Education in Oakland

Another One Bites the Dust

Posted by novometro on June 25, 2007

Every charter school in Oakland must be living in fear these days. On Wednesday, Kimberley Statham, the state-appointed boss of Oakland Unified, will put another charter school out of business. This school isn’t managed by someone who calls visitors to the campus names. And no one has accused the director of cheating on standardized tests. By the measure of the California Department of Education, the 146 students at Bay Area Technology School are doing OK. At a school where three out of four students qualify for a free lunch, and three out of four are black, poor students and black students performed better on standardized tests in 2006 than their counterparts in traditional Oakland Unified middle schools. Bay Tech opened three years ago and has an Academic Performance Index of 653. But the number of students proficient in math dropped from 20 percent to 16 percent last year (admittedly not good news at a technology school), and OUSD is yanking the charter two years before it comes up for renewal.

OUSD officials also said that the school’s longterm financial position looks dicey, and during a two-day inspection in May of the storefront campus on Telegraph Avenue, “staff observed limited evidence of a clean, healthy learning environment for students.”


7 Responses to “Another One Bites the Dust”

  1. Caroline said

    From your San Francisco charter skeptic: SFUSD’s Board of Ed a few months ago voted down an application to open a Bay Tech school here. I believe Bay Tech has appealed to the state Board of Ed (which BTW will give $450,000 — no questions asked, essentially no receipts required — to anyone who comes to them and says “I want to open a charter school!”).

    So thanks for keeping us posted — this is relevant to my district.

    BTW at the meeting where the SFUSD BOE voted on Bay Tech’s application, it was one of two charters seeking approval. I made a brief, decorous speech during public comment about why charters harm school districts, and was booed and jeered by the applicants for the OTHER charter. The Bay Tech folks were cringing — and stood up afterward and said I had the right to speak, distancing themselves from the hecklers — because they knew the booing (and of a well-known parent volunteer, too) was the kiss of death for the charter applications, should they have had a chance to begin with. So at least I give them credit for defending me against the hecklers.

    Such is life in the rough-n-tumble world of “freedom from burdensome bureaucratic regulations”!

  2. […] Comments (RSS) « Another One Bites the Dust […]

  3. Baris said

    Support of the parents and the community was the main reason why OUSD gave BayTech a second thought in the highly POLITICIZED world of charter schools. Otherwise, closing a charter school is additional revenue for suffering district budgets. In the end, parents have the best judgement about BayTech. They live the difference day by day and support their school when it is time.

  4. Caroline said

    I’m a parent myself, but it’s never that simple as “parents have the best judgment.”

    As a hypothetical example, if my kids’ school got lots more funding at the expense of other schools and their children, I would undoubtedly be pleased as punch, but that doesn’t mean my judgment is the be-all and end-all — clearly if it’s all about me and my kids but it hurts other kids, I’m not the one to listen to.

    And I have watched charters ensure lots of “happy parents” with some tricks that aren’t about making their schools better. Controversial, for-profit Edison Schools made lots of parents happy by dumping high-need, challenging students out of their schools, even though they had committed to teach those kids. Still, the parents would rather their kids’ classes not be plagued by needy and disruptive kids, so they loved it. Grade inflation is another E-Z way to make parents happy — my child was getting D’s at her old school and now she’s getting A’s and B’s!

  5. Baris said

    So, let all the rest suffer and shut down good examples because we are not ready to consider reform and improvement? It is usually that those using tricks seem also to be the ones praised. Yet, schools like BayTech which are trying to serve unconditionally become the scape goat despite their success. I think it is time to look with some fairness rather than bias. Or shall we also close the entire district just because some district schools are mismanaged? Finally, weren’t parents’ good judgement acceptable, would you rather ignore their complaints also? Sounds like an easier solution for our problems…

  6. Caroline said

    You all sure are showered with a lot of money considering you’re whining about being scapegoated. Wish someone would “scapegoat” me like that!

  7. I normally don’t take the time out to thank people when i read their information but this was really informative.
    I look forward to reading more on your blog.
    Thank You.

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