Education in Oakland

No Miracle Here

Posted by novometro on May 29, 2007

In the past few months, Oakland Unified School District officials have said that they are going to get tough on the 29 charter schools operating under OUSD oversight. The Junior Space Exploration Academy and the Space Exploration Academy were the first schools to feel the effects of the new regime when OUSD revoked their charters in February. So far, the crackdown has ended there.

There are six new charter schools scheduled to open next school year, and the first of three existing charters up for renewal in 2007 will be approved Wednesday night. Since it opened in 2002, Lionel Wilson Prep (it’s an Aspire school) has more than doubled its enrollment to 535 students in the 6th through 12th grades. It has raised test scores, and according to OUSD staff, ranks in the top 20 percent of OUSD schools. Most interesting were the results of a survey, which found that 73 percent of graduates are either in higher education or engaged in “satisfactory work.”  The school has a 100 percent graduation rate and 86 percent of parents and students say they are satisfied with the school.

The details are interesting in light of the discussion surrounding American Indian Public Charter School. Here we have a charter school with a non-charismatic principal, that has raised its test scores slowly and unevenly (no suspicion of cheating), and where three out of four graduates consider themselves well-positioned for the future.

Of course, the school isn’t perfect. The renewal of the charter hinges on Lionel Wilson Prep better addressing the needs of its English language students (the school is more than three-quarters Latino), change its charter to reflect an admissions policy that gives a preference to a sister elementary school (Lionel Wilson is an Aspire school), and make sure that all teachers are “highly qualified” as mandated by No Child Left Behind (two out of three teachers at the school were non-NCLB compliant in 2006).

Because Lionel Wilson Prep still has a score of less than 5 on the Academic Performance Index, it is eligible for grant money from the California Department of Education. Wednesday’s school board meeting also includes approval for Lionel Wilson Prep’s application for a $744,000 state grant.


7 Responses to “No Miracle Here”

  1. Caroline said

    Eeek — you mean the charter school that hosts parties with deadly stabbings and shootings?

    I guess things really are messed up in Oakland, because that barely made the news. It would be a HUGE scandal in San Francisco if a school were hosting gang-drug-n-gunfire parties. And since it barely made the news, it didn’t tarnish Aspire’s rep disastrously the way it should have.

    So yeah, the test scores are at the bottom edge of mediocre, but unfortunately, that’s not that bad for Oakland.

    Claims about no dropouts and the graduates’ outcomes are totally self-reported by a school that’s fighting for its survival.It’s not impossible that they’re true, but they’re unconfirmed and unconfirmable. All charters claim to have no dropouts — like private schools, they get rid of the kids who are on track to drop out.

  2. novometro said

    Jeez! Your criticism of charter schools is so reflexive, you will stoop to misrepresent the facts in a story you link to.

  3. Caroline said

    I didn’t misrepresent the facts. In two separate parties at the school and GIVEN BY PEOPLE CONNECTED WITH THE SCHOOL, there have been violent incidents, one fatal. This would be a huge scandal in my district, and IMHO it would be a huge scandal if it hadn’t been a charter school either, given that the press is largely given to fawning and gushing coverage over the “miracle” of charter schools.

    So what did I misrepresent?

  4. Caroline said

    I see that the link I used was to a story that didn’t mention that there had been a previous incident (see what I mean about the press coverage? Mustn’t hurt their image!) — sorry to provide incomplete info. Here’s my blog item on it with links and details, Novometro.

  5. novometro said

    Look. It’s obvious. The charter school did not host a party or parties with deadly shootings and stabbings. An administrator used the school on the weekend for a private birthday party.

  6. Caroline said

    TWO private parties, both connected with school staff, both with violence, once deadly. In San Francisco, World War III would start over a school with administrators who would give violent parties at the school at any hour. In Oakland, and I am certain because it’s a charter (all bow and sing hosannas), it barely raised an eyebrow. Different standards, I guess.

    That said, I misrepresented no facts.

  7. Caroline said

    …oh, except that I did remember one fact wrong. Rather than one party with a shooting and one with a stabbing it was two parties with shootings. I guess that changes everything. In any case, they barely got any news coverage and went all but unnoticed. I find that really startling.

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