A Westside charter school teacher has left her job following allegations that she pointed out wrong answers to her fourth-graders during state testing this month and then gave them an opportunity to make corrections.
According to an Ocean Charter School administrator, 11 students said they had received assistance from the teacher, Ashley Gossett. Ten others who were asked said they did not receive help.
The incident could jeopardize Ocean Charter's Academic Performance Index rating. If more than 5% of test-taking students could have been affected by the alleged cheating, the state is likely to invalidate the school's score.
Today’s lesson: “Alternative” Virginia school closes after half of its students infected with pertussis. All of them were unvaccinated
I fear we’re going to be reading similar stories in the months and years to come. After a 2008 measles outbreak in California — which, incidentally, was started after a non-vaccinated patient of self-proclaimed vaccine and autism expert “Dr. Bob” Sears came back from a European vacation with the virus — a Los Angeles Times investigation identified two hundred Southern California schools where outbreaks are more likely “in large part because of parents choosing not to immunize. … Most are schools in affluent areas.” I wrote about the ’08 outbreak in my book; when I went back and re-read that section this morning, I was struck by the parallels to the current situation in Virginia: One of those schools is the Ocean Charter School in Del Rey, California, where an entire century’s worth of medical advances have effectively been thrown out the window: Since the 2007-2008 school year, between forty and sixty percent of incoming kindergarteners have been exempted from vaccines. Administrators told the Times those figures were no surprise, because the school’s “nontraditional curriculum” attracted “well-educated parents who tend to be skeptical of mainstream beliefs.” “They question traditional knowledge,” the school’s assistant director said, “and feel empowered to make their own decisions for their families, not deferring to traditional wisdom.”
Here are the reviews:
In reading the reviews of the Ocean Charter School in Los Angeles, it becomes
apparent that they made promises they weren't about to keep. Read through the
reviews and see if you notice this trend. At first, parents were excited to
join the community and things went well at first. Then, around 2010, the
reviews start hinting at some issues with the school. The first review in 2010
was pulled, apparently, because it apparently was voicing concerns about the
lack of racial diversity in the school (remember this is in LOS ANGELES).
Reading forward in the reviews, it turns out, parents are discovering that their
kids aren't being educated, that the administrators aren't accepting input from
parents (only volunteer work), that parents are pulling their children out in
groves, and that half the teachers staged an exodus. Many of these symptoms are
TYPICAL of Waldorf schools. There's even a hint of Waldorf dividing a wedge
between working parents.
Here are a few of the critical comments. I'll let readers go to the reviews for
Posted August 13, 2012
TWR: Next, the review apologizing for the lack of black kids (but hey, we have
English, Irish, Polish, even Asian kids... same thing, right?)
Posted January 29, 2010 - I am so sorry to hear that last review. It is true
that OCS doesn't have the number of African American children and Hispanic
children that is reflective of Los Angeles, but my daughter's class has children
whose parents are from Asia, England, Ireland, Poland...so there is diversity in
a sense. Plus, we have the most active diversity committee ever. They are
reaching out to the community. All who get into OCS get in through a lottery
system so it is not like the school itself controls who gets in. I have found
the school truly wonderful. I love that the school stresses the importance of
play and homework is not assigned until 2nd or 3rd grade, yet test scores are
among the highest of all comparative schools.
Posted February 1, 2010 - It's too bad they don't use a lottery and factor in
race (like the magnet schools) to get a hetergeneous community w/in the
classroom. You can have diversity committees all you want, but if children are
not mixing with different races on a daily basis inside the classroom walls,
then the school is not walking the talk.
Posted February 6, 2010 - I think that there is a large difference between the
lower grades and the upper ones at Ocean. While I really like the 'whole child'
approach in the younger grades, the upper grades suffer from the lack of rigor
in the academics. The upper grades are well behind other schools in mathematics
and writing, and they rarely do such basic things as book reports. Considering
this continues through the 8th grade, the students are seriously disadvantaged
when they move on to the high school level. While I will agree that parent
involvement is high, the parent body (and students as well) are very cliquish.
In addition, while they mean well, the parents are completely disorganized.
Events such as field trips or even day trips are always thrown haphazardly
together at the last minute, or cancelled due to lack of planning.
Posted March 18, 2010 - The school is not orriented, or particularly friendly or
accepting, of dual-parent working households, or single-parent working
households. Parents who cannot spend as much time on campus or at school events,
or donate as much time and money, are ostracized by this cliqueish 'community'
and that trickles down to the way students are treated and treat each other. The
school espouses to have liberal, child-friendly values, but in practice is
elitist and unwelcoming. My child will not return next year.
Posted June 4, 2010 - From initial observations, Ocean Charter School is a
wonderful place for learning, most especially in the younger grades. But upon a
closer review of the school organization, the administration, faculty and
community meetings, and the relationships among the students, one begins to
observe some major problems within this charter school organization. To begin
with, the administrtative team of Mrs. Stephanie and Mrs. Kristy (neither of
whom possess proper Admin. Credentials), have a gross reputation of incompetence
among the faculty . These two self-empowered individuals blatantly disguise
their ineptitude with smiles and other deceitful pleasantries. One egregious
example is the fact that new teachers are not provided with a school handbook
with accountable policies about the curriculum and for professional evaluations.
As a result, the Administration operates under a very non-transparent screen
that allows them to make decisions with no managerial oversight or
accountability. Look closely & you'll be sadly surprised.
Posted September 9, 2010 - I would really like to hear someone speak to the fact
that the parents of so many returning 6th graders have chosen to leave Ocean
Charter this year.
Posted September 16, 2010 - Ocean Charter had great potential. When it first
opened it relied heavily on parent involvement, not just for their own
children's experience but for the development of the school. Teachers and
parents working together to actually create a school--just what the charter
movement is about. The current board chair and administrators as leaders have
hidden everything with their goal of running a school with no interference from
anyone. With them at the helm, parents have no voice but are only asked for
money and sweat. The biggest problem is that they have no professional capacity
to run a school and the result is that every year, half the teachers leave. And
forget the middle school--no resources devoted to it and new teachers constantly
TWR: I just love this... someone copied the school brochure as if it was a
Posted October 15, 2010 - Give me a break! That last post is verbatim what the
advertising materials of the school say. Certainly not a spontaneous parent
TWR: This review makes my point...
Posted February 24, 2011 - In reading the reviews from 2005-2009 I really must
say how great we thought the school would become but alas 50 point drop in STAR
and more then half the 6th grade left rather then suffer another year of
ineptitude, and more left at the spring/fall semester shift. The middle school
is a sinking and stinking ship with an administration that covers their
inability to lead with "concerned" nods and "smiles"and fire most of the middle
school teachers year after year.
Posted June 7, 2011 - OCS is a lovely place and there is a really nice community
here. The plants and gardens are beautiful. Parental involvement is huge for
fundraising and community events. Waldorf curriculum is gentle and loving,
although the Waldorf rituals can feel secretive. What really disappoints me
though is the lack of academic substance in the upper grades. I was told that
Waldorf starts slow in the lower grades (which I love and think is done well at
OCS) then soars past conventional schools in the upper elementary school grades,
but this is not happening at OCS. The administration is unresponsive and
unapologetic about this. I know a number of parents who are very troubled by the
slacking academics and are pulling their children out, paying for private tutors
or doing semi-home schooling because they know their children are behind and are
missing out. It's a great school if you want a nurturing, progressive community
and a beautiful school, but if your child loves to learn and you want them to
have a good, solid academic education this is not the place. Transfers out of
OCS say that their children were significantly behind. I don t know how this
warrants an 8 rating.
TWR: Even the positive reviews reveal problems:
Posted September 2, 2011 - I have 3 children at OCS and they love this school.
Just like any place it has it's issues that are mostly addressed quickly and
with passion. If you want a place that will barely watch your kids, much less
educate them, put them in just any old public school. If you are looking for a
place that has an extremely active, intelligent curriculum and incredible parent
involvement then OCS is perfect for you. OCS has had their fair share of
administrative problems in the past. There always seems to be one or two very
intense and often irrational parents that have nothing better to do than
complain about the little things that bug them about various administrators or
teachers. The majority of the parents, though, truly admire the efforts of the
school administration. I just think that an alternative school such as OCS tends
to attract very passionate and opinionated parents who think the school is
something that it is not. Again it's not for everybody. You know what's best for
your family. We have been through quite a lot of ups and downs with this school
yet we feel very fortunate to have discovered it.
TWR: Love these next two...
Posted November 16, 2011 - lovely school...if you are rich. don't go if you're
not!!!!! the principal told a homeless mom 'have a nice vacation". pretty sure
homelessness is not a vacation!
Posted November 19, 2011 - What is the last poster talking about? Homelessness
is like a permanent vacation. Seriously, though, do you think the principal
would tell other families, "Have a nice vacation." And, then, point to the
homeless mom and say, "Oh, you poor dear. Good luck to you finding a home over
the holiday." Give me a break.
It's clear that Ocean Charter School is going the route of independent Waldorf
schools. Once again, problematic former Highland Hall teachers are listed on
the faculty, and of course our friend Joan Jaeckel serves on the board.
TWR: Public charter schools have to make their meeting minutes public. Let's have a
peek at Ocean Charter School's, shall we?
TWR: Looks like there was, indeed, a mass exodus:
Enrollment is below the current OCS 2011-2012 budget by 40 students which is
approximately $5,000 per student loss of ADA, however, our higher ADA percentage
to date of approximately 96% versus budgeted 95% could help alleviate part of
the loss if attendance continues at that rate.
TWR: Any chance of a normal public school teacher working at this charter school?
*MOTION: "OCS will require that all of its class teachers be Waldorf-certified."
TWR: The loss of students is taking its toll:
Despite the additional students enrolled for the 2011-
2012 school year, the cash we will be funded through January 2012 is based on
our 2010-2011 Average Daily Attendance (ADA), thus furthering our need to rely
on cash surplus until funding levels are adjusted to actual enrollment.
A revised loss of $45,000 is forecasted through 2011-2012 fiscal year-end,
primarily based on lower student ADA and increased Special Education costs.
TWR: Diversity? No rush. Let's take a little time to think about this:
*Discussion on Title I for Enrollment Lottery
Title I refers to families who are eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch, based on
income levels. Besides honoring our mission and vision to "…educate children in
a multi-cultural, urban environment…", "…informed by the Waldorf educational
implementing a Title I preference could be critical for our Walgrove RFP and
Charter Renewal. [Board member] strongly believes that a Title I preference is
necessary to show how we will serve the community in our RFP, and having our
charter renewed for
another five years, as it would reflect our commitment to improve our current
lack of diversity. OCS would need to provide services such as Free and Reduced
breakfast and lunch as well as before and after school care. Providing before
and after care services for
Title I students would be an additional OCS expense, however, we can be
reimbursed for the meals. [Board member] clarified that 20% of OCS students
already qualify for Free and Reduced Lunch. OCS would not be eligible for Title
I funding until at least 40% of our students qualify.
[Board member] shared that during her Diversity outreach efforts, she found many
minority families interested in the OCS educational philosophy but discouraged
by their lottery odds.
Board members discussed the costs of services to support Title I students, the
potential impact on Annual Family Giving, and overall volunteerism. Many
expressed a concern about implementing the preference this year, when we have
increased class size by eight
students, and questioned why it needed to be done so quickly. Board members
asked how the Title I preference would fall in the order of existing
preferences, and would like to hear a plan made with the faculty to support
these new students and their families.
TWR: Remember, they need 40% of students in Title I to qualify for state money.
*MOTION: that the Board adopt the following resolution:
The OCS Board of Trustees resolves that the following shall be given preference
for admission to OCS:
1. Children of school faculty and staff (not to exceed 10% of openings)
2. Children of board members (not to exceed 10% of remaining openings)
3. Siblings of enrolled students (no cap)
4. Title I eligible students (not to exceed 42% of remaining openings)
5. Residents of LAUSD (no cap)
Preferences shall be given in the above order. The preference for Title I
eligible students shall remain in place until the percentage of Title I eligible
students meets or exceeds 42% of total OCS enrollment.
There's more here:
A rising number of California parents are choosing to send their children to kindergarten without routine vaccinations, putting hundreds of elementary schools in the state at risk for outbreaks of childhood diseases eradicated in the U.S. years ago.
A Times analysis found other concentrations on the Westside, the Palos Verdes Peninsula and the central Orange County coast, and in the southern San Fernando Valley.
At Ocean Charter School in Del Rey, near Marina del Rey, 40% of kindergartners entering school last fall and 58% entering the previous year were exempted from vaccines, the highest rates in the Los Angeles Unified School District.
Administrators at the school said the numbers did not surprise them. The nontraditional curriculum, they said, draws well-educated parents who tend to be skeptical of mainstream beliefs.
"They question traditional knowledge and feel empowered to make their own decisions for their families, not deferring to traditional wisdom," said Assistant Director Kristy Mack-Fett.
UP FOR GRABS?
On July 23, Ocean Charter parents fanned out in the surrounding neighborhoods of Mar Vista to make their case for acquiring the space on a campus where they colocate with the elementary school. “As you may or may not know, LAUSD has put our north campus site up for grabs for any charter school that’s interested. They will be issuing a request for proposal in the next week or so to interested schools and will be voting on who gets the site just days after those proposals are turned in,” Gary Adler, a parent of two Ocean Charter children, wrote in an email. “A small task force of motivated parents has been formed to unify us in our proposal and our community outreach.
Karen Wolfe, a Venice resident who transferred her son from Ocean Charter this year, thinks it may be a case of too little too late to garner a great deal of community support for the school.
“It would be an impressive feat if they were able to get the neighbors to support (them in the land lease bid),” asserted Wolfe, whose daughter will be attending fourth grade in September at the Walgrove campus. “There have been authentic, meaningful opportunities for them to have done this years ago, and it would be a real shift from the ‘us vs. them’ mentality that has been pervasive there for years.”
TWR: Looks like my blog post for Ocean Charter School appeared JUST IN TIME!
Ocean Charter Ignores problems - Removes critical comments from blog - Can't get along with neighbors
Lance, your comments are obviously sincere but you don't mention that you, like dozens of OCS parents, withdrew your children from OCS after 5th grade. The community is looking for an alternative MIDDLE school. OCS should at least demonstrate an ability to do a respectable job of being a middle school. But it fails by numerous measures and before millions of dollars in resources are given away by the district, it's important to evaluate their track record and not just whether their kids are polite to neighbors.
The school leadership has ignored serious, documented problems with the middle school year after year and it does a disservice to the public discourse to fail to acknowledge that at a time when OCS is asking for substantial public resources. I wish OCS had dealt with those matters in meetings with OCS parents, but now it's relevant to this broader community discussion. 1)OCS misrepresents the situation by claiming in their neighborhood flier "steadily rising test scores in the range of 855 to 896 for years 2009 and 2010." The test scores DROPPED from 896 to 855. Even if test scores are not the only indicator of academic achievement, I have yet to find ANY westside school that has failed on that scale. 2)OCS lost nearly half their teachers last year. That would be scandalous at most schools. 3)OCS claims to do a good job with special education. TRUTH: Many families of students with special needs have been counseled out, even those that are cheerleading this RFP. 4)OCS has couched severe budget cuts as just another school facing budget cuts. But an entire 7th grade class was eliminated for next year because so many students withdrew, including mine midyear. That lost revenue surely has an impact on OCS's overall budget.
Ocean Charter could be using this public process as a reason to clean house. Instead they're spinning information to make it look like they're the best candidate, and showing no indication that they'll fix things. But no amount of spin can take away the actual track record of a school that's been open for 7 years.
Finally, OCS--and lots of charter parents--would do well to recognize that while we were reforming outside the system, plenty of teachers, administrators and parents were reforming from within our public schools. Rather than begging the neighborhood to come and visit OCS, OCS parents should be visiting other neighborhood schools. You might be very surprised!