Tanya is BCS, Bryan is LASD

OMG, look at the time—we gotta dig into these elections—and not a minute too soon, because it may be only mid-October, but it’s already election day for most voters. (Huh?)

After being active in the last couple of election cycles, I’ve been largely on the sidelines this year. In past LASD races, I closely tracked the candidacy of BCS-backed Amanda Aaronson (2012) and Martha McClatchie (2014), so I’m somewhat familiar with how BCS packages candidates for Board of Trustees races, and they’ve stepped up their game.

You can read some of my old election coverage here, here, here and here.

I’ve checked out the candidates running for the open two-year seat on the LASD Board of Trustees. I have a definite point of view, and I’ve been asked to weigh in on the race (“You’ve been awfully quiet lately, are you OK?!”), so here it is:

Between Bryan Johnson and Tanya Raschke, I support Johnson, hands down. We should all support the whole-community-minded candidate who is a dedicated “doer” with the right motivations and relationships, and enough time to invest in this big job.

And it is a big job.

Herewith, I aim to persuade you to vote for Bryan Johnson and then share what you learn with your friends and neighbors in your community. BTW, roughly three-quarters of voters in the Los Altos School District are registered “permanent vote-by-mail,” and ballots are starting to arrive in mailboxes, so most of your friends and neighbors can vote now — yes, it’s already election day!

Time’s a-wastin’ — let’s get crackin’!

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John Swan: Building a bridge to… the Twilight Zone

Consider, if you will, a few things we know about Los Altos School District:

  • Its elementary and middle schools have been repeatedly recognized for consistent academic excellence by both the California and US Departments of Education.
  • It’s recognized by local and foreign educators, media, and private organizations as an innovative public school district in Silicon Valley.
  • It’s the only school district in its region with a Citizen’s Advisory Committee for Finance (CACF) that provides long-term budget and planning support.
  • It’s the only district in California awarded the GFOA Certificate of Achievement of Excellence in Financial Reporting each of the past 10 years.
  • It has been awarded the Meritorious Budget Award by the Association of School Business Officials (ASBO) each year for the past 14 years.
  • Was rated the most financially efficient Basic Aid school district in California by the American Institutes for Research (AIR) at its 2010 (SF)² Spring Symposium.

Yet a certain anti-LASD contingent (that shall not be named) accuses LASD of being a stagnant, bloated government monopoly that resists innovation and isn’t equipped to prepare students for the realities of the 21 century… blah, blah, blah…  UGH!  ENOUGH!!

Doo-doo-doo-doo, doo-doo-doo-doo…

Sometimes, life here in Lake Wobegon feels more like… the Twilight Zone.

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What’s in a name? Maybe deception.

These people calling themselves “LASD Parents for Great Schools” donated more than $21,000 in one week to support pro-BCS candidates Martha McClatchie and John Swan.

I haven’t done a deep-dive on the list, but at a glance I see there’s a lot of overlap between this donor list and current and former BCS Foundation board and BCS School board members.

Recall that Martha McClatchie is a former LASD parent whose children now attend BCS. Martha volunteered for the BCS Foundation in 2012, completing and signing its 2012 IRS Form 990 as Principal Officer and Treasurer.

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Why not Martha? Her actions. (Part 1)

I’ve previously written about my experience with Martha McClatchie, and why I find her an ideologically inappropriate candidate for LASD Trustee. Ideology aside, there are a number of actions she has taken as a pro-BCS, anti-LASD activist that more then give me pause:

  1. Political flip-flop on BCS facilities litigation
  2. Obscuring BCS legal and PR expenditures
  3. Organizing a media stunt to shame LASD (coming soon)
  4. Close ties to charter movement leadership (coming soon)

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Beauchman’s agenda: Usurpation

I’ve written before about SCCBOE’s October 2013 Charter Schools Study Workshop. I don’t remember seeing a meeting agenda. The discussion focused mostly on each of the SCCBOE members’ personal view of the role of SCCOE/SCCBOE vis-a-vis charters.

It’s not news to a frequent reader that I believe charter schools have always been intended as special remedies for traditional public schools or districts that suffer from intractable shortcomings and deprive students of a quality education.

The stated legislative objectives of the CA Charter Schools Act of 1992 never included establishment of a parallel system of quasi-private voucher schools operated under the aegis of ‘public education.’ It didn’t intend for charters to attack, undermine or replace California’s traditional school districts, yet sitting members of SCCBOE clearly feel it’s their duty to impose an aggressive pro-charter political agenda on our local districts.

When I listened to this audio recording from the meeting I was surprised by some of what I heard from each member. Here’s SCCBOE President Leon Beauchman’s quote regarding new charter petitions from the Oct. 2013 Charter Schools Study Workshop:

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Much moore on Mann

Strange bedfellows indeed. Downright weird at times. How do these odd couplings come together in the first place? What does that dating game even look like? Beats me. One thing seems clear though: Craig Mann played hard in the small-time money, influence and county politics game. Here’s more of what I’ve learned, and it’s a little unsavory:

mannCraig Mann served on the Santa Clara County Board of Education from 2006 until his resignation in Aug. 2012. Prior to his tenure on SCCBOE, Mann was an East Side Union High School District trustee 1998-2006.

During May-June, 2010 Craig Mann repeatedly attacked SCCOE Superintendent Charles Weis over hiring a Chief Business Officer.

chuck_weisA search committee had been appointed and SCCBOE members were invited to participate in the process. Mann chose not to participate but later sent a series of angry emails to Superintendent Weis, Cc:-ing the rest of SCCBOE, other non-SCCOE people and even members of the press saying (quote):

  • The “No Coloreds” sign needs to come down from the COE drinking fountain.
  • “Jim Crow” employment practices must end at the Santa Clara County Office of Education and it must end now.

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County Board: “Voters are lame”

disalvoRelax. Take a seat.

In today’s episode of “You Gotta be @#$%^& Kidding Me” we hear Member Joe Di Salvo discussing consolidating the 31 Santa Clara County public school districts and expressing his desire to work on a subcommittee organized for this purpose led by Member Leon Beauchman. Here’s a short audio clip from the February 20, 2013 meeting of the Santa Clara County Board of Education. Please listen.

Whether the source is national (Broad Foundation), state (Cal Charters) or local (Reed Hastings), there’s a lot of big time pro-charter money being poured into Santa Clara county to create a crucible for “education reform.” (More hereSometimes the influence of political funding can be shocking, like when elected SCCBOE Members say that democratic local control over public education is broken and voters are powerless to do anything about it.

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Half fast analysis

cost-cutterIn the midst of The Great Recession, when the economy was foundering and tax revenues scarce, the Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury analyzed the county’s 31 school districts looking for cost savings in the system.

“The 2009-2010 Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury reviewed school district administrative expenses and costs in an attempt to find efficiencies that could minimize the impact of an ailing economy on education.”

This was definitely a worthwhile project and I commend them for taking it on.

What did the Civil Grand Jury find?

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For Sale: 1 strange bedfellow

According to The American Heritage New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, the idiom “politics makes strange bedfellows” means something akin to “political interests can bring together people who otherwise have little in common.

mannThis springs to mind when I see things like this campaign disclosure filing from Craig Mann’s June 2008 primary run for San Jose City Council.

It appears Mann was a pretty good fundraiser, scoring tens of thousands of dollars in donations in just a few months. His filings report lots of San Jose donations, which you’d expect, but also lots of money from places you’d probably never expect:

  • Phoenix, AZ
  • Tacoma, WA
  • Boston, MA
  • San Angelo, TX
  • Las Vegas, NV
  • Atlanta, GA

To be fair, these could be ‘friends & family’ donors, but it’s still impressive to see this kind of geographic reach since it’s highly unlikely San Jose city politics could benefit such far flung donors. I mean, what’s the nexus between San Jose, CA and Atlanta, GA?

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In their own words

Most of us vote on election day to put people into public office but then unplug from politics and government until the next election cycle. I know people who spend a lot more personal time than I do attending school board or city council meetings.

scrutinyGovernment meetings are open to the public but few ordinary folk attend. Monitoring “the people’s business” is important and somebody needs to do it. 

The next best thing to attending a meeting of a public agency may be listening to audio recordings of meetings, and in some ways, may even be preferable.

If I attend a government meeting as a citizen observer, I might not be able to track all the details of a back-and-forth discussion, especially if I’m taking notes. With a good audio recording, I can listen at my leisure, reflect on points made, and as necessary, rewind and replay as often as I wish.

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