Monday, April 23, 2012

There's Nothing Manufactured About Bullis Charter School Rage‏

Letter Sent to the SCCBOE

As all citizens and parents in LASD should do, I have sent a letter to the Santa Clara County Board of Education regarding Bullis Charter School.

Here is a copy of that letter.

Note that this letter is responding to the
baseless and insulting allegation that the unprecedented community response to Bullis Charter School here is completely "manufactured" and that we are all presumably puppets of our own District school board.

I urge
every parent in Los Altos / Hills to send a letter to the SCCBOE and let them know how you feel, and show them you are not the mindless puppet they have assumed you are.


To: Julia Hover-Smoot <>; Joseph Di Salvo <>; Michael Chang <>; Anna Song <>; Grace Mah <>; LeonBeauchman <>; Craig Mann <>; Charles Weis <>;
Sent:  Monday, April 23, 2012 at 11:22 AM
Subject: There's Nothing Manufactured About BCS Rage‏

To the Superintendent and Members of the Santa Clara County Board of Education,

I would like to talk to you about your chartered school, Bullis Charter School. You obviously know nothing about our community here or it's parents. It's time you learned.

I am "just a parent" in the Los Altos School District [1]. I am not PTA, I have no friends or relatives in the education business. I am not paid to write this.

I am deeply concerned about the state of public education in my area. Six months ago I was a typical professional with only a tacit understanding of the issues of public schools. The imminent threat of my child's school being closed--for the very worst reasons imaginable--spurred me into action. Never before would I have imagined I'd become an "expert" on public education, but the last six months have been an amazing education for me.

I now write a blog under my pseudonym, Joan J. Strong, at: . Why a pseudonym? Because I wish to avoid the sort of verbal abuse by BCS supporters that have befallen other members of our community in local parks, grocery stores, and so on. Some members of our community have even removed their Facebook pictures to avoid detection by BCS supporters. I have taken further steps by remaining completely anonymous. Please forgive me, therefore, for remaining so with you.

Through my own research I have come to the same conclusions that Dr. Wies has recently come to: that Charter schools do not exist to solve any "actual" problems despite their original intent to help close the achievement gap. (Please see my blog post on "Creaming"--how Charter schools take the easiest-to-educate kids and leave public schools with the hardest). Your Board, so it seems, is simply responding to voter demand when they approve charter schools.

In the past six months of deeply immersing myself in public education issues and I've concluded that Bullis Charter School widens the achievement gap by bringing together the children of millionaires and billionaires and placing them in a single school, and combining public funds with enormous private donations to create a school with lavish programs worthy of the fanciest private school.

I am certainly not against being a millionaire or billionaire. I am certainly not against private schools. I am, however against what BCS and its founders are doing to our schools and our community. Any honest person can see what that is: they have created a tax-deductible, taxpayer-subsidized private school, and they are using their lawyers to take resources away from the less fortunate.

BCS is, in short, threatening every diligent Los Altos parent who spends their time and money to help their local school. They are threatening the education of every child in our District by opening the possibility of their local school community being destroyed (please see my blog posting on the on the deep and irreplaceable value of your local public school and the resultant crucially important "social networks" titled, "The Neighborhood Public School: Worth Fighting For").

And yes, BCS is absolutely threatening to shut down neighborhood public schools. Ken Moore, Chairman of BCS, recently went on record in the Los Altos Town Crier as naming four LASD schools which he deemed acceptable for shutdown and appropriation by BCS [2]. This means parents at all of these schools must now become activists like myself lest they find their children's education and their own connection to the community completely disrupted, all of their friends scattered throughout the District, and the schools they worked so hard over the years to make great, annihilated.

I am very angry about this situation, and I am not alone. I would invite you to make use of a locally-invented technology known as Google, and enter "bullis charter school" into it (don't forget to view "videos" and "images" as well). The first page or two of results speak for themselves: Bullis Charter School has elicited extreme responses from virtually any parent here who has taken more than a few minutes to understand the situation. Many like myself have written volumes. It's a deep injustice we're all responding to--that some rich people, angry at the local school district for shutting down a school (temporarily) now want to take this out on our children by closing local neighborhood public schools.

My family once considered Bullis Charter School as well. I know their marketing materials can be very enticing. I did not know then about the background of BCS but we still did not choose the school based on our "sixth sense" about the what we saw at their information night. Unlike most of the BCS's applicants, we personally were "okay" with the $5000 per child "tuition" of this school. (You should note that BCS's applicants include mostly tire-kickers as very few can afford a tuition like this).

We know that some parents weren't so lucky as we were. Many chose this school not knowing the background and have either left the school or are stuck, not wanting to disrupt their children's education (which I personally can relate to, as I know what it is to be afraid your children will need to switch schools and be torn from the community they have grown to love). Why don't more BCS parents speak out? Look no further than my own pseudonym and the reasons behind it. BCS supporters tend to play "hardball" with anybody who criticizes their school and BCS parents know it.

As for myself and others like me, my goal is to educate prospective parents and let them know what BCS is all about before they apply. After seeing the truth, I cannot imagine any honest person choosing this school. I look forward to seeing the numbers from next year's applications: if we've done our job they will have fallen drastically. We will work to educate every single would-be applicant in our towns through every means possible (again google "bullis charter school" to get an idea). The situation with the laws in our State and the decisions of your board have forced a vigilante response from parents. Insofar as it threatens our public schools, we must stop this school. Through good old-fashioned open-market competition, we will do exactly that.

I would therefore urge the Board to please think a few moves ahead here. Imagine what will happen if the current momentum against Bullis Charter School continues (and I personally will ensure, with my time and money, that it will, as will many, many others). Imagine finding yourself trying to defend a group of millionaires and billionaires who run a defacto private school as a hobby at the expense of less advantaged kids. Imagine how that's going to look.

I urge the Board, therefore, to put the proper language into the MOU in order to prevent this school from doing any further harm to our community.

Thank you,

"Joan J. Strong", pseudonym


1. I am a parent in the Los Altos School District. I have no other affiliation with any school or PTA in any leadership capacity. I have never worked for any government entity, never worked in any capacity for anything related to education outside of volunteering for some of my own school's tasks, nor am I now or ever have been appointed to any public board related to education. I am truly "just a parent", and a private citizen. Please stop with your conspiracy theories as they are deeply insulting to any parent who cares about their child's school.

2. Ken Moore's exact quote: "Moore said the charter school instead seeks “exclusive use” of Covington, Gardner Bullis, Santa Rita or Almond, or a newly constructed campus." -- 

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