June 12, 2014

June 12, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

140612-EGP-Front-Pages--1

Activistan Piden Licencias de Conducir que No Discriminen a Indocumentados

June 12, 2014 by · 2 Comments 

Grupos pro inmigrantes hicieron un llamado al gobernador Jerry Brown y el gobierno federal a que se apruebe un diseño para las licencias de California para los inmigrantes indocumentados sin marcas grandes que puedan llevar a discriminación.

El lunes, la Coalición por los Derechos Humanos de los Inmigrantes en Los Ángeles (CHIRLA) y la Mesa de California—una red de 40 organizaciones comunitarias en California—pidieron al gobernador y al Departamento de Seguridad Nacional (DHS) que “transmitan la actitud amigable del estado a los inmigrantes,” en el diseño aprobado para las nuevas licencias. Las licencias sólo pretenden demostrar que el titular cumple con los requisitos de conducir en el Estado, pero podría conducir a la discriminación racial si el diseño final es muy diferente a los otorgados a ciudadanos y residentes legales, dijeron los activistas.

Organizaciones pro inmigrantes piden que las licencias de conducir para indocumentados no tengan marcas tan visibles para evitar discriminacíon. (EGP foto por Nancy Martinez)

Organizaciones pro inmigrantes piden que las licencias de conducir para indocumentados no tengan marcas tan visibles para evitar discriminacíon. (EGP foto por Nancy Martinez)

El Departamento de Seguridad Nacional en abril rechazó el diseño inicial presentado por el Departamento de California de Vehículos Motorizados (DMV) por considerar que no cumplía “las normas legales y reglamentarias de la agencia federal”.

En una carta, DHS dijo que el diseño de la licencia debe: “1) Establecer claramente en la cara y en la zona de lectura mecánica que no es aceptable para fines oficiales federales; y 2) Utilizar un diseño único o un color indicador que lo distinga de los documentos que cumplen con los estándares”.

El Director de Políticas de CHIRLA, Apolonio Morales, señaló que hace 20 años los inmigrantes indocumentados en California podían obtener una licencia de conducir regular, sin marcas. Dijo que las licencias permitían que la policía supiera “quién eras y donde vivías”, sin someter al poseedor a discriminación racial.

“El espíritu de la AB 60 [autorizando a residentes indocumentados en California que obtengan una licencia de conducir] se debe mantener, Morales le dijo a EGP. Agregó que si California sigue los pasos de Illinois, que aprobó una licencia de diferente color para sus residentes indocumentados, el titular de la licencia se enfrenta al peligro de ser objeto de discriminación debido a su estatus migratorio.

Patricia Salazar, miembro de CHIRLA, le dijo a EGP que espera que el gobernador mantenga su promesa de impulsar una licencia de conducir con el menor número de marcas posible. Ella dijo que estaba de acuerdo con la idea inicial de contar con las letras DP (Permiso de Conducir) en lugar de DL (Licencia de Conducir) y una nota en la parte trasera de la licencia que diga que no es considerada como un documento federal para usos de identidad, como abordar un avión o como identificación en edificios federales o estatales.

“Estaba muy feliz cuando me dijeron que se nos iba a dar licencias pero mi felicidad se convirtió en miedo cuando el DHS, dijo que quieren marcas [más visibles]”, Socorro Vázquez, miembro de LA Voice le dijo a EGP. “Esa marca podría ser muy visible y podría llevar a que los policías discriminen” contra el titular de la licencia, especuló.

Durante la última década, legisladores de California han votado en el tema de la licencia para inmigrantes indocumentados en múltiples ocasiones, aprobando legislaciones más de una vez sólo para que se vetada por los ex gobernadores de California Gray Davis y Arnold Schwarzenegger.

La AB 60—la Ley de Conductores Responsable y Segura—firmada por el gobernador Brown el 13 de septiembre de 2013, permite a los inmigrantes indocumentados obtenengan una licencia de conducir a partir de enero de 2015, siempre y cuando aprueben el examen de conducir y cumplan con ciertos criterios, y DHS apruebe el diseño a tiempo.

Según CHIRLA, se espera alrededor de 1.4 a 1.7 millones de personas para solicitar las nuevas licencias.

“CHIRLA formó parte de las negociaciones para la licencia de conducir”, dijo la presidenta de la organización, Angélica Salas. “Hemos luchado con uñas y dientes para tener una [licencia] lista que entre en vigor en enero del 2015”, dijo en la conferencia de prensa frente al edificio estatal Ronald Reagan.

Salas dijo que CHIRLA esta de acuerdo que la licencia de conducir tiene que ser diferente, pero agregó que los cambios deben ser discretos. Las autoridades deben ser capaces de notar la diferencia, pero que no debe ser obvio para el resto de la comunidad, explicó.

“Eso es por lo que luchamos y eso es lo que queremos, y queremos asegurarnos de que en enero del 2015 es lo que tendremos”, dijo Salas.

Los grupos dicen que planean una serie de foros y eventos para informar al público sobre cuáles son los documentos que necesitan para solicitar las licencias de conducir, cuando se llegue el momento, y para darles la oportunidad de expresar sus inquietudes que puedan tener sobre el diseño o la aplicación.

“Estamos trabajando con el DMV para que puedan comprender la complejidad al obtener ciertos documentos, Morales dijo a EGP. “Queremos saber cuáles son las opciones y al final”, dijo, “lo que queremos hacer es proteger a las familias [indocumentadas]”.

—-

Twitter @jackieguzman

jgarcia@egpnews.com

LCAP Plan Raises Concerns at MUSD

June 12, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

UPDATE: MUSD has moved the next board meeting to June 23 at  7 p.m. and extended the deadline to submit feedback until then.

Gov. Brown earlier this year approved a new Local Control Funding Formula that gives additional money to schools with large numbers of students that are low-income, English Learners or in foster care. An important requirement of the funding is parent and student engagement in the process.

Following months of work to determine how these new state funds should be used to improve services for “high-need” students in the Montebello Unified School District, administrators last week asked parents and other stakeholders to take a look at the draft of their plan and provide feedback before it goes to the school board for final approval later this month.

At a recent public hearing, however, one parent pointed out that such a task would be difficult considering the 34-page document had yet to be translated to Spanish, the primary language of many of the parents with children in Montebello Unified schools.

“That should have been done” already, Board Member Edgar Cisneros said in shock after hearing that the translated LCAP (Local Control Funding and Accountability Plan) will not be available until this Friday, just days before the June 18 board meeting where it will be up for approval. “This is news to me,” he said in response to the parent’s concern.

The Montebello Unified School District board and superintendents hear concerns raised by parents during a public hearing on June 5.  (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

The Montebello Unified School District board and superintendents hear concerns raised by parents during a public hearing on June 5. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Board President David Vela told EGP he “wasn’t exactly pleased” the translation was delayed, saying Spanish translations should have been incorporated throughout the planning process. He said the board previously “mentioned” the need for the plan to be translated, but staff did not follow through.

Though Vela understands the delay was likely due to the numerous revisions made, nearly 10 before it went before the school board last week, he told EGP “this is stuff we pay people to get done.”  This level of performance will be factored in when making future decisions about staff,” he said.  “We’re trying to get the draft to the community … right now we’re taking corrective actions,” he said.

More importantly, according to parent Sonia Valencia, the district’s LCAP is not clear or easy to understand.

“The general public has not received an explanation of the documents in layman’s terms,” the outspoken parent complained. “I can’t imagine all the parents will understand it,” she said, referring to the educational jargon she said fills the pages of the document.

Although a number of parent and teacher groups testified during the public hearing that the LCAP was thoroughly explained by staff, when compared to the plans developed in some neighboring districts, MUSD’s LCAP lacks many of the details on specific actions or changes that will take place next year as a result of the targeted funding change.

Alhambra Unified School District, for example, has prepared an 86-page LCAP that presents student performance data, including separate numbers for English learners. The document, outlined in easy-to-read bullet points, even includes a section titled, “What will be different/improved for students” after each district goal aimed at fulfilling one of the eight state-mandated priorities: access to core services, student achievement, student engagement, parent involvement, school climate, implementation of the common core state standards, course access, suspensions and expulsions.

Montebello Unified’s LCAP on the other hand, lists the type of data used, but does not actually include the numbers in the document. Such data can be helpful in clearly defining areas of greatest need and for future measurements.

The medium-sized district has schools in the cities of Bell Gardens, Commerce, Montebello, Monterey Park and portions of East Los Angeles, Pico Rivera and Rosemead. According to the California Department of Education, nearly 30,000 students attend the district at one of the 16 elementary schools, 6 middle schools, 5 high schools, community day school and small k-8 school.

MUSD Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Cheryl Plotkin told EGP that individual schools will be able to decide many of the specifics based on their needs.

In the past, MUSD has said that its current comprehensive learning framework already fulfills the eight state priorities aimed at getting students career and college-ready.

Vela tells EGP the district has been preparing for these academic goals for the last two years and has at least established a “baseline to fulfill the basics.”

At the June 8 board meeting, several of the people who spoke at the hearing used their time to tell board members and district staff what they hope to see included in the final plan.

Father of three, Roberto Hernandez, said he hopes the district considers using more digital textbooks. He also called for more foreign language options at the Applied Technology Center and added that there is a need for more supervision on the schoolyard.

Board Member Lani Cupchoy said providing appropriate instructional materials such as eBooks and digital learning is one of the LCAP’s most important and defined areas, the other being the development of rigorous curriculum by teachers.

Cupchoy told EGP she personally advocated for specialized programs such as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), Dual [Language] Immersion, visual and performing arts, community gardens and GATE (Gifted and Talented Education); all of which are reflected in the proposed draft.

Cupchoy says the LCAP will address the low graduation rate among English Learners, which according to the district currently stands at 63%.

Vela said the biggest challenge creating the LCAP was ensuring there was actual inclusiveness, but he assured EGP that efforts were made to include every association and parents were invited to the 10 or so meetings held throughout the district.

Cupchoy attended several of the LCAP outreach meetings as the school board’s liaison, but according to Vela, responding to complaints from the community about the lack of board member attendance at LCAP planning meetings, he will attend more meetings as the process continues.

Plotkin told EGP that the LCAP committee will stay intact and will meet once a month to follow up and observe the progress the district makes when it implements the plan during the next school year.

Vela told EGP that people need to understand that this is the first time the district is going through this process and they did not receive any additional funding to hire more staff to help prepare the LCAP or hold all the extra meetings. “This is the first time, people assume that the district had the resources for this big change,” he said. “We’re making lemonade with very few lemons.”

Vela told EGP he wants the process to be more “approachable” to parents and he is taking feedback from this first LCAP seriously.

“This is a learning curve, there’s a lot of room for improvement,” he said. “I want to ensure that it comes to as close to perfection” as possible, he said.  “And if that means I need to hire more staff, I will.”

School districts have until the beginning of July to submit their LCAPs the state for approval.

The LCAP is available on the MUSD website and hard copies are available at District headquarters and at school sites.

 

Highlights of the Montebello Unified School District LCAP 

- Focus on implementing common core curriculum

- More tutoring for English Learners 

- Continual purchases of technology 

- Take a look at A-G classes to ensure variety

- Informing students and parents the importance of A-G courses

- Access to counselors at all levels 

- Ensure school websites are updated at least monthly

- Establish a site discipline policy 

- Host more parent meetings with academic focus 

- Support AVID program district-wide

- Look into AVID program for English Learners 

- Ensure physical activity is occurring at all sites and levels 

- Provide childcare for parent advisory meetings 

 

MUSD Aborda Preocupaciones sobre el Borrador de LCAP

June 12, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

A principios de este año, el gobernador Brown aprobó una nueva fórmula de financiación de control local que da más dinero para apoyar a las escuelas con un gran número de estudiantes que son de bajos ingresos y a estudiantes de aprendizaje de inglés o en hogares de crianza para dar servicios de apoyo para los grupos con “alta necesidad”. Un requisito importante para la financiación es la participación de los padres y estudiantes en el proceso.

Después de meses de trabajo se determinó cómo se deberían utilizar estos nuevos fondos estatales para mejorar los servicios para los estudiantes de “necesidad alta” en el Distrito Escolar Unificado de Montebello (MUSD). La semana pasada los administradores pidieron a los padres y otros interesados a mirar el borrador del plan y proporcionar retroalimentación antes de que se vaya a la directiva para su aprobación definida a finales del mes.

Padres protestaron ante el Distrito Unificado Escolar de Montebello que el LCAP no estaba traducido al español. (EGP foto por Nancy Martinez)

Padres protestaron ante el Distrito Unificado Escolar de Montebello que el LCAP no estaba traducido al español. (EGP foto por Nancy Martinez)

Sin embargo, en una audiencia pública reciente, un padre señaló que tal tarea sería difícil teniendo en cuenta que el documento de 34 páginas aun no había sido traducido al español, el idioma de muchos de los padres con hijos en las escuelas de MUSD.

“Eso se debía haber hecho” ya, el Miembro de la Junta Edgar Cisneros dijo en estado de shock después de oír que el Control Local de Fondos y Plan de Responsabilidad (LCAP por sus siglas en inglés) no estará disponible hasta este viernes, pocos días antes de la reunión de 18 de junio de la junta donde se presentará para su aprobación. “Esto es nuevo para mí”, dijo en respuesta a la preocupación de los padres.

El Presidente de la Junta David Vela dijo a EGP que él “no estaba muy contento” de que la traducción se retrasó,  las traducciones al español deberían haber sido incorporadas a lo largo del proceso de planificación. La junta previamente “mencionó” la necesidad de que se haga, dijo, pero el personal no siguió indicaciones.

Aunque entiende que el retraso se debe probablemente a las numerosas revisiones hechas, casi 10, antes de que se presentó ante el consejo escolar la semana pasada, Vela le dijo a EGP, “Esto es algo que pagamos a la gente para hacer”. Este nivel de rendimiento se puede factorizar en el futuro a la hora de tomar decisiones sobre el personal”, dijo. “Estamos tratando de presentar el proyecto a la comunidad … en estos momentos estamos tomando las acciones correctivas”, dijo.

De acuerdo a Sonia Valencia, madre de familia, lo más importante,  es que el LCAP del distrito no era fácil de entender.

“El público en general no ha recibido una explicación de los documentos en los términos del laico” se quejó la madre de familia ante la junta. “No creo que todos los padres lo entenderán”, dijo, en referencia a la jerga educativa que dijo llena las páginas del documento.

Aunque un número de grupos de padres y maestros, testificó en la audiencia pública que la LCAP fue explicada minuciosamente por el personal, cuando se compararon los planes desarrollados en algunos distritos vecinos,  el LCAP de MUSD carece de muchos de los detalles de las acciones o los cambios específicos que se llevarán a cabo el próximo año, como resultado del cambio de financiación específica.

El Distrito Escolar Unificado de Alhambra, por ejemplo, ha preparado un LCAP de 86 páginas que presenta los datos de rendimiento de los estudiantes, incluyendo números separados para estudiantes de aprendizaje de inglés. El documento se recalca en una forma fácil de leer, incluso incluye una sección titulada “¿Qué puede ser diferente/mejorado para los estudiantes?” después de que se obtenga cada meta por el distrito cuyo objetivo es el cumplimiento de una de las ocho prioridades ordenadas por el estado: el acceso a los servicios básicos, el rendimiento estudiantil, el compromiso del estudiante, participación de los padres, el clima escolar, la aplicación de las normas comunes básicas del Estado, el acceso al curso, suspensiones y expulsiones.

El LCAP de Montebello, por otro lado, muestra el tipo de datos que se utilizan, pero no incluye la realidad de los números en el documento. Estos datos pueden ser útiles para definir claramente las áreas de mayor necesidad y para medidas futuras.

El distrito de tamaño mediano tiene escuelas en las ciudades de Bell Gardens, Commerce, Montebello, Monterey Park y partes del este de Los Ángeles, Pico Rivera y Rosemead. Según el Departamento de Educación de California, cerca de 30.000 estudiantes asisten al distrito en una de las 16 escuelas primarias, 6 escuelas medias, 5 escuelas secundarias, la escuela comunitaria diurna y una escuela pequeña con grados del Kinder al octavo.

La Asistente del Superintendente de Servicios de Negocios de MUSD, Cheryl Plotkin le dijo a EGP que las escuelas individuales podrán decidir muchos de los específicos en función de sus necesidades.

En el pasado MUSD ha dicho que su marco actual de aprendizaje integral ya cumple las ocho prioridades estatales destinadas a que estudiantes estén listos para sus carreras y preparados para la universidad.

Vela le dijo a EGP que el distrito se ha preparado para estas metas académicas en los últimos dos años y por lo menos ha establecido una “línea de base para cumplir con lo básico”.

En la reunión del consejo del 8 de junio, varias de las personas que hablaron en la audiencia utilizaron su tiempo para decirle a los miembros de la junta directiva y el personal del distrito lo que esperan ver incluidos en el plan final.

El padre de tres hijos, Roberto Hernández, dijo que espera que el distrito considere utilizar más libros de texto digitales. También hizo un llamado para más opciones de idiomas extranjeros en el Centro de Tecnología Aplicada o ATC y añadió que hay una necesidad de mayor supervisión en el patio de la escuela.

La Miembro de la Junta Lani Cupchoy dijo que proveer materiales didácticos adecuados, tales como libros electrónicos y el aprendizaje digital es una de las áreas más importantes y definidas de la LCAP, el otro es el desarrollo de un currículo riguroso por los profesores.

Cupchoy le dijo a EGP que ella personalmente abogó por programas especializados, como STEM (Ciencia, Tecnología, Ingeniería y Matemáticas), Dual [Idioma] Inmersión, las artes visuales y escénicas, jardines comunitarios y GATE (Educación para Dotados y Talentosos); todos los cuales se reflejan en el proyecto propuesto.

Cupchoy dice el LCAP se dirigirá a la baja tasa de graduación entre los estudiantes aprendices de inglés, que de acuerdo con el distrito en la actualidad se sitúa en el 63%.

Vela dijo que los obstáculos más grandes al crear el LCAP fue asegurarse que había inclusividad actual, pero le aseguró a EGP que los esfuerzos fueron para incluir cada asociación y los padres fueron invitados a las más o menos 10 reuniones que se llevaron por todo el distrito.

Cupchoy asistió a varias de las reuniones de extensión LCAP como el enlace de la junta escolar, pero de acuerdo a Vela, en respuesta a las quejas de la comunidad sobre la falta de asistencia de los miembros de la junta en las reuniones de planificación LCAP, él está comprometido a asistir a más reuniones a como vaya progresando el proceso.

El presidente de la junta escolar también dijo que la gente tiene que entender que esta es la primera vez que MUSD está pasando por este proceso y que el distrito no recibió fondos adicionales para contratar a más personal para ayudar a preparar a el LCAP o mantener todas las reuniones adicionales. “Esta es la primera vez, la gente asume que el distrito tenía los recursos para este gran cambio”, dijo. “Estamos haciendo limonada con muy pocos limones”.

Vela dijo a EGP que él quiere que LCAP sea más “accesible” para los padres y está tomando los comentarios de este primer borrador muy enserio.

“Esta es una curva de aprendizaje, hay mucho espacio para mejorar”, dijo. “Quiero asegurarme de que se trata de lo más cercano a la perfección” posible, dijo. “Y si eso significa que tengo que contratar más personal, lo haré”.

Los distritos escolares tienen hasta principios de julio para presentar sus LCAP del estado para su aprobación.

El LCAP se encuentra disponible en el sitio Web MUSD y copias en papel están disponibles en la sede del distrito y en las escuelas.

—-

Twitter @nancyreporting

nmartinez@egpnews.com

 

Activists Urge ‘Branding Free’ Driver’s Licenses

June 12, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

Pro-immigrant rights groups this week called on California’s governor and the federal government to expedite approval of the design for California driver’s licenses for those in the country without legal status, and to do so without requiring large markings they say could lead to discrimination.

On Monday, the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) and California Table—a network of 40 community organizations in California—urged Gov. Jerry Brown and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to “convey the state’s immigrant-friendly attitude” in the design approved for the new licenses. The licenses are only intended to demonstrate the holder has met the state’s driving requirements, but could lead to racial profiling and discrimination if the final design is too different than those issued to citizens and legal residents, activists said.

Lea este artículo en Español: Activistas Piden Licencias de Conducir Que No Discriminen a Indocumentados

Homeland Security in April rejected the initial design submitted by California’s Dept. of Motor Vehicles’ (DMV) on grounds that it did not meet the federal agency’s “statutory and regulatory standards.”

In a letter signed by Assistant Secretary for Policy David Heyman and Philip A. McNamara, assistant secretary for intergovernmental affairs, DHS said the license design must meet these standards: “1) Clearly states on its face and in the machine readable zone that it is not acceptable for official federal purposes; and 2) Uses a unique design or color indicator to distinguish them from documents that meet the standards.”

CHIRLA Political Director Apolonio Morales on Monday noted that 20 years ago undocumented immigrants in California could get a regular driver’s license, with no extraordinary markings. He said the licenses let police know “who you were and where you lived” without subjecting the holder to racial profiling.

“The spirit of AB 60 [authoring undocumented residents in California to obtain a driver’s license] needs to be maintained, Morales told EGP.  He said if California follows in the footsteps of Illinois, which approved a different color license for its undocumented residents, the license holder faces the danger of being discriminated against due to their legal status.

CHIRLA member Patricia Salazar told EGP she hopes the governor keeps his promise to push for a driver’s license with as few differentiating marks as possible. She said she agreed with the initial idea of having the letters DP (Driver’s Permit) instead of DL (Driver’s License) and a statement on the back noting the license does not qualify as a federal document for purposes of identity.

“Putting more marks will lead to discrimination,” she said, echoing the sentiment of many at the press conference.

“I was very happy when they said licenses would be issued to us, but my happiness turned to fear when DHS said they want more [identifiable] marks,” LA Voice member Socorro Vazquez told EGP. “That mark could be very visible and could lead police officers to discriminate” against the holder of the license, she speculated.

California legislators have taken up the issue of driver’s license for undocumented immigrants multiple times over the last decade, passing legislation approving it more than once only to have it vetoed by former California governors Gray Davis and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

AB 60—the Safe and Responsible Drivers Act—signed into law by Gov. Brown on Sept. 13, 2013, allows undocumented immigrants to obtain a driver’s license starting in January 2015, provided they pass driving tests and meet other criteria, and Homeland Security signs off on a design in time.

According to CHIRLA, as many as 1.4 to 1.7 million people are expected to apply for the new licenses.

“CHIRLA was part of the negotiations for this driver’s license,” said the organization’s president,  Angelica Salas. “We fought tooth and nail to have one ready to go into effect in January 2015,” she said standing in front of Ronald Reagan State Building. .

Salas said CHIRLA agrees the driver’s license has to be different, but added the changes should be discreet. Authorities should be able to tell the difference but they should not be obvious to the rest of the community, she explained.

“That’s what we fought for and that’s what we want, and we want to ensure that in January 2015 that’s what we get,” Salas said.

Vasquez added he hopes the governor will work with immigrant and civil rights groups to ensure that the ultimate design of the driver’s licenses does not single out undocumented immigrants for unwarranted discrimination.

The groups say they plan in the near to future hold a variety of forums and events to inform the public what documents they will need to apply for the driver’s licenses when the time comes, and to give them a chance to voice concerns they may have about the design or applying.

“We are working with the DMV so they can understand the complexities of obtaining certain documents, Morales told EGP. “We want to know what the options are and in the end,” he said, “what we want to do is protect [undocumented] families.”

—-

Twitter @jackieguzman

jgarcia@egpnews.com

Court Strikes Down Teacher Tenure Laws

June 12, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

In a major blow to teachers’ unions, a Los Angeles judge ruled today that state laws governing tenure and the firing of teachers are unconstitutional, saying students and educators alike are “disadvantaged” by the statutes.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rolf M. Treu issued an injunction blocking tenure laws for public school teachers, but also placed a stay on the ruling pending an appeal.

“This court finds that both students and teachers are unfairly, unnecessarily, and for no legally cognizable reason – let alone a compelling one ¬– disadvantaged by the current permanent employment statute,” the judge wrote in his 16-page ruling.

Treu noted that teachers have a right to due process when they are being targeted for dismissal.

“However, based on the evidence before this court, it finds the current system required by the dismissal statutes to be so complex, time consuming and expensive as to make an effective, efficient yet fair dismissal of a grossly ineffective teacher illusory,” he wrote.

The lawsuit was filed in May 2012 by an advocacy group called Students Matter on behalf of nine young plaintiffs, alleging the laws violate students’ constitutional rights to an equal education.

The suit named the state and two teacher unions that later intervened as defendants, the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers.

Plaintiffs’ attorney Theodore Boutrous argued during the trial that five laws should be deemed unconstitutional, saying tenure and other laws made it too time-consuming and expensive to dismiss ineffective educators.

“Teaching is the one profession in the world where you cannot tell a person they are not doing a good job,” he said during his closing argument.

But lawyer James Finberg, representing the teacher unions, countered that the laws help prevent teachers from being hired and retained for reasons involving favoritism and politics. He said that in as little as three months, an administrator can make a “well-informed decision” as to whether a

probationary teacher should be retained.

The statutes should not be struck down on the basis of a handful of anecdotes,” Finberg said.

Joshua Pechthalt, president of the California Federation of Teachers, condemned the ruling.

“We are clearly disappointed by the decision of this judge,” he said.

“We’re disappointed, but not particularly surprised, given his comments during the trial. We believe the judge fell victim to the anti-union, anti-teacher rhetoric of one of America’s finest corporate law firms.”

The head of the American Federation of Teachers also said the decision was not unexpected, but said the judge ignored other factors such as funding inequities, segregation and poverty that impact student achievement.

“We must lift up solutions that speak to these factors – solutions like wraparound services, early childhood education and project-based learning,” AFT President Randi Weingarten said. “Sadly, there is nothing in this opinion that suggests a thoughtful analysis of how these statutes should

work. There is very little that lays groundwork for a path forward.”

Alex Caputo-Pearl, president-elect of United Teachers Los Angeles, the union representing Los Angeles Unified School District teachers, also blasted the decision.

“This decision today is an attack on teachers, which is a socially acceptable way to attack students,” he told ABC7.

Boutrous, however, hailed the decision as a “monumental day for California’s public education system.”

“By striking down these irrational laws, the court has recognized that all students deserve a quality education,” he said. “Today’s ruling is a victory not only for our nine plaintiffs, it is a victory for students, parents and teachers across California.”

LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy called the ruling “historic.”

“Every day that these laws remain in effect is an opportunity denied,” Deasy said. “It’s unacceptable, and a violation of our education system’s sacred pact with the public.”

One of the lawsuit plaintiffs, high school freshman Julia Macias, said the ruling “means that kids like me will have a real chance to get a great education and succeed in life.”

“With this case, we have shown that students have a voice and can demand change when we stand together,” she said.

Finberg, the unions’ attorney, argued during the trial that the plaintiffs based much of their arguments on teacher tenure histories in Los Angeles and Oakland and did not take into sufficient consideration how teacher performances are overseen in the more than 1,000 other districts statewide.

Finberg pointed to testimony of former El Monte Union High School District Superintendent Jeff Seymour, who said new teachers are carefully screened by administrators to ensure they are meeting the proper standards.

In his Jan. 27 opening statement, Deputy Attorney General Nimrod Elias said the laws protecting teacher tenure help school districts statewide attract educators who might otherwise be dissuaded by what they may consider low pay and difficult working conditions.

Elias said there is no evidence of a connection between the laws and the poor academic performances by students at some poor and minority schools.

In his ruling, Treu wrote that the plaintiffs proved that the tenure statutes “impose a real and appreciable impact on students’ fundamental right to equality of education and that they impose a disproportionate burden on poor and minority students.”

Treu also lambasted rules relating to seniority and teacher layoffs, known as “last-in, first-out,”

“The last-hired teacher is the statutorily mandated first-fired one when layoffs occur,” the judge wrote. “No matter how gifted the junior teacher, and no matter how grossly ineffective the senior each other, the junior gifted one, who all parties agree is creating a positive atmosphere for his/her students, is separated from them and a senior grossly ineffective one who all parties agree is harming the students entrusted to her/him is left in place.

“The result is a classroom disruption on two fronts, a lose-lose situation. Contrast this to the junior/efficient teacher remaining and a senior/incompetent teacher being removed, a win-win situation, and the point is clear.”

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said he feared the ruling will make it more difficult to attract and retain talented teachers.

“While I have no jurisdiction over the statutes challenged in the case, I am always ready to assist the Legislature and governor in their work to provide high-quality teachers for all of our students,” he said. “Teachers are not the problem in our schools, they are the solution.”

‘Relato de Wyvernwood’ Una Exhibición de Arte Sobre una Comunidad

June 12, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Una exposición multimedia que resultó de una colaboración de un año entre los estudiantes de Cal State LA, profesores y residentes del Este Los Ángeles “celebrando” la historia de uno de los complejos de viviendas más grandes del área, atrajo a un gran número de personas a la universidad la semana pasada, incluyendo a algunos residentes de Wyvernwood Garden Apartment Complex en Boyle Heights.

“Relato Wyvernwood: Una exposición basada en la comunidad” se presentó al aire libre en el patio adyacente a la biblioteca de la universidad el 5 de junio e incluyó un gran número de fotografías y testimonios. Los organizadores dijeron que tenían la intención de iniciar un diálogo sobre la relación entre la identidad y el lugar donde residen.

Relato de Wyvernwood es un proyecto multimedia y de arte creado por estudiantes de CSULA y partidarios que se oponen a la demolición del complejo Wyvernwood en Boyle Heights. (EGP foto por Jacqueline García)

Relato de Wyvernwood es un proyecto multimedia y de arte creado por estudiantes de CSULA y partidarios que se oponen a la demolición del complejo Wyvernwood en Boyle Heights. (EGP foto por Jacqueline García)

La Facultad de la Asociación de California (CFA) y la organización El Comité de la Esperanza se asociaron con estudiantes del departamento de inglés de CSULA y el panel de investigación de Estudios de Pasantes para crear el proyecto multimedia.

Mientras que “el Relato Wyvernwood” fue en parte un esfuerzo por mostrar la rica historia de la zona, también exploró temas de la gentrificación y el “impacto cultural” y los cambios que tienen sobre las familias y los barrios.

Desde el 2008, el dueño de Wyvernwood, Fifteen Group Land and Development LLC, ha estado en una batalla constante con muchos de los residentes del complejo de viviendas y otros a través de sus planes de $2 billones para un uso mixto de reurbanización en el sitio de 70 acres que incluye 1.187 unidades de alquiler , 660 designados como de bajos ingresos. “Relato Wyvernwood” muestra la lucha por el futuro de Wyvernwood desde la perspectiva de si sus residentes de bajos ingresos, muchos de los que han vivido allí durante décadas y temen verse desplazados si se permite la remodelación.

Catalogado como un sitio histórico por Los Angeles Conservancy, la propuesta de reurbanización Wyvernwood ha llevado a “peticiones, protestas y conversaciones continuas” a favor y en contra del proyecto.

“Según la propuesta de Fifteen Group, muchas familias de bajos ingresos no podrán pagar los nuevos apartamentos”, el miembro del Comité de la Esperanza Rigo Amavizca dijo a EGP. El grupo llevó a cabo una conferencia de prensa durante la exposición para reafirmar su oposición al plan de reurbanización.

“Hemos estado allí durante 38 años y pagamos un poco más de $ 900 para un apartamento de dos pisos con tres dormitorios”, dijo Amavizca. Los nuevos inquilinos pagarán más de $1.500 por el mismo apartamento, agregó.

El profesor de CSULA Dr. Bidhan Roy lideró el proyecto y dice que este tipo de compromiso significativo con la comunidad “puede ofrecer a los estudiantes la oportunidad de hacer la investigación de formas innovadoras que producen nuevos conocimientos”.

“La CSUs no están separadas de las comunidades … así que nos aseguramos que si hay luchas que suceden fuera podamos trabajar juntos o ser solidarios con ellos”, Lawrence Gandara, un estudiante CSULA y miembro del proyecto dijo a EGP. Agregó que él tiene amigos que viven en Wyvernwood y escuchó testimonios de primera mano.

Mientras que el proyecto destacó a residentes de Wyvernwood opuestos a la reurbanización, no todos los que viven allí o en los alrededores del vecindario se sienten igual.

Los partidarios de “The New Wyvernwood” incluyen un número de residentes, grupos comunitarios y sindicatos locales que ven en el nuevo desarrollo como una manera de traer empleos bien pagados y más viviendas para la clase trabajadora de Boyle Heights y áreas cercanas.

“Muchas personas y organizaciones apoyan el complejo a quedarse como está, pero ellos no viven aquí, no saben lo peligroso que es”, Soyla Guerrero, residente de Wyvernwood por 39 años, le dijo a EGP. “Estoy a favor de la demolición al 100% debido a que [como está actualmente] si hay un terremoto todo va a ser destruido, los apartamentos son demasiado viejos”, dijo.

Los opositores dicen que el proyecto va a añadir más densidad en una zona ya densa, todo con el propósito de ganancias.

“Quieren demoler 1,187 apartamentos para construir 4.400 nuevos”, al mismo tiempo haciendo esas unidades asequibles para familias de bajos ingresos, dijo el presidente del Comite, Leonardo López, quien está luchando contra el plan desde que se dio a conocer en 2008.

Ana Ruiz, residente por los pasados 47 años en Wyvernwood, dijo que Fifteen Group debe pensar en las personas, no sólo los beneficios. “¿No importamos?”, preguntó durante la conferencia de prensa. Ella dijo que las rentas en otros lugares son extremadamente altas y ella odiaría perder su comunidad “arraigada”.

A principios de esta semana, Fifteen Group reiteró a EGP via email la posición de la empresa de que “todos los residentes que actualmente viven en Wyvernwood podrán permanecer en el sitio mejorado sin tener que pagar más alquiler de lo que actualmente están pagando”. Los residentes no serán desplazados durante la construcción, y podrán seguir viviendo allí, tal vez en una unidad diferente, “antes de mudarse a sus nuevos hogares”.

En su comunicado, Fifteen Group dijo que muchos residentes de Wyvernwood apoyan el proyecto porque saben que va a embellecer su comunidad, crear más parques, zonas comerciales, de vivienda asequible y generará “miles de empleos en la construcción” en el área de Boyle Heights.

—-

Twitter @jackieguzman

jgarcia@egpnews.com

‘Storying Wyvernwood’ – The CSULA Exhibit

June 12, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

A multimedia exhibit resulting from a year-long collaboration between Cal State L.A. students and faculty and residents of an eastside Los Angeles neighborhood – “celebrating” the history of one of the areas’ large housing complexes – attracted a large number of people to the college last week, including some who currently live at the Wyvernwood Garden Apartment Complex in Boyle Heights.

“Storying Wyvernwood: A community based exhibition” – presented outdoors in the quad adjacent to University library on June 5 – included a large number of photographs and testimonies organizers said were intended to start a dialogue about the link between identity and where people live.

The California Faculty Association (CFA) and long-time Boyle Heights organization El Comite de la Esperanza partnered with honor students from CSULA’s English department and Undergraduate Studies research panel to create the multimedia project in keeping with the university’s “new initiative to embrace innovative techniques for academic research.”

Supporters and residents fighting redevelopment of the Wyvernwood Garden Apartment complex in Boyle Heights gather at Cal State LA. (EGP photo by Jacqueline García)

Supporters and residents fighting redevelopment of the Wyvernwood Garden Apartment complex in Boyle Heights gather at Cal State LA. (EGP photo by Jacqueline García)

While “Storying Wyvernwood” was in part an effort to show the rich history of the neighborhood, it also explored issues of gentrification and the “cultural impact “ these changes have on families and neighborhoods.

Since 2008, Wyvernwood’s owner, Fifteen Group Land and Development LLC, has been locked in a battle with many of the housing complex’s residents and others over their plans for a $2 billion mixed-use redevelopment of the 70-acre site that includes 1,187 rental units, 660 designated as low-income.  “Storying Wyvernwood” shows the struggle for Wyvernwood’s future from the perspective of if its low-income residents, many who have lived there for decades and are afraid they will be displaced if the redevelopment happens.

Listed as a historical site by the Los Angeles Conservancy, the plan to redevelop Wyvernwood has led to “petitions, protests and ongoing conversations” for and against the project.

“Under Fifteen Group’s proposal, many low-income families will not be able to afford the new apartments,” Comite de la Esperanza member Rigo Amavizca told EGP. The group held a press conference during the exhibit to reaffirm their opposition to the redevelopment plan.

“We have been there for 38 years and we pay a little over $900 [a month] for a two-story, three bedroom apartment,” he said. New tenants pay over $1,500 for the same unit, he added.

CSULA professor Dr. Bidhan Roy led the “Storying Wyvernwood” project and says this type of meaningful engagement with the community “can offer students the chance to do research in innovative ways that produce new knowledge.”

“There are powerful ways in which the university and community can work together for the betterment of all of us,” said Roy in a written statement about the project.

“The CSUs are not separated from the communities … so we make sure that if there are struggles happening outside that we can work along or be in solidarity with them,” Lawrence Gandara, a CSULA student and project member told EGP. He said he has friends who live at Wyvernwood and was able to compile their first-hand testimonies .

“I’ve heard their stories and they have moved me not only to organize myself but to urge other people to get involved to help these communities stay intact,” he said.

While “Storying Wyvernwood” highlighted Wyvernwood residents opposed to the redevelopment, not everyone who lives there or in the surrounding neighborhood feels the same way.

Backers of “The New Wyvernwood” include a number of residents, community groups and local unions who see the redevelopment as a way to bring good paying jobs and more housing stock to working class Boyle Heights and nearby areas.

“Many people and organizations support the complex staying the way it is, but they don’t live here, they don’t know how unsafe it is,” Soyla Guerrero, a resident of Wyvernwood for the past 39 years told EGP this week. “I support the demolition 100% because [as it is now] if there’s an earthquake everything is going to be destroyed, the apartments are too old,” she said.

Opponents say redevelopment will add more density in an already dense area, all for the sake of greater profits.

“They want to demolish 1,187 apartments to build 4,400 new ones,” at the same time making those units unaffordable for low-income families, said Comite president Leonardo Lopez. The group has been fighting the plan since it was unveiled in 2008.

Ana Ruiz, a 47-year long time resident at Wyvernwood, said Fifteen Group should think about people, not just profits. “Don’t we matter?” she asked during the press conference. She said rents elsewhere are extremely high and she would hate to lose her “deeply-rooted” community. “It’s sad! What happened to caring about people? They only care about filling their pockets,” she said.

CFA’s Cal State LA chapter vice-president and Psychology professor Kimberly King told EGP Boyle Heights is part of the CSULA community and many of its young residents may one day attend the college. “We want to serve the people from Boyle Heights and when we met people from el Comite de la Esperanza, we felt we wanted to support them,” she said explaining their reasoning for taking part in “Storying Wyvernwood.”

In a statement emailed to EGP earlier this week, Fifteen Group reiterated its position that “all residents currently living at Wyvernwood will be able to remain at the improved site without paying any more rent than what they are currently paying.” The company said residents will not be displaced during construction, but will be able to continue living there, perhaps in a different unit, “before moving to their new homes.”

Fifteenth Group said many Wyvernwood residents support the project because they know it will beautify their community, create more parks, retail areas, affordable housing and will generate “thousands of construction jobs.”

“These are not just promises, these are legally binding commitments,” the company stated.

According to Guerrero, Fifteenth Group is giving residents the choice to either move into one of the new apartments and be paid $700 for moving expenses, or receive $18,600 if the tenant decides to move away.

Guerrero’s daughter Rosario rents an apartment near her mother and told EGP the property’s place in Boyle Heights history shouldn’t be such a big consideration in its future.

“Unfortunately, there has been a lot of crime and shootings here,” and Boyle Heights is not well thought of because of it, she said. “We all have memories but that shouldn’t hold us back from improving,” she said.

Amavizca told EGP it’s been over a year since they last had a public meeting with Fifteen Group, but added he knows the owner regularly contacts residents who support the project which he says they claim “is in the best interest of the community.”

It’s a position disputed in the “Storying Wyvernwood” exhibit.

For more EGP stories on Wyvernwood, go to www.EGPNews.com.

 

Suspect Arrested Following Chase from El Sereno to North Hollywood

June 12, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

A man wanted for allegedly making criminal threats against an ex-girlfriend led police on a chase Monday from El Sereno to North Hollywood, where he holed up inside a home with an assault rifle, prompting an hours-long standoff that ended when officers fired tear gas into the house.

The suspect, identified as Nolan Perez, 41, was spotted around 10:15 a.m. in the 4900 block of Axtell Street in the El Sereno area, police said. Los Angeles police Cmdr. Andrew Smith said the man was charged with seven counts of stalking and making criminal threats, including to do bodily harm to the unnamed ex-girlfriend, and a warrant had been issued for his arrest.

The suspect, however, fled from officers, driving along various surface streets near downtown Los Angeles, then onto the Hollywood (101), Pasadena (110), Golden State (5) and Hollywood (170) freeways.

At some points during the pursuit, the suspect pointed a rifle out of the car window, but it was unclear if he actually fired any shots.

About 11:30 a.m., Perez came to a stop on a North Hollywood surface street and — armed with a rifle — got out of the car and ran into a neighborhood in the 11500 block of Hartsook Street. At one point, he climbed onto a rooftop and appeared to rest before climbing down, eventually making his way inside a home.

Police set up a blocks-wide perimeter around the home, evacuating neighbors and forcing lockdowns at several area schools.

Around 3 p.m., police fired tear gas canisters into the where the suspect was holed up. After a few minutes, the man came out — unarmed — and dropped face-down on the ground. SWAT officers moved in and took him into custody.

Montebello Homicide Victim Named

June 12, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

A 38-year-old Perris man who was wounded last week in a shooting, then drove into a telephone pole in Montebello where he was pronounced dead, was identified Monday by the coroner’s office as Justin Verano.

Witnesses told Montebello Police Department officers multiple gunshots had been heard and Verano was seen driving erratically before driving into the pole at the intersection of Sycamore and South Spruce streets, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Trina Schrader said.

The shooting occurred around 4:42 p.m. June 4, Schrader said.

Verano was the sole occupant of the vehicle, Schrader said.

Next Page »

Copyright © 2014 Eastern Group Publications, Inc. · Log in