My name is Maribel Gonzalez and I'm the CA Director for Students for Education Reform. I come to these meetings every month with our students and usually I just sit and listen and take notes.
Today I had to come up here after hearing the parents from Magnolia Elementary speak out against Equitas Academy Charter School.
It's a shame. It's truly a shame. It makes me so sad to hear well intentioned parents divulging misinformation about the public schools in our district. It's one thing when the status quo supporters speak out against public charter schools but now normal parents are buying into the fear and lies. What corporations? Where did these moms hear this rhetoric that charter schools are taking money from public schools to give it corporations? Charter schools are public schools. I will say it again so that everyone in this board room hears me. CHARTER SCHOOLS ARE PUBLIC SCHOOLS. Every 5 years charter schools have to renew their ability to operate and if they are not delivering results they run the risk of being shut down. Tell me what traditional district schools are under this kind of scrutiny?
I attended Locke High School back in the 90s when it was a traditional district school and I can tell you that that school had been failing for decades. Year after year, decade after decade, so many of the district schools are failing and it feels like everyone just turns a blind eye at the situation. Locke failed my sister, it failed me, and it failed thousands of kids from my neighborhood. I am grateful, truly, that Green Dot took control of Locke in 2008 and it is now a public charter school. Locke is not perfect and there is still much work to be done, but it's doing a far better job at serving the children in my community than when the school operated under the district's control.
I am a strong supporter of public education but I don't owe blind loyalty to any one system to deliver that public education to the children in my family and community. For some families, the district is doing a great job serving their children, but for other families, the district schools are failing to prepare their kids for college and life. It's up to each individual parent and family to figure out who will deliver the best public education to their children - a traditional district school or a public charter school. Both options are public.
The right thing, the ethical thing, would be to educate the community on their options. The brave thing for this Board and this district would be to spread information about all the public options families have and that includes traditional district schools and public charter schools.
I love the work that Parent Revolution is doing with their Choice4LA campaign and I love the work of Great Public Schools Now because they are seeking to replicate high quality public schools in our city regardless of the governance model. If you're not going to lead, I urge you to support them too and follow in their footsteps.