The funniest part about all this is that the anti-public-education reactionaries who champion this charter school, the folks who want to take over one of your public high schools to expand Oxford Preparatory Academy of South OC to a K-12 facility, that team of reactionaries that are running to re-take over the Capistrano Unified School Board, call themselves “Hold CUSD Accountable.”
Oh. Let me back up a little. An important part of the platform of the Capo reactionaries has always been the fostering of CHARTER SCHOOLS, at the expense of the good old-fashioned public school that we all pay for and every kid gets to go to. Well, we all pay for charter schools too, but they’re a little harder to get into.
The reactionaries love the charter schools partly because the teachers are not unionized and get paid a lot less. But that’s made up for by how well the administration gets paid – the superintendent gets nearly 200,000 a year – nearly as much as the district superintendent – and she gets to put her family on her staff. Oxford Prep Academy South OC, approved a few years ago when the wingnuts had a majority on the Board, took over and displaced a fine elementary school, (Mission Viejo’s Barcelona Hills Elementary, whose students just had to up and go elsewhere) and now it drains a million dollars a year from the district.
Another thing they love about charter schools is that they tend to separate the “haves” from the “have-nots” – a great positive in their crimped, patrician version of “conservatism.” If a kid is accepted into one of these schools, they must purchase uniforms, and their parents must put in a number of VOLUNTEER hours – something most working-class couples can not manage.
Oxford Preparatory Academy (OPA) is a 501(c)(3) – that is, a profitable “nonprofit” that pays itself handsomely and is dying to expand. At this point they have only two campuses, one in Chino Hills and this one in Mission Viejo, having been turned away from both Saddleback and Oceanside. Like a corporation, it needs to always find a way to grow.
Now the South OC campus wants to be expanded to a K-12 institution with 1000-1500 students, and its supporters will be hitting tonight’s (Monday night’s) meeting in force to demand that. To serve that many students, the district will have to give up one of its HIGH SCHOOL facilities – that’s either Aliso Niguel, Capistrano Valley, Dana Hills, San Clemente, San Juan Hills, or Tesoro. And the kids and parents who are currently at THAT lucky school will then have to go much farther away.
But, check it out. As part of the case OPA will make for being allowed to expand, they’re hoping to boast of their spectacularly high CAL-STAR test results, which they’re already claiming are the HIGHEST IN THE STATE. A little glitch there, though – it turns out that the school is now under investigation for artificially inflating its scores, using the so-called “Asian method” – that is, encouraging low-performing students, directly or through their parents, to stay at home on the days tests are held.
Yes, the Orange Juice Blog has come into possession, as they say, of a document – a letter from the law firm Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves, and Savitch LLP, addressed to CUSD superintendent Farley, apprising him of their immediate investigation into these allegations. Apparently enough OPA parents and teachers witnessed and spoke up against this Asian method being used to dishonestly jack up OPA scores. An investigation by the district itself has not yet been discussed by the Board, but is very unlikely NOT to be, especially after hundreds of angry parents DEMAND it at tonight’s Board meeting.
This is very bad news for the district’s reactionaries who are running on a platform of expanding charter schools and busting teachers unions (as well as bringing swap meets and cell phone towers onto campuses and God knows what other madness.) It’s especially bad news for the three “Hold CUSD Accountable” candidates who are on the ballot this month – Jim Reardon, Steve Lang and Bill Perkins. It’s an unfortunate, infuriating setback for current wingnut Board members Sue Palazzo (retiring anyway) and Ellen Adonizzio. And it’s a teeth-gnashing, garment-rending calamity for the ideologues who fund and instruct these hardliners – Tony and Jennifer Beall, and the already-recalled Mike Winsten and Ken Lopez-Maddox-Lopez. And an irritating spanner in the works to their faroff privatization theorist-puppetmasters at the Education Alliance, Kids First, and the Pacific Research Institute.
Our Childrens First peeps say: