Anaheim Parents Trigger Historic School Transformation File Petitions to Restart Palm Lane Elementary School


For Immediate Release: January 9, 2015

Contact: Daniela Gonzalez, CA Center for Parent Empowerment, (626) 340-5460,

Anaheim Parents Trigger Historic School Transformation File Petitions to Restart Palm Lane Elementary School

Parents announce filing of Parent Empowerment Act petitions to trigger school transformation; will lead official delegation to file school petitions at District headquarters, school; celebratory press conference to follow

Anaheim, CA: Parents at Palm Lane Elementary School in Anaheim, CA will officially file petitions on Wednesday, January 14th, to trigger a restart of their school utilizing California’s historic Parent Empowerment Act, the “Parent Trigger” provision. Palm Lane Elementary has been identified by the California Department of Education as an underperforming school since 2003, posting an anemic 746 Academic Performance Index, dropping 33 API points in the last three years. Student testing results indicate that 60% of 5thgraders are below basic levels of proficiency in mathematics, while 63% are below basic levels of proficiency in English Language Arts.

The filing of Parent Trigger petitions at the Anaheim City School District represents the first set of parents in Orange County to utilize the Parent Trigger Law. Parents in other California cities, including Compton, Adelanto, and Los Angeles have made previous efforts.

Cecilia, a Palm Lane parent leader and petitioner, stated “the Anaheim school district keeps telling us the school is doing well but the state data tells us a different story. More importantly, we see the deficiencies in our children’s academic performance: they come home without homework, without being able to read, write, and perform basic math. We don’t see any evidence that our kids are exposed to science, history, health, art, and a complete absence of kids being taught visual and performance arts. This subject matter is required per state standards. It’s not fair. The staff of Palm Lane, the superintendent, and board members have done everything in their power to ignore, discourage and scare us away from living the American Dream. Why do they want to take that away from our children?”

Accompanying the parents in the filing of petitions and celebratory press conference will be Senator Gloria Romero (Ret.) who authored the 2010 historic law and subsequently founded the California Center for Parent Empowerment, which has provided support for the Palm Lane parents; newly elected Orange County Assembly member Young Kim; and Arturo Garcia, District Representative for Senate Minority Leader Bob Huff.

“Here, in the shadow of Disneyland with its promise that dreams that can come true, these parents have organized to truly become the architects of their children’s educational futures. I am proud to stand with these parents as they make history today”, Romero said.

“Providing a quality education for our children is one of the most important tasks of state government. I’m proud to stand with the parents of Palm Lane Elementary School in their fight to ensure that their children receive the quality education that they deserve,” stated Assembly member Kim.

Maggie, another Palm Lane parent petitioner, added “Despite the fact that school officials made many attempts to discourage us and numerous violations against the Parent Empowerment Act, we were committed and always encouraged to continue to fight for a better future for our children. We are grateful to all who stood with us and who are genuinely concerned about our children. Sadly, the district only cares about adult needs and about keeping the status quo alive. It is our hope that parents everywhere will follow our lead and seek a better education for their children”.

Parents began mobilizing prior to the start of the current school year to obtain the signatures needed to initiate a restart model for Palm Lane. Under the Parent Empowerment Act, a restart model will enable the parents to transform the school into a publicly funded, independent charter school. Parents have far exceeded the threshold of signatures needed—50% plus one—to file restart petitions, collecting an estimated 60% of signatures needed to qualify under California’s historic 2010 law, which granted parents the right to transform their own schools. Palm Lane has been designated as chronically underperforming since it was first identified in need of “Program Improvement” in 2003—12 years ago.

Anaheim City schools were even cited in a landmark civil rights voting rights lawsuit filed by the ACLU against Anaheim, claiming that the chronic underperformance of Anaheim schools contributed to the political disenfranchisement of Latinos, particularly, in Anaheim.

Both the California Center for Parent Empowerment and organizers from Excellent Educational Solutions provided support for parents understanding and exercising their rights under the law.

Wednesday, January 14th Timeline & Schedule of Events for Petition Filing:

The filing of petitions on Wednesday, January 14th will first commence with a delegation of parents making the official filing at Anaheim City School District headquarters, followed by a ceremonial filing at the Palm Lane School itself. Parents will gather for a celebratory press conference in the adjacent park to the school itself.

9:00-9:30 am PST: Palm Lane Parent Delegation Files Official Parent Trigger Petitions at the Anaheim City School District Office, 1001 S. East Street, Anaheim, CA.

10:00-10:30 am PST: Celebratory Press Conference, Palm Lane Park, 1595 West Palais Road, Anaheim (directly adjacent to Palm Lane School).

Bullies in the Schoolhouse

By R. Claire Friend

There has been a great deal of public attention on the problem of bullying in our public schools. Issues such as possible causes as well as appropriate administrative and legal remedies have been hotly debated across the country by educators, parents and politicians with varying responses.

The focus heretofore has been limited to students. This narrow perspective misses the most egregious culprits: union bullies. They are the focus of this article.

Teachers are compelled as a condition of employment to join the teachers’ unions and pay an annual membership assessment of about one thousand dollars. The monies are used to fund collective bargaining, liability insurance and political causes and candidates that reinforce the union’s power and influence.

In California, these have amounted to massive sums to defeat ballot initiatives inimical to the teachers’ union’s stranglehold on education. In general elections, the contributions have funded the campaigns of strongly liberal Democrat candidates as well as abortion rights and gay marriage. This liberal bias is not reflective of the union membership which tends to be conservative, according to a Gallup Poll.

Most teachers enter the profession because of a devotion to the education of young minds. They have the best interests of students as their foremost priority. Unions, in contrast, operate out of self-interest. Their top priority is the maintenance of union power, not the welfare of the teachers or students.

Unions strongly oppose any threats to that power such as ballot initiatives in support of school vouchers, charter schools, opportunity scholarships or Education Savings Accounts and will marshal vast sums of money to quash them. Although all of this was funded by forced union dues, teachers who dare to speak out against the union’s political positions are subject to intimidation, so most remain silent.

The California Teachers Union spent $32Million to defeat Proposition 75, the measure which would have required members to consent to their dues being used for political purposes. Of the $50Million unions used to defeat Proposition 32, more than $20Million came from the annual dues paid to the CTA by its 325,000 members.

It is the forced support of radical organizations such as ACORN, People for the American Way, Media Matters, Planned Parenthood and the ACLU which support abortion and gay marriage and beliefs that prompted Rebecca Friedrichs, a 27-year veteran elementary school teacher in Orange County, and nine colleagues to file a lawsuit against the CTA and its parent, the 3.5 million-member National Education Association for violating their rights of free speech and free association.

The lawsuit is currently before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, having been punted by Judge Josephine Staton in a lower court in Santa Ana. Friedrichs is hopeful that the case will be forwarded to the United States Supreme Court later this year where it may get a favorable ruling.

The legal arguments have interesting precedents. In most organizations, membership is on a voluntary basis. In unions, that is not the case. Tremendous pressure is applied to employees to become members. The level of intimidation and censure becomes difficult to resist.

Public employees in the federal were barred from organizing prior to an executive order by President John F. Kennedy. In California, it was Ronald Reagan who granted that right to state employees and Jerry Brown, to teachers.

Non-members are required to pay union dues because they benefit from the unions’ collective bargaining efforts. This was clarified in a 1977 ruling by the Supreme Court, Abood v. Detroit Board of Education that precludes the funds being used for ideological or political purposes. This flies in the face of reality. The National Education Association is the largest single contributor to the Democrat party, its state and federal candidates and its causes.

The July 2014 Supreme Court ruling in Harris v.  Quinn opened the door to the merit of the  Friedrichs et al. complaint. They ruled that it was unconstitutional to require non-union Illinois home health care workers to pay union dues.

Justice Samuel Alito added that “no person in the country may be compelled to subsidize speech by a third party that he or she does not wish to support.” His implicit meaning that public employee unions are inherently political organizations suggests that SCOTUS will look favorably on the ten complainants.

There is now a zero tolerance policy toward bullying in public schools. That should be extended to the biggest bully of all. We wish the diminutive Mrs. Friedrichs well in her lawsuit against the union colossus.

R. Claire Friend is a Lincoln Club member. As with all blog posts on this site, the views expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Club.

Conservative Lincoln Club Rebukes Tim Donnelly


Contact Michael D. Capaldi
Cell: (949) 278-4467
**Available in Spanish HERE.**

Conservative Lincoln Club of Orange County Rebukes Tim Donnelly

ORANGE COUNTY – Yesterday, the oldest Republican activist group in California, the Lincoln Club of Orange County, took the unprecedented measure of rebuking Republican gubernatorial candidate Assemblyman Tim Donnelly (R – Hesperia).

The board of the Lincoln Club approved a vote of no confidence in Assemblyman Donnelly as a candidate for the Republican nomination for Governor of the State of California.

The club has never taken such a step it its 52-year history.

“Assemblyman Donnelly is divisive and destructive,” the resolution said. “He’s not the man to lead Republicans, the party of Abraham Lincoln.”

The Lincoln Club, founded in 1962, is California’s oldest, most innovative, and resolutely conservative organization. It has led on some of the most historic movements on the right, for example, galvanizing early support for Ronald Reagan, fostering Proposition 13, and taking a lead in the recall of Governor Gray Davis.

Donnelly’s remarks have been of growing concern to the club’s board. In a 2006 speech, Donnelly likened the immigration issue to a civil war, “We are on the brink of a battle unlike the likes of which this nation has seen since 1861,” he said. As recently as last month, Mr. Donnelly said he stood by the speech. More recently, he accused his opponent for the Republican nomination, Neel Kashkari, a former George W. Bush administration Treasury official, of supporting Islamic sharia law.

The Lincoln Club rejects these assertions. “For too long, the Republican Party has tried to carry so many of the right messages on the lips of the wrong candidates,” said Michael Capaldi, a Chairman Emeritus of the club and its spokesperson. “The things Donnelly gets right don’t change the fact that he’s made himself the wrong person to present them. He should not lead the Republican Party.”

Some of the state’s top Republican leaders have condemned episodes of Donnelly’s divisive rhetoric, including Assembly Republican leader Connie Conway, Senate Republican leader Bob Huff, and Congressman Darrell Issa.


Donnelly Not Fit to Lead GOP

Reprinted from the OC Register, May 13, 2014 

By MICHAEL D. CAPALDI and DAVID BAHNSEN / Contributing Writers

The Lincoln Club of Orange County is in no mood for Assemblyman Tim Donnelly.

The state’s oldest, most innovative and resolutely conservative organization, which, in its 52-year history, galvanized early support for Ronald Reagan, fostered Proposition 13 and took a lead in the recall of Gov. Gray Davis, says no to dividing California along ethnic lines.
And that’s precisely what Assemblyman Donnelly, now running for the Republican nomination for governor, will do. With three weeks to go before the June 3 primary, Donnelly faces the race’s other major Republican candidate, former U.S. Treasury assistant secretary, Neel Kashkari.

Recently, the Lincoln Club’s board made a move unprecedented in its long history: It issued a vote of no confidence in a major candidate for statewide office.

“Assemblyman Donnelly’s rhetoric is divisive and destructive,” the board said. “He’s not the man to lead Republicans, the party of Abraham Lincoln.”

In a 2006 speech, Donnelly’s words landed like a punch. On the subject of the border fence, he said, “I am a descendant of Jim Bowie, who died at the Alamo. It is rumored that he took a dozen Mexican soldiers to their deaths before they finally killed him. How many of you will rise up and take his place on that wall?”

Is Donnelly really comparing immigration to war? When protesters in L.A. marched with Mexican flags, Donnelly said, “We are in a war. You may not want to accept it, but the other side has declared war on us.”

Donnelly’s hysterics don’t allow for the fact that the protesters weren’t armed. Instead, they were exercising the right of free speech, older than the republic itself, that Americans loyally defend, even when they don’t agree with the message.

Calling our immigration challenges war? That cheapens real war, its grim suffering and sacrifices.

Then there’s Donnelly’s senseless accusation that his opponent, Neel Kashkari, supported shariah (Islamic law) because Kashkari spoke in 2008 as a U.S. Treasury official for ten minutes at a seminar on understanding how Islamic banking law works in foreign nations. Donnelly made the smear, but didn’t bother with the details.

For example, Kashkari’s boss at the time, George W. Bush, was the most unyielding opponent of Islamic extremism you can name.

On Donnelly, the Lincoln Club is not alone. Top Republican leaders have condemned this rhetoric, starting with Assembly Republican leader Connie Conway, Senate Republican leader Bob Huff and the Congress’s Bulldog of Benghazi, Darrell Issa.

For its part, the Lincoln Club has led a major grass-roots effort in Santa Ana to explain how conservative government can turn around a state where Californians of every shade and color are failing together, like the brothers and sisters we are, under one-party Democratic rule. And the club has called for lawful, humane immigration reform securing the border – now, embracing free-market principles to meet the demand for labor with a meaningful guest worker program and keeping businesses from employing the undocumented with a smart-card system backed by serious penalties.

The Lincoln Club insists ethnic voters can’t afford to be captives of the incompetent Democratic Party. Republicans offer them a place where secure jobs grow – not out of state but down the street – and where any mother can choose her daughter’s school.
Latinos, Asians, African Americans and every Californian can live out the American promise of a good middle-class life.

Charter Schools: Reinventing Public Education

Charter Schools: Reinventing Public Education

By Dr. Claire Friend

The destiny of a nation lies in the education of its youth. Both Jesus and Hitler understood that society is shaped by its children, for better or worse. In this country, the commitment of public education to social indoctrination of our youth instead of education has helped determine the downward trajectory of the American Republic.

The idea for charter schools began as a proposal by a professor named Ray Budde to a group of his academic colleagues. Restructure education by establishing independent programs within public schools that are developed by teachers. The 1974 paper drew little interest until the publication of A Nation at Risk. The government report described the failure of public education to teach and the decline in academic competence of students as a national security threat.

Al Shanker, president of the American Federation of Teachers, endorsed the idea at a national meeting in 1988, and expanded it to the creation of independent schools within the public school building. Three years later, Minnesota passed the first state charter school law. California followed suit. Today, 42 states and the District of Columbia have charter school laws.

There was no federal support for charter schools until President Clinton amended the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in 1992. It provided for the development of charter schools with federal grants to fund them. President Bush signaled his support in the No Child Left Behind legislation. Nevertheless, opposition by local school districts and unions has severely restricted the establishment of countless charter schools nationwide. Their antipathy represents the biggest obstacle to continuing expansion of the charter network.

The creation of autonomous schools, independent of rules, regulations and union dogma remains an inspired idea, as freedom always is. Initially housed within the walls of a traditional public school, charter schools now occupy their own space, often in a trailer, vacant building or rented store front. In just over two decades, the handful of tiny schools started by teachers, parents and concerned citizens has grown into a network of 6,400 schools nationwide that serves 2.57 million students and has waitlists of more than one million additional applicants.2

Early critics feared charter schools would siphon off the highest performing students and much-needed funds. In reality, a majority of students are the poor, low performing minority students whose parents view charter schools as a chance for success. As with Catholic schools, this group has benefitted the most from the charter programs.

After Hurricane Katrina leveled New Orleans, its public schools were turned over to the Recovery School District. Seven thousand teachers and administrative employees were fired and replaced by a new cadre of teachers and staff. The citywide system of low-performing public schools was replaced by a network of charter schools, many of them operated by private Charter Management Organizations. This fall 100% of the city’s school age children attended charter schools. The sixty-five percent below-state-academic-test-scores rate has declined to seven per cent. Nineteen of the city’s schools now rank among the top twenty schools in the state.3

Last year, seven charter schools were recognized for Title I Academic Achievement. Sixty-five charters were California Distinguished Schools. Eight of the nation’s top twenty and 29 of the nation’s top one hundred charter schools are in California. 33 of the country’s top 100 schools in the nation are charter schools, with Oxford Academy in Cypress ranked as the tenth best school in the United States.

New York City’s charter schools rank among the best. Graduates of the Young Women’s Leadership Academy network of charter academies have a 300% greater chance of finishing college than their public school counterparts. More than 5500 poor minority girls who graduated from the schools have enrolled in college compared to the nationwide rate of only 8%.

Students enrolled in TYWLA East Harlem have consistently received the highest scores on the New York State Regents Exam. Mayor Bill De Blasio created a firestorm of protest when he attempted to trim the system of 154 schools his predecessor Michael Bloomberg had successfully built during his tenure.

Three decades ago, the National Commission on Excellence in Education warned that “a rising tide of mediocrity” in America’s schools was eroding our economy and society.4 Charter schools have proven to be a means to stem that tide. It is worth a closer look at the phenomenon to understand the reasons for its success and the threat charter schools represent to political bureaucrats and teachers’ unions.


The process of separation-individuation represents a milestone in human psychological development. From a dynamic perspective, charter schools are the organizational equivalent. Separated from their parent organizations, the schools become autonomous structures. Liberated from the collective, each school is free to develop its own individual identity unlike the traditional system of identical clones.


Each charter school is a unique system in which the teachers and principals are free to design the curriculum and daily lesson plans. It is the freedom the teachers are given to be innovative and creative that accounts for much of their extraordinary success. The process is very similar to that psychosocial development of children in a family. Those who leave home tend to become successful adults.


Opponents of charter schools maintain that they siphon off the top-performing students and essential financial resources, that the schools are racially and ethnically imbalanced. The data from countless studies contradict those claims.


The majority of students who enroll in charter schools are among the lowest performers in their public schools and more than two-thirds qualify for free or low-cost lunches. The schools typically receive only 60% of the funds allotted per pupil and sometimes have to make up the difference in costs out of pocket. Virtual schools offer online classes that have lowered the costs without compromising their effectiveness. Student demographics are similar to those of traditional public schools.


The 2014 Center for Research on Education Outcomes study on charter schools was analyzed by the RAND Corporation, a think tank whose employees donate almost exclusively to Democrat candidates. It found that students in New York who remain in charter schools through 8th grade score 30 points higher in math than their traditional public school counterparts, a finding that was repeated across the country but buried in the report.


The CREDO study on LAUSD found that 48% of the students in Los Angeles charter schools scored significantly higher in reading than their counterparts in traditional public schools and 44% higher in math. The charter students gained, on average, one full year of progress as a result of the substantial number of days added to their school year and more rigorous curriculum. The results were similar to those of Catholic schools. Liberal politics similarly biases a number of the unfavorable published studies of charter schools and conceals their highly successful record nationwide. It also accounts for much of the public opposition to them.


The application process itself is deliberately made arduous. Each school must submit a detailed proposal which includes five-year financial projection, cost analysis, governance code, disciplinary guidelines and grievance protocols among a list of other requirements. The application for Coney Island Prep’s charter totaled 1800 pages!5


The proposal must be approved by an authorizing agency. In California, the local school district grants the charter. Its denial can be appealed to the state. Opposition from the teachers’ unions, anti-charter activist groups and school superintendents has stifled many fine prospective charter schools. Orange County is ranked among the most hostile to charter schools.


Of the 1043 charter schools in California, 130 are in San Diego County, 60 in Santa Clara County but only 27 in Orange County, known to be hostile to them. Although federal legislation supports their creation and ballot Proposition 39 specifically endorsed an equal share of resources budgeted for education, union opposition has successfully thwarted both.


7% of charter school teachers are unionized. The loss in annual dues revenue is a threat to union power and the reason for the strong opposition. The California Teachers Union spent $26 Million to defeat Proposition 38, the school voucher initiative. It also reassigned reformist principal Frank Wells to an empty office where he sat with nothing to do and collected $600 per day. He was punished refusing to abandon the successful changes he implemented at Locke High School in Watts that turned the failing school into a success.


States enact their own charter laws, designate the authorizing agency that grants the charters and establishes the standards for their governance and accountability. In California, local school boards authorize charters. In the event the application is denied, the decision can be appealed to the State Board of Education.


Charters are generally granted for five years. Accountability is assessed regularly by Adequate Yearly Progress and other measures, not unlike the mandatory assessments of hospital performance by the Joint Commission on Hospital Accreditation. Schools are examined for financial deficiencies, academic performance, mismanagement and governance.


Not all charter schools are successful. The closure rate is between 15-17%, most often because of inadequate finances or mismanagement, rarely for substandard academic performance. For-profit management companies such as KIPP, Alliance, Aspire and Summit operate among the most financially sound, highest performing schools in California and nationwide.


Wherever charter schools have been established, whether in Canada, Chile, England, New Zealand Sweden or the United States, they have a proven track record of success. This record represents a threat to the system of public schools, the security of the entrenched bureaucracy and the power of the teachers unions with their multi-billion dollar annual war chest.


The David versus Goliath struggle is a battle well worth the effort. The continuing pitiful performance of American students in international academic assessments bears witness to the failure of an incompetent and corrupt education system that needs to be overhauled, if not completely scrapped. The fact that neighborhood public schools have responded to charter schools with improvements in curriculum and test scores is hopeful. The same is true for the sponsorship of several charter schools in Houston by the local teachers union.


These developments suggest that charter schools directly and indirectly improve student outcomes. In a nation that has plummeted from the top to the bottom in academic performance, charter schools offer a valuable tool to reverse the trend and the seemingly inevitable failure of the precious legacy that our Founding Fathers left us.


R. Claire Friend, MD

May 11, 2014










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