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Now and Then in the SCV | Commentary by Darryl Manzer
| Monday, Jan 12, 2015

darrylmanzer_blacktieI think I’m going to convert my big RV into a food truck and park it on Main Street next to the Newhall Refinery restaurant. I’ll try to serve the same style and type of food.

I might cut some corners but I figure I’ll make it up in volume so that I can manage the restaurant and pay myself a management fee about half again what other restaurant managers make. Sure, I’ll take up a lot of parking spaces, but I can always move to another location like near Egg Plantation or Cathy’s Deli or maybe near The Brick on Lyons.

I think I can get a chef who makes good food and will love moving around town getting all of the other chefs enraged.

There is another way to look at this. What if your child was operating a lemonade stand in your driveway and the neighbor’s kid came along and set up his own lemonade stand right next to it?

My proposed food truck and the neighbor kid’s lemonade stand will make money because of the location. They wouldn’t locate out in one of the canyons or smaller communities because in doing that, they wouldn’t make any money. You go where the bucks are. That is the name of the game.

This is a real problem. Acton-Agua Dulce Unified School District has approved a new charter school petition to be located within the Newhall School District. Circle the food trucks on Peachland Avenue or Pico Canyon Road. Set up the lemonade stands at every other driveway on your street.

I don’t like charter schools. I really feel if folks took as much interest in supporting their local schools, they wouldn’t want to send their kids to a charter school or allow their districts to wander outside of the state-established boundaries of those districts. Acton-Agua Dulce is a long way from Newhall. There are two other school districts between them.

Charter schools are a way for districts to make money. Lots of money. The administrators of those schools do well, too. Very well. They make a lot more money.

So how do you convince folks to send their kids to a charter school? I think there are quite a few reasons. Here are a few:

Like the idea that a charter school is much like a private school, and we know private schools are better, right? They must be. Look what they cost us.

How about that since we pay for it, it must get the better teachers and administrators? (Paying them more money doesn’t make them better.)

We all know that the less desirable kids go to regular public schools. Haven’t you seen them?

Come on, folks. The Acton-Agua Dulce District is out gathering dollars from the folks in Newhall and the lower elevations of the SCV. Acton-Agua Dulce gets to keep a share of the per-pupil money that the charter school receives from the state. It is a money-making scheme.

Nothing more or less.

The good folks in Acton and Agua Dulce don’t want to hurt the Newhall School District. And it isn’t the name of the proposed charter school that is the problem. It isn’t the curriculum of the proposed school or anything else that is a reason to not locate the school in the Newhall School District. The reason the petition for a charter school was approved by the Acton-Agua Dulce District is just money.

So our schools have come to nothing but money. Someplace along the way, we may have forgotten the purpose of our school system is to educate the kids. Schools are not some social experiments or government exercise in creating a national curriculum. Schools serve best when they are controlled by the community they serve.

If your child is in Newhall at a charter school from the Acton-Agua Dulce Unified School District, are you going to drive up the 14 for a school board meeting? What access do you have to the folks who really control the school your child attends?

What happens when the money runs out? What happens if the Acton-Agua Dulce District cannot or will not continue to support a school nearly 20 miles away from the district?

The Newhall School District should be angered, as should the Saugus District. Really, folks. What is wrong with the schools in the district where you live that you want to send your child to a school that really isn’t a part of that district?

Did you seriously remove your child from one of the highest scoring school districts in the state and enroll him or her in a district with test scores that aren’t quite so high? Check them out. The Newhall School District was the first district in the Santa Clarita Valley (which includes Acton-Agua Dulce) to break through the 900 mark in its average API scores. Do your own comparison of Newhall, Saugus, Sulphur Springs, Castaic and Acton-Agua Dulce.

I don’t think it is the school’s fault that parents don’t want their kids at a specific school. The whole charter school thing is a little bit like the examples I gave at the beginning. It is as true now as it was a long time ago. Follow the money.

In the late 1950s, there was an effort to create a unified school district of the whole Santa Clarita Valley. Castaic and Newhall fought the plan, while Saugus and Sulphur Springs were for it. There was an election held and unification failed.

At the time, the Castaic and Newhall districts were swimming in revenue from oil and gas production. They were the rich districts. The other school districts were poorer – by far. So guess where the unification effort started? Not in Castaic or Newhall.

You know the outcome. There are still separate elementary school districts in our valley rather than one huge one. It sure looks like these “charter” schools are a way to get a unified school district one school at a time – and it is all for the money.

Yes, just follow the money. In the meantime, I’ll make sure some kids set up a lemonade stand in your driveway and get the food trucks in front of every restaurant in your neighborhood.

If the Acton-Agua Dulce Unified School District can use that tactic, so can the rest of us.

That is what the Acton-Agua Dulce District is doing. Are you folks in Newhall going to let them?

Follow the money.

 

Darryl Manzer grew up in the Pico Canyon oil town of Mentryville in the 1960s and attended Hart High School. After a career in the U.S. Navy he returned to live in the Santa Clarita Valley, where he serves as executive director of the SCV Historical Society. He can be reached at dmanzer@scvhistory.com. His older commentaries are archived at DManzer.com; his newer commentaries can be accessed [here]. Watch his walking tour of Mentryville [here].

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20 Comments

  1. Abigail says:

    As a parent of a “charter” school student it had nothing to do with the money – it to is “free” for my child to attend. It had 100% to do with the fact that my own child did not fit in their one shape only peg hole and was miserable. For many parents I suspect there is a lot more to it than the money. For the districts I can see your point. My child is doing a lot better in school and is a lot happier being out of the typical “public” school. That makes a happier parent. Even if a public school has high ratings some children are falling through the cracks. This is where I do feel charter schools are needed or parents will only have the option to homeschool. We did that for years while hoping to find a better fit. Thankfully our charter school has high school too now. Something that has never been in this town and our children have been sent into other towns to go to high school. For people who don’t need a charter school this is easy to say, but it is not only about money. Certainly not when it comes to the students and parents.

    Thank you for writing about this controversial subject. We may not agree with each other, but it is important to discuss.

  2. SF says:

    Darryl – If I set up a lemonade stand in my driveway and you set one up in the driveway next to me, I wouldn’t spend the money I had for lemons, sugar, and ice on getting you thrown out of the neighborhood. I’d make better lemonade.

  3. Daniel Konz Daniel Konz says:

    I went to a charter school Daryl…
    The more personalized approach they took to my education was the only thing that kept me from flunking and or dropping out when the public school system and home schooling both failed me…
    I can tell you that at that age, that was all that made the difference… And not once did the profits the school was making enter my mind…

    All that mattered to me was that I was getting the help I needed to alow me to succeed… An educational program that worked for me as an individual because we don’t all fit the one program fits all mold…

    Had I been concerned with petty details like weather or not the school was encroaching on some other programs profits I’d have failed…
    Had narrow minded adults like you rallied and gotten my lemonade stand moved to a driveway in Agua Dulce, I wouldn’t have gone…

    What’s wrong with having a choice of educational opportunities Daryl..?

    Take a moment to think of it from the student’s perspective…

    Or how bout you just enjoy your own lemonade, and quit worrying about everyone else’s..!

  4. Daniel Konz Daniel Konz says:

    I went to a charter school Daryl…
    The more personalized approach they took to my education was the only thing that kept me from flunking and or dropping out when the public school system and home schooling both failed me…
    I can tell you that at that age, that was all that made the difference… And not once did the profits the school was making enter my mind…

    All that mattered to me was that I was getting the help I needed to alow me to succeed… An educational program that worked for me as an individual because we don’t all fit the one program fits all mold…

    Had I been concerned with petty details like weather or not the school was encroaching on some other programs profits I’d have failed…
    Had narrow minded adults like you rallied and gotten my lemonade stand moved to a driveway in Agua Dulce, I wouldn’t have gone…

    What’s wrong with having a choice of educational opportunities Daryl..?

    Take a moment to think of it from the student’s perspective…

    Or how bout you just enjoy your own lemonade, and quit worrying about everyone else’s..!

  5. Another ignorant rant from Darryl Manzer. The only reason people want their children in Charter schools is due to the quality and accountability. If a teacher is bad he or she will be fired at a charter school, but not at NSD, Saugus or Sulphur Springs. I like the 3 charter schools in this valley and I hope they stay. Acton Agua Dulce approved the charter to keep the school from closing down. NSD wants to shut down a school that has a reputation for producing excellence. If a food truck has a permit to legally park on a street and the location of my business allowed food trucks to park there I would not like it but, if I produced a better quality product people would still choose my location. If the truck was better than my restaurant then I would need to step up my game. NSD would rather spend hundreds of thousands to fight AEA than to invest that same money back into the schools. NSD is using the kid’s money to fight this because it is all about the money to NSD. I have to thank Darryl Manzer for pointing that out. Because to NSD that is all that matters.

  6. Another ignorant rant from Darryl Manzer. The only reason people want their children in Charter schools is due to the quality and accountability. If a teacher is bad he or she will be fired at a charter school, but not at NSD, Saugus or Sulphur Springs. I like the 3 charter schools in this valley and I hope they stay. Acton Agua Dulce approved the charter to keep the school from closing down. NSD wants to shut down a school that has a reputation for producing excellence. If a food truck has a permit to legally park on a street and the location of my business allowed food trucks to park there I would not like it but, if I produced a better quality product people would still choose my location. If the truck was better than my restaurant then I would need to step up my game. NSD would rather spend hundreds of thousands to fight AEA than to invest that same money back into the schools. NSD is using the kid’s money to fight this because it is all about the money to NSD. I have to thank Darryl Manzer for pointing that out. Because to NSD that is all that matters.

  7. Heidi Wyckoff says:

    Thank you for finally admitting that Newhall is in this fight “only for the money”!

    • Leon Worden says:

      Of course it’s about the money. It certainly isn’t about the curriculum. It’s about Acton-Agua Dulce stealing ADA money from Newhall. Some of the taxpayers in Newhall don’t WANT their tax dollars to be diverted to a pseudo-private Acton school.

      • SF says:

        Leon – The ADA goes to AEA, not the Acton-Agua Dulce School District. AADUSD gets very little money for its oversight of AEA.

        Moreover, AEA is entitled to ADA money just like any public school, whether it be a traditional public school or a charter school. And in a very real way the money IS staying in SCV because it is being used to educate SCV students.

        • Leon Worden says:

          A portion of Einstein’s ADA goes to the Acton-Agua Dulce district, which is the ONLY reason the district has chartered so many charter schools. If it were legal to site a school outside of one’s own district, you would see every district in California opening schools in Beverly Hills or Brentwood. You don’t see that, because it is not legal. As the judge said. The judge also ruled Newhall the prevailing party, signaling his intent to compel Einstein and Acton-Agua Dulce, or a combination thereof, to pay for Newhall’s attorney fees. The claim as been filed, and a ruling on it is expected in a few months. (Did I mention it’s about the money?)

          • muk says:

            Leon NSD has spent more money fighting aea than it would have lost. NSD is wasting tax dollars. AEA is providing a superior education and the school districts could have approved the charter and received the funds but they were afraid of competition.

          • Leon Worden says:

            muk – that is not correct. NSD will not be spending its own taxpayer dollars to fight the illegal intrusion by Acton-Agua Dulce. The judge signaled his intent for Einstein and Acton-Agua Dulce to pay NSD’s attorney fees. The problem would go away if Acton-Agua Dulce were to follow the law and move the school to Acton or Agua Dulce (among other things the judge said they must do, as in demonstrate that the purpose is not revenue generation on Acton-Agua Dulce’s part. Good luck with that.)

  8. Competition in the work force makes for better results ;-)

  9. Competition in the work force makes for better results ;-)

  10. I wouldn’t care if my neighbors put up a lemonade stand because we all get along and there is enough people around to enjoy the different types of lemonade. This article is such a waste of energy and time. I would love to see a better written article from Daryl.

  11. Chet Mehra Chet Mehra says:

    Darryl- Suprising to see an anti establishment blog, usually, pivot hard to the party line. My kid goes to AEA and used to attend public schools prior. The public school has minimum days daily, less hours of teaching and a much more lax attitude to academics. The Charter school, AEA, has no minimum days, an extra half hour of teaching each day and are much more responsive to me as a parent. Newhall should stop trying bully thier way through this. Education and our kids are not lemons and lemonades. They are the future of the world and Newhall needs to stop trying to hang onto thier dollars. They need to put education first and welfare of kids first. I like your blog and dont think you would be saying what you are if you knew all the facts.

  12. Peter Bishop says:

    The public education system need to be overhaules. The problem lies within quality. If your child isn’t an independent quick learner, then they will suffer due to teachers who don’t want the challenge of teaching. They don’t do a whole lot these days to care for children with learning issues. One of our kids has ADD and speech issues. After years of trying to work with the schools we got fed up and turned to a charter. Not impressed. charter schools have poor orgination and don’t require a lot, so they aren’t really a valid education system either. We are now home schooling, Which is a lot of work for us but our kids are doing much better. We have taken out a lot of fluff and they are usually done by 2pm everyday. The school system is broken. They need to hold teachers accountable for not doing their job. A lot of the blame is put back on parents for participation, however, our kids spend most of the day at school. The teacher needs to handle it. It’s their job.

  13. Dawn Hakim says:

    I disagree with your analogy. Schools are not businesses. It is about the education of our children. I attended the last board meeting in Acton, and the local school districts have used bribery and intimidation to block this charter. This behavior is criminal, and this community should be outraged that their tax dollars are being used in this manner.

  14. David Chlystek says:

    If your lemonade was clearly superior to the other lemonade stands, Daryl, I would STOP going to the other stands and frequent yours. AEA exists and is thriving because the educational system in CA is flawed. And trust me, my motives for sending my children, who mean more to me than life itself, to AEA has NOTHING to do with money, and EVERYTHING to do with the quality of education they receive.

  15. Dawn Hakim says:

    I disagree with comparing schools to businesses. Businesses are about making money, and schools are about educating our children. The actions of local school districts is criminal. They have used bribery and intimidation to block this charter. It is very unfortunate that community members continue to support and encourage such behavior. The truth of the matter is that there is room for all schools, and it is all about parent and student choice.

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