Young: Anaheim Union Needs to Live Up to Its Own Standards for Accountability

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In an unprecedented move by any California school board, all five members of the Anaheim Union High School District board and the superintendent called for a statewide moratorium on all public charter schools last month.

They based their call on the tired argument by opponents that too many, in their words, “operate in the shadows with no transparency, no accountability, and no public review.”

The Anaheim leadership singled out Magnolia Public Schools, a group of eleven high-quality science academies I now lead. The school board went so far as to falsely accuse Magnolia of operating charter schools all over the nation and being controlled by Turkish nationals.

These statements are incorrect. The Anaheim Union board members and superintendent didn’t do their basic homework. As former president of the board for California’s largest school district, I have known these schools well since they submitted their first charter petition to Los Angeles Unified 14 years ago.

(Editors Note: Click here to read a copy of a Magnolia demand letter to AUHSD.)

In my nearly two decades of experience in public education, I’d be hard-pressed to find another school system that has been reviewed, audited and examined more than Magnolia Public Schools.

The State of California conducted an exhaustive audit of Magnolia schools in 2015 and simply found an organization that was financially solvent. The independent statewide investigative body even went so far as to praise Magnolia for having academically well-performing schools. Having Anaheim Union generate this hoopla reminds me of one of Winston Churchill’s finest: “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”

The State of California reaffirmed its confidence in Magnolia this year by investing in its continued growth with $17.4 million toward a new state-of-the-art facility in Santa Ana.

What allows charters—public schools that are held strictly accountable to meeting high academic and operational standards while complying with federal and state laws—to overcome the charges of critics has been their strong academic performance, particularly within low-income communities.

The most recent study, a 2015 analysis of urban charter schools by researchers at Stanford University, found that charter schools provided significantly higher levels of annual learning growth in both math and reading than their traditional public school peers, and particularly larger gains for Black, Latino, low-income and special-education students.

Charters are helping the broader school systems in which they operate serve families more successfully, so a call for a moratorium, which is an indictment against all charters, simply makes no sense.

But this unprecedented call by Anaheim Union came without the input of the public that would be most affected by the decision. Anaheim Union is ignoring state law to the detriment of the community by proposing to deny them access to new high-quality public school choices in their community.

The Anaheim school board took a significant, potentially illegal public policy position that can affect thousands of its neediest students based on false premises. But what’s ironic is the very position they took was done without public input or discussion and did not take place at a school board hearing where it could be subject to public scrutiny.

Instead, it was coordinated in secrecy, resulting in a violation of public trust and governance, and even blindsided the respected Orange County Office of Education. So much for Anaheim’s charge of operating “in the shadows with no transparency, no accountability, and no public review.”

Our hope is that the Anaheim board will do right by families and embrace the opportunity for collaboration. Here’s why. Magnolia is successfully serving more than 3,400 students and we have hundreds on our waiting list.

Anaheim Union just needs to look at the evidence. Each year, we send anywhere between 92 to 99 percent of our students to some of the best colleges in the U.S. Last year, 65 percent of our graduates became first-generation college attendees. Our students are winning the top prizes in the most prestigious robotics and math competitions in the nation. These are predominantly low-income White, Latino, African-American kids, who now are well on their way toward achieving their full potential.

The school district needs what we offer and we want to help. This success is why enthusiastic Anaheim families and community members have come to us expressing their desire for a new public high school to open.

When you look across California and the nation, forward-thinking, cutting-edge school districts are embracing charter schools as part of their solution. These school districts that choose to incorporate charter schools into their reform efforts have seen first-hand that when you give kids and parents access to a quality education, everyone wins and all schools rise to a higher level.

Let’s expect more from our educational leaders. We did not elect them to make legally questionable public policy decisions in secrecy that are not in the best interest of the thousands of families in their own community. Listen to those who elected you into office, be open and transparent about your actions and make decisions based on what will allow students to thrive. Let their futures drive your decisions. Years from now, it’s them you’ll be answering to.

Caprice Young is the CEO and Superintendent of Magnolia Public Schools, a network of 11 high-performing public charter schools that serves 3,400 students in Los Angeles, Orange, Santa Clara and San Diego Counties. She is a longtime public education leader and former Los Angeles Unified school board president.

Anaheim Union High School District Board members wrote an earlier Op-ed calling for a moratorium on charter schools like Magnolia. 

Voice of OC is interested in hearing different perspectives and voices. If you want to weigh in on this issue please contact Voice of OC Publisher Norberto Santana, Jr. at nsantana@voiceofoc.org

 

 

  • turkish4life

    they need to be shut down before the destroy California.

  • While reckless of the editors of VoiceofOC to publish the above without any fact checking, at least there are serious investigations going on about Young’s, and Magnolia’s ties to the Gülen cult: http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20160226006092/en/Larson-O’Brien-Engaged-Investigate-Los-Angeles-Charter

  • Ozgur Cengiz

    Caprice says Magnolia has “3,400 students spread across 11 schools with hundreds on a waiting list” how can that be? Schools #4 #5 and a few more have never grown enrollment past 150-180 children. They have plenty of room put the so called students on a “waiting list” in those schools that are not sustainable as they don’t have a enrollment that warrants it. http://www.magnoliascienceacademy.blogspot.com

  • Putting aside the fact that Ms. Young makes a substantial six-figure salary running the Magnolia corporate charter school chain, let’s examine a few of her statements that can only be charitably characterized as misrepresentations.

    Young discusses a 2015 audit of the schools claiming it was “financially solvent”, but omits scores of previous audits that not only found the chain insolvent, but the 2014 audit revealed them operating on a “operating on a $1.7 million deficit” and that there multiple instances of “missing, misused funds” ( http://www.scpr.org/blogs/education/2014/07/21/17031/audit-finds-missing-misused-funds-at-la-charter-ne/ ). This misrepresentation by omission alone impeaches Young’s credibility beyond any reasonable standard.

    The corporate charter CEO then discusses what she terms “high-quality” schools. The California State University (CSU) database is currently offline, so I we can’t look at Magnolia;s abject remediation rates, but there’s other data sources that will put Young’s assertion to the test. Let’s take a look at a few of Magnolia Science Academy (MSA) schools, starting with Magnolia High in Anaheim (MHA). MHA’s California Standards Tests (STAR) 2013 proficiency rate in math was a dismal 11.7%, English 41.9%; 2012 math 16.4%, English 41.3%; 2011 math 15.7%, English only 35.0% ( http://schools.latimes.com/school/anaheim/magnolia-high/ ). On top of these bottom dweller STAR scores, MHA schools Scholastic Achievement Test (SAT) averages don’t bear out Young’s definition of “achieving”. MHA’s 2009—2012 SAT composites were as follows: 1368, 1427, and 1373 ( http://schools.latimes.com/school/anaheim/magnolia-high/ ). For context 1,500 is considered the minimum threshold for college readiness, while 2,052 was the composite average for Freshmen accepted into UCLA in 2013. Young’s Anaheim charter school doesn’t come close. Taking another example, MSA2 in Van Nuys. This school have marginally better STAR scores: 2013 math 29.2%, English 48.3%; 2012 math 25.0%, English 49.3%, 2011 math 21.1%, English 47.6% ( http://schools.latimes.com/school/reseda/magnolia-science-academy-2/ ). Like it’s Anaheim counterpart, the Magnolia school never saw even half of its student body proficient in these core subjects. So much for claims of “quality education”.

    Young also continually refers to charter schools as public schools. While her background is that of being a corporate executive, mine is in education law. Therefore, it is my obligation disabuse her and any others of this egregious misunderstanding.

    Generally charter schools are not public schools. This has been long established in both existing case law and public policy. The Washington State Supreme Court (2015) held that charter schools are not “common schools” because they’re governed by appointed rather than elected boards. The 9th Circuit US Court of Appeals (2010) ruled that charter schools are not “public actors.” The California Court of Appeals (2007) ruled that charter schools are not “public agents.” The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) joined scores of other government agencies in unequivocally determining that charters are, in NLRB’s words, “private entities.”

    By definition if a charter school is operated by a for-profit company, or a 501c3 non-profit corporation (e.g. Magnolia Educational and Research Foundation), then it is not a public school. The United States Census Bureau frames this issue best: “A few “public charter schools” are run by public universities and municipalities. However, most charter schools are run by private nonprofit organizations and are therefore classified as private.” (US Census Bureau. (2011). “Public Education Finances: 2009 (GO9-ASPEF)”. Washington, DC: US Government Printing O ce. Print. vi)

    Since these lucrative charter schools are not public, and hence not subject to even a modicum of public oversight, they are able to get away with violating the constitutional rights of their students. The decision in Scott B. v. Board of Trustees of Orange County High School of the Arts saw Rosa K. Hirji, Esq. write: “The structures that allow charter schools to exist are marked by the absence of protections that are traditionally guaranteed by public education, protections that only become apparent and necessary when families and students begin to face a denial of what they were initially promised to be their right.” ( https://apps.americanbar.org/litigation/committees/childrights/content/articles/winter2014-0114-charter-schools-upholding-student-rights.html ).

    Lastly, the proverbial “elephant in the room” which Young alludes to when saying “operate in the shadows”. The largest chain of corporate charter schools in the United States—including eleven in Los Angeles alone—is that of the secretive Gülen religious cult. This is the inevitable result of putting public money into private hands. There is ample documentation tying the Magnolia corporate charter school chain to the Gülenist Movement, namely through their intertwinement with the Los Angeles based Pacifica Institute—a Gülen organization which denies the 1915-1918 Armenian genocide. ( http://articles.latimes.com/2011/sep/30/local/la-me-0930-ottoman-band-20110930 ) Moreover, Fethullah Gülen’s ties to the Magnolia charter school chain was reported to Turkish readers as early as 2010. ( http://gundem.milliyet.com.tr/walmart-tan-gulen-okullarina-bagis/guncel/gundemdetay/27.08.2010/1281603/default.htm ). 60 Minutes did a feature on the Gülen charter schools, and there is a website called Charter School Scandals (http://charterschoolscandals.blogspot.com/) that provides a wealth of information.

    That the Anaheim Union School District took such a principled stand against such an unprincipled organization, and industry for that matter, is something we need to emulate statewide. It’s time to stop allowing these corporate entities to view education as a cash cow, and demand authentic accountability.

    Robert D. Skeels
    Juris Doctor Candidate

  • LFOldTimer

    Don’t take it personally, Caprice. Some people just hate competition.

    • Ozgur Cengiz

      Competition? Capricious Caprice is no competition, and neither are these lame schools she is trying to peddle all over California. Another denial from Fremont, CA. Face it no one wants a bunch of liars teaching their children., and as far as Caprice goes..lets just say her resume in education is very jagged and erratic. Not to mention she has not spent time in the trenches actually teaching in front of a classroom to know what is good or not good for American children., Too busy promoting herself with expensive publicists, inflated marketing and advertising of herself (first and foremost) and of the schools she professes to represent. Watch her here in Fremont, CA fumble all over like an amateur https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JWLdIyDSrkc

      • Ozgur Cengiz

        BTW these Magnolia Science Academy Charter Schools are 100% part of the Gulen Movement. If Caprice wants to hire an attorney every time someone invokes the right of free speech, she will not be wanted at too many school districts in California. Not many want much to do with her and with a charter school known for hiring attorneys every time they are denied or trying to work their way out of their lies and misrepresentations and deficiencies in their laughable applications. No one wants what Caprice is peddling and if she wants to sue all of California she better get busy it won’t do her reputation or the reputation of these GULEN charter schools much good. But the Gulen Movement hasn’t had the success they want in the USA their goal was 600 schools. Their teachers are not licensed, credentialed and barely speak English. Her staff is top heavy and some of the positions are unnecessary.

  • Ozgur Cengiz

    Another telling piece of information about Capricious Caprice’s crappy letter is the fact she mentions her personal knowledge of Magnolia Schools.. As she further boasts that she was the LAUSD board president at the time their first school was accepted some 14 years ago 1) Caprice fails to mention that the Gulenists filed under their telling signature of “DIALOGUE” under “Dialogue Foundation” – they have since changed it to MERF- Magnolia Educational Research Foundation. Not sure if they had permission to change their parent company but the Gulen Movement never asks for permission they just do as they please 2) Caprice was indeed president of the school board but she was ousted for reasons she should be transparent about, no one wanted her around. Caprice then became the CEO of the CCSA the parent umbrella of California Charter Schools where she evidently still collects a pension. 3) Risking your professional reputation for a group like the Gulen Movement denying association when lead education Gulenist Alp Aslandogan admits on USA TODAY 2/1 Article that the schools are connected to the Gulen Movement but not the finances. Sure Alp. Caprice is getting caught in her lies.

  • shansen

    Magnolia Public Schools submitted an application in December to a very large district in Orange County. They pulled the application after it was discovered that they had used the exact same list of teachers on each of the applications they filed in a few other O.C. Districts. Google Magnolia Public Schools + FBI and see what you get. Our tax dollars at work…or not.

    • Ozgur Cengiz

      Opening schools nilly willy, they have had mis spelled words and have also referred to another school name in their network, not even bothering to cross out the old name and put in the new name. They have the audacity to even think they have the right to open more schools when they are not even out of probation for their past issues and legal wrangling. Under full disclosure they need to speak about their legal issues. This current legal bullyism will get them no where but in contempt by the American people.

  • tmare1

    Maybe someone should check out the job description that Magnolia Schools posted for their school in Santa Ana. The position called for a Turkish Language teacher with a credential in CA that doesn’t exist. Interesting, no?

    • tmare1

      Here is their job posting, which was put up and then taken down fairly quickly. There is no such thing as a CA Teaching Credential in Turkish. They are setting up to get more VISAs for Turkish people to come here to teach, even though their website for their school says nothing about the Turkish language. There is much more to this than Ms. Young lets on: “Magnolia Public Schools 12/29/15, 11:17 PM

      NOW ENROLLING FOR 2016-2017 SCHOOL YEAR / Subscribe to our Magno

      Proudly serving California Communities Since 2002

      Open Positions

      Turkish Language Teacher: Teach secondary students Turkish Language based on the curriculum. Keep attendance records; assign lessons; administer and/or supervise homework and tests to evaluate students’ progress. Prepare appropriate curriculum and annual plans in compliance with the state standards. Create lesson plans. Prepare hands-on activities to engage students. Prepare progress reports for parents. Counsel students to increase learning, academic and social achievement. Provide remedial instructions where appropriate in their subject areas.

      Requirements: Bachelor of Arts degree in Education or foreign equivalent plus 2 years of progressive experience in the job offered or related field. Ability to read, write and speak Turkish Language. California Preliminary Teaching Credential in Turkish required.”

      • Ozgur Cengiz

        In order for an employer to validate utilizing or abusing the h1-b visas they must prove they tried to find someone via an ad. Yes that is interesting, thanks for sharing.

      • Ozgur Cengiz

        Caprice Young withdrew 3 more charter applications in the LAUSD as the recommendation was DENIAL. I don’t think Magnolia has enough time or money to go after everyone that has contempt for their unprofessional, horrid applications. Most of us have been referring to Magnolia Science Academy as a GULENIST operated schools since 2006, should Mr. Woods want to take on the entire population that knows this to be fact, he will have lots of billable hours. Magnolia Science Academy is a GULENIST operated school. I said it and will continue saying it and no Capricious Caprice will stop me or others from exercising free speech and getting truth to parents who have the right to know who these Turks are who operate charter schools stealing American Tax Money, floating checks, money laundering via their dialogue and Pacifica Institute (where Caprice has been a guest speaker) Bring it!! http://laschoolreport.com/school-board-set-to-deny-more-charters-than-approve-on-agenda/

  • RyanCantor

    “The Anaheim school board took a significant, potentially illegal public policy position that can affect thousands of its neediest students based on false premises. But what’s ironic is the very position they took was done without public input or discussion and did not take place at a school board hearing where it could be subject to public scrutiny.”

    *Drops mic* “Good night, Anaheim.”

    That’s gotta hurt.

    • Ozgur Cengiz

      The real butt hurt is Magnolia not only being denied in Anaheim but flatly denied in Fremont, CA. Especially when Magnolia tried to “withdraw” the application for it’s deficiencies to later re submit, that opportunity was DENIED by the entire community of Fremont. Furthermore, no public support was shown in Anaheim and this legal wrangling of intimidation is only going to make future school districts unwilling to deal with a charter school group that uses legal warfare to try and intimidate a school district into accepting their puny application. It’s not looking too good for the Gulenists in California., time for them to bribe some politicians or send some state officials to Turkey. Oops forgot, Gulen has no more power in Turkey, schools, businesses, banks, closed and confiscated. Better luck next time Mullah Fethullah.

      • David Zenger

        The Great Gulen is coming. Beware his Wrath. It will descend upon thee like a swarm of angry locusts.

        • Ozgur Cengiz

          another lawsuit in Texas and 3 more applications withdrawn in California. I would say it’s not looking too good for the old “great one Gulen” Not sure what makes him so great since he is under house arrest and never shows his face in public except for his 1 x a week sermons which amount to nothing more than barking orders to his minions.

    • professor

      Ryan,

      I was at the school board meeting. It was packed with people from the community. Not one person stood up and said anything to support the charter. All comments were in support of the public schools which provide services to all students. I don’t get your drop the mic comment? The neediest students would be hurt the most most by a movement to suck funds away from them. Of course if your child speaks English, is without any special needs or is squared away…I can see how a charter could be good for you.

  • Ozgur Cengiz

    USA Today press release yesterday, admission that the charter schools are operated by followers of the Gulen Movement. Caprice Young are you willing to lie for these creeps that aren’t even American, they will throw you to the wolves and YOU will take the blame as the CEO /Superintendent. The clock is ticking it’s up to you if you want to continue in Education your reputation can be salvaged now but next month?…probably not. Dear Caprice Young, you must get your exit plan in place and find the next exciting career in education reform away from these Gulenists they are a danger “If you touch it you burn” …http://www.usatoday.com/videos/news/nation/2016/02/01/79633000/

    • David Zenger

      All Hail the Mighty and Magnificent Gulen! May his lengthy beard ever increase and his progeny swarm the countryside. May the depths of his Wisdow flood like a tsumani over the land.

      Great and Grand Gulen, we salute thee!

  • Ozgur Cengiz

    Caprice Young has committed fraud upon the American people and if she doesn’t shut up soon will be persecuted for lying. Yesterday press release by USA Today, Alp Aslandogan -Gulen’s right hand man for “education” admits the schools are operated by Gulen followers but that the finances are separate. Gee I guess the tuzuking of Gulen teachers doesn’t count, or the bags of cash delivered to Gulen by the 5 regions isn’t a concern. or the fact Adem Arici has already given testimony to the US Federal court on the money wire transfers. Watch it now Caprice or you will be prosecuted, the gulenists will gladly throw a gavur under the bus http://www.usatoday.com/videos/news/nation/2016/02/01/79633000/

  • Joseph

    I have been taking my son to MSA 7 for the last 3 years every day at 7:30 am. Let’s meet tomorrow at the same time to see who is lying. The address is 18355 Roscoe Ave Northridge CA 91325.

    • Ozgur Cengiz

      Is that the Magnolia School that had a teacher arrested for RAPE? oops sorry this is the one that has Joseph err I mean Mustafa as a principal? Nope lets see so many scandals and drama with these criminal Gulenists how about the latest Alp Aslandogan ADMITS the charter schools are operated by Gulen followers but that the financing is kept separate from the billionaire recluse in the Poconos. http://www.usatoday.com/videos/news/nation/2016/02/01/79633000/

    • Ozgur Cengiz

      Merhaba Joseph; your remarks give you away I can smell a brainwashed Gulenist from 500 miles away. You are indignant, self-righteous and cannot accept that Americans don’t want you teaching their children. Your ride in America is over, Hocaefendi must go back to Turkey and face his crimes. You are not American, you have no loyalty to the USA, or loyalty to Turkey. Your sick loyalty is only to Cemaat, from the days you lived in a lighthouse boarding school separated from your family being educated on Gulen values of cheating the system, controlling all powers and if that doesn’t work bribe, blackmail and intimidation. The sad part is –Caprice Young will have to take the blame for your sick and slick ways. Its over “Joseph” leave before it’s too late America will not allow you to expand.

  • Ozgur Cengiz

    Cannot believe the fabrications of Caprice Young, she is asking Anaheim to “Live up to it’s own Standards of Accountability” yet Capricious Caprice never states what Anaheim is lacking as far as accountability. They have been honest and forthright, Caprice and her Turkish boys are just upset because they got slammed. We all know the Gulenists are indignant – hate women and hate even more being told “No” they cannot handle it. Caprice Young, look in the mirror, next time you tell the board someone is “following me” make sure you don’t have a melt down.

  • Joseph

    I am very proud to be a parent of Magnolia with their high quality education. I love listening the lies when I know the truth. Can we invite them to our schools? Have they been to any of Magnolias?

    Thank you Dr. Young, keep up the great work!!!

    • Ozgur Cengiz

      You are no parent you are a gulencis doing what you do best lying. Caprice will get caught.

      • David Zenger

        The Great and Munificent Gulen will strike you down for your manifest heresies. By the Straits of Bosphorus and Phosphorus, thou shalt be brought low by the Might Gulen!

        • Ozgur Cengiz

          ya ya whatever

          • David Zenger

            Dismisseth ye not the wrath of the Great Gulen. By the Golden Horn thou shalt be smite low.

          • Ozgur Cengiz

            Yawn, nice try