On August 26, I attended a meeting at the home of Elliot Gold with reps of the new Rhythms of the Village Charter High School now in place at Edison Elementary. There were about 20 members of the community, including children’s activist Shirlee Smith. Here is Elliot’s resulting letter about the other school operating on site, NIA, which so far has a pathetic track record and left the school a trash pit at the end of the school year.

Tuesday September 4 2007

Ms. Duba:

Attached please find a letter accompanied by a petition signed by neighbors to the Nia Educational Charter School, as well as a set of questions we submitted to Nia for a meeting that was scheduled for last Sunday, August 26.

The most important part of the attachment is our discovery that Nia is not accredited.

Our letter addresses this and other concerns.

I’ve cut/pasted the letter into this e-mail so you can see it immediately. (I’ve snail-mailed it to you as well).

I ask that you look at the entire attachment (an Adobe PDF) which has

1. Our letter
2. Our petition
3. Our questions to Nia.


Thank you,

Elliot M. Gold
Head of the La Corona-Palm “Upside-down T” Neighborhood Association
Elliot@telespan.com

enc: KDubaSept04-2007.pdf

——————————————— Our Letter ———————————————-

                                                   Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Kathleen Duba
Deputy Superintendent
Pasadena Unified School District
351 South Hudson Avenue
Pasadena, CA 91109

Dear Ms. Duba:

I represent the Neighborhood Association which has as its neighbor the Edison school facility, and therefore the Nia Educational Charter School. To say that we are displeased and disappointed with Nia would be a gross understatement. In this letter I address some of those disappointments, beginning with the one we feel you need to address immediately.

Nia is not accredited.

We found this out not from Nia, but from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) (http://www.acswasc.org/). I contacted their staff, as well as WASC’s Associate Executive Director, Dr. Marilyn S. George, and learned that if students who have attended non-accredited schools attempt to transfer to other schools in the state of California, they will not be given credit for the courses taken at Nia, and could be forced to repeat courses they have already taken.

This is not hypothetical.

I spoke with the Assistant Principal in charge of Curriculum for the Duarte Unified School District last week and learned that in the last year, a ninth and a tenth grade student, pulled out of Nia by their frustrated parents (her words), were shocked when they learned that Duarte would not give their children credit for the courses taken at Nia, and that their children would have to repeat the courses, in order to get credit for them.

Then there’s college enrollment.

I contacted UCLA, USC, and California State University, and asked if students applying from high schools that were not accredited by WASC can be admitted to attend their colleges.  UCLA got right back to me and said, “Unfortunately, UCLA does not admit Freshman applicants who have not attended a school accredited by WASC.”

 
USC, which charges double-digit tuition, well out of the range of the Nia students, said  “USC accepts applications from students enrolled in non-traditional programs and high schools not recognized by one of the regional accrediting associations.” But added the following: “However, in addition to all of the standard application materials, these students are required to submit results from three SAT Subject tests (one must be in math).”

Cal State University has not gotten back to me.

We contacted Nia by phone this week, and asked if the school was accredited. The response to us was that it was, even though multiple phone calls and contacts with WASC indicate Nia is not accredited. Maybe it will be for this coming school year, but one wonders what Nia has been telling the parents of its students for the past three years.

Our neighbors have had to contact Nia by phone, as Nia has chosen not to otherwise communicate with our Neighborhood Association. We are shocked by this.

Allow me to tell you why we are shocked.

When Nia proposed moving into Edison in late 2006, members of our Neighborhood Association visited the school at the Metropolitan Baptist Church, where it was housed for a full school year and a half. We immediately welcomed the staff, and invited them to meet with the entire neighborhood. We went so far as to poll our neighborhood as to what they wanted to know about Nia, sent our questions to Nia in advance, and then met with Nia’s administrators in October 2006. At our meeting, we worked together with Nia’s staff to set goals, which Nia’s staff promised to meet. In exchange, we as a neighborhood offered Nia resources (we have a half-dozen educators in the neighborhood). Nia strangely never took advantage of our offer.

For now I’ll skip what happened during the year Nia occupied Edison (school year 2006-2007), as I am preparing a presentation on that to send you later. 

With the 2007-2008 school year nearly upon us, we approached the Nia staff and proposed a follow-up to our 2006 meeting. The meeting was to be held at my house on Sunday, August 26. Nia agreed to meet with us, confirming by phone, by e-mail, as well as in person.

Like we did last year, our Neighborhood Association polled the neighbors, and submitted their questions to Nia well in advance of the meeting. One of the questions addressed the fact that test scores at Nia, after nearly three years (including a full year in Edison), have fallen from the second lowest decile to the lowest decile. (I’ve attached the questions to my letter.) Nia staff confirmed they had received our questions and that they would attend the meeting with us.

We followed the same procedures with the Rhythms of the Village Charter School, telling both Rhythms and Nia that we would meet with them separately on Sunday, August 26. Rhythms chose to meet with us first.

On Sunday, August 26, representatives of the Rhythms of the Village Charter School not only arrived on time, but addressed our questions and concerns, and welcomed our offer to work with them. (Several of us are already doing so). At 3:45 PM, the Rhythms staff left, and we neighbors waited for the arrival of Nia. They were scheduled to arrive at 4:00 PM. By 4:30 PM, with no call, no arrival, those still waiting at the meeting signed a petition expressing their disappointment, a petition I’ve attached to this letter. In the week that has passed since that time, we have received no call from Nia.

Nia is not educating our youth nor is it serving them. As such, we have to ask why the PUSD is using our community tax dollars, our Edison facility, which was enhanced using Measure Y funds, funds we neighbors campaigned for? Why are you allowing Nia to let their students, as well as their parents, down?

We’ve done our homework on Nia. It’s time that the PUSD did it as well.

Sincerely,

Elliot M. Gold
Head of the La Corona-Palm “Upside-down T” Neighborhood Association
Elliot@telespan.com

Enc:    Signed petitions
    Question submitted to Nia prior the scheduled August 26 2007 meeting

Cc: (By E-mail)
Mr. Edwin Diaz, Superintendent of Schools (ediaz@pusd.us)
Kathleen Duba (kduba@pusd.us)
Mike Babcock (mbabcock@pusd.us)
Scott Phelps (sphelps@alumni.caltech.edu)
Esteban (Steve) Lizardo (slizardo@pusd.us)
Ed Honowitz (ehonowitz@pusd.us)
Renatta Cooper (rcooper@pusd.us)
Bob Harrison (bharrison@pusd.us)
Tom Selinske (tselinske@pusd.us)

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