Education in Oakland

Oakland Space Academies: Mission Scrubbed?

Posted by novometro on September 12, 2007

Nearly a year ago, the Junior Space Exploration Academy and the Space Exploration Academy opened their doors in West Oakland with a plan to pioneer space-themed education in one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods.

The schools broke new ground, but it was not the sort of trailblazing they had hoped for when they launched with more than $1 million in startup money from the state. In February, their charters became the first to be revoked by Kimberley Statham, OUSD’s chief. Using a new law that had gone into effect only one month before, the charter schools became the first to stay open while appealing the revoked charters to the Alameda County Board of Education and the State Board of Education.

If the state board follows the advice of the California Department of Education next week, and votes to uphold OUSD’s revocation, the two charter schools will lose funding from the state and almost certainly close.

Greg Geeting, the interim director of charter schools for the California Department of Education, says that because this is the first time a charter school has appealed to the State Board of Education, the vote can’t be predicted.

When Ms. Statham yanked the charters only a few months after the schools opened, the schools’ backers argued that OUSD should at least wait until the students had taken standardized tests and the results could show if the program was working. The scores are out and they won’t help the schools stay open.

For example, of the 15 students in the Space Exploration Academy who took standardized tests in the spring, only one was deemed proficient in math. The State Board of Education meeting is September 18. The report from the CDE is here.


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