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Town Square

New charter high school makes a pitch

Original post made on Nov 9, 2011

A proposed fifth charter high school in the Sequoia Union High School District would be modeled on Big Picture Learning, a network of more than 100 charters.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, November 9, 2011, 5:47 PM

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Posted by member
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Nov 9, 2011 at 8:38 pm

As par with the quality of reporting from the Almanac – I would check with Pat Gemma – I think you will find him surprised to know he is on the advisory board – as will many of those you listed on the advisory board - I suggest you talk to them. Oh check facts -


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Posted by Dave Boyce
Almanac staff writer
on Nov 10, 2011 at 10:39 am

Dave Boyce is a registered user.

For the record, Pat Gemma has confirmed to the Almanac that he has advised Ms. Stewart about this school, that he visited another Big Picture Learning high school in Oakland while he was superintendent of the Sequoia district, and that he will continue to be available as an adviser.


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Posted by Value for Money
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 10, 2011 at 1:06 pm

If Denise Pope and Linda Darling Hammond are advising it's a pretty good sign that this new charter plans to focus on high standards and 21st Century skills supported and delivered in way that is accessible to all types of learners.

Last night, Sir Ken Robinson spoke at Sacred Heart School for the 10th Anniversary of the Common Ground Speaker Series. His message was that our current educational system was never designed to meet the needs of today's economy. For the United States to remain relevant and competitive we have to invest in an education system that celebrates individual talents and gives teachers and administrators the freedom to innovate and personalize so we are developing earth-shakers instead of churning out test-takers.

It would be nice to know that the SUHSD has changed its position toward charter schools because it believes in this goal. But my guess is that they just figured out the benefit of saving $3,643 and keeping class sizes from growing for every student who attends a charter school vs. one of the four district high schools.

Let's hope that the refreshed and re-energized SUHSD Board of Education will take a serious look at best practices from the Stanford School of Education, Summit Schools, Big Picture Learning and others and do something progressive for ALL the high schools that will address the current 30% dropout rate and create a culture of achievement and possiblity.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Nov 10, 2011 at 7:01 pm

As Superintendent of the Sequoia Union High School District, Dr. Gemma's reasons for not supporting charter schools had nothing to do with their objectives, staffing, students, philosophy or success. It was economics. Dr. Gemma made the highly flawed argument that making the district fund charter students was "stealing" money from students who attended the larger comprehensive high schools. It was a big lie and he knew it.

While I welcome Dr. Gemma's eleventh hour conversion, it's hypocritical of him to now side with HIS charter school.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 10, 2011 at 7:05 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

With our current high schools preparing most of their students neither for college nor for the job market a lot of competition would seem to be a useful addition.


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Posted by WhoRUpeople
a resident of another community
on Nov 11, 2011 at 3:02 pm

Ugh, I thought I had endured the last I had to hear from Gemma. POGO, thank you for your post, All I can add is DITTO; and btw, count your fingers if you believe he is sincere and not looking for a role for himself.