Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The COW's are coming to Saturn: Citizens Of the World Mar Vista tries another co-location

Citizens of the World Charter CWC Mar Vista - Be a COW and follow the herd
Citizen of the World Mar Vista is going interplanetary:
The COW herd is moo-ving to Saturn Elementary
    Recently, we've been seeing variations on the search query "Where will Citizens of the World Mar Vista be located next year?" leading people to this blog.  It seems that the Citizens of the World (COW) community wants to know where they will be next year since St. Joan of Arc did not work out so well. I guess the administration isn't being forthcoming and so the COW community is stampeding to this blog for answers.
     You can whoa doggies!...because we've got what your looking for.
     I learned today, that COW will be co-locating at Saturn Street Elementary for 2015/16. The campus places COW 6 miles away from its namesake, Mar Vista. While the COWs might believe themselves to be enlightened citizens of this world, I wonder how they'll fare on Saturn.
    The Saturn community is not pleased and has already begun the battle cry "The COW's are coming!" Saturn is preparing for the COW occupation.

    Saturn was told a white washed version of why COW was no longer co-located at Stoner. The official reason was a missed deadline. However, as the Saturn community has learned about the COW's Adventure in Charter Co-location at Stoner, they have become very concerned.

   Will COW also create traffic and safety issues?  Will the COW's bring their entitled, elitist mentality?  Will the COW heard bring separate and unequal conditions on campus? Will the COW parents and teachers refuse to follow the rules?  Will the COW being stripping students naked and hosing them down on campus?

    While we are glad that the COWs are no longer at Stoner, we are truely sorry that Saturn will have to deal with these COWs.

LAUSD making true Citizens of the World

According to a recent piece in Voice of America,  students in LAUSD's language immersion programs "... are truly true citizens of the world."

  The article highlights LAUSD success with language immersion programs, and how the programs are drawing students to their local schools.

   You can read the article and watch the video here: 

   Next year, Stoner Elementary will be starting a new Spanish language bilingual program.  We are very happy that LAUSD is working to meet the needs of our community. #believinginLAUSD

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Stoner community calls co-location "un robo"

Stoner parents are calling ICEF Vista co-location a theft
Stoner parents are calling the ICEF Vista co-location "un robo" (theft)
     Today, members of the Stoner community attended the ICEF SSC/ELAC meeting to again express their concerns about the co-location directly to the ICEF Vista community.
    At the last SSC meeting, ICEF did not provide Spanish translation to the public comments from the Stoner community. So this time, a Stoner parent decided to comment in Spanish.  The ICEF administration was not pleased.
   The ICEF parents at the meeting were upset that the co-location was referred to as "un robo de recursos," a theif of resources.
    ICEF Vista parents were more disturbed to learn that ICEF would only have 1 administrator on site at Stoner during the co-location. Director Buczek assured them that she would only be on leave for few weeks and would be back next year. However, at the DRRA meeting earlier this month, Director Buczek said she would be out on leave the entire year.
    Also, the ICEF parents were very upset to learn that ICEF would not be having summer school this year.
     It's too bad the kids aren't enrolled at Stoner. Stoner is having summer school this year. Maybe the ICEF parents should consider sending their kids to Stoner, ICEF already wants to send them there anyway.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Believing in our local community public schools

In a new post on, a Stoner Elementary school parent declares that it's time to start believing in our local community school, again.
    Westside parents are asking for more for their children, and LAUSD is responding by bringing new programs such as language immersion, STEM (science, technology, engineering & math), dance and music.
     Stoner ES has been benefiting from this reinvestment in community schools. We already have music, dance and art. Next year, Stoner is excited to start a bilingual Spanish program and a STEM lab.
     The Del Rey community believe in Stoner, and LAUSD is showing that it does to. #believinginLAUSD

   Read more:

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

ICEF (sort of, but not really) responds to co-location concerns at Del Rey Residents meeting

    Yesterday, ICEF Vista Director Kristen Buczek attended the Del Rey Residents Association monthly meeting looking for help to avoid the problems that the ICEF co-location at Stoner will cause. Before the meeting, Friends of Stoner ES released an open letter to Buczek outlining their concerns about the co-location.

     At the meeting, Buczek tried to put her own spin on the co-location problems. She first claimed that ICEF Vista was a school for our local community and the co-location would serve Del Rey.  
     Unfortunately, the facts aren't on her side. Only 29 of the 170 students set to co-locate are from the service area of Stoner. The other 141 are coming from outside the area. The average distance of these students from Stoner is 7.33 miles, with some student coming in as far away as 13 miles. This means the co-location would not benefit our local community and would create the same, if not more, traffic problems that plagued CWC co-location.

    When the concern was brought up that ICEF will be taking away resource rooms from Stoner to have those same resources on the St. Gereard campus, Ms. Buczek twisted herslef in knots trying to explain that ICEF wasn't adding resource rooms, it already had them, but the rooms were currently occupied by ICEF students.
    The audience didn't buy it. If the resource rooms were full, it was because ICEF was over enrolling and creating their own loss of resource rooms. Why should the Stoner students suffer and lose out on resources because ICEF wants to enroll more students than it has room for?

   By the end, Ms Buczek admitted that the co-location would create problems for the Stoner community and surrounding neighborhood.
    How was she planning on dealing with these problems? The answer was simple, Ms Buczek would not be dealing with the problems, because she would be on leave next year. The problems with the co-location would be dealt with by ICEF Vista Instructional Specialist, Martine Pope, who would be acting as on-site vice principal during Buczek absence.

    Since it will be Ms Pope who will be dealing with the co-location, Friends of Stoner ES has asked Ms. Pope to have a meeting at Stoner so that she can face the parents, hear the concerns of the Stoner community and decide for herself if she wants to be part of this co-location.
    Ms Pope will have to face the Stoner community at some point and we are hoping to do this sooner rather than later.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Open letter to ICEF’s Director Kristen Buczek

Hello Ms. Buczek,

    I see that you are scheduled to appear at the Del Rey Residents Association meeting tonight.  The agenda item states:  "Discussion of ICEF Charter School grades K-2 co-location with Stoner Avenue Elementary School for the 2015-2016 academic year.  ICEF’s Executive Director Kristen Buczek wants to know what can be done to avoid the problems that came up in connection with the Citizens of the World colocation at Stoner in 2013-2014."

   There is one simple solution to avoid the problems created by a co-location: Dont' co-locate.

    Unfortunately, since ICEF has chosen to co-locate there is no way to avoid the problems that will occur.
    This co-location has been a bad idea from the start and I let you know that right away. The day after the Stoner community received notice of the co-location, I emailed you and all ICEF administration and board members to let them know that this co-location was a bad idea and would be met with intense resistance from the Stoner community and Del Rey residents.
    Unfortunately, when planning this co-location ICEF did not take the Stoner ES population or local residents into consideration.  As far as ICEF has been concerned, this co-location was a foregone conclusion and no thought was put into the reality the co-location will create or the people who will be effected. So, it is very sad to see you now scrambling for solutions to the problem ICEF has set up for you for next year. ICEF has set your school on inevitable collision course and you are the one who will be dealing with all the fall out.

    So, Ms. Buczek, I'm going to break down the major problems you will be facing.

Problem #1. Traffic & parking  -- Traffic and parking around campus will again be a problem with this co-location.  ICEF wants to bring in 170 students on to campus. According the ICEF co-location proposal, only 29 student are from the service area of Stoner, which means the majority of students would have to be driven in. The average distance ICEF student would travel to the Stoner campus is 7.3 miles. Some ICEF students would be coming as far away as 13 miles.
    CWC only had 120 students and the traffic and parking was a nightmare. I can't image traffic will be better with 141 student coming from outside the area.

Problem #2. Safety -- Both on and off campus, the co-location creates major safety issues. The entrance door to the co-location side of campus is not secure. There is no one watching the entrance and the entrance can be easily opened by a child by merely turning a handle.  Last year, a special needs student escaped through the charter school entrance.
     On campus, we also had numerous reports of charter students bullying Stoner students in the shared bathroom. What was most troubling, is that the charter students would pick mainly on special needs students.

     Off campus, the traffic creates a huge safety issue.  We had multiple instances of children and families nearly being run over in the crosswalks on Lindblade near the co-location entrance.
   It's understandable that parents are in rush to drop off or pick up their children. Unfortunately, the front entrance to the co-location is on a residential street meaning that rushing in and out creates dangerous conditions for all in the area.

Problem #3. Segregation  -- Yes, I said it: segregation. Segregation is not just a black/white thing that happened in the South in the past century. This co-location will bring segregation to Del Rey.
    This or any co-location creates separate and thus unequal conditions on campus.  This is segregation and by working to support this co-location, Ms. Buczek, you are supporting creating and bringing segregation to the Stoner ES campus. Unless you are in favor of segregation, you should be actively opposing this co-location.
    However, it seems that segregation is what ICEF is looking for. In the February 2015 ICEF SSC meeting minutes, it is stated that "...there will be a definite divide between Vista and Stoner students."
    The biggest symbol of the segregation is the separate, private entrance for the co-location. Stoner students enter campus through the main campus entrance on Braddock across the street from the Mar Vista Gardens housing projects, but the co-located charter students enter through a private entrance in the back of the school on a residential street. This is quite literally separate and unequal access to education for different students on the same campus.

Problem #4. Entering a campus that is hostile to any charter co-location
   Last year, the Stoner community saw first hand what a co-location actually is and they were disturbed and disgusted.  The traffic, safety and segregation issues united the Stoner community against co-location and for improving the school.
   This year, we were able to add music and dance programs. However, the rooms for music, dance theater, speech therapy and the parents center are being taken away to give to ICEF. Stoner parents are furious about this are not willing to work in any capacity with a charter school that is taking resources from their children.
   There is nothing that ICEF can do to assuage the anger of the Stoner community, short of cancelling the co-location. ICEF will be seen as an unwelcome occupier that will eventually be leaving. We would like to see that departure sooner rather than later, and will be doing everything we can to show ICEF out.

Problem #5. Constant and growing protests and opposition
   You will be facing multiple protest through out the year. Last co-location we had three protest, but that's because the opposition did not start right away. This year, we've started early. The co-location hasn't even started and you've already faced a protest on your own campus. How do you think it will be like when you are on our home turf? And yes, it is our home. ICEF is co-locating with the intent to leave. Stoner has been at its location for 58 years and will still be there long after ICEF has left the area.
   The protests were effective and got our message out loud and clear, but what we found was that the most effective protest was the lawn signs.  Since people have work and school, we can't be out protesting everyday, but the yard signs made our position salient. These were a daily reminder to the charter community that the co-location was not welcome.
   The yard signs were so upsetting to the charter community that people would steal the signs though out the year. By the end of the year, one charter family (mother, father and children) was so upset they went around the neighborhood stealing all signs from people's yards.
   As the school year progress, the tension on campus and the opposition off will only increase leading to problems like we had last year where a toddler was almost sent on fire over a parking dispute between a charter community member and a local resident.
These are just some of the problem you will be facing with the co-location. How can you deal with these problem? Well, that's not my job, that's yours.  You are an education professional it is your job to deal with these problems that your school is creating.
    The fact that you are going to Del Rey Neighborhood Association this late in the co-location process looking for help does not inspire confidence in your or ICEF's ability to handle these problems since these were known problems that should have been taken into account when planning and applying for the co-location.

    Ms. Buczek, you do have a voice in this. Do you really believe that this co-location is in the best interests of your school and the ICEF students and families? Do you believe this co-location will be beneficial to ICEF? Will the co-location benefit or hurt Stoner?
   If you disagree with this co-location, you can do the right thing by refusing to be part of this co-location.  It would send a powerful message to the ICEF administration and ICEF community about what you really stand for.

    However, if you choose to support and be part of this co-location, you have been informed and are well aware of the problems that you are inviting on both the ICEF and Stoner communities. I do not envy the position you will be in next year in having to deal with all the problems caused by the co-location.

Adam C. Benitez
President, Friends of Stoner Avenue Elementary