Fri. May 24th, 2024

Operate Openly with Trust and Integrity

by Senator Bob Huff

The news that union organizers with the Orange County Labor Federation are working to deliberately misinform parents about the truth regarding California’s Parent Trigger law should come as no surprise. Those who support the concept of school choice and the supposedly “radical” idea that every California child deserves the best education we can give them have been fighting entrenched union interests since Governor Schwarzenegger signed the Open Enrollment Act into law.

The Open Enrollment Act was a cornerstone of President Obama’s ambitious “Race to the Top” education reform effort that swept the nation nearly eight years ago. The President’s goals for reforming our public education system, which former Senator Gloria Romero and I supported, was the implementation of educational policies like performance-based evaluations for teachers and principals, support for charter schools and turning low-performance schools into education powerhouses.

Not surprisingly, the various school unions who represent adults, and not children, have fought us every step of the way. The biggest battle in California has been fought over the Parent Trigger Act, which allows parents to take control of failing schools and institute reforms designed to help students.

Unions don’t like this law because it threatens their stranglehold over the education system. It gives parents the ability to intervene in their child’s school if it is performing poorly. With enough signatures from parents, any number of actions can be taken against low performing schools. These can include converting it to a charter school, replacing some of the school’s administration and faculty or closing the school altogether.

Kids at Palm Lane School
Kids at Palm Lane School

We first learned of union attempts to misinform parents about this law when my office was approached by a group of parents from Palm Lane Elementary in the Anaheim City School District last year. They expressed concerns regarding the school’s academic performance and requested assistance from my office.

In 2013, the California Department of Education reported that Palm Lane Elementary School had an Academic Performance Index (API) score of 746. This represented a drop in performance when compared to previous years. The school was ranked in the bottom 20 percent of California schools.

Parents, who demanded answers from the Anaheim City School District Board, were instead met with silence. Worse yet, they were misled. When Palm Lane parents attempted to meet on public school grounds and work for positive change, they were denied entry. Instead of working with parents, the school district did everything it could to oppose the Parent Trigger petition. They refused to work with them. They openly lied to them instead. They used scare tactics to discourage parents during the entire process.

Justice would eventually prevail, but it took a court order from Orange County Superior Court Judge Andrew P. Banks to overturn efforts by the Anaheim City School District Board to block the Parent Trigger process and turn Palm Lane Elementary into a charter school.

Rick Miller
Rick Miller

The message last year from Judge Banks was fairly clear. Unfortunately, the Orange County Labor Federation (OCLF) chose not to listen, as they are now working in conjunction with the Santa Ana Unified School District (SAUSD) to actively discourage parents from pursuing the same reforms that Palm Lane Elementary parents pursued last year.

It’s not as if the SAUSD doesn’t need the help or parent involvement. The district has more failing schools — and a higher percentage of failing schools — than any other Orange County district. Only 28 percent of SAUSD tested students read at levels considered to be “proficient.” Math scores are even worse. With scores like that, what parent wouldn’t want to get involved? Why would anyone oppose that involvement?

Recently, SAUSD parents reported that during the monthly meeting of the Parent Advisory Committee, there was a briefing on the Parent Trigger Act. But they had no idea that the presenter of this information would not be a credible staff member, legislative author or outside expert. Instead, the briefing was conducted by a high-ranking member of a union that is committed to reversing pro-student reforms like the Parent Trigger Act.

The mission of the SAUSD Superintendent, which is spelled out on the district website, is to “operate openly with trust and integrity.” But it appears that Superintendent Rick Miller sees nothing wrong with letting a union organizer openly mislead parents about a state law that is designed to serve them and the best interest of students.

Senator Bob Huff is the Senate Minority Leader Emeritus and represents the 29th Senate District. Follow Senator Huff on Twitter @bobhuff99.



By Editor

The New Santa Ana blog has been covering news, events and politics in Santa Ana since 2009.

28 thoughts on “Sen. Huff questions why the SAUSD is allowing union organizers to misinform parents”
  1. The same Bob Huff who: hurt these families by voting AGAINST a bill protecting immigrants, proposed a bill that would VICTIMIZE transgender students, and hates unions? Doesn’t help that his own employee is on the SAUSD board, and another Lincoln Club bestie ran for it not too long ago.

    1. Yes that Bob Huff. Those issues aside he does have a point in this case. The SAUSD should not be allowing labor organizers to pontificate to parents at district meetings.

      1. And by the same token, Bob Huff/his henchmen shouldn’t be distributing flyers to parents/attempting to organize them by collecting signatures through lies. I’ve even heard that parents were told they were signing up for free iPads as signatures were collected by Saddleback/Century High. Calling these reforms as “pro-student” seems like a stretch since the jury is still out on charter school effectiveness.

        1. I think however that distributing fliers is very different from having a labor organizer speak at a public meeting with the parents. The flier distribution is covered under the First Amendment.

          I do agree however that promising goodies in return for signatures is no bueno.

          1. Yeah, I see what you mean. It’s just hard to think someone so seemingly anti-immigrant is so “pro-parent” when the parents are predominantly Hispanic, BUT THAT’S JUST ME!

            Kudos to you for covering all the sides though!

        2. Iamael you said a lot without saying anything at all.

          You “heard” something about iPads and accepted it as the truth without actually seeing or hearing it yourself. That’s commonly referred to as a rumor which most of the time are not true. Do you always believe things that you “heard”?

          You doubt the “effectiveness” of Charter Schools but yet completely ignore the “effectiveness” of the schools in Santa Ana! Currently, only 33% of 3rd graders in Santa Ana are proficient in reading. Do you consider that “effectiveness”?

          The “distributing flyers” is about giving parents and students in Santa Ana more options in their education! The fliers were about the new Charter School coming to Santa Ana. Why are you afraid of giving parents and students in Santa Ana more options in education?

          1. Don,
            According to the CDE’s data, approximately 66% of 3rd graders in SAUSD are English Learners (ELs). Research shows that for EL students who begin education in English before the age of 8, it takes 7-10 years to reach grade level norms for English (Thomas & Collier, 1997). Are you really surprised that only 33% of 3rd graders are proficient in English when 66% of them need 3-6 more years (more if they haven’t been here since Kindergarten) to catch up to their native English speaking peers (hint: 100% – 66% = 34%)??? So far, charter schools haven’t done much. You may find a couple of pockets of success, but nothing consistent. Clearly, the 3rd graders of SAUSD need more time, not a different school. I therefore find it ironic that you, Don, are supporting Senator Huff who voted against having a transitional kindergarten program which offers students an extra year of school before starting kindergarten . It’s a good thing it passed without his vote because now there are over 1,000 SAUSD students who are getting the gift of more time!

          2. Hi Don, or Angie Cano, or Chris Schmidt , or any of the wonderful right-wing Windsor Village Lincoln Club Posse. Nice pseudonym: Don Quixote was delusional with false visions of glory! Is the union a big bad monster that you’re imagining too?

            As a teacher, this is what I heard from students, just how parents reported the union member in this post. Second-hand reports.

            Declining enrollment could be attributed to so many different factors! If you’re not involved in education on any meaningful level (politics don’t count), I don’t know why you’re even arguing.

        3. “just how parents reported the union member in this post…”

          Ismael those were the same parents who attended the DELAC meetings where the union member misinformed parents on the Parent Empowerment Act! I attended the meeting and heard first-hand, not from a student or a parent, all the misinformation she gave to Santa Ana parents on the California Law. Give Santa Ana parents all the information and options available, and let them decide the best option for their child’s education.

          Unfortunately some people don’t want Santa Ana parents to have all the correct information so they can make the best decision for their child’s education!

          I’m not sure if you are aware but SAUSD is giving out Chrome books to students at some schools. I know because my child got one from her school. So maybe what you “heard” from students was actually the truth?

          1. “Unfortunately some people don’t want Santa Ana parents to have all the correct information so they can make the best decision for their child’s education!”

            I completely agree and charter schools are definitely guilty (not all of them, but some) of this too. The Chromebooks aren’t an incentive, they’re given out to students already in the district. My problem is if parents are being promised things just to get signatures. That’s not okay.

  2. I wish people would talk about the other issues facing SAUSD!

    The number of students enrolled in SAUSD is decreasing each year with less and less parents willing to send their children to an underperforming school in Santa Ana. By underperforming, I mean that several of the schools in SAUSD are producing Academic Performance Index (API) scores that are not acceptable per the California Dept. of Education. No parent wants to send their child to a SAUSD school that is not performing at an acceptable level!

    Maybe that explains why enrollment in SAUSD went from 60,793 in 2002 down to 53,493 in 2013? SAUSD is projecting student enrollment will be around 49,000 by 2017. I guess more and more Santa Ana parents are “seeing the light” and taking their kids to other school districts OR looking for other options like Charter schools!

  3. Meleah thank you for providing info to support my statement!

    I’m glad you agree with me that having 66% of the students in SAUSD not being reading proficient by 3rd grade is not considered “effectiveness”.

    From my research, CDE states that 82% of students in SAUSD are English Learners or re-designated English Learners. 100% – 82% = 18% Native English Speakers.

    “Santa Ana Unified School District
    Santa Ana Unified School District (SAUSD) is dedicated to providing a world-class education to all students. With 82 percent English Learners or redesignated English Learners, SAUSD has identified key components to explicitly and purposefully address the needs of all English Learners in a coherent and consistent manner. The SAUSD Web site emphasizes this key focus; highlighting the establishment of a theory of action, development of a theoretical framework, and intentional professional development.

    SAUSD believes that effective and consistent communication is essential for successful implementation of the Common Core. The Web site highlights multiple avenues to communicate with teachers, staff, and community members. Avenues of communication include the Common Core Newsletter and Frequently Asked Questions published bi-weekly, Common Core blog, and access to videos and presentations highlighting on-going implementation plans.

    Santa Ana invites districts in California and throughout the nation to access their Common Core State Standards External link opens in new window or tab. Web site. SAUSD’s goal is to assist other districts in accelerating the implementation of the Common Core and form lasting, collaborative partnerships.”

    http://www.cde.ca.gov/re/cc/caspotlight.asp

    1. (Reply 1 of 4)
      Don,
      I can forgive you misspelling my name, but clearly you didn’t comprehend what I said, nor do you know how to use data. Your understanding of my comment rivals your understanding of Don Quixote, so let me break it down for you. For those of you that understood my point and have basic math and research skills, please forgive the length of my reply (which I had to break into parts), but I’m making sure Señor Quixote understands me this time.

      I said that 66% of SAUSD 3rd graders are ELs. I assumed you had some knowledge of the education system (other than being a student at one point) because you were chiming in on it, but you know what they say happens when you assume…So, EL (English Learner) basically means that the student is not a native English speaker. If a student is in 3rd grade, they have presumably had 4 years of schooling in English (unless they arrived in the US after kindergarten, which would mean they had less than 4 years). I went on to say that research shows that ELs who start schooling in English before the age of 8 need 7 to 10 years of English instruction to catch up to their native English speaking peers.

    2. (Reply 2 of 4)
      Don,
      Now, let’s combine these two facts (66% of 3rd graders are ELs & ELs need 7-10 years to reach grade level) While it is unfortunate that only 33% of SAUSD 3rd graders are proficient in English, it is not surprising, and it definitely cannot be used to determine “effectiveness” of any school system. 66% of SAUSD’s 3rd graders need 3-6 more years of English instruction before they can be expected to perform at grade level. As I said before, that leaves us with 34% of 3rd graders from whom we can fairly expect proficiency, and as you said, SAUSD 3rd graders are at 33%. So, Señor Quixote, in your perfect world of chivalric romance, 33/34 might not be good enough, but here, in reality (or you could say, La Mancha), it is not too shabby.

    3. (Reply 3 of 4)
      Don,
      Now, for your use of data…When using data, it is important that you attribute information to the correct population. The 33% to which you are referring is presumably the same one that the “SAUSD Parent Union” continues to reference. I am assuming this because of the Parent Union’s connection to Senator Huff (the man that wrote the article) via Ms. Cecilia Iglesias. This data is from the 14-15 school year, so when identifying the percentage of ELs, you must use enrollment from the 14-15 school year. While the webpage you referenced is from the CDE, it does not state the school year for which that 82% is referring to. Also, the 82% is for K-12, and your 33% is only for 3rd grade. So, while I appreciate the effort of your Google search “research”, if you want to talk data with professional educators, let’s do it right.

    4. (Reply 4 of 4)
      Don,
      First, you need to use the data & statistics portion of the CDE’s website to find EL enrollment for SAUSD 3rd graders and total enrollment for SAUSD 3rd graders. You then divide. The number you will get is 0.6576189. You then must multiply by 10 to get a percentage. I then took the liberty of rounding so we could deal with whole numbers (that’s where you go up if the number after the decimal point is 5 or more and you go down if it’s 4 or less). Thus, we arrive at 66%. I did not include redesignated 3rd graders because in my quick search, I didn’t find this number. When you look at actual data on the CDE’s website rather than just a web page where the CDE shares links to resources developed by school districts (which is what your “research” turned up), ELs and redesignated ELs are treated as separate entities and data can be broken down by grade level; however, I can assure you that adding in the redesignated kids would actually hurt your case; it would lower the number of students expected to be at grade level in 3rd grade, so rather than being at 33/34 (see previous paragraph), we would be at 33/33 at worst. That would equate to 100%, which, Señor Quixote, is excellent both in your Camelot and the real world.

        1. As a parent and resident of Santa Ana, I would respectfully ask that Parents be given the right information. As PARENTS WE want the best quality public education for our children. Wether it be traditional public school or public charter school. I have another issue with high Union organizers being allowed to manipulate and misinform the parent community. The parent empowerment act is a law that was passed to protect students who are living in underserved communities.

          I know many parents that are on the waiting lists for fundamental schools and charter schools. Why can’t everyone of the parents be given the same opportunity? Quality Public education is a human right.

          So why is Dr. Miller and the Union fighting this law that was passed to protect us?

      1. Meleah I obtained my data straight from the California Dept. of Education which states that 82% of students in SAUSD are English Learners or re-designated English Learners.

        The data is available on the Cal. Dept. Of Education link that I provided, so I don’t understand why it’s so difficult to comprehend. If you want to argue about the data, then I suggest you argue with the California Dept. of Education who published the data!

        I will post the info and link again.

        “Santa Ana Unified School District
        Santa Ana Unified School District (SAUSD) is dedicated to providing a world-class education to all students. With 82 percent English Learners or redesignated English Learners, SAUSD has identified key components to explicitly and purposefully address the needs of all English Learners in a coherent and consistent manner. The SAUSD Web site emphasizes this key focus; highlighting the establishment of a theory of action, development of a theoretical framework, and intentional professional development.

        SAUSD believes that effective and consistent communication is essential for successful implementation of the Common Core. The Web site highlights multiple avenues to communicate with teachers, staff, and community members. Avenues of communication include the Common Core Newsletter and Frequently Asked Questions published bi-weekly, Common Core blog, and access to videos and presentations highlighting on-going implementation plans.

        Santa Ana invites districts in California and throughout the nation to access their Common Core State Standards External link opens in new window or tab. Web site. SAUSD’s goal is to assist other districts in accelerating the implementation of the Common Core and form lasting, collaborative partnerships.”

        http://www.cde.ca.gov/re/cc/caspotlight.asp

        1. Senor,

          You need to decide if you are arguing K-12 or 3rd grade. The data from the CDE website is representative of all grade levels (K-12) within the district. By using that data set you are voiding your argument due to inaccurate data. If you want to argue 3rd grade then get 3rd grade data. If that requires more work than a simple Google search, then you can reference Meleah’s argument which holds accurate 3rd grade data. Repeating yourself does not help your case.

          1. As soon as Cal. Dept. of Education provides data on English Learners or re-designated English Learners 3rd graders in SAUSD, I will also provide that data!

            I simply stated that based on the latest test results, that only 33% of 3rd grade SAUSD students are reading proficient.

            I’ve provided the data and facts so everyone understands how “effective” we are now. If you don’t agree with or like the data, then provide your own data with a source to back it up!

            It’s actually 32% based on 2014-15 year.

            https://scontent-lax3-1.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xpf1/v/t1.0-9/11960033_990455260976690_1246495256390226623_n.jpg?oh=114e9d2d3c73ba23e251b3f822922616&oe=5701602A

        2. Oh Don…

          I see this is difficult for you. I never said your 82% was wrong. I said that it includes kids K-12. This is a problem because the 33% proficiency you brought up is just third graders. Also, your webpage does not say what school year the 82% is for. When looking at different data points for analysis, you have to use the same group of kids. This is why I suggested using the data and statistics portion of the CDE’s website. It offers data broken down into just 3rd grade and by school year. If you still don’t understand, I honestly don’t even know what to tell you. We can meet at a Starbucks or something, and I can show you. Showing always helps my students understand when they’re confused…

          I understand that the page you keep citing is from the CDE’s website, but that doesn’t make it the best source of information. If you want data, you should visit the data portion of the website. I didn’t put the link in my previous post because I ran out of characters, and I figured you could do a google search for it, but here it is now: http://dq.cde.ca.gov/dataquest/
          The webpage you found is basically a brag page for districts to share common core materials that they have created. So I ask you, what’s a better source for data: A page with common core instructional materials, or a page with a database of data and statistics? If you still don’t understand, I think I might have a lesson on evaluating sources that I can teach to you.

          Since you seem to be either unable or unwilling to understand my point, let’s just use your 82% for the sake of argument, but when we’re done, you’ll probably want to go with my 66%. As you said before, 100% – 82% ELs = 18% native speakers; therefore, based on the “7-10 years” research (please don’t make me explain it again), we can fairly expect 18% of students to score at grade level, so that puts us at 33/18 which means a 183% success rate. Need I say more? Based on your track record, I probably should, so I’ll repeat/rephrase myself yet again. I’ll be more explicit this time because you aren’t able to infer an implied point:

          Due to the high EL population in SAUSD and the research which proves that it takes 7-10 years for young kids to learn a language, it is unfair for you to put these students, teachers, schools, and district in the negative light that you are trying to shine on them.

          But maybe you are trying to say that you expect children to learn and master a new language in 4 years when it has taken their native speaking counterparts twice that long. Maybe in your delusional world, that is a fair expectation. Unfortunately, in the real world, the research says otherwise. It’s unfortunate that we have only 33% proficiency. It’s also unfortunate that cancer exists. Science is science. Cancer exists. It takes 7-10 years to learn a language. We can, should, and do work to change this, and often we are successful. But when we aren’t, we shouldn’t be criticized for it. I’m probably getting close to my character limit, so I’ll leave you with a question: Do you publicly chastise the medical field for not eradicating cancer? If you do, Señor Quixote, then you truly are as delusional as your namesake, and I am sorry for you.

          1. Meleah I’m still patiently waiting for you to provide your source on the data that shows that 66% of 3rd grade students in SAUSD are English Learners or re-designated English Learners.

            I’ve provided links to all my sources of data.

          2. Don,

            Am I being punked or something? I now see why you’re not using your real name. I’m embarrassed for you.

            Each of my posts clearly provides my source: The CDE’s website. I also said several times that the numbers are from the data and statistics portion of the website. Then, I posted a link to that page. The link would allow you to find any data you want, but once again, you were unable or unwilling to navigate the information yourself, so I’ll break it down for you again.

            This page shows enrollment by grade level. SAUSD had 4,641 3rd graders in 14-15.
            http://dq.cde.ca.gov/dataquest/Enrollment/GradeEnr.aspx?cChoice=DistEnrGrd&cYear=2014-15&cSelect=3066670–Santa%20Ana%20Unified&TheCounty=&cLevel=District&cTopic=Enrollment&myTimeFrame=S&cType=ALL&cGender=B

            This page shows ELs by grade level. It has a lot of numbers, so don’t hurt yourself. SAUSD had 3,052 ELs in 3rd grade in 14-15.
            http://dq.cde.ca.gov/dataquest/SpringData/StudentsByLanguage.aspx?Level=District&TheYear=2014-15&SubGroup=All&ShortYear=1415&GenderGroup=B&CDSCode=30666700000000&RecordType=EL

            As I said before, I could not easily find the number for redesignated ELs in 3rd grade for 14-15. If you are really serious about finding the number, you should try to use the website yourself this time. However, as I explained to you before, adding in redesignated students only hurts your case.

            Is there anything else I can help you with Señor Quixote?

  4. Claps for charter schools and their outstanding performance in Santa Ana in comparison to SAUSD schools.

    Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, whose 46th District includes Santa Ana, has also been vocal in her support of the school. “NOVA Academy plays such an important role in the development of our young people and future citizens,” said Sanchez. “The students, many of whom come from challenging circumstances, flourish thanks to their own hard work and the guidance and mentorship of NOVA’s outstanding faculty and staff. I also want to acknowledge the tremendous contributions made by volunteers like Doug and Kylie and so many others who have donated their time and resources to NOVA’s students. This kind of community-mindedness is what makes a society thrive.”

    1. Charter,

      Please don’t be misleading. Nowhere in that quote does Loretta Sanchez compare NOVA to SAUSD schools.

      The truth is this:
      NOVA is an early college high school. SAUSD has one of those too. It’s called Middle College High Scool. So, let’s compare apples to apples (if you’re curious about what I mean, please see my convo with Don Quixote regarding how to analyze data).

      According to data from the CDE (don’t worry Don, the links are coming), Middle College outperforms NOVA on the SBAC test in 14-15.

      NOVA had 56% of its students meet/exceed standards in the ELA and 13% met/exceeded standards in Math.
      http://caaspp.cde.ca.gov/sb2015/ViewReport?ps=true&lstTestYear=2015&lstTestType=B&lstCounty=30&lstDistrict=66670-0106567&lstSchool=0106567

      Middle College had 99% meet/exceed standards in ELA and 54% met/exceeded in Math.
      http://caaspp.cde.ca.gov/sb2015/ViewReport?ps=true&lstTestYear=2015&lstTestType=B&lstCounty=30&lstDistrict=66670-000&lstSchool=3030608

      I’m not trying to put NOVA down, as they it students performed well, but to say they are better than SAUSD is incorrect. Supporters of charter schools (like Mr. Huff, “Don Quixote”, “Charter”, and others) are being just as misleading as this article claims Labor Unions/SAUSD are.

      For the SAUSD parents that are looking for transparency, you aren’t getting it from these people who are manipulating data and quotes. Charter supporters, please stop leaving out key information and acting like charter schools are a panacea.

      For the SAUSD parents that are looking for respect and support, you aren’t getting it from Senator Huff who’s voting record (https://votesmart.org/candidate/key-votes/16575/robert-huff#.Vo9pquw76nM) is anti-immigrant at best. He acts like he cares about Santa Ana families in this article, but he votes against them any chance he gets.

      I’m guessing mi amigo, Don Quixote, is going to need me to explain the voting history, but I’m praying that he and others will check out the link for themselves because I’m tired. I did summarize some of the key votes in the comments of an OC Register article if you want to save some time. It’s the first/top comment so you won’t have to search too hard for it. http://m.ocregister.com/articles/parents-694772-schools-union.html

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