Thursday, July 31, 2014

[Flashback] CWC "Segregated rock concert"

 FLASHBACK - On Friday December 6, 2013, Citizens of the World Charter Mar Vista held an extravaganza on the Stoner Avenue Elementary School campus. It was CWC's "first annual" walk-a-thon fundraiser that has come to be known locally as "the segregated rock concert."
      There was a live rock band, a DJ, a 50 foot arc of balloons, boxed lunches and even clowns. It was awesome!!!...for the CWC community. For the Stoner Avenue Elementary School students and surrounding Del Rey neighborhood, it was... not so awesome. If fact, it was disruptive and upsetting, and the event highlighted the traffic/safety/parking issues and the separate and unequal conditions on campus brought about by the co-location of CWC Mar Vista on the Stoner ES campus.
CWC Mar Vista segregated rock concert takes over Stoner ES
CWC MV First Annual Walk-a-thon, known locally as "the
Segregated rock concert," takes over the Stoner ES playground
2 CWC cars blocking 1 drive way.
   I had taken a vacation day and was looking forward to a relaxing time at home with my family. Early in the morning, we started noticing the commotion. There was a giant arc of balloons in the playground. There was more traffic on Lindblade Street then I had ever seen in my close to forty years on the street, and parking was a nightmare.The CWC community was parking wherever they wanted to and were blocking driveways and handicap access ramps up and down the the street. People were jaywalking or just straight up walking down the middle of the street.
   A little bit latter, out of nowhere, "8 Days a Week" by the Beatles starts blasting through our house. It was loud. I looked out the window to see a live rock band in the school yard. Okay? I guess we can deal with this for a bit. I doubt it will be going on for hours. After a few songs, the band stopped (thank goodness) but then the DJ kicked in (doh!). The music just kept going on: band, DJ, band, DJ.
   This loud event was upsetting to the residents. The band was set up only a few feet away from a house on Lindblade that abuts the school creating great frustration for that resident. Some neighbors had finals to study for but couldn't because of the noise. There were new born infants that needed sleep, but couldn't, again, because of the noise. Residents could have planned around the event, but CWC did not act mindfully and gave us no warning about the planned extravaganza.
    Speaking of no warning, I learned later that day that while the event was approved by the Stoner ES Principal, CWC failed to mention the musical aspect of the event, and the music was not approved.

    The event continued throughout the morning. From my kitchen window, I could see Stoner 4th and 5th graders leaning on the second floor balcony to see the loud, awesome event on their playground. The Stoner teachers reported the most number of bathroom requests that day. The students all wanted to get out and have a peak at the commotion on their campus.
   One of the most inconsiderate and disturbing effects of the event was that it disrupted the 5th graders who were trying to take standardized tests at that time. Students later told me that they believe the distraction caused by the loud and inconsiderate nature of the CWC event effected their scores.
   The event went on longer than initially proposed and continued through the Stoner student's recess. This is where the segregation was on full display. While working in our garden, I could see the CWC Director and Stoner Principal standing between the event and a group of Stoner students who were gazing longingly at it. I could see that they were gesturing for the Stoner students to go back to their play areas and ignore the spectacle right in front of them. How could anyone expect them to go back and play on the swings and slides when there was a kick-ass band, clowns and ballons right in front their own eyes. This was a truly a sad scene and still can't believe that these "mindful" citizens could not and still cannot recognize the separate and unequal conditions the co-location of CWC was bringing to campus.
    As the event continued into its third hour, I decided I'd had enough and walked over to the Stoner Elementary Main Office to complain. Once I got to the office, the music stopped and the event was over, but I felt I still needed to register a complaint.
   As I was waiting to meet with the Stoner Principal, a Cwc founding parent came in to the office and asked if he could borrow a dolly to help breakdown the event. I was incensed. Really?! How entitled is the CWC community? You are going to ask to borrow our school's resources to help you with an event that excluded our students and disrupted their standardized tests. I stood up and pointed to the other side of campus and said firmly, "The CWC office is over there. If you need anything you should talk with your administration." The office got silent. You could cut the tension with a knife. The CWC parent stood, mouth agape, looking stunned for a moment and then tried to explain that "we" were all "one school" and "we should help each other" and that Stoner ES could benefit from the CWC co-location.
   I began laying into the guy, "How dare you try to say we are one school and should help each other when you just had an event that excluded our children?! You think that just because..."
  Just then, the Stoner Principal ran out of his office and tried to diffuse the situation. He placed himself between me and CWC parent and then asked me to step into his office (Wow, that's the first time in my life that I've ever been asked to go to the principal's office.)  The principal had a brief word with the CWC parent before coming to address his school's parent's concerns.
   I complained about the event: the disruption, the noise, the traffic, the parking, the safety concerns and the segregated nature of the event. I continued with other complaints against CWC including the elitist and insulting fence covering, and segregating planter boarders, but most notably, I complained about the fact that CWC had put a combination lock on their gate and given the combination to all their parents.
    This is were I first learned about the LAUSD Prop 39 Office and the email We were directed to send all our questions, concerns and complaints regarding the co-location to the Prop 39 office, and so I did.
    While CWC Mar Vista may have labeled the walk-a-thon as thier first annual, the school and local communities are relieved that there will not be a second segregated event on the Stoner ES campus.


[Snark edition #2] "Have you read the 62 page letter from the LAUSD to CWC?"

Last month, I got a comment on this blog asking if I had read the 62 page April 1, 2014 LAUSD Final Offer letter delivered to Citzens of the World Charter Mar Vista. I haven't had time to read it until now, but I'm glad I did read it. I thought I had been shocked before by CWC Mar Vista like when they hosed down a naked, sick student, or when CWC declared war on the Del Rey neighborhood, or when they put our students lives at risk for coffee, but reading LAUSD's response to CWC's counter offer left me stunned. The audacity and entitlement in CWC's requests were just outrageous. The absurdity of the CWC request of just begs for a snarky response.
  The letter is quite long and dense, so I'm just going highlight the top 10 disturbing quotes and respond to those. You know the drill annotations are in red.
   If you do want to read the entire letter you can find it here:

1. "Charter School requests that the District enter into an alternative agreement whereby it would
provide Charter School with one additional teaching station and special education meeting
space at Stoner Avenue Elementary School" – Sorry, CWC, you were offered what was available and suitable for your needs based on your proposal. There will be no special treatment for CWC.

2. “Charter School objects to the District's request for information regarding the specific number
of students with special education needs and particular detailof those needs.”    Hmm, you are requesting more space for special education, but don't want to give numbers to back it up. Right...

3. “Conversely, Charter School requests that the District ignore the methodology required by
Section 11969.3subdivision (b)(l).” Um, Citizens, we follow the law here, you don’t get to choose which laws you follow nor decide on your own methodology. 

4. “Charter School does not possesa valid food permit or certification from the applicable enforcement agency for the kitchen at the proposed school site, as required by the California Health and Safety Code.” CWC requested use of the cafeteria, but did not have the necessary permit or certification to operate the cafeteria. CWC, you do not seem interested in following the law. What kind of worldly citizens are you that you continue to try to ignore the law?

5. “Charter School objects to complying with the Asbestos requirement as cited in the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA), 40 CFR part 763.”  Really?! It’s one thing that CWC wants to flout LAUSD rules  and California state laws and regulations, but they also want to ignore federal law regarding asbestos? ASBESTOS?! You’ve got to be kidding me.

6. “Charter Schooobjects to its purported obligation to pay for the repaiof any damages it makes to the facilities.” – Wow, how entitled can one charter school be to believe that they should not have to pay for repairs for damages they cause? Is this the "mindful”behavior that CWC is always touting?

7.  Charter School requests that the District "reexamine the practice of assigning custodial staff…” What, are you going to have volunteer parent take care of maintenance? We saw how well it went when CWC parents handled facilities duties before (see: CWCparents throw spike in the street

8.  “Charter School objects to the inclusion of utilities costs in the pro rata share calculation.”   Yeah, I wish I could object to my utilities cost too. 

9.  “Charter School objects to costs associated with the Office of Environmental Health and Safety ("OEHS") and contends that it is unaware of any benefits it receives from OEHS.” Are you kidding me? The letter goes on to state,  “ OEHS idedicated to providing a safe and healthy environment for all students at District campuses… These include the activities of maintaining safety in buildings, on the grounds, and in the vicinity of schools." Really CWC? You see no benefit to ensuring safety on campus or in the vicinity of your school?...okay. Is that why you had the private security for the last month of school

10. "Charter School objects to the general public's potential use of the school site outside of school hours." – So, CWC claims to want to be part of the Del Rey community, but want to keep the community from utilizing the public school facilities after school hours for the public's benefit. That doesn’t sound very citizen like to me. 

Bonus qutoe: LAUSD’s response to #10  “To make an exception for Charter School's students would require the District to accommodate Charter School students in better conditions than students attending District School. “ – Bascically, CWC, you will not be given special privilege to benefit your school while hurting the local community and community school. 

  There are still plenty of other gems in the 62 page letter, but I think these 10 quotes exemplify the entitlement and flouting of the law that we continued to see from the CWC community.

[Flashback] Cwc protest #2

On Thursday, December 5, 2013, neighbors and Stoner parents held a second protest, again complaining about the traffic/safety issues and the separate and unequal conditions on campus caused by the co-location of Citizens of the World Charter Mar Vista on the Stoner Avenue Elemtary School campus.
   The rally fliers caught the attention of the CWC administration and so, the night before the rally, I was invited to meet with the CWC Executive Director and the Principal at Geo's coffee shop on Inglewood.
   I met with them.The director brought her children along. They seemed like nice people, but nice people or not, the problems caused by the co-location were real and were not going to be solved over a cup of coffee.
   The next day, there were about a dozen neighbors and Stoner ES parents out on Lindblade next to the CWC separate entrance. The signs were simple, some were even made with crayon, and there were chants,(my daughter still on occasion will chant "CWC, stand with the community!") but mainly, it was the local community standing together to make their voice heard.
  For the most part, the CWC community did not engage with the local community and just ignored our presence, but someone did call the police and two cruisers showed up.

   Little did we know that our complaints about traffic/safety issues and the separate and unequal conditions on campus would be on full display the very next day at the CWC Walk-a-thon, or as it is called in the community, the "Segregated rock concert!"

Neighbors and parents organize against the co-location of CWC Mar Vista
Neighbors organize against the co-location of CWC

2 LAPD units show up at CWC Mar Vista protest
2 LAPD cars showed up at the CWC Rally

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Kentwood was upset with CWC co-location and fought back

One of our fellow Adventurers alerted me to a July 3rd article in the Hometown News about the June 25 meeting at Kentwood  ES regarding the CWC co-location.
    You can read the article here:

    Kentwood parents and community were especially upset that the co-location would take away key resource rooms and force them to end programs to accommodate the CWC co-location.
   For this co-location, just as at Stoner ES, CWC would have its own private entrance. At Stoner ES, the private entrance was a major sore point. I don't see why that would be different at this co-location.
   CWC Principal Kerr confirms that it was CWC Executive director Held who missed the deadline and that Held had resigned.
   Kentwood parents did not take the co-location news lying down and wrote a petition to LAUSD asking them to re-evaluate the co-location decision.
    LMU Family of School, which supports 6 schools in Westchester, including Kentwood and Loyola Village, will be organizing a workshop to help their sponsored schools navigate Prop 39 and future co-location requests.
    As for the myth that Kentwood and Loyola would welcome CWC with open arms, I think the quote from Kentwood PTO president Doug Lee sums it up "If you [CWC] can come back and say with a straight face that it is, that Kentwood is the only place that this school can go to do what it needs to do, then we’ll have to receive them..." Open arms, more like up in arms.

CWC Mar Vista finds a new home (again)

There is a major announcement on   CWC Mar Vista has a new new home.
    They will be moving to St. Joan of Arc School in West Los Angeles located at 11534 Gateway Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064 for the 2014/15 school year.
   What adventures will these worldly citizens and St. Joan have next year? Based on CWC MV's first year, one can only imagine...will CWC distribute Purgatory Tickets to parishioners? Hose down naked children by the rectory? Erect another cocoon-like fence covering declaring themselves a "true community"?
     One can only wonder what type of mindfulness and gritty behavior CWC will bring to their new location.
Gritty mindfulness coming to a parish near you.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Kentwood and Loyola concerned about co-location (...and they should be)

Kentwood Elementary School Charter co-location meeting
Kentwood ES community concerned about charter co-location
The word through the grapevine is that Kentwood and Loyola communities are very concerned about the co-location of CWC Mar Vista.
   If I was them, I would be worried too. Even the June 7th offer letter regarding the co-location at Kentwood & Loyola sounds ominous.
   Below is an especially troubling excerpt from the offer letter that highlights the fact that the Cwc co-location at Kentwood and Loyola would take "...set aside spaces critical to existing programs..." that are used for "art, childcare, computer labs, itinerant workrooms, intervention and counseling..."
    This was one of our biggest fears at Stoner ES, that CWC would ultimately take our art rooms, computer lab, parents center, counseling rooms and speech & occupational therapy labs, thus decimating Stoner ES and leaving our community school with little if any resources for our neighborhood children. These fears were expressed in the initial petition and letter writing campaign that ultimately lead to the third and largest protest against CWC Mar Vista.
    It is troubling to think that CWC would enter into a co-location knowing that they will be taking resources away from the community school that they claim to want to work with.

Friday, July 18, 2014

[Flashback] CWC Karma Tickets

Citizens of the World Mar Vista claims to be a progressive school that teaches and practices mindfulness, and encourages diversity and respect for other cultures. Unfortunately, their actions don't match up with their platitudes. In fact, Cwc has shown themselves to be an entitled community that is culturally insensitive and thoughtlessly insults the surrounding Del Rey community for bringing up serious concerns about the co-location of CWC.
     The most blatant example of this thoughtless insensitivity and lack of respect for other cultures is the CWC Karma Ticket.
CWC Karma ticket     A few days after the first protest against the CWC co-location, CWC delivered packages to the surrounding neighbors on Stoner, Lindblade, and Wagner that contained a letter (pictured at the end) from Executive Director Held and Principal Kerr.
     In the letter, CWC states that it has asked its parents to be "mindful" and " drive safely, park legally, and refrain from moving any trashcans, blocking driveways, and generally to respect our neighbors."
     Included with the letter were CWC Karma Tickets which CWC asked the neighbors to use to help keep the CWC community mindful of respecting the neighborhood.

     Of course, CWC administration asking its entitled parents to be mindful and respectful did not work.  The CWC community continued to block driveways, which continued to increase the frustration of local residents and ultimately led to the "flicked cigarette infraction." These "mindful" citizen continued to ignore traffic safety around the school, be disrespectful to local residents, and park illegally, even up until the last few hours of school
     Now, let's talk about the karma tickets.Who would even think this was a good idea? Cwc is, in essence, asking the local community to not report their citizen's illegal and dangerous activities to the proper authorities, and instead asking the residents to police the Cwc community ourselves by giving out culturally insensitive "karma" tickets.
     Karma is a deeply held spiritual belief in many cultures and religions. For CWC to use it so flippantly shows a complete lack of understanding and respect for other cultures and spiritual beliefs.  Karma is not just something you give to the barrista at Starbucks. It is a key concept in Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Shintoism and many others religions. How entitled must one be to think that it is a good idea to co-opt a spiritual belief from another culture and use it inappropriately to insult the community they are claiming to want to be a part of?
     If CWC intended to calm the neighbors concerns, the letter and Karma tickets had the complete opposite effect. Instead of easing tensions, this just heated up on the whole situation and opened the neighbor's eyes to what CWC was all about.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

CWC takes their mindfulness (and trees)

June 30, 2014. I received the following pictures from local resident who wanted to report that the co-location of CWC Mar Vista at the Stoner Avenue Elementary School campus was finally coming to an end.
   The last few CWC items were being moved out, including the contentious large potted-trees that were part of the "green" border that separated (and thus segregated) the charter school from the community school.

With the CWC trees, fence convering and plant borders now gone, the Stoner Avenue Elementary School campus looks like a unified learning center for the local neighborhood community. 

Del Rey Style #3/4 - Del Rey Art Walk/Stoner-Lindblade-Wagner block party

Del Rey SLW Block Party 2014
2014 Del Rey Art Walk 
   Faithful readers, apologies for the extended break on the blog.
   I didn't realize how many people are still interested in these adventures.
   After an exciting evening at the St. G's carnival, the family and I went down to Mexico to reconnect with the rest of the clan. We had no internet or phone access, which is why there were no updates to the blog even though there are plenty of stories left to tell.
   After we got back, there was really no urgency to write and so I decided to continue the hiatus. CWC was gone and I was focusing my energy on what was next for Stoner ES. I figured with school out and cwc moved out, it was all done, and no one would care about the Stoner/CWC adventure, but when I checked on the blog yesterday, I was surprised to see how many daily hits the blog received on during the hiatus and was still receiving today.
    So, since there is still interest and there is more to say, we will continue....

Del Rey Style #3 -- 5th Annual Del Rey Art Walk.  Sunday, June 22.
The Del Rey area is full of artists. This residential neighborhood is an art district unto itself. For the past five years, residents have opened up their home studios, garages and yards to share their art and music with the community.

Del Rey Style #4
Sunday, June 29 the Stoner-Lindblade-Wagner residents held a block party.

    After a tumultuous year, the Stoner Lindblade Wagner residents decided to organize the annual block party a few months earlier than usual. It was a celebration of the difficult times that we all came together to overcome. There was food, music and drink.

Fallen friends were remembered. New life was celebrate.
 Old friends reconnected, and new friends were made.

  Del Rey is a special place and we are living a special time. I feel very privileged to share these streets with those who call them their home.