(sorry I’m late on this, been a little busy!) 

Note: I’ve corrected the error he made in names and acknowledged in an email. Saving you the trouble of reading that.)

Thursday December 13 2007

Elliot Gold here.

Not sure if you saw Joe Hopkins’ Pasadena Journal article two weeks ago bashing me, and our effort to guarantee quality education in Altadena, but to Joe’s credit, he published my reply (along with a reply by Scott Phelps).

Joe (really Ruth Brown) was fair, but were unable to publish the complete letter I sent, so I’ve included three things in this e-mail

1. The link to my shortened letter and Scott’s letter (http://www.pasadenajournal.com/id90.html)

2. My full length letter (see “Elliot’s Letter)

and

3. Joe’s full length editorial from two weeks ago- Go to http://www.pasadenajournal.com/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderfiles/11-22-2007.pdf.

Thanks for all of your support of the public schools in the Altadena and Pasadena area.

Elliot Gold
Elliot@telespan.com

ELLIOT’S FULL LENGTH LETTER

November 28, 2007


To: Joe Hopkins, Pasadena Journal, PasJour@Pacbell.net
From: Elliot Gold, Elliot@telespan.com

RE: “Black Operated Charter Schools Surviving- in Spite of Efforts to Destroy Them…” November 22- 28, 2007 edition of The Pasadena Journal

Joe:

Allow me to quote someone I had respect for 35 years go:

“Black, Brown, and any white people of good will wanting some semblance of equal representation in Pasadena might take a lesson from the Bradley Miracle. When that combination got together in Los Angeles, a miracle happened. A Black man was elected Mayor. But it took all three working together to overcome the racism of those in power. In Pasadena, that threesome must make itself heard….”

Maybe your readers don’t remember those words, calling for all ethnic groups to work together on education, but as you know, they were written by a young Joe Hopkins, in your weekly column, “A View from the Streets,” published by the Pasadena Eagle in the late 1960s and early 1970s. During my multi-year tenure at the Eagle as a photographer, writer and columnist with you, and later as the Editor, I appreciated your dedication to the black population of Pasadena. In those days, I found you not only a dedicated, but an accurate journalist. Based on what you reported in the Journal last week, you seem to have lost both your dedication and accuracy.

Joe, as you suggested 35 years go, in your April 20, 1972 and June 7, 1973 columns for the Pasadena Eagle, the focus of all parents, like me, whose children have attended schools in the PUSD, is to get them a quality education, one they can take to institutions of higher education, as well as to the workplace. Using your words, such an education requires “a valid and necessary mechanism,” such as an accredited and fiscally responsible school, staffed by experienced teachers. Contrary to what you said in your article, the Nia Charter Educational Center doesn’t meet your criteria. Allow me to point out just a few inaccuracies in your story.

First of all you did not accurately explain why Nia is not accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) (http://www.acswasc.org/). Factually, Nia’s administration chose not to apply for accreditation, even after they left the Metropolitan Baptist Church and had been at the Edison campus for nearly a full school year, until my Neighborhood Association discovered and publicized the fact that they had failed to do so. Why is it important to be accredited by WASC?  Well as you and I both know, though you failed to point it out in your article, students attending non-accredited schools cannot transfer their credits to other public high schools in the state of California, nor can they use those credits to be admitted to a number of colleges in California, including UCLA. Factually, Nia chose not even to apply for accreditation until after three years of operation. The parents of Nia’s students didn’t know this until we, through our Neighborhood Association, discovered it when a student from Nia applied to attend high school in the Duarte Unified School District, and was told she would have to repeat all classes she took at Nia, due to Nia’s lack of accreditation.

Yes, we made headlines when we found this out.

Why?

Tell me, Joe: How many 16- to 18-year-old high school students that you and I knew when you and I worked together at the Pasadena Eagle—or, more importantly, that you and I know today—would be willing to repeat their years spent in high school, having to take classes alongside students two to four years younger than them?

Due to Nia’s lack of diligence, even the students who have chosen to complete their high school years at Nia may find that the colleges they apply to will reject their high school credits when they “graduate” in June 2008. Why? Well, it’s because the accreditation process takes a minimum of 18 months, putting the possibility, and I say “possibility” of accreditation being awarded to Nia, at nine months after Nia’s seniors graduate in June 2008.

Yes, there is a good chance that Nia will not be awarded accreditation. Why not? Well for one thing, look at the fact, made public by Nia at their September 13, 2007 community meeting, which they held after we “made headlines,” that only half of their teachers have teaching credentials, a fact you failed to point out in your article.

The second major inaccuracy in your story was about Nia’s test scores. In your article, you talk about Nia’s students’ scores rising over the past year. If that is true, why is it that the State lowered Nia from the second lowest decile, to the lowest decile, based on standardized tests taken by their students? Why is it that Great Schools, an independent educational foundation backed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the William and the Flora Hewlett Foundation, gives Nia a score of two out of ten (http://www.greatschools.net/school/rating.page?id=14454&state=CA), ten being best?

The third inaccuracy in your story had to do with daily attendance. The PUSD numbers indicate the average daily attendance at Nia is 141, while your article says “…according to records shown to The Journal by (Naima) Olugbala, [it] was closer to 170.” Interesting that you would accept this from the Nia administration, when all you, as a journalist, had to do is go to the State public attendance web site (http://data1.cde.ca.gov/dataquest/DQReports.asp?CDSType=S&CDSCode=19648810106591&lPage=P) to find out that Nia’s average enrolment fell from 212 for the school year 2005-2006 to 134 for the school year 2006-2007. With those data in front of you, as a journalist, I’d expect you to accept the PUSD’s figure of 141, and not the Nia claim of 170.

Finally, you refer to me as “Elliot Gold, a white activist, who has taken it onto himself to destroy the school even though he has no children in the school.”

“White”!

Gee, Joe, why are you playing the “color” card? That’s a card you and I threw out of the deck when we worked together over 30 years ago at the Pasadena Eagle. I don’t know what you’ve done in the past 30 years, but during that time Shirley and I put our two sons (along with their Japanese middle names, telling of their Japanese ancestry) through Edison, Eliot, and Muir, schools that had no color cards. (Our boys didn’t carry their Native American heritage on their “cards,” due to it being only a small fraction of their blood.)

Don’t know what you were doing two-thirds of the way through that 30 years, but I don’t recall seeing you when we (blacks, browns, whites, and all ethnic groups) worked for months on the Measure Y proposition to put money into the schools all children of the PUSD could attend.

“White activist”! Joe, I ran possibly the most ethnically mixed Cub Scout Pack at Edison for a decade. And for the five years prior to that, I tutored and mentored kids of African American heritage. I have two “sons,” young men who to this day call me “dad,” “sons” who have as much pigment in their skin as you do.

Joe, this is not about pigment, this is about education. Do join us in getting qualified schools in the PUSD.

Oh, and another thing, I don’t even know Scott Phelps, never met him in my life, don’t think I’ve ever even been in the same auditorium with him. Calling me a “local activist” is accurate, but calling me “a close friend of Board member Scott Phelps” is inaccurate journalism.

Elliot M. Gold
Altadena Activist

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