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.


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