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Everest charter high school outflanks school district in surprise move
Original post made
on Jul 21, 2009
In its oft-thwarted efforts to find a home in Redwood City, officials of Everest (charter) Public High School have invoked the sovereign right of all public schools and now have a site that cannot be challenged through city planning processes.
Read the full story here Web Link
posted Tuesday, July 21, 2009, 5:12 PM
Posted by Concerned Parent
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jul 24, 2009 at 6:08 pm
Admission to charter schools would be by lottery independent of location so demographics would presumably reflect where people applied from. If your argument is that more students from EPA (and presumably fewer from outside EPA)would apply, I suspect it's wrong, but if that were the case that would then serve to draw students away from the charter high schools already in EPA. According to Mr. Gemma's Op/Ed on why the district rejected Everest's charter, there are two charter high school in EPA that serve the district's need for a small school environment. If the district believes there is no need for Everest at all and believes that the current high schools in EPA are serving the district well, why would another school be located in the same area? Keep in mind as well that when a different charter high school actually wanted to locate in EPA, the district wanted to locate them in RWC. One of the reasons given was that drawing too many students from the EPA area out of the comprehensive schools would have an adverse effect on the their demographic mix. The district can't have it both ways- arguing that you must locate in EPA to attract local students, but if you do that will goof up the district's stats. That also ignores the district's latest idea which was to locate in EPA for a year, then move to RWC for two years, then move back to EPA. As a teacher, even with master teachers, you can't tell me you think that's good for students.
As far as the lunch issue, not only does the food need to be prepared (and that can be done centrally), but there needs to be an acceptable setting in which to serve it. This is not a matter of convenience, it is a health requirement. And keep in mind that while you are happy to talk about children from EPA being bused as far north as Carlemont, as best as I can tell the district has not offered to provide buses for children attending charter schools a distance away from their homes. It appears there are many things that you don't see the need for, yet are actually important for health or legal reasons. At the end, I suspect that it comes down to money in that the SUHSD had already purchased the Green Street facility planning to use it for an adult school while at the same time denying Everest a charter. When Everest's charter was approved and the plans for an adult school were delayed, the district was unprepared and tried to make the offer that would cost the least, independent of whether it is Prop 39 compliant or not. Apparently the courts will be deciding that issue and frankly I wouldn't want to be in the position of defending the Green St. facility.
As far as Unions:
There are actually some data on websites and the listed number is 0.3% of tenured teachers are dismissed. Based on that, one would conclude that if the process is working well, that 99.7% of tenured teachers are performing well. As one who works in the business world, I would doubt that any group can maintain that record consistently. As far as teachers being let go in their first two years, keep in mind that in California, employment is "at will" and even after being at a company for more than two years, most people are not spared the possibility of being laid off.
I'd agree that the evaluation process is a challenge, yet I would argue there needs to be a process. At universities, there is system of review, tenure, etc. which is based on multiple factors though some will criticize it for having political nature to it. There will always be politics. I would advocate evaluation based on regular written evaluation, some independent observation from an independent state group, and a packet put together buy the principal that would include evaluations from peers, students, parents, and adminstration. Keep in mind that performance evaluations are a regular and standard part of corporate America and if done well can serve their purpose.
I'd agree that if vouchers are to be done, they need to be done right and as with charter schools, not all are good, nor are all bad. There have been some programs (notably in Wash DC) that appear to be proving a real opportunity for disadvantaged kids, but the concern has always been raised about the result being private schools, particularly with a religious orientation, being paid for with public dollars. The bottom line is that people seem to want some choice about their schools and teacher's unions are perceived, whether fair or not, as blocking school choice, innovation, and competition.