Charter Lite

first_imgWhen two of the organizations that have most doggedly resisted the charter school movement in public education – the LAUSD and United Teachers Los Angeles – propose to set up a pseudo-charter of their own, the move ought to arouse suspicion. Fed up with the state of affairs in the Los Angeles Unified School District, teachers and parents at Parkman Middle School in Woodland Hills wanted to break away and form their own charter. But the district has fought the petition, and now, joining forces with UTLA, it hopes to do an end-run around the entire process. Instead of making Parkman a charter, LAUSD and UTLA brass propose making it a “waiver” school. Although short on specifics, the idea is to keep Parkman under the control of the LAUSD – and with a UTLA-represented staff – but extend it some of the autonomy enjoyed by charter schools. Union and district officials make no secret that what they do at Parkman might provide the model for how to extinguish the charter movement and block Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s plans for taking over the LAUSD. And that ought to make anyone concerned about the future of public education in Los Angeles nervous. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE‘Mame,’ ‘Hello, Dolly!’ composer Jerry Herman dies at 88 If what the union and district are proposing is to undermine public enthusiasm for charters by coming up with something even better, well then, by all means, let’s see what they have to offer. That’s the sort of innovation charters are supposed to foster. But given that both organizations have spent decades fighting reform, it seems they may have something more nefarious up their sleeves, namely, thwarting charters through a combination of bureaucratic obstruction and smoke-and-mirrors PR. That’s what seems to be happening at Parkman. First the bureaucracy thwarts the school’s charter application, and then the LAUSD-UTLA tandem try to defuse the issue with some vague promises of Charter Lite. Here, try this, they say – all the benefits of charter education, with none of the burdensome bureaucratic hassles. If either organization had any track record of supporting real education reform, the idea would have a lot more credibility. Likewise, if district officials truly believe more autonomy is good for schools, they could extend it to schools throughout the district – not just Parkman – and it could do it now. All genuine reforms that offer hope that kids will get a better education are welcome. And who knows, maybe “waiver schools” will be the next great innovation in public education. So let’s see what the LAUSD and UTLA have to offer – more of the same, or a bold initiative everyone can support. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

Read More →

Araya and Villalta trade blows at presidential debate focused on government corruption

first_imgCandidates pose before the Monday debate at the TSE in downtown San José. From left to right, Oscar Andres López, José María Villalta, José Manuel Echandi, Johnny Francisco Araya, Justo Orozco, Rodolfo Emilio Piza and Sergio Mena. Corruption took center stage Monday night at the latest of several presidential debates, with seven candidates turning questions on the economy, transportation and national unity to a focus on the shortcomings of the current and recent administrations.Monday’s debate included the top two candidates in polls, the ruling National Liberation Party’s (PLN) Johnny Araya and his progressive rival, the Broad Front Party’s José María Villalta, who took multiple moments to attack each other.After several candidates had taken swipes at the corruption of the current administration run by President Laura Chinchilla of the PLN, a debate moderator asked the candidates for their proposals to fight corruption, a question submitted from viewers via social media networks. Araya said he would reform the executive office.“You don’t combat corruption with more laws,” Araya said. “It’s necessary to bring the people closer to the administration, doing more open public management, (being) more transparent. For this reason we support a digital government, which permits citizens to access all types of information on any state institution.”Araya went on to suggest “citizen observatories” should oversee big-spending projects.Villalta, fielding the same question, attacked Araya’s reply, starting off with a call to investigate current members of government.“It’s not citizen observatories, Don Johnny,” Villalta said. “It’s really necessary to have truthful authorities. … The most important thing (is that) we cannot continue to vote for the same people who are responsible for (current) corruption.”The debate marked a second straight day of hearing candidates on the same stage in downtown San José. With 13 total candidates, the debate hosts, the Supreme Elections Tribunal (TSE), split the candidates into two groups. The first day, Sunday, saw candidates such as Libertarian Movement’s Otto Guevara and Citizen Action Party’s (PAC) Luis Guillermo Solís. Joining Villalta and Araya on Monday was Social Christian Unity’s (PUSC) nominee, Rodolfo Piza.In addition to Piza, the debate included conservative candidates Justo Orozco of the evangelical Costa Rican Renovation Party and José Echandi of the National Advancement Party. Orozco, who read all of his pre-written answers from a sheet of paper, drew jeers when he claimed to be the best candidate because he is “good at problem-solving,” an attribute he claimed to pick up “as a math teacher.”Araya also generated quick criticism on social media networks when he linked himself to Liberation founders, saying he’s the same candidate as the ones “who abolished the army.”Dressed in his traditional white suit, Oscar López, of the Accessibility Without Exclusion Party, which is focused on improving the lives of the disabled, answered in line with his right-of-center views, especially on social issues, drawing little reaction from the TSE crowd or on social media.Rounding out the stage was Sergio Mena of the New Generation Party, recently formed in 2010, who generated a surprisingly positive response among followers of the debate on Twitter.“I don’t need to ask for forgiveness for the past. I offer hope for the future,” Mena said. Because of the two-hour debate’s crowded field, debate moderators limited candidates to one-minute responses. Candidates took advantage of this format to make platitudes or poke humorous jabs at their opponents. The audience at TSE’s auditorium consisted mainly of groups of party adherents who punctuated their candidates’ responses with applause.Araya appeared to distance himself from solely being the candidate of PLN during the debate, repeatedly arguing that the next president of Costa Rica needs to unify the country, and that his support extends beyond party lines.“Right now National Liberation has 24 members of the Legislative Assembly,” Araya said. “There are 30 (lawmakers) who support my candidacy. There are more than 60 mayors supporting my candidacy, because they know that the country needs to be in agreement.”Villalta took an aggressive approach, reminding the audience of the widespread political disillusionment in the country.“Many people say that I don’t have experience,” said Villalta, who at 36 is the youngest of the candidates. “But what I don’t have experience in is government corruption.”Villalta broached the issue of tourism in his rebuttals, saying the current government has impoverished the touristy coastal and border regions by catering only to high-scale tourism and not smaller rural tourism companies.Piza, who spoke brusquely throughout the night, piled on the characterizations of the current government saying his administration would be different.But none of the candidates disagreed that more consensus and less political bickering were crucial in the next administration.Said Piza: “Costa Rica needs to find consensus and a government of national unity.” Facebook Comments Alberto Font No related posts.last_img read more

Read More →