Letters

Letters

  • Ocean Charter School –  Terence Pearce
  • Venice History Banned From The Boardwalk – Jeffrey Stanton

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Ocean Charter School

Dear Beachhead,

I am absolutely shocked and appalled at the recent decision of the LAUSD board to deny Ocean Charter School the right to build their new school on the large unused area of Walgrove School campus;  a new school which was to happily unite the upper grades at Ocean Charter North (Walgrove campus) with grades K through 3rd presently situated at the south campus on Culver Blvd.

This bewildering vote was taken after the LAUSD staff, who had themselves zealously vetted potential schools  wishing to build there, unanimously delivered their recommendation to the board that permission be granted to Ocean Charter, over the rival proposal of the Green Dot charter organization;  a David and Goliath scenario with David apparently winning hands down until the whole thing was scotched by the board.

In other words, unbelievably, the LAUSD board voted against the recommendation of their own investigating staff.  If this doesn’t smack of political shenanigans of the worst order then I don’t know what does.

After years of Herculean effort by Ocean Charter staff, children and parents, and who knows how many taxpayer dollars paid to the LAUSD staff to conduct the vetting process, the whole scheme has been voted down with absolutely no opportunity for appeal by Ocean Charter or even time given for questions at the time of the vote.

At the very least the members should have to explain publicly some powerful rationale, other than the usual platitudes about local residents and congestion, for this shocking about-turn and failure to grant the land to anyone at all.  One has only to see how much regard is given to the considerations of residents or congestion when a corporate scheme is involved to see how fatuous these platitudes really are.

The taxpayers employ the LAUSD board & the members of that board should have to answer to the taxpayers involved in this particular instance for the apparently complete illogicality of their decision;  at least those members who voted ‘yes’ could perhaps explain to us how it was that their good sense came to be overwhelmed by the majority.  It is, on the face of it, one more example of the LAUSD’s bureaucracy-gone-mad, too-big-to-fail tradition of profligate waste and titanic inefficiency.

Apart from all the political chicanery involved from Steve Zimmer (whose ‘yes’ vote is believed by many to be strategic only) and the rest of the board,  throughout all the uncertainties and deliberations of various local government and LAUSD bodies to ascertain the future of this school, one giant factor never seems to come into the discussion either in the press or in the halls of power at all, to whit the central one, the welfare of the Ocean Charter children at the center of what has now, for them, become a crisis.

These exceptional children have been for several years, and are presently, housed in inadequate temporary cabin-type buildings on the Walgrove Campus which structures will be, by law, razed to the ground during this summer break.  This leaves the Ocean Charter children with the awful uncertainty of not knowing where they will be next year and the desperate feeling that perhaps they won’t have a school at all,  an insecurity that must inevitably impact their happiness and progress.

So after all this effort by so many well-meaning people, incredibly, the unused area of mostly unsightly tarmac at Walgrove School will be again left to degenerate further with no benefit for the community whatsoever.  It is widely believed that the LAUSD board has a bias against charter schools generally, but this latest development would be viewed as farcical if it wasn’t made so unutterably tragic by the suspicion that the LAUSD is playing political games with the hearts and minds of our defenseless children.

The Ocean Charter school is a wonderful institution which, through many travails and the overcoming of prodigious obstacles to establish itself, has tried, and succeeded, to amply satisfy the educational standards set by the law while teaching the children in a way that doesn’t just turn them into mindless test fodder, who will mechanically regurgitate data, but seeks to preserve the students’ thirst for knowledge while enhancing and preserving their individuality as a benefit to the community at large.

One question begs an answer.  How is it that the absolutely fundamental right and power of parents and educators to nurture and foster the kind of education that their children receive and deserve is taken out of the hands of the children’s community and given into the hands of a small institutionally-entrenched and distant political elite more concerned with their political future than the well-being of the children themselves?  I challenge the LAUSD to prove me wrong, and do the right thing by these children;  give them a decent place to learn and, by your example perhaps, give them a lesson in impartiality.

Terence Pearce

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Venice History Banned From The Boardwalk

Dear Beachhead,

I have been selling my postcards and history books for 33 years along the Venice Boardwalk. Now, I’ve been shut down by the new Venice Beach vending ordinance.

LAPD Sergeant Rodriquez took a closer look at my stand and discovered that I was selling my Venice photographs on my postcard rack. His interpretation of the new ordinance is that photographs can’t be printed and that they must carry a message much like a button or bumper sticker. Obviously my postcards are printed in mass to get the price down so that I can sell them at 25 cents, but they only promote Venice to potential tourists who might show them to friends or even mail them to people. My postcard sales average about $5 per day, sometimes more, sometimes less. I do it to have a job since I’m 67 years old with too many unproductive days to fill.

As to my books, I can only display one copy of my Venice history book. All other books that I had on my table to attract the occasional customer, aren’t allowed. Even with my table full of books I only sold one book about every three weeks and it usually wasn’t my history book. Of course I went to the meetings drafting the ordinance and pointed out to the District Attorney that both New Orleans and New York attempted to close down street book vending, and both lost in Federal Circuit Court. She said, “that was 1st and 2nd Circuit Court – 9th may rule against you.” If they would, it would have to go to the Supreme Court for it is definitely a first amendment violation and would close book selling down all over the country. We could always find out with great expense how the 9th Circuit Court would rule.

While you might say just display your history book, it isn’t that simple since Sergeant Rodriquez says I can’t share a spot with the button guy or I will be ticketed and if I persist will be permanently banned from the boardwalk. I have been sharing a space with Jeffrey Kissinger for nearly four years. The police can’t cite a section of the ordinance since that states that there can only be one vendor per space. My advantage to share is that I can arrive at noon and work till dusk without having to fight for a space at 9 AM, and if I need to run an errand or go to the bathroom, someone is there to watch my table.

Norman Kula on Councilman Rosendahl’s legal staff is trying to get clarification from the District Attorney’s office, but nothing has happened in the last few weeks. When the Councilman often visited Venice, he always stopped and praised my efforts to promote Venice and its history through my books and postcards.

Jeffrey Stanton

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Categories: Letters

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