question by their chartering authority, and there are now significant doubts they will be renewed in 2016. This is because of discrimination, and because of the law.
Next, the limitation on these campuses is not field space or building space, it's TRAFFIC. You can only get so many cars to one location during rush hour. BCS is a commuter school by definition, so it will necessarily get far more traffic than any other school in our District. Remember that the streets in Los Altos have far less capacity on average than Mountain View as well.
The solution here is to create more campuses, not cram more kids into the ones we've got. Our campuses are already traffic nightmares. The Gardner Bullis campus you hold up as a solution is no different, and is up in the Hills on the edge of the district. It currently has about 300 students. Putting BCS there along side of GB would make it 900 students and would effectively multiply the traffic there about five times. It would be illegal to even try.
Agatha, I know you are trying to help, and for that I thank you. But unfortunately these issues are very complicated...
So, Matt Raschke -- Let's get this straight: At BCS, parents are "just like staff", and meetings attended by board members, where the primary agenda item is a presentation by BCS legal counsel about their litigation strategy(which the board members are a party to) should be private? The only reason this wasn't a blatant Brown Act violation is that the Board was savvy enough to limit the number who attended so as not to constitue a quorum.
Bullis Charter School -- Defending the indefensible and fighting for the rights of the priveleged everywhere.
BCS parents, like those of any charter school, have a much higher degree of influence and involvement on their school than do parents in traditional schools. One big reason is they have the absolute right to simply change schools. But it is simplistic and flawed to say that in any gathering they have to discuss school problems, they must invite the whole community and do this communication in public. The people who complain like that about Bullis are just jealous and trying to sabotage the charter's operations. They don't have to be teachers, for crying out loud, they are parents discussing their children's school.
Doug Smith called off further opening meetings to discuss BCS back after the only one LASD had. That meeting broken into groups and it would be impossible for anyone to monitor what happened in all the groups. If Doug Smith wanted more public openness he should have gone ahead with more public meetings in that series as originally planned. At this point, he is just being an oaf and trying to horn in. LASD saddled BCS with a big problem faced by no other school in trying to split its 600 students in two and separate them by 4 miles. Trying to keep them from working out a solution is indicative of their real intent--just to make problems for BCS.
@Agatha, you have some interesting points for sure. But if you want more info, BCS and BCS's Foundation both file 30 page tax returns every year, and these are publicly available. They lay out a wealth of information on BCS's funding and financial operations. You can get them back for every year of operations. The legal name of the two non profit corporations are Bullis Purissima Elementary School and the Bullis Purissima Educational Foundation. Have at it. No need to just wish for more data! LASD should have looked here instead of making a big deal about filing for a court to reveal more info.
Actually there is a need for more data. What are the details of the bcs budget, how
Much are teachers paid, what is the foundation money used for, how are legal bills paid, etc. A public school should not drag it's feet when asked for public documents. I know of at least 2 requests for public info sent to bcs which bcs did not provide any documents. What is there to hide???
Legal fees? Yep, the payments to the law firms are itemized on the 990T forms filed by BCS. No worries. You can even see how the contributions from the foundation increased to cover them. Now, you don't get to see what investments the foundation made, but its nest egg did pretty well since 2004. The one problem is that there is a year or so lag before the tax return for the school gets filed. But it looks like it has been costing BCS $400-900 per child in legal fees in recent years. LASD spends even more per year -- $1M, but since it has more kids, the $1M only takes away $220 per child in legal fees.
Can you please provide links to the BCS tax returns?
Regarding legal fees, you can see the source of the money. Back in 2004 BCS wanted to try to purchase a site for a school. They offered to fund remodeling of Gardner and it was announced that they had received a $5M donation to cover costs. You can see this in their tax returns for that time.
You can also see that they invested this in something paying on the order of 5% per year income--back before interest rates dropped to 0%. So for several years there they earned maybe $250,000 per year on the building nest egg. So then in 2009, when they filed the big lawsuit that LASD spent all the effort fighting and appealing and so forth (Still LASD spends on that to this day, same suit), BCS Foundation had built up $1M in earnings. The legal fees started at $400,000 that year, but the earnings keep coming in. That's all the money they have needed to fund the 2009 lawsuit over the years until now, but the cost has been depriving the foundation of the earnings on the building money. That's been enough without needing to seek other funding of the lawsuit.
For non profit organizations tax returns, there are many sources. Here's just one: Web Link
Matt R. is being typically dishonest. It is the litigators (yes, litigators) on the BCS board who are escalating this conflict to extremely nasty and personal proportions.
Matt, like the good little BCS foot-soldier he is, most likely attended the hour-long "hate session" put on by BCS lawyers a month ago. In this session BCS parents were treated to a bunch of lies specifically designed to make them angry at the LASD community. (I guess they feel they need to do this in order to justify their continued vicious attack on our public schools).
The "session" included a discussion about attacking our elected officials *personally* with lawsuits. It also included sentence fragments from a letter of mine, made to sound like a single sentence direct quote, which was intentionally misquoted in order to make it appear, among other things, that the LASD community and I were calling for armed conflict.
I'm sure most BCS parents implicitly know that their school's leadership is full of it, and will say absolutely anything to justify what they are doing, but it shows you just how far they will go.
(In that same session Arturo Gonzáles, lead BCS counsel, quipped that this legal battle may be going on, "after our kids are out of college", so buckle up BCS parents, you are in for a very, very long ride!).
Here are the details of the BCS "hate session":
Here's another major BCS escalation in which their legal teams comes after ME, Joan J. Strong, personally:
It is BCS who is pitting neighbor against neighbor. Charter school religious zealots find this to be a great thing, too: they call it, "competition", and it's an integral part of the Charter school ideal. No longer do we work together to make our schools great, they say, it's everybody for themselves!
The legal presentation for BCS was opened up to many non-BCS parents. In that case only Doug Smith was asked to leave. It was not a hate session. That bullischarterschoolthoughts blog is a hate web site though. The LASD board members deserve a lawsuit for the way they have handled this. It's their job to create a workable solution and they have contorted their solutions unbelievably making them worse than they needed to be, on the alleged grounds that they were protecting the non-BCS students.
@ Hercule Poirot
be wary and don't believe everything you read in tax returns because for years BCS has obscured its legal expenses
Matt, BCS parents may feel they are like staff but they aren't. The public may attend ANY LASD meeting to which parents are invited. If BCS wishes to be a public school then it must be the same. Of course LASD staff/teachers have trainings etc to which parents aren't invited, but any meeting LASD parents can go to (including PTA meetings) may be attended by the public.
@LASD Observer, the non BCS parents at the meeting were also asked to leave by Wanny, and quite rudely too. I was embarrassed at the way our superintendent acted toward them and Doug Smith.
I don't see why non-BCS parents should be excluded from our meetings, especially when the topic of the litigation affects them too. It would have been nice to open up this past meeting to Egan and Blach families since it was supposed to discuss how to make the best of next years facilities.
@ BCS Parent - you are not a BCS Parent, so stop pretending otherwise. I was at that meeting and the non BCS parents were asked to stay. There was a problem at the start because several LASD parents lied about being a BCS parent. They actually misrepresented themselves as incoming BCS families and were asked to leave - fair enough.
Hmm, since BCS is asking to have their legal fees for 2009-2012 reimbursed by LASD, why on earth would they minimize them? They have said $1.3Million over those 3 years on that case, and that fits with the tax returns.
Only BCS parents have the right to be on our campus at all times. My tax dollars pay for district schools so I have a right to be there during parent meetings. Our charter is separate from the district so outside parents and board members like Doug should not be invited to internal matters. Doug's presence at non board meetings is meant to intimidate us.
BCS is a commuting school that will soon grow to 900 students. This is a large school that will incur a lot of traffic on any district site they would take over or share. Raynor is the best choice. I would guess about half of the commuters work south of LASD, so an extra few minutes of driving each way should be no trouble. Raynor provides enough room when you make use of the park. It was very wise of the district to keep the Raynor option open.
That's not D.R. back there. BCS is no more a commuting school than any LASD school is. You could as easily move any one of them to Raynor and the extra 10 mile drive to Sunnyvale would be the predominant issue in the distance. Anyway, Raynor is big enough for 450 students tops, at 25 students per classroom average. There are only 22 classrooms. The only LASD school that will fit there when they buy it is Gardner. Remember, there is no room for the portables that are a standard add-on to each LASD school.
@Real BCS Parent, I am a BCS Parent and just because I don't agree with you doesn't make me otherwise! I was there in the back row where I could hear both Joe Hurd and Wanny arguing with Doug, threatening calling the cops if he refused to leave. I also heard Wanny telling the non-BCS parent to leave before eventually giving in to the lawyer. This is embarrassing for our school to have our Superintendent behave in such a way. Many of my friends are district parents and I would like to think we live in a community of openness. Why couldn't they attend the meeting yesterday? Why did she have to go out of her way to exclude the very people we live next too?
I wasn't at the meeting in question when Mr. Smith was asked to leave. I've just read about it continously online. I have some sympathy though for the folks who called this meeting. Consider they have been under attack by the LASD board for 9 years. Their every gesture and every word said questioned and debated. More recently they are continually villified online. Consider that they called a meeting to inform their parents of what is going on. Now throw in there folks that are obviously hostile enough to lie about their motives and folks that might be illegal for them to attend (obviously this can be debated & has been). Unexpected hostility, unexpected attendants. Would all of you out there handled it better? I'm sure you think you would have given all the comments but I seriously doubt it. I'm sure all of the haters out there will continue to hate.
If you are a BCS attendee with an issue and don't like the way it's been handled, have the courage to take it up with Wanny. Don't add to the hate by inviting others to informational meetings without informing the people who have called the meeting. Don't worry all you haters, BCS is a public school. But having the rest of the community united in trying to close it down and having horrid information made up on line we need to help our leaders and support them not ambush them. Even if you had the best of intentions.
I've got another interesting analogy for public .vs. non public things. Palo Alto owns Foothills Park. They are a public agency. Are Los Altans or Los Altos Hills residents allowed in this publicly owned property? NO.
Very interesting, isn't it.
I laugh everytime I see BCS called a commuter school. If BCS is a commuter school than so is EVERY OTHER LASD school. Ever try to drive past Almond in the morning? Ever try to drive past Loyola in the morning? I'm sure the parking lots at Springer, Covington, & GB are never used. Good thing no one else in LASD drives their kids to school. Yah. Right. Commuter School. Funny.
FALSE. Foothills is publicly accessible via adjacent preserves (Los Trancos and Arastradero). I run those trails often.
That's just a recent exception for the purpose of allowing hikers through access to the Ridge Trail. If you are on other trails in the park, a ranger could ask you to leave.
If you try to drive in through the front gate without proof of residency, you will be turned away.
Here's another example. Suppose Stepping Stones preschool is hosting a meeting of its parents at Blach, in one of their buildings. Do you think the public is invited? Do you think Board of Trustee members are allowed to audit the meeting for purposes of maintaining their control over the grounds? Hah.
"Recent" as of 2007, I believe. I have never had any issues with rangers (however, I am not often in the park long as I am indeed usually running the Bay-To-Ridge trail network).
Actually, I would like to see more parks make it difficult to enter by car but possible via obfuscated trails (e.g., charging a high fee at the gate but with backcountry entrances as there are at many of the local state parks).
At any rate, the comparison to Foothills Park is not apt here because Foothills was purchased solely by the city of Palo Alto (LA, LAH, etc, opted out). Charter schools, on the other hand, are state funded (which is to say LA, LAH, etc. have by definition no opportunity to opt out).
So, Jimbo, you like your parks to be exclusive to only those physically fit enough to get in via rugged trails? But you take issue with a school that is difficult to get into except by applying and winning a lottery for the few spots available?
Grace, our tax dollars pay for BCS's campuses too. I understand that you and many other BCS supporters think of your taxes as tuition to your private school, but those of us who understand the tenants of democracy understand them as the price we pay to live in a civilized society.
Lynn, we know, you don't believe neighborhood schools exist. It's a very convincing argument. Really, everybody believes you. Keep saying that.
Real BCS parents are getting fed up with all of this:
* BCS lawsuits force LASD to create a "letter of the law" facilities offer which will NEVER be big enough for BCS since BCS's program requires more facilities per student than LASD's program. Only when BCS drops its lawsuits and negotiates will BCS be given facilities that match its more demanding program.
* The BCS leadership has consistently prioritized political axe grinding and perverted right-wing ideological goals over the welfare of its students. Most BCS parents didn't sign up for a "cause", they signed up for a (small) *school*.
* The BCS leadership's stated goal of growing into a 1000+ student mega-school will place enormous demands--including financial demands--on current BCS parents. The BCS leadership could care less about these concerns.
* Whereas LASD parents like myself are free to criticize our elected leadership, BCS parents enjoy no such freedom. BCS is like a private party at a rich person's house: piss off the owner, and you will be bounced out in a second. The BCS leadership can effectively expel any student they wish, disrupting their education and their lives. There's no chance in hell a BCS parent will ever speak publicly against the BCS owners even in the slightest. They will keep their heads down until their kids graduate, hoping for the best. Meanwhile, BCS sycophants hoping to score points with the zillionaire owners will be the only voice they hear.
Fake bcs parent, please stop. If you are going to pretend to be a bcs parent then you should do a better job, you just gave yourself away, plus te last thing ANY BCS parent would do is defend Doug Smith, who is the creator of most of the current strife.
What Doug doesn't understand is that when Prop 39 facilities are provided to a charter school, then the charter school has full responsibility for the facilities. They are no longer LASD's responsibility and what happens there in the evening is none of LASD's business. The charter school carries the insurance on the property. Loaning them out to any interested civic groups is up to the Charter school and that's who should be contacted when there are after hours meetings. It's more of LASD's paternalistic meddling in BCS's affairs. Honestly, the guy made a fool of himself blasting off about it to SCCBOE.
Yes, I think that more often than not it should take some effort to get into nature. It shouldn't be too easy! We have lost too many wild places already. Also, most Americans could surely use the exercise.
On the other hand, obviously we do need some (minority) of places where access is easy and free. For example, it is easy and free to visit the redwoods in the lovely Redwood Grove Park in Los Altos, but extremely difficult to hack your way up Fog Creek. I support (well, through donations at least) efforts both to fix the wood boards in the Grove so the disabled (and my young child!) can access it as well as RNSP's efforts to reforest the old logging roads there, making it harder to get to Hyperion, Helios, etc.
Similarly, we should have schools that cater to and challenge most with appropriate accommodations for all. I think this is best done in a united way modeled on countries that perform far better on education metrics across-the-board than does America -- Korea, Singapore, Finland, Japan, etc. This would mean much more public funding, much more oversight, and much more emphasis on providing a basic family safety net.
This particular debate, between a high-achieving public school system and a high-achieving charter school in a high-income area full of highly educated high-achievers, to me is something like fiddling while Rome burns.
Does anyone, I mean anyone, want to try to suggest or do anything anymore that can remotely be called compromise for the other side or something constructive for both sides?
Or does everyone just love their online soap opera and bashing people too much? Seriously people, there are some TV shows that are much better than this...
Is everyone invited to LASD Teachers Union Meetings? What about meetings between union reps and the school district negotiation team? Can we go meetings between PTA councils and school principals? What about committee meetings at each school? Can we go coffee's hosted by LASD parents in there homes? Is there any good parties to crash this weekend? Maybe one at Doug's House - Does he ever meet with fellow parents and teachers from his kids school? Does he ever meet with certain PTA presidents and suggest they organize anti BCS groups? What about Tammy? Can we go a meeting at someone's house when she is meeting with members of her crew? Just wondering.
Or maybe we could hang at the district offices while they are meeting about how to destroy BCS - I would love to go to that one. Maybe we could sit in on one Doug's gorilla marketing planning sessions. I would be love to hear from Doug how he comes up with his whoppers. Really I would just like to listen and learn.
The contorted logic and twisted reasoning used by BCS supporters to justify anything and everything done by their leadership never ceases to amaze me. Perhaps they have to engage in such intellectual dishonesty to convince themselves that they haven't made a tragic mistake and sided with an organization that had done far more damage to this community than any benefit provided.
I can certainly understand why BCS parents wouldn't appreciate Doug Smith attending a meeting like this, or even interested LASD parents for that matter. But you can't have it both ways. Either BCS is a public school as they so loudly proclaim when it benefits their argument, or it is not. If it is, then there is no justification for excluding anyone from attending.
On the topic of that meeting and the BCS litigation strategy: The recent court filing showed different legal representation for BCS. Did they fire Arturo and MOFO? Perhaps his gleeful statement that this litigation will continue until "our kids are out of college" was enough for him and his minions to get thrown off the BCS gravy train. Sadly, it looks like BCS new hired guns are an out of town firm that has a practice specializing in charter related litigation. It would be a safe assumption that the new lawyers will be even more motivated to make the BCS conflict a national "cause" than MOFO was.
I am not sure I should mention this but most people will probably not take my advice so I don't think I risk much by stating my opinion.
Come to Graham! Leave bickering BCS and backward LASD to the losers.
I beg to differ that it is a high achieving school system. It may have a high API score but it does not take that much to have a high score for a bright child. It takes a lot more to challenge a high achieving child. Careless mistakes and in accuracies can make a difference to an API score but focussing too much on that can really compromise the education program of any school. It can ruin it for the average and for the bright and curious child. They have make busy homework and mind numbing repetitious problems just to make sure that they do well on the API score. They kill their desire to strive more and to be engaged in challenging ways.
If homeschooling was not so isolating, perhaps more parents of smart children would leave the district.
I checked it out when buying my house. I found that LASD does not cater to the child who is looking to be challenged.
I would not be surprised if the wealthy bored housewives are part of the problem. I hear often that the lunch moms and PTA's are very committed to keeping the standard lower so that it is easer for everyone, teacher student and lunch mom.
I understand that the LASD Superintendent could have personal reasons for interest in the lower half of the spectrum. Nevertheless, the word is out that less is best at LASD because if your child is very bright, then they will be under challenged and under stimulated at LASD because they have only one goal. THE API score. Their electives SUCK compared to Graham. My child has the latest equipment and Blach and Egan are scrambling at the bottom end of the spectrum.
They dont even offer Geometry so that all the bright children will be tested in the algebra category for their API score. How insecure is that.
The parents there are so ignorant that they dont even know that all the good schools are offering Geometry in 8th grade. LASD is a backward district with a few special effects like Khan academy. At its core it is not modern in its thinking and my advice is dont waste your time fighting about BCS and LASD. Move!!!!
Not sure why people are spending huge sums of money to go there. They see an API score and confuse it with better education. Sometimes cheaper is better.
My recommendation to potential LASD families, think twice and RUN RUN RUN to Mountain View.
Our high school is better too. We offer engineering and LAHS does not.
They offer partying and spending their parents money for the average high schooler.
There are children who do well from LAHS, dont get me wrong but it is those few whose parents are very focused on keeping their children on the straight and narrow, the school culture is the opposite. The whole environment here is way more dynamic, teachers are keen to inspire kids and not just to collect their salaries. I am sure there are probably a few good teachers there but with the current combination at the helm of the administration it would be better not to join LASD. That would be my recommendation.
I don't know if BCS is that amazing. It seems to be like a tied up dog, making it miserable for everyone... just after public funds. Let BCS be for the advanced kids and send all the advanced kids over to BCS.. BCS can be the advanced branch of LASD officially. I think those lunch moms need to wake up and stop seeing BCS as the enemy but mediocrity as the enemy. The mediocrity is them.. getting people out in large numbers to pointless meetings. The best purpose that can serve is to help keep the LASD Board members keep getting elected. This is so amusing. Good Luck.
Wow. @Graham Parent's post is wrong and offensive on a whole host of different levels. All I can say in response is that I'm glad you picked Graham and MV since you clearly would have been a nightmare to have as part of any LASD school community. I feel sorry for your kid(s) who will certainly grow up with a twisted set of values and a warped sense of their own superiority. Good Luck to you too...
@Really Real Story. That is the best post I've ever seen in these discussions b/c it's so true, yet you've applied a little bit of humor to this.
I think it's interesting that there's now a new thought that seems to be gaining traction in the community. Allow BCS to be the school for academically gifted and higher achieving students (API or otherwise). Focus the LASD schools on ESL, children with disabilities, and lesser achieving students (under-indexing APIs). Given the demographics of this community, there will actually be many students eligible for BCS and that would free up teachers, specialists and other resources for the rest of LASD. Teacher/student ratios could be improved, more time could be available to assist children w/ their learning disabilities, their language challenges, etc.
This could be a very interesting win-win for both sides. What I haven't heard is what the eligibility standard would be for BCS - API scores may be too rigid. I'm sure smarter people than I can come up w/ a set of proposals. I think you would have to redistrict kids and also have certain campuses for "BCS curriculum" and others for "LASD curriculum" but BCS as a standalone program or school would no longer exist. It would simply be a program across the district. You would obviously need to rename or relabel the respective programs - but you would integrate BCS into LASD finally.
I hope others can get behind this kernel - it's out of the box and has potential.
Joan Jay Strong -
May I suggest that you shorten it up a bit? Really it's the same old stuff over and over again.
Graham is an excellent school as is Mountain View High. I think that part of the problem is the worst parts of Los Altos - the ones with the most irrational parents who champions of keeping everyone the same who activity organize and fight anyone who does anything different - feed into Los Altos HIgh School. These are the same parents who feel that maintaining their social cliques is more important than kids being educated. Recently some LASD parents approached LASD about adding Geometry. I think that they were mostly from Oak, the more sane side of the district. Although maybe it's just Oak.
@Mind(less) not for rent -- I didn't see anybody here saying anything even remotely critical of Graham or MVHS. Both are indeed excellent schools. Clearly there is something else behind your irrational hatred of LASD. For the record, Springer students primarily feed into MVHS but the parent community there seems pretty happy and supportive of the LASD program. But there is any easy solution to your issue: if little Johnny or Janey's needs aren't being met, then send them to Pinewood, or St. Simons, or Castilleja, or just do us all a favor and move away. Just because the majority of parents in the district are happy and want to preserve and protect the high performing neighborhood schools we have here doesn't mean they're not "sane" or that they prioritize "social cliques" over education.
I think you are so right Mind Not For Rent.
It is hard to understand why the children have to take three years to do a two year math program in middle school. Did the bright children suddenly become more dumb than the children at Graham or did the admin become SUPER LAZY.
It is okay to slow children down because they say "We dont have teachers to teach Pre algebra in middle school. We can only do it, when Bullis moves, when our 6th graders are at the middle school physically."
Hello.. anyone have legs or drive a car. They already have teachers that are shared between schools, the teacher can drive. There is no need to move a whole class full of children or to think that the students have to be in middle school physically in order to learn algebra. We are not a cheap impoverished district. Parents have paid large sums of money to live here.
Recently they promoted a principal to Ass. Principal and created a new post for the Ass. Superintendent and are going to hire a new principal for Almond. That is one higher salary, one new consultant position and one new principal salary. At Gardner Bullis one principal joined, took maternity leave almost immediately after joining and then left. Everyone seems to be getting promoted, getting raised pensions from these promtions and additional contracts and payments from the school budget. They also gave ALL the teachers a raise recently by the way.
They can afford to add teachers to teach Algebra. Can some money be spent on actual teaching and education for a change.
I have heard at Blach one important teacher is so bad that she may not be considered to be teaching at all. It is time to look at the academics and not let that fall between the cracks. We dont need her to teach our children algebra.
She probably is the one stopping the Geometry class for the current 8th grade students by saying they are not ready to learn Geometry. She went to the LASD board meeting on her own to counter the views of the parents who filled the room to complain about the lax standards telling the Board that they are not ready to learn Algebra. May be she is the one needs to be moved/demoted/promoted???!!:) as she is stopping generations of kids from being engaged and challenged and making them hate math instead of like it.
Clarification: not Asst. Principal but Asst. Superintendent.
They promoted the principal to Asst. Superintendent and gave a contract job to the current Asst. Superintendent and will create a new principal.
By the way the Almond Principal who got promoted I am told was only Principal for 2 y ears and every 2 years they have a new principal at Almond. They are only thinking of their salaries and conveniences.
Speaking of school district consultants and assistant superintendents, consider how top heavy the district is with district non-teaching staff already. It's a travesty that they are getting more so.
Real BCS Parent said: "Fake bcs parent, please stop. If you are going to pretend to be a bcs parent then you should do a better job, you just gave yourself away, plus te last thing ANY BCS parent would do is defend Doug Smith, who is the creator of most of the current strife."
So, just because I sympathized with Doug means I'm a fake? This hard line mentality of us vs them isn't going to solve any problems. Admitting wrongs is a step forward. I have issues with the district board, but I also have problems with ours as well. I know many other BCS parents expressed their concerns to our board and Superintendent Hersey about growing to a large school, and i don't believe we were heard. Or we were heard and ignored anyway.
I still believe anyone from the district board should be welcome to attend our strategic planning meetings. We have nothing to hide and we have no reason to be intimidated by their presence. I do feel embarrassed for our school by the others who don't act this way.
I'm a district school parent - but I don't understand why anyone not associated with BCS would insist on attending their strategic planning meeting. Likewise, I would not want others at our internal parent meetings, out of courtesy and simple human decency!
I am not sure who is a real and who is a fake BCS parent and it does not matter to me.
It is very clear to me that someone outside/neutral should come and redesign this school system. Something for everyone. Not BCS, not LASD.
May be all the middle schools should be part of the high schools as they prepare for the high schools. There seems to a lot of complaints about the quality of math education. May be the high school teachers are better prepared to teach 8th graders.
Then all the 5th grade and lower students go into one big pot, including all the BCS students and based on past scores, students are put into classes with other students of similar abilities. Say we have four sections for each grade. This can be reevaluated six months or quarter if they are not fitting well into that class.
The principal of BCS can become the new principal of Bullis Gardner or Almond. Everyone has a kingdom or queendom and the children get the education as the slower kids get more time and the faster kids can have opportunities to be challenged and there is enough flexibility so that no one gets put into a bin and locked away forever.
If children and parents prefer a slow pace, it is there for them but likewise those who want a more enriched classroom, have that option too.
We have to learn to get along in this world and here are two spoiled brats LASD and BCS Each with their venture capitalists or wealthy supporters using their donation money to lay claim to something.
Parents in the mean time are suffering. High Achieving kids cannot get into BCS because of lack of funds and BCS is not interested in helping ELL too much.
An outside group of level headed parents could probably solve this and it may not please the egos of the Superintendent and Principals but time has come for a reorganisation.
@Neither -- In the case of LASD, the leadership there has changed completely over the last 10 years as we've elected new leaders. This is how democracy works.
The owners of BCS in the last 10 years have been the same, and will be the same until there is no more BCS.
Also, one correction: BCS does not target high achieving *students*, they target high (dollar) achieving *parents*. It has nothing to do with how successful the *students* are. Both schools have excellent programs for advanced students.
As for your ideas around placement of children into programs, as an alumni of a "special school" growing up, I'd say this is a great idea if we can afford it here, and if it doesn't detract from more needy students. The key here is that placement in such a school is done by democratically elected officials who use measurable, objective criteria for program placement, and balance this with the needs of everybody.
This, of course, is the exact opposite of the "school choice" desired by charter school zealots. They want to be able to select a school for any reason they want, including extremely bad reasons such as racial or economic segregation, regardless of its impact on the needy.
Joan J Strong has changed leadership a few times in the last year alone. It's a fake name and not a real person, which is ironic.
In the case of LASD, residents of many areas of the district are effectively disenfranchised by the use of district-wide elections. There is no representative for the North of El Camino area. LASD politics is dominated buy Los Altos politics, and Los Altos Hills and Mountain View suffer as a result. Everything seems to be directed at keeping home values high for the residents who live in Los Altos. That's why they closed the Gardner Bullis school for 5 years--didn't hurt anyone in Los Altos, so why not? This horrible inaction about providing service in terms of neighborhood school to NEC, that's another example. The very emphasis on so called neighborhood schools is discrimination against NEC and against people who live in areas far from where there will ever be any school. The district is too large geographically to offer a school to every neighborhood. Having that be the mantra is an example of a lack of educational focus and an emphasis on whatever helps property values.
Seeing this conversation described on Facebook, I now see some very interesting new ideas here.
To Agatha Christie, interesting idea about the 2 story construction. I am not sure what 2 stories would be used for at Gardner as there are just not that many public school students in that area. A better place to use a 2nd story would be at Santa Rita, which is pretty near to NEC. I see talk of building an NEC campus at Covington, and that is very far away. But if you went to 2 stories on new construction at Santa Rita, that site is also big enough for 2 schools. Since 200 students at Santa Rita already come from NEC, that only leaves 350 students from Los Altos. Surely you could operate another 350 student school on that very large school grounds, if there were 2 stories on some of the buildings. The current use of portables is not space efficient and those could be replaced. Great idea!
To Neither here nor there, I say you have a point. An alternative educational structure should be considered. Adding 7th and 8th grade to the high school district makes a lot of sense. It would be tricky with 6th grade, because LASD has that in elementary and Mtn View Whisman like most of the state has it in Middle school. But I know that in Santa Cruz City Schools, they operate two separate districts, one for K-6 and one for 7-12. In this area, the differences between middle schools are stark, with Mtn View Whisman having science classes of 30 students, and LASD having them with 20, to name one example. Mtn View Whisman does an excellent job with 45% disadvantaged students, but they don't seem to have the resources to offer the diverse educational opportunities found in LASD Jr High schools. Why should better options be offered in 2 area Jr Highs than in the other 2 area Middle Schools? It's a fairly small area and they both attend the same 2 high schools. I can only assume that MVW are using their funds for more pressing basic needs. In any event, it seems like both districts Jr High schools have much to learn from each other.
Real BCS Parent, I disagree that Doug Smith is the creator of most of the current strife. He has failed to help address it though. He could have held his own public meetings to discuss things, but he just posts comments on his blog which is filled with un-refuted person opinion. It seemed to me that some real progress was made the one time there was a community meeting to discuss the issue of BCS's need for facilities, or I should say, the need for facilities to handle the growth in LASD that BCS has absorbed. This idea of relegating BCS students to Sunnyvale is a non starter, and it is a sign of what kind of a bubble the LASD board lives in.
I think the persona called Joan Strong is a major candidate for creating the strife and dissension. Freeing someone from the requirements to stand behind assertions causes a certain abandon of concerns for common decency, as well as accuracy. When I heard she was mad because the county board wouldn't reply to her emails, I saw there was a real issue here. Such an instigator causes real harm.
The tensions between LASD and BCS are not so much escalating as they are festering. Hopefully, since mediation has failed and future attempts have been rejected by LASD, then a court will provide a solution. It's just not right that LASD should be exempt from state-wide laws. If they expect to be able to raise issues about BCS not serving sufficient disadvantaged students, then they have to FIRST live up to their obligations to provide facilities. Just look at the differences in the facilities operated by Mtn View Whisman and those operated by LASD. LASD has sufficient facilities to share with BCS, no question. The fact that they have done such an uneven job is an affront. LASD is not exempt from state laws any more than is BCS.
The entire board should be ashamed of the cheap shot of even considering Raynor. LASD is too good to house all its own students, it has to go overflow 6 miles outside their borders into Sunnyvale? Very bad image for Los Altos.
This whole idea about public meetings and BCS parents is a non-issue. It's ludicrous to think that anyone would say that parents participating in any charter school can only meet in public. This happens all the time. Of course, the board members of the school cannot participate with a quorum present at the meeting due to the Brown Act. Neither the Brown Act nor the Civic Center Act says anything about opening parent meetings to the public. Such a requirement would be an actual constitutional violation of freedom of association. These parents can exclude anyone they want. They have the freedom to associate as they please, so long as it is non-discriminatory.
As we are brainstorming here, this discussion about parking almost feels that schools should get funded by Toyota and Ford.
Rather than having a bike to school day here or there we have to get beyond tokenism and perhaps have dedicated lanes just for school kids for that hour. More children need to bike to school and families need to have safe pathways for their children to go to school at least for a one mile radius.
This needs planning.
Even a bus service at major intersections of streets, so that the child walks to the end of her street and a bus picks up all the kids on that street going to school. This idea that we have to buy more land merely because we need space for our cars strikes me as really bad planning.
As for Joan, correction - both schools dont have equally strong programs for all students. Every year, a certain number of children leave LASD in spite of having to leave school friends and suffer social ostracization by the LASD neighbourhood and join Bullis if they can get in in 3rd and 4th grades because they find out, it does have some benefits. Some return because they did not make it for one reason or another.
I know many parents who try every year to get into BCS and dont.
This idea of yours that we can help academically bright students as long as it does not take away from needy students is incredibly skewed.
I think you have a wrong idea about public school. This is not the Los Altos District for the Needy and Slow.
It has been interesting reading all this stuff which I never expected. May be one has to go to MV to get the straight goods about Los Altos! One point that someone made struck a note with me. We have a principal who who came out of retirement so that because she had her eye on that Asst. Superintendent job. She admits it herself.
It has been so hard just to get a science fair going at our school. Two years ago some 30,000 was spent on the school play and 300 dollars on the science fair. This year after a lot of complaining, some parents were able to pull it together. But that outlook remains.
There is no need for science aids she says because she does not want to spend money on science aids, instead on her promotion and her pension. We only had her for two years, she does not feel guilty leaving us like that and just moving on.
I cannot believe she is going to be in charge of the curriculum. When people say there is no money for this and that. I can see why there is no money. I am not surprised that the 8th grade students dont have Geometry. They have no serious interest in real science or math at LASD. Parents should really think twice because it sounds good to come here but in reality, if you are interested in pursuing anything in depth, it is not just an uphill battle. it is a lost cause. Special Needs.. the best excuse since the invention of white bread. All the senior staff may be should be fired. They are really doing a bad job. Not solving BCS is just minor.
This is the dark period of the school district... sorry to say. Until parents (NOT PTA! _ they are only do stuff for my kid's clique parents) are really involved, no one is going to know how the money is wasted, how opportunities are lost and there is accountability.
This last observation sounds especially telling. Are the schools for education, or are they a social outlet for the parents? I'm sure putting a play on has its rewards for the students too, but at such an expense? There should be some cap imposed on such activities in order to allow all types of activities to be included.
It also sounds like this situation reflects the observation of Agatha Christie above "The PTA and staff are all controlled by individuals who are not working, who have devoted their lives to serving lunch to the children at lunch time and who want to keep LASD education standards low so that it is less competitive. "
This kind of situation is precisely why options such as a charter or magnet school are very important.
DavidR, I appreciate your empathising. Unfortunately we cannot say because LASD has a problem that BCS is the answer.
At the heart of this is the union and staff. The public hardly gets to have a say in anything. While I am not anti union, abuse of union powers and other guilds is not appropriate either.
LASD needs to become more transparent and much much more accountable. They say when you point your finger at your neighbour there are four more pointing back at you.
1)If they want to hire a new Asst. Superintendent why not have an open call and hire a really fresh candidate and not someone who should stay retired. This whole sudden last minute shuffling is very costly. We now have to pay for a consultancy position for the past Asst. Superintendent, we have to pay for the additional costs and higher pension of the new Asst. Superitendent and we have to pay for the salary of a whole new principal.
Please hire someone who just does not want play the grown up Alice in the school Alice in Wonderland play that cost us 30,000 but someone who really understands education and all facets not just the english. drama and PE portion of it. We are not living in fantasy land and bubble gum.
2) Why is there this consultancy position for the soon to be past Asst. Superintendent. Will she sit on the sidelines till the New Asst. Superintendent qualifies for a higher pension and then retires. Then she will resume her role again?
What exactly is she doing there when she cannot deliver on core programs like funding science aids and Geometry?
3) What about the principal of Bullis Gardner who joined, took maternity leave and then never came back. Should our tax money have to fund that also? She should return those funds. We are not a charity service for this exclusive club of living off the school budget when it should be spent on quality programs.
3) How much do science aids cost and other such initiatives compared to all sorts of bogus mutually beneficial arrangements. How much will a class for 8th graders cost compared to all this. A pittance and yet there is no commitment to this inspite of parents requesting it for a long time.
Why is it not happening when there are so many parents who want their 8th graders to have Geometry.
At the last Board meeting, some parents attended the meeting to the end. They told me that at the end of the meeting, one Board member asked the Asst. Superintendent, is there going to be money for the Geometry class in the budget and he wanted to actually help the parents and the Asst. Superintendent gave some convoluted answer.
I guess she never mentioned that instead we are going to pay for her consultancy position instead. She never mentioned that we are going to pay for the new Asst. Superintendents new salary and pension instead.
She is not going to want to fund the Geometry class in the way the parents indicated that they are interested. She is not going to fund science aids etc.
At the Board meeting, one parent mentioned that only Alum Rock and Gilroy dont offer it. LASD is on par with Alum Rock and Gilroy. I think when parents buy into an expensive neighbourhood, they expect programs to be on par with neighbouring districts. They talk about we have to redesign it for Common Core and will try to pull the wool over eyes with that. The current 8th graders are not going to be affected by common core. They need to just teach this program to the children of the parents who are interested.
They need to get those science aids so that our children can learn science. We should not need to have to fight year after year for a science fair at Almond.
I dont think BCS can solve this problem. This talk about cliques and doing everything hush hush and behind closed doors. It has to stop. A culture of accountability has to begin.
I think Almond Parent, David R. and Agatha Christie are all actually the same person pathetically trying to drum up the appearance of wide ranging dissatisfaction with LASD.
Springer Dad, I share your sense of frustration just not your analysis of it. You cant deny the facts, so you try to shoot the messenger.
btw All those in denial sound the same to me as well.
Your school did not lose a principal every two years, at least you have not talked about it. My child still has a year to go and who knows what our next principal will be like. Will she also be in denial?
BCS laid out plans for a very reasonable compromise with the split site across Egan and Blach for next year. This was a tremendous concession, but LASD wouldn't even meet that request. New lawsuits have been filed. The conflict is indeed escalating.
I'm not almondparent or Agatha. I don't know the details that almondparent does, but they are consistent with what I would expect. Any time you get an organization which is a monopoly, you develop bureaucratic situations. All the more so this occurs when there is a predictable desire for the parents to feel that they are in an excellent school district. This is fine, but when they start to think it can do no wrong, then there's the problem. That's why competition is indeed AN answer. If there could be a magnet school choice within the district, that's a solution for a lot of what almondparent observes. When too many parents want to switch to that, there's a red flag about problems at Almond, for example.
BCS is not the sole answer, but the laws which allow it to exist are useful. Why are so many people switching? Something or some things are lacking in LASD, pure and simple. The criticisms which are of the ilk that we should not tamper with perfection, those are telling. Nothing is perfect.
These observations that almondparent makes are why most civil service agencies have rules that require outside recruiting to compare to internal candidates when it comes to leadership positions. New blood is worthwhile. It gets too cozy when the leadership is totally formed out of existing principals who have curried the favor of the organization, be it Superintendent or parents.
To be honest, what concerns me the most is the trickle down to the kids.
Everyone swore they'd never involve the kids in this - and yet we SAW kids at LASD board meetings. We've SEEN the Egan principal confront BCS teachers/admins in front of students.
Now BCS middle school students who place a toe out of line (traversing the approved path behind the track to the tennis courts, or moving to the portables they've been allotted between the two Egan gyms) endure yelling and ridicule from Egan students. Most recently a BCS parent took the "wrong" path (unbeknownst to her) to the portable between Egan gyms, and endured the same treatment - from THIRTEEN/FOURTEEN year olds.
And BCS students, according to the latest offer from LASD are expected to actually share blacktop space at Blach, during the same time periods? My 7th grader is actually scared already. Intimidation at its best.
Congrats, LASD, if you wanted to bully kids, you've succeeded.
Almond parent, I get where you are coming from. How hard is it to offer advanced Math? How difficult is it to hire aides for science? Although I wish that they were hiring an actual science teacher instead of an aide.
We might get a bad one like we had before, We can get all the great stuff in the world but if the teacher's won't or can't use it, then what good does it do?
I think that some of the parents that are caught up in the BCS thing are giving the district a pass. They are so in to competing with BCS that they go around pretending that everything is fantastic, and anything that is wrong is blamed on BCS. Can't offer Geometry because of BCS? Come on now- we all know that's not the case. In years past people were always willing to speak up, now not so much. In fact I have heard some parents trying to shush the geometry parents, which is really kind of scary. .
On the poor side -
That sounds awful, I hope that won't happen at Blach.
The LASD treatment of BCS is all about bureaucracy. LASD has entrenched employees who profit off the status quo in many different ways. They already get many kudos, and so don't see benefit in things like offering better science programs at a magnet school, or offering advanced math which would ONLY benefit 30% of the 6th through 8th graders. They can whip up sentiment against those dissenting, such as BCS by its mere existence. The community doesn't even realize it is being manipulated.
So, this story apparently had a baby, over here: Web Link