Campaign heats up for control of new Echo Park school

Many Echo Park area residents recently found a glossy, four-page brochure in their mail boxes asking for their support in an upcoming election most residents have probably never heard about.  Later this month, L.A Unified will hold an advisory vote to help decide who gets to run Central Region Elementary school #14, a new $68.7 million campus now nearing completion southwest of Alvarado Street and Sunset Boulevard.

Charter school operator  Camino Nuevo Charter Academy and two other groups headed by school district employees have submitted proposals to run the Echo Park school. While the groups get to make their pitch to parents, students and residents at community meetings, the United Teachers Los Angeles took the extra and costly step of mailing out a brochure (pictured above) usually associated with more high-profile city, state or federal campaigns.

The UTLA brochure  asks residents to vote in the Jan. 29 election in favor of a group called “Local District 4 & Echo Park Community Partners Design Team.” The brochure said:

“The Teacher/Parent School plan puts children first – not the downtown bureacrats and politicians. The plan promotes innovation without  LAUSD interference.”

However, the leaders of the group supported by UTLA  are composed in part of school district administrators.

A group affiliated with the UTLA did submit one of the three  proposal for the new Echo Park school.  But Becky Koppenhaver, who wrote a story on the advisory vote for The Eastsider earlier this month, said the UTLA team has  now joined forces with  Local District 4 – Echo Park Community Partners.

The advisory vote  is part of the district reform program called Public School Choice. The program allows groups – including charter and private school as well as teams of teachers and administrators – to operate new and existing schools.

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  1. Hey this is like our Neighborhood council elections full of bull feces. AS our children get dumbed down for future lower type jobs. Unless the Math and Science scores improve our community kids have a very bleek future. So sad to see our once GREAT country sold out to special interests. Every meeeting I used go to was always the “SAME OLD FACES”. Its time parents stood up for there kids instead of watching novelas or Jerry Springer that is of course if the kids don’t already live in a Jerry Springer type of home already. So SAD really.

  2. As a retired teacher, it’s my experience that scores do NOT go up when all the emphasis is on getting high scores. It’s a turnoff for the kids and so many opportunities that would make the children high performing learners are lost to “drill and kill.” It also helps if the parents interact with their kids and prepare them (with some expectations about conduct and with lots of interesting experiences, including being read to, knowing the names of many things, counting, guessing about outcomes, etc. etc. before they first come to school. The ones who have had none of these experience are already at a disadvantage at the age of 5!

  3. Stop breeding and the problem goes away.

  4. One reads such comments of contempt and ill will directed towards the community and one cannot be surprised at the struggles therein. Love thy neighbor as thyself. You can cannot enlighten as you degrade. Love all as one. It is the only hope.

  5. Echo Park Community School is hands down the best choice for our community. I have been involved in this race and firmly believe this school will best educate the wide variety of students present in our diverse area. Camino Nuevo focuses on English Learners which is great if the entire school were English Learners. The Community School will help English Learners, too! They recognize that we live in an ever-changing area with many different languages spoken in homes, and encompass our diverse community. Just read each submission to see how each plan views the community. Camino Nuevo does not recognize our growing diverse racial climate. In fact, when I called Camino Nuevo to express my concerns about teaching my little girl in Spanish, they told me since it was a charter, I could choose to send her someplace else! Mind you, this is a public school, funded by our tax dollars and they tell me to go somewhere else instead of providing a curriculum to include a member of the community! The structure is one block away from my house and the other choice would be the PI school that they are trying to relieve! It has been proven that racially diverse schools are better, with less bullying, and a more solid understanding of the real world. Magnet schools strive and choose their admitted students to meet racial diverse percentages. The Community School will still teach Spanish for those who choose- and I am sure most will want that. I know I do! I just want the children to be taught with their individuality in mind and not just one way that is set in stone!
    So I urge everyone, regardless if you have children, to review the submissions or listen to each design team this Thursday at Union EL, to come out, show you presence, and vote! Anyone in the community can vote- you do not need to be registered.

  6. Giving parents a say in how their children are educated can only be viewed as a good thing!

  7. While I am very much in support of the pedagogical approach and the curriculum of the Community School, I still don’t understand why each school includes an elementary school when all the elementary schools in Echo Park are underenrolled. It should be clarified that the Community School is the one supported by local district 4 (two of the schools list Echo Park Community Partners as part of the support, which could be confusing). Also, will this particular magnet school serve primarily its surrounding community or are the majority of the kids from other neighborhoods?

  8. It is confusing, but the two schools have joined up together, in what is now being referred to as Echo Park Community School. This school will serve the surrounding community to become a better school and to give parents an option to send their children to a superior school since all the surrounding schools are PI. These students will be given preference for admittance, then if there is space will start accepting from other places under open-enrollment. Being so new, it will open up the doors for many parents with no good public option. In addition it will be K-8 and allow for parent involvement much more than Camino Nuevo.

  9. Micki, just to be certain, this is Not a charter school, correct?

  10. I am so glad there is an organization that is ready, willing and able to get away from LAUSD and the teacher’s union. Our schools are horrible and our children are at the point where we cannot compete with the rest of the world.

    How can I help get lasud and the teacher’s union out of this???

  11. A quick correction to the above article. There are only two plans. The public school plan — which is the LD4 & Echo Park Community Partners Design Team plan, the other plan which was submitted by the private corporation Camino Nuevo Charter Academy (CNCA).

    By all accounts CNCA is a corporate entity, with a unelected board of wealthy investment managers and business types that don’t live in our neighborhood. If CRES 14 is handed over to them, we will have no input as a community into how it would be run, despite the fact that our tax dollars paid for it. For an in depth look at CNCA’s board and much more, please see the following article:


    The LD4 & Echo Park Community Partners Design Team plan features the following:

    * Parent and Community decision making. The composition of pilot schools include parents and community members on their Governing Boards — these aren’t just advisory positions, they are actual decision making positions! Our community, our school, our self determination.

    * All inclusive. The community plan is for a public school, which unlike corporate charter-voucher schools, are obligated to educate every child. CNCA doesn’t provide full facilities for special needs children (see article above).

    * Community Plan, as opposed to a plan formulated in a corporate boardroom by people who have no roots nor connection to our neighborhood.

    * Project Based Learning, which provides students with opportunities to work collaboratively with connections to real world situations.

    * A community resource. The LD4 & Echo Park Community Partners Design Team plan was written with the idea that CRES 14 can become a school that provides resources to the entire community. Some first considerations are to secure recreation and computer lab facilities once the school is running and grants are secured. Since it is a community plan, there will be ongoing dialog as to how the school can serve the region.

    These are only some of the features the public school plan includes. If the district turns CRES 14 over to Caminio Nuevo, our community looses all control over the school. Please vote for the LD4 & Echo Park Community Partners Design Team plan, as it is the only one that allows us the right of self determination. Furthermore, public schools educate every child, which to my reckoning should be required of any entity taking public money.

  12. I love the Eastsider!
    I have been attending meetings and following the decision process as to which type of school (there are two different proposals) will inhabit the new elementary and middles school facility at Sunset and Alvarado. The two proposals are — a mostly Spanish school called Camino Nuevo (not language emergence, but bilingual) and the second school, yet to be named but with a working title of Echo Park Community Partners Design Team. The second proposal has continually grasped my deep interest — it is AN AMAZING school for the ENTIRE COMMUNITY.

    EP COMMUNITY DESIGN TEAM is the brain child of current and retired AMAZING teachers who live in and love our community and see the need for a progressive and fantastic school. Many of them, although teaching in the area, sent their kids to OPEN CHARTER, a magnet school by the airport. Open School is an exceptional school with ties to its community and offering progressive fantastic opportunities to learn.

    The teachers have created a proposal based on Open School, taking into consideration the richness of the arts and history in our community. It really is a dream proposal with arts, science, dual language and a place for ALL THE CHILDREN who exist in our diverse Echo Park/Silverlake community. They are partnered with LAPHIL, CAL-ARTS, MOCA and the TREE PEOPLE to offer unique opportunities to the students. They plan not only a progressive learning school but a progressive campus servicing pre-K-8th grade, and geared toward being a feeder to the Central High #9 fine arts school. Their proposal includes: Project based learning,
    Arts education, Dual-language, Environmental Science, Technology, and Inclusive Curriculum reflecting our communities diversity. The school will have grades PreK-8, Multi-age classrooms, team teaching, Handicapped accessible, athletics fields, shaded lunch areas and a parent center.

    WOW right? The problem is Camino Nuevo has a lot more support ( they currently have 3 Existing Campuses near us) and even though I think it’s a good school for new immigrants it is not a true reflection of what we need in our changing community now and in our future. When asked about non-Spanish speakers learning at Camino Nuevo, Ana F. Ponce, the Director and CEO responded, “You have a choice not to attend Camino Nuevo if you don’t speak Spanish”. How is that legal to have a publicly funded school and administration that doesn’t serve the entire community? It is fine to have a charter that teaches whatever it wants in whatever way it professes, but this school Cress #14 will NOT BE A CHARTER, it will NOT BE A LOTTERY. It will be a neighborhood school entirely funded by the LAUSD via taxpayers and a Union LAUSD SCHOOL.

    Currently, every parent I know who lives around here sends their children to private school or drives a distance to magnets and charters outside our area. There is NOTHING in our area for our Grace and Quinn to give them a GREAT education. This school could be the answer. The campus is there, the proposal there, the funding is there but we have to support it and vote for it or Camino Nuevo will get that amazing new state-of-the-art campus and in essence run a specialized charter program for only some of the community but completely funded by all our community.

    Literally built on the backs and homes of our community we have an opportunity to hear the two schools’ proposals THIS Thursday evening, at Union Elementary. And then at 8 PM, a vote opens up. The people eligible to vote are parents, employees and community members in our area.

    Cres#14 is in district 5 of LAUSD and is meant to relieve two other schools that reside in district 2. So, if you live in Echo Park, Silver Lake, Angelino Heights, and Elysian Heights, Westlake or downtown, this information concerns YOU.
    Our children need your vote and your attendance at the meeting. You and all your friends who live directly in the area or work in the area need to attend.
    VOTE: It is not clear how much the the vote weighs on the minds of our school board members, Mr. Cortines our Superintendent, or Yolie Flores and Monica Garcia our School Board representatives. And because there is a reelection happening this March, this is the time for our school board members to stand up and listen to the concerned parents in their communities.
    CALL and WRITE:

    Mr. Cortines is the Superintendent of the whole district. 213-241-7000 ramon.cortines@lausd.net

    Yolie Flores is your School Board Member Representative.
    Board District 5 yolie.flores@lausd.net 213-241-6383
    Fax: 213-241-8467

    Monica Garcia is your School Board Member Representative.
    Board District 2 monica.garcia@lausd.net 213-241-6180

    Ron Palacios Director of Community Partnerships ronald.palacios@lausd.net 213-241-6383

    *F*Y*I* The position for District 5 representative will be up for a new election March 8 2011. Candidate Dr. John Flores says he cares about the entire community he hopes to represent. Please also Write and Call him to get his support. Dr. John Fernandez , (323) 804-7267, drjteaches@roadrunner.com**

  13. Hello, I’m the Executive Director of Camino Nuevo Charter Academy. To respond to some of the posts, I’d like to clarify and assure everyone that we are committed to serving all families in the community and I’d like to invite anyone who is interested to visit one of our Camino Nuevo schools, including the school we are currently running under the first round of Public School Choice. Under Public School Choice, CRES #14 will be a neighborhood school serving all students who live in the attendance boundary and it will be a public school. You can find out more about PSC at publicschoolchoice.lausd.net and you can find out more about Camino Nuevo at http://www.caminonuevo.org. Read our plan or come and hear about our plan at the community meeting this Thursday, January 27th at Union Elementary at 6pm and, in the meantime, don’t hesitate to call us at 213-417-3409 for more information about our plan and/or programs. You are also invited to an open house at the CNCA Burlington campus on Friday, January 28, from 9am – 11am.

  14. @Ana [Ponce] can you respond to there serious questions about CNCA’s dismal Special Education and Students With Disability numbers or will your corporate keep dodging the issue?

    “Furthermore, while Camino Nuevo’s special education numbers are a little better than other corporate charter-vouchers schools, they’re still not stellar.* There’s more. According to a long time activist for special needs children and ELL rights:

    “On special ed – At Cres 15, I was told by the principal that there were no “special day” classes. The services that they provide for students with IEP’s are speech and RSP. These are considered mild needs in the special ed world. They are not expensive compared to providing services for autistic children, severely emotionally handicapped children or others with serious needs. These children, evidently, do not attend CRES 15 (Jose Castellanos Charter Academy)”

    It’s more than likely that the children discussed are “counseled out”10 of the school. This in turn is related to how expensive it is to provide services for autistic children, severely emotionally handicapped children or others with serious needs. Following their corporate model, anything that cuts into the bottom line of a CMO has to go. If corporate charter-voucher schools were obligated, like public schools, to educate every child, we would see the proliferation of charters disappear almost overnight. Take the profitability out of the equation, and charter schools would return to their original mission.

    * Pilot Study of Charter Schools’ Compliance with the Modified Consent Decree:
    The executive summary of the report
    The data tables from the report

  15. another clarification: The flyer states that only if your children attend Lake St. PC, Rosemont ES, Rosemont EEC, Union ES, then are you eligible to vote. Is this correct? We are at Elysian Heights but still would like to see the Community School in the CRES#14 location as our son’s middle school.

  16. Any community member can vote! Please refer to the League of Women Voters for more info on the voting process. 213 368-1616

  17. Anonymous Camino Nuevo Parent

    I am an proud Camino Nuevo parent. My daughter is a 1st grade student at one of the Camino Nuevo schools and I have noticed her language skills have improved. Last year my daughter went to Magnolia and was in a class that only taught English. At Camino Nuevo, she’s quickly learned Spanish while strengthening her English skills. I have sat in her class and her teacher teaches the class in both languages (one portion of the day in English and one in Spanish) so my daughter has the opportunity to practice both languages. Many of her classmates went to neighborhood schools that only taught English. I have spoken with their parents and all have commented that they are pleased with Camino Nuevo because it exposes them to a new language while helping them strengthen their English language.

    In response to Micki’s comments, I highly encourage you to allow your daughter to learn a 2nd language since studies show that students who know more than 1 language achieve higher academically than those who only speak 1. And as for parent involvement, all Camino Nuevo schools encourage parent involvement. At my school there is a Parent Center where the coordinator’s job is to help parents become involved in the school community.

    I welcome anyone to visit one of the school’s so you can see that Camino Nuevo is a great option for our children.

  18. I am the principal of Camino Nuevo Charter Academy- Burlington Site. I am also the parent of two English only speaking children. As an educator and parent, I consistently ask myself and our teachers whether the quality of education offered at CNCA is good enough for our own children. The answer to that question is a resounding “Yes”. I will happily place my two children in any classroom at our school when they are of school age. CNCA is dedicated to cultivating scholars who are prepared to be bilingual, college-ready, agents of social change in their communities. As a parent and educator, I want my children to learn in a setting that has a demonstrated culture of care, provides a rigorous and proven academic program, and exposes them to cultures and experiences other than their own. I do not wish to leave anything to chance where any of our children are concerned. Upon closer examination of the proposed educational plans for CRES#14, one will find only subtle differences between the two. Perhaps the greatest difference is that over the past ten years, CNCA has demonstrated its capacity to create excellent, caring, community-based schools. Our award winning academic program has received the California Association for Bilingual Education Seal of Excellence and the California Distinguished School Award-which only five percent of California schools receive each year.
    To be clear, the Developmental Bilingual Program at Camino Nuevo Burlington, initiated in 2001 by the school community (teachers, parents, and administrators), is a research-based program designed to build academic fluency in both English and Spanish. The Bilingual Program aligns with the school mission to create literate, critical thinkers, and with the instructional vision to provide rich and rigorous academic instruction that supports all students towards realizing their full academic and social potential. The Developmental Bilingual Program and Curriculum is based on the California State Standards for academic achievement and is a vehicle for creating bilingual and biliterate students who value and take pride in their linguistic and cultural heritage and are optimally prepared for life in a linguistically diverse world. As a school we value the language that students bring and the languages that they work to learn. We believe that biliteracy is a critical skill and absolute asset in the 21st century. As a parent, I want my children to attend a school that will ensure they reach their full academic potential and broaden their cultural perspective by teaching them a second language. I sincerely hope all children have the opportunity to attend an outstanding public school like CNCA and welcome any and all who are interested to come and see our school for themselves.

  19. Ooops, my Echo Park is showing…
    The more Camino Nuevo bombards the boards with their campaign, the more leary I start to get.
    I know corporate isn’t inherently bad, but I just want to feel like my kid isn’t a pawn…

  20. I want my daughter to learn Spanish. I just want her taught in English so she can fully benefit. That should be my choice. This is a publicly funded school. I want her to bring home her homework in English so I can help her. I do not want her to stay after school to get extra help because she was not taught the first time in class in a way she will understand. I do not want to be deprived of the special time of helping my child with her homework. I was told by Camino Nuevo that I DO NOT have a choice–the program is set in stone and is bilingual but that I DO have the choice to opt out and attend another school. This is NOT SERVING THE WHOLE COMMUNITY NOR ENCOURAGING RACIAL DIVERSITY. Community School, on the other hand, recognizes our whole community and the cultural diversities and is prepared to give parents the choice, not to mention the wonderful curriculum they have planned!

  21. I am the Resource Specialist at Camino Nuevo High School, and this is my fourth year at Camino. I can only speak from my own experience, but I would like to set the record straight about a few fictional elements presented here.

    First of all, we serve students with learning differences with one of the most inclusive and least restrictive environments you will find in Los Angeles, or in most major US cities. I work with my students for four years- from the time they enter 9th grade until they graduate from high school. You can ask the parents of all students on my caseload and find that I partner with them to engineer the right level of support at home and at school, because neither parents nor teachers can meet students’ needs alone. Because I speak fluent Spanish and because I recognize that I am responsible first and foremost to *parents,* who pay my salary, I have extensive and trusting relationships with each and every family I serve.

    I walk the line between mastery and rigor, making sure my students succeed at mastering grade-level content while meeting their diverse learning needs in countless creative ways. I watch my students’ reading levels go up an average of over 2 grade levels each year (as measured on the Burns and Roe Reading Inventory). At the end of last year, my 10th grade students with Learning Disabilities averaged a 10.01 reading level (that is, slightly above 10th grade).

    This growth is partly due to our Learning Center library, which includes over 1,500 high-interest, leveled books, specifically designed to meet our students’ needs and to prepare them for the cultural literacy and academic rigor they’ll need to not only survive college, but thrive. The growth is also due to extra time in research-based English and writing courses taught in non-tracked, differentiated classrooms in which high-performing *and* struggling students work side-by-side to develop critical thinking skills. We do not suffer under the myth that students must be separated in order to perform their best.

    I can tell you the tragic story of a female freshman who came to me in September reading at a 2nd grade level, her mother politely yet exasperatedly explaining that her private middle school seemed to refuse to teach her to read or do math. Or- I could tell you the inspiring story of that same female student, who immediately started to devour books, and has *already* grown two years in her reading level.

    Last year, I watched one of my senior students graduate and go on to a private liberal arts college out of state. Given his unique learning profile, including an auditory processing deficit, this student has learned to advocate for himself, and now reports that he is getting A’s and B’s in college. He tells me that college is “just like Camino- I use the same study skills, I get the same support from teachers- Camino prepared me well.” At the request of my former student, I have communicated with the student services department at his school since last spring to help ease his transition and to ensure his 504 paperwork is valid out of state. I don’t call this kind of communication “nefarious”- I call it going the extra mile to see that our students are served beyond our walls. To me, this is a justice issue.

    Furthermore, the co-teaching going on at the high school level is singularly unique in the entire city of Los Angeles, and as compared with schools around the country. We are constantly co-planning instruction and cutting class sizes in half by strategically planning stations, parallel teaching, rotations, and alternative teaching models that stigmatize NO students and that meet ALL students’ needs. How do I know we are ahead of the game? Because I work with Resource Specialists at several charters and LAUSD schools around the city, and I have come to realize that we maintain some of the highest standards for students with Learning Disabilities around. I would have it no other way, because I have seen over and over the incredible success that any student can have, no matter what his or her learning profile.

    I’ll vouch for one last thing about Special Education at Camino- we will never rest until 100% of our students are successful in four-year colleges. I have made a personal commitment to raising student achievement, student self-advocacy, and college success, by increasing our effectiveness every month and every semester and every year- and I’m not working alone. I meet monthly with the entire CNCA Special Education team, and we are unified in our college prep mission- from the K-5 teachers up through the high school. I am convinced that many of my students would have slipped through the cracks at high schools where A-G credits are simply not the expectation for students with learning differences- not so at Camino. *All* of my students graduate with A-G credits, not just some. Ten of my students are taking AP classes this year. If Camino tracked students and did not provide access to a rigorous curriculum for all, I wouldn’t work here.

    I believe strongly that a community should have the last word in selecting its own educational options. But I as I read these responses, I wonder about those who live in the community and who aren’t posting- I wonder about families who don’t yet have a voice on a blog like this, and yet desire the very best educational options for their children and their children’s children.

    As you make your choices, I encourage you to choose a school with a consistent record of serving families of children with IEPs, and of refusing to lower expectations for students with learning differences. Given great teaching, every single student can and will achieve a self-actualized future.

  22. It’s amazing how mendacious the shills for the corporate charter school are here. Not one of them have addressed their dismal SWD and Special Education numbers reported in the Pilot Study of Charter Schools’ Compliance with the Modified Consent Decree I mentioned above. This legal document, published by the Office of the Independent Monitor found children with disabilities are “significantly underrepresented” at CMO run charter schools like Camino Nuevo. The data tables I linked to above show CNCA’s exclusionary and discriminatory practices towards these children. Shame on all you CNCA employees for supporting a corporation that patently ignores the obligation to educate every child.



    How does Ms. Cheren’s brash and arrogant statement “at Camino- we will never rest until 100% of our students are successful in four-year colleges” square with the documented fact that their students’ math and English proficiency at the CSU is only 6%? That’s one of the worst remediation rates I’ve ever seen when researching a CMO’s outrageous college placement claims. For those that missed it:


    We all know that CMOs like CNCA pay their executives amazingly high salaries with our tax dollars, so we understand why they are all here posting disinformation in order to increase thier corporation’s market share. The more public schools you take over, the more money they can pay yourselves. CNCA not only has no ties to our neighborhood, they are by definition outsiders.

    Honestly, do any of these highly paid CNCA executives posting here even live in our community? My zip code is 90026-5331, what’s yours Ana, Mindy, and Atyani?

    ¡La lucha contra privatizacion sigue!

  23. I’d be curious if anyone involved in Camino Nuevo lives anywhere near Echo Park. I have a feeling they have no clue how diverse our neighborhood is. Most of the Latino kids in our area, even if they have first-generation immigrant parents, speak English. And how does Camino Nuevo address the needs of English learners from other backgrounds, like the Filipino community?

  24. Several parents have asked important questions about eligibility to vote, whether they needed ID, and more.

    See the following for answers to these questions:

    Voting Categories and other League of Women Voters “Declaracion de Derechos” (en Español)

    Voting Categories and other League of Women Voters “Bill of Rights” (in English)

    Electioneering Guidelines and Other FAQs (League of Women Voters)

    You can also visit Public Education Activists: Answers to very important PSC 2.0 questions

    Advocating Public Education

    Robert D. Skeels, Coalition for Educational Justice

  25. I spoke with the League of Women Voters yesterday who are overseeing the vote. If you are a community member, meaning if you live or work in the neighborhood regardless of whether or not you have children, regardless of whether or not you are a parent at Union or Rosemont, you are eligible to vote. My son will be attending Elysian Heights in the fall and I would like for him to attend the kind of school that the Echo Park Community is proposing for his middle school years. I also know that many of the parents at Mayberry, Logan and other surrounding schools feel the same way. I’ll be there on Thursday to vote!

  26. I am one of the Assistant Principals at Camino Nuevo High School. I live in Echo Park. Two other teachers and another administrator also live in Echo Park. We even like to carpool to work. Two other teachers live in Los Feliz. I know this community. I decided to work for Camino because I’ve already experienced first-hand what it was like to be a student and then to work for LAUSD. I was tired of being part of schools that, instead of empowering communities and students- hurt them. Are all LAUSD schools like the ones I experienced? No. There are some good schools, but they are extremely difficult to find in communities that have struggled for decades. Are there amazing teachers within LAUSD? Of course, there are. Some of my best friends and colleagues still work for LAUSD. Every single one of them is holding on to their sanity and hope by a thread- only being able to succeed within their own four walls. Camino Nuevo schools are not perfect, but they are really good. And they are really good because there are committing teachers and leaders that put an immense amount of work partnering with students, families, and the community. We serve our English Language Learners, our Students with Learning Disabilities and the rest of our students just the same- with dedication and love. My school is primarily Latino/a because that is who mostly lives around our school. We also serve Filipino/a and Korean families. And we happen to have a Russian, Pakistani, and Ethiopian family- because that’s who entered through the door. I’m not saying a single negative thing about the Echo Park Community Proposal- because I don’t know them. I, actually, will assume they are a group of caring and smart educators that want something better for their community, like us. I just know what we have to offer first-hand. And, I know there is more than 10 years of work behind what Camino has done to make the strong case that it has the best, proven plan to serve this community. Listen to the proposals. Go visit a CNCA school for yourself. Vote. But there is no need to twist facts in order to spin your politics. I could go on for days writing about atrocities that I experienced as a student and teacher with LAUSD. But why? I’m more interested in making sure that students receive a powerful education. There is promise in some pilot schools and some charters. There are disorganized pilots and charters that need to be closed down. I can’t speak about other charters. I CAN tell you that EVERY single Camino school is doing amazing, award-winning work with the communities and families that have been neglected, and betrayed with the promise of an education. I have a 4 month old daughter. You might catch me on Portia, or Sunset, or Echo Park strolling her around. I’d like to live here in EP for several years. And like my other colleague, I also would happily enroll her in our schools where I know she will be challenged and loved. I want my kid to be a critical thinker and someone who is passionate about social justice. There is no social justice topic more important than education. So, if you’d like to talk to me about schools, education or the Lakers. You can find me in the park, or even at the reservoir. We can do Two Boots or do Taco Zone. I’ll be in the neighborhood.

  27. According the CDE Website, the CNCA K-8 schools had a 13% special education population last year.


    This is actually higher than most district schools which average closer to 10%.

    More specifically, the Harvard site, located in Koreatown, holds all SDC classes for the K-8 schools. This means if a student enrolls at the other schools and needs an SDC class, they are able to go to Harvard to receive the offer of FAPE–free and appropriate public education. At Harvard, with 4 special education teachers and 4 full time special education aides on a staff of 24, the special education population of 17% is almost double the district average.

  28. dear me, a corporation for-profit school with a bad record on inclusion on special needs vs. a community operated progressive school. hmmm. gosh, not so hard.

  29. Dear Parents and Concerned Citizens,

    Where are you?

    I have toured 7 magnets and charters in the area since December 6th. In most of the tours it has been standing room only. Parents are hoping and pushing for a small chance in a random lottery to educate their children. Meanwhile, a new campus is being built in our neighborhood, in our community, and only two organizations are applying to own that brand new campus. Over $63 million tax payer dollars were used to level over 50 homes and to build this school. There will be 300 spots for elementary and 500 spots for middle school. So, it is very likely that this may end up being your local public middle school instead of King.

    And yet, the same affluent parents who are elbowing me out of their way at every charter and magnet tour, are nowhere to be found choosing which organization will get the chance to occupy this new state-of-the-art campus. Tonight, you had a chance to hear both the proposals that the new campus could house. AND, you had a chance to cast your vote for which one you thought was best for our neighborhood, our community.

    One of the groups is a very slick and well-oiled political machine, Camino Nuevo Charter. This organization actually already has 5 campuses throughout southern California and is becoming a huge corporation. They have a “record” and a background. I have not been interested in hating Camino I think they have a lot to offer as a charter but not as a fully funded local school. I really didn’t want to sling mud at them But since I am pushed to the limit, from Camino Nuevo’s terrible behavior tonight. I have some questions. This was confirmed to be true tonight. If they have such a great record, why out of less that 100 graduates in 2009 :
    “According to the Fall 2009, CSU Freshmen Admits database* [2] the number of Camino Nuevo High School Charter students that were NOT proficient in mathematics was an absolutely astonishing 94 percent. This almost unfathomable statistic is all the more glaring when compared to its peers.
    Mathematics Proficiency
    Camino Nuevo High School Charter 06%
    All County High Schools 51%
    All California High Schools”
    http://rdsathene.blogspot.com/2011/01/crafty-camino-nuevo-charter-charlatans.html 62%


    The other proposal calls itself THE ECHO PARK COMMUNITY. It is a proposal made up of volunteers and educators who have NOTHING to gain but a good school from our community. Please read the proposal yourself — it is AMAZING and incorporates all of the best learning models available to educators. Conceptual Learning, Project Based, Community Involvement, Reggio Emilia, International Baccalaureate, Fine Arts, Science, Ecology and environment, muti-age classes, team teaching and dual language emersion. The school will be a span school preK-8th grade pilot program part of LAUSD so it will have an autonomy in curriculum, assessment, budget, staffing and governance. And yet, the teachers will be fully union and of course get union benefits.


    Tonight, there was a chance to see the proposals and to vote. Where were you community? If your child is going to Ivanhoe, Elysian, Mayberry, Micheltorena or any of the charters, where are you going to middle school? Cres# 14 could be your LOCAL Middle school instead of KING. DO YOU CARE? If you would like a choice, if you would like a progressive school, you better stand up and vote this Saturday and start calling the school board members, and Garcetti. Start writing letters and getting attention — the School Board will decide soon. The advisory vote is only one part but it was not a fair vote tonight. It seemed that Camino Nuevo brought their army. Did I mention they have 5 campuses? I saw all five campuses tonight at OUR COMMUNITY MEETING. They actually had a HUGE GREYHOUND size bus and were bussing in people to vote. They filled the back of the presentation room and rudely spoke loudly the entire time The Echo Park Community design team spoke. Please get out there, VOTE, and start screaming. Even if your child won’t have anything to do with this school but you live here, your vote matters and makes a difference! Please read the proposal, HOW CAN YOU NOT support it?

    Can you tell I am very frustrated and sad…?

    Last chance to VOTE if you live in the community:

    Advisory Recommendation Voting
    Advisory Recommendation Voting – There will be an opportunity for parents, high school students, faculty and staff from relieved schools and focus schools, and community members to cast their advisory recommendation vote.
    Saturday January 29, 2011 9am – 3pm Rosemont Elementary School Auditorium/Theatre 421 N. Rosemont Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90026

    What do to?

    VOTE: It is not clear how much the vote weighs on the minds of our school board members, Mr. Cortines, our Superintendent, or Yolie Flores and Monica Garcia, our School Board representatives. And because there is a School Board election happening this March, this is the time for our school board members to stand up and listen to the concerned parents in their communities.

    CALL and WRITE: Please call and write the following people regarding CRES #14. Right now, the LAUSD School Board knows they need to answer to the parents’ needs first. YOUR VOICE MATTERS! Any phone call and note supporting this project is important and will be heard.

    Mr. Cortines is the Superintendent of the whole district: 213-241-7000, and by email ramon.cortines@lausd.net

    Yolie Flores is your School Board Member Representative from District 5: 213-241-6383, fax: 213-241-8467 and by emailyolie.flores@lausd.net

    Monica Garcia is your School Board Member Representative from District 2: 213-241-6180, and by emailmonica.garcia@lausd.net

    Ron Palacios, Director of Community Partnerships: 213-241-6383, and by email ronald.palacios@lausd.net

    Eric Garcetti You can E-Mail the councilmember at councilmember.garcetti@lacity.org 200 North Spring Street,

    Room 470
    Los Angeles, California 90012
    (213) 473-7013
    Fax:(213) 613 0819

    Respectfully and gratefully,
    Windy O’Malley

  30. The members of Echo Park Community Partners Design Team have focused on developing a progressive education option for our very diverse northeast LA population. We met with parents and community members and arts organizations. The plan is the result of that collaboration.
    Camino Nuevo runs charter schools and the Camino Nuevo staff is maintaining the charter school position that they offer a program and parents who don’t want it can go somewhere else.
    However, this is a public school with an attendance boundary. It is confusing because the LAUSD school board created this odd process under the banner of Public School Choice, which in the rest of the country means “Parent Choice”. However, through the LAUSD PFC process it’s “School Board Choice”. Parents can register their “preference” but as demonstrated last year, the school board can ignore the parents “preference” as they did when they gave Camino Nuevo a new school through this PFC process, even though the parents had rejected them.
    There are protections against this in the Education Code. The District had to get a waiver from the California Ed. Code to give the schools to charters last year. The Ed Code requires parents to apply to charter schools and that students are chosen in a lottery. The parents have fewer rights in charter schools but at least they chose the school. With the LAUSD process they lose their rights and they are assigned by LAUSD to attend the charter school.
    This is a flawed process but we chose to use it as an opportunity to develop a beautiful school that reflects the diversity and creativity of the community. The idea of allowing communities to develop the schools they want is fabulous. If the parents want a charter school there is a process for creating one or changing a school into a charter school with parent and teacher consensus. The LAUSD PSC process cuts out the parent/teacher choice. That is the serious flaw in the LA School Board’s approach. I suggest Camino Nuevo build their own school and attract parents who want to send their children to their program. I also think the school board elections are a good opportunity for parents to ask candidates if they plan to continue this process as it is. How do the candidates justify this process or will they modify it so communities have more autonomy and create changes in their school. But I hope you will help push the School Board to stop the “Give Away” of our public schools against the will of the parents and the community.

  31. I have no affiliation with Camino Nuevo. I live in the community and have a Masters degree in statistics. I am posting because one of the posters here, Robert Skeels, is clearly distorting facts with his posts in a way that is irresponsible.

    His argument against Camino’s academics are based on the preparation of their mathematics proficiency, which he links to here:


    Looks dismal, right? Note, however that the sample size is only 17. This is not statistically significant. in other words, it’s too small to be meaningful. Skeels agrees, since in his blog post he writes “We need to temper this data with the understanding that the sample size is 16 for math and 17 for English.” He justifies using these statistics by writing “the charter industry consistently uses similar statistics without mentioning any confounding factors or standard deviation that would interfere with their marketing claims.” However, he provides no examples ***And does not disclose the weakness of his statistics here****.

    Well, if you’re going to argue with quantitative data, why not present a few sources and let the people decide?

    Here is some data from the exact same source Skeels uses: it shows continuation rates and grades of Camino Nuevo students who actually attend CSU:


    You can see, the continuation rate is lower (70% vs. 80%) and the GPA is almost the same (2.67 vs. 2.87). A lower continuation rate can reflect economic stress as much as weak academic performance. Since the socioeconomic status of Camino students is probably lower than California average I’d expect a lower continuation rate.

    This is not a large sample size either. ***But, the fact that the GPA is almost equal to the State Average suggests that it is misleading to say 94% of Camino’s graduates are not proficient in Math.***

    For apples to apples, here is the proficiency for Belmont Senior High, which is what Camino benchmarks themselves against on their website:


    Looks to me like 76% are not proficient in Math and 84% are not proficient in English. And 51 students IS a large sample size.

    While on topic of scores, here are Camino’s API scores: http://www.caminonuevo.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=131&Itemid=140


    Here is information on what the API score is, and how the API score is calculated:

    I agree with the argument that API scores do not summarize how good a school is. There are many things they do not capture. But to use bad statistics to mislead a community is just plain wrong. It looks to me like he is protecting the entrenched interests of the UTLA, not the community.

    Like I said I have no affiliation, just a community member with a Masters in Statistics and a strong dislike for propaganda.

  32. @silverlaker I agree with a lot of what you say, however I do not feel you should put Camino Nuevo students at a lower standard. That is not what I want to hear when possibly sending my child to that school. In addition, parents have NO choice in whether they are in their bi-lingual program. This school may work in some areas but they are not offering the choices in their curriculum that the Community school is. I don’t want a private, corporate institution to make all the decisions that will not only affect our children, but our community as well. I do thank you for posting all the statistics.

  33. @Silverlaker you essentially make my point, in that you argue much of the statistical data used on either side of the argument is misleading. You yourself say that “that API scores do not summarize how good a school is.” This is after a vigorous defense of the CNCA corporation. Sounds like you have a very serious affiliation with CNCA, or at least the lucrative charter-voucher industry in general.

    Nor does your polemic in any way change the fact that 9 our of 10 of the CNCA students that transfered to the CSU in 2009 had to take remedial courses — even CNCA admitted as much. In other words, we can talk about being statistically insignificant all we want. Yet still the lion’s share of CNCA grads were retaking the same subjects since they weren’t adequately prepared (perhaps they were spending too much time teaching to the NCLB tests).

    Moreover, your references to additional data don’t mention that the majority of CNCA’s schools (CRES 15 excepted) are lottery schools where the higher motivations of students and parents confound statistics as well. I’m not aware of any serious education expert, Dr. Ravitch, Dr. Krashen, etc. that doesn’t consider that as one of several confounding factors that CMOs fail to mention in their glossy marketing materials.

    “It looks to me like he is protecting the entrenched interests of the UTLA, not the community.”

    Sorry, I’m not in the teachers’ union or any union for that matter. Your ham-fisted attempt to attribute my activism to monied interests is is only exceeded by your overt cheerleading for CNCA. Considering all the money that CNCA gets from the Annenberg, Eisner, Broad, and Gates Foundations to conduct massive propaganda campaigns (or public relations campaigns, if you will) your “strong dislike for propaganda” seems very one sided here.

    I’m merely a community activist, you can only accuse me of protecting the interests of keeping public institutions public. If you’re really not a paid CCSA or CNCA employee, why the anonymous name @Silverlaker?

  34. Echo Park Resident

    In the last few months, a few things have been outright obvious:

    CNCA has spent THOUSANDS of dollars in marketing, promotional items, etc.

    I attended the Rosemont Voting event this past saturday, and everytime I was approached by a parent that advocated for CNCA, I was met with the SAME exact statement nearly word for word:

    “Hi. I am a parent of CNCA, and I’m here representing our campus, we are a college bound school and we know you will make the right choice for your children”

    Ok so what are the ACTUAL REASONS I should consider enrolling my child there?! Once I decided to get into the nitty gritty details with them, they couldn’t respond. so what did that tell me?

    The parents were “pre-programmed” to say the above statement. Ridiculous.

    And on a further note, I observed CNCA’s CEO ripping down signs and harassing a young man over some flyers he had posted on a PUBLIC STREET. I overheard him yelling that the flyers were defamatory when all they said was “don’t let the charters lie”. In a public street, it is perfectly acceptable for a member of the community to voice THEIR opinion.

    CNCA had t-shirts to give out, they bused in people on greyhounds, all good from a sales standpoint, but their parents that were the foot soldiers at that event, they were both ignorant and not prepared to answer actual questions in regards to the quality of their education, other than “well my child is going to college and he’s in 7th grade”.

    While CNCA sends their grads to college or JC’s, it has been well documented that a very high percentage are in remedial courses. Even if 17 is considered a small number, for the campus being as small as it is, common sense would dictate that they would be very well prepared given a small class size. This is obviously not the case.

    While I did come to the conclusion that the whole voting system is flawed ( There were bouts of alleged electioneering by the CNCA, as well as the W.L.O.V receiving a hefty $50,000 compensation by the District (are you listening cortines?!) ), the parents in the community who support the LD4 plan MUST CALL CORTINES AND YOLIE FLORES and demand that their voice be heard. Yolie Flores will not be running for re-election, so who’s to say she isn’t just lining her pockets for the future? As a community who agrees on a universal idea that our children deserve a quality education worthy of our time and effort, we cannot let a business run our schools and have them subject to market forces.

  35. But, could you answer this question? What are LAUSD members and People who is talking bad about CNCA doing to stop violence and bullying in LAUSD schools? First I am a mother of two gifted students that were enrolled in the Magnet gifted program. LAUSD MS , was the worst school in this neighborhood. My son was a victim of bullying, he never had behavior problems. He was the best student in South Central area, and never was victim of bullies there. For personal reasons we moved to the Silver Lake area. From 6th grade – 8th grade , he didn’t do well, but when I ask them for summer school or tutoring they said, Oh sorry but magnet students can’t take summer classes. My son had D’d, and they thought because my son was gifted he didn’t need help, Stupid excuse!!! When I reported that my son was been bullied, they said “Sorry we have 2500 students and we can not do nothing. Your son have to go with the psicologic. They never let me to volunteer at school, their excuse was LAUSD policys. As you can see I do not speak English well. I had to move my daughter to a private school for 8th grade. My son went to Marshall SH, for 9th grade, finally I found CNCH and everything changed!!! My son did well in the SAT and I have the results. My daughter did excellent in the SAT’s. She is going to go to a Private University this year and “she is not going to take remedial classes”. So, if you can talk bad about our school, what can you tell about(LAUSD) fightings, violence, graduation rates and CST’s? Finally, I am not as ignorant as you think, I am proudly parent of CNCA, and a full time volunteer for 6 year in LAUSD elementary school . I was president of CEAC and representative of district 4. I know what am I talking about. Maybe you are thinking ” Those parents are ignorants, just because they do not speak English”. You are wrong, I know that I need to learn to speak and write English, but my goal now is my children Education.

  36. Answer for Echo Park resident: Safety, Equal oportunities no matter if the student is gifted or not, and information (they provide all the imformacion about requirements for Universities admision). At charter schools they know each student and offer them specific help, If your student is having problems in math, they referred them to ROE or to study lab. The most iportant think is that they know the student, (“Each time when I asked “How is my son doing?”) teacher’s answer was the same, “I’m sorry, I do not know your son” Could you give me the student number”. My son was a number at Marshall SH!!! Do you need more reasons?

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