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Presentation on Core Curriculum Charter School on Tuesday

North Bay Educational Foundation is holding a meeting on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. on a new core curriculum model for a charter school in Novato.

North Bay Educational Foundation Announces Public Meeting to Detail Curriculum and Methodology for New Pre-K – 8 Charter School in Novato Core

Knowledge Teachers to Present ‘A Day in the Life of a Core Knowledge Student’  

WHAT: The purpose of this public meeting is to provide a detailed explanation of the Core Knowledge curriculum and methodology as it would be utilized in Marin County’s first Core Knowledge public charter school. Two teachers (second grade and fourth grade) from Rocklin Academy Core Knowledge charter schools will present an overview of what students learn and how they learn it in a Core Knowledge classroom. In addition, there will be opportunities for interested community members to get involved in bringing this progressive educational opportunity to Novato. 

WHEN:  Tuesday June 26, 2012, 6:30pm 

WHO: North Bay Educational Foundation (NBEF) 

WHERE: Best Western Novato Oaks, 215 Alameda del Prado, Novato 

WHY: In response to the growing community interest in educational options, a group of NUSD parents, under the organization North Bay Educational Foundation (NBEF), has joined together to bring a unique and forward-thinking Pre-K through eighth grade public school to Novato.  Spanish language translation will be available.

Childcare will not be provided at this meeting due to space constraints.   

Please email northbayedu@gmail.com with RSVP in the subject line if you plan to attend. Note:  RSVPs are requested for planning purposes only and are not required to attend. 

*Please forward this meeting notice to anyone who might be interested. 

About North Bay Educational Foundation: North Bay Educational Foundation offers a public charter school dedicated to fostering equity in excellence for students in Pre-K through 8th grade.  This new school leverages the Core Knowledge curriculum model, an innovative, research-based, carefully designed program that has a proven record of equipping all students with the academic skills and personal values they need to compete in the areas of communication, fine arts, technology, mathematics, and scientific innovation. Please visit northbayedu.org for more information.

Maria Escobar June 27, 2012 at 05:00 AM
LP, We need a K-8. Both of our middle schools are overflowing. I am interested in this Charter School. Perhaps it will keep more families in NUSD, instead of leaving it.
Tina McMillan June 27, 2012 at 07:22 AM
LP http://www.northbayedu.org/ If you want to learn more about Core Knowledge please take a look at the website to watch the presentation. It isn't just another elementary school. The differences in this model are extensive. Please read more on the Core Knowledge website. That's why it qualifies as a charter. The Novato school would be a preK through 8 with an extended day and a curriculum model that raises the bar by raising the interest of the students and the families. It isn't about replacing Rancho, it is about adding a school with a curriculum design that successfully addresses the difficulties educating learners from all walks of life. The presentation by the Core Knowledge teachers was exciting because they clearly love working with this model as teachers and as parents. Novato's difficulties are not being addressed by the new boundaries or by closing Hill. There is talk of closing self contained GATE after next year. The overcrowding in the two middle schools is not workable for many students. We still need to find a means of better educating ELL and ED students and it's time to work outside the box.
Tina McMillan June 27, 2012 at 07:22 AM
continued We have successful magnet schools like Marin School of the Arts and successful charter schools like Novato Waldorf Charter. As far as the question of what teachers would want to participate, again, it is a philosophical choice based on the kind of teaching they are allowed to do. I encourage you to watch the presentation and to do the research.
Roger June 27, 2012 at 02:46 PM
Tina, what is ELL and ED?
Tina McMillan June 27, 2012 at 03:12 PM
Roger (Thank you for asking; there are so many terms) ELL stands for English Language Learner and ED for Economically Disadvantaged. These two categories are important because we have schools in Program Improvement (PI) as they have not been able to make enough progress teaching struggling students. This is happening throughout the U.S. and has raised the question of what curriculum and what teaching methods would best allow schools to educate struggling populations. In Novato the struggle is significant because we have classrooms with children whose needs range from Learning Disabled (LD) through ELL, ED, and Gifted (GATE). Core Knowledge seems to be effective with a broad spectrum of learners. There is consistency in the curriculum so no matter who you get you are taught the same information. Differences in learning are addressed by small group instruction, longer class day and interactive teaching techniques. It was a wonderful presentation.
4novato June 27, 2012 at 06:00 PM
4novato June 27, 2012 at 06:55 PM
If the idea of the suggested Core Knowledge Charter School is not an attempt to replace Rancho then why is this just being explored now? Why were these parents not fighting for an alternative teaching style before the closing of Rancho? If all of this energy and enthusiasm were put towards our local schools we could be a united community with a strong school system which would help our kids, our friends and our housing prices. I truly don't believe we have enough children in Novato to support another school. Parent support and funding is already so lacking in our schools and this will only further deplete current inadequate resources.
Tina McMillan June 27, 2012 at 07:14 PM
Every crisis represents an opportunity. I believe the closure of Hill, multiple elementary schools in PI and the ongoing debates about curriculum have resulted in a group of parents taking the initiative to explore a charter that could help a broad range of students. The ultimate reason why charter doesn't happen more often is the tremendous effort it takes to get established. Rancho hasn't closed. It is alive and well in our district. The new boundary study included Rancho as a neighborhood school and so the lottery system will end and neighbors will have the choice to attend. This energy and enthusiasm has been and will continue to be put into our local schools. Parent support is not lacking in our schools but funding from the state will always be an issue as long as we are a low wealth district impacted by ADA. Charter is a community process. The Novato Waldorf Charter was never treated with this level of suspicion and discontent. I suspect the heated debates of last year over boundaries, the definition of curriculum at the elementary level, GATE, PI and other significant issues all affect people's dialogue about a potential charter. If people get beyond their biases and just look at the information it is well worth the effort. I wish our family had this option when my children were in K-8. As a person who works with children I am very excited by the curriculum focus, the extended day and the teaching methods.
Ross Ingels June 28, 2012 at 03:24 AM
4novato, you are exactly right. Just for info, Rancho did not close. Rancho is still open and is teaching the exact same ciriculum next year that it taught this year and the year before and so on. The only change is that starting next year neighborhood kids get in before transfer students. A year ago Robert and MJ Lonson were touting how great everything was at Rancho and that it should be left alone. Now that Rancho is a neighborhood school it not good enough and they are starting a new, lottery only charter school. It is a good idea to look at this new Charter attempt and all of its founders with a suspicious eye. I attended their first public meeting and the crowd was almost all Rancho parents.
Tina McMillan June 28, 2012 at 04:28 AM
Ross If you attended the second NBEF meeting you would know that many charters, such as Novato Waldorf are lottery based and that magnet schools such as Marin School of the Arts require an audition. Rancho's lottery was part of its inception as a "Back to Basics" school started by families from Hamilton AFB. Several years ago the elementary curriculum was made uniform throughout the district and Rancho continued to teach in the same manner that had brought them success for many years. With the closure of Hill and the boundary changes, Rancho was returned to neighborhood status eliminating the need for a lottery. The debates that occurred during this process created the opportunity to look at curriculum design and to question whether there might be a more effective curriculum that would reach a wider range of students. With three elementary schools in Program Improvement and Hill Middle School closed, examining curriculum options seems like a logical progression in thinking.
Tina McMillan June 28, 2012 at 04:29 AM
continued The question of whether NBEF Charter will be a lottery school depends on the number of parents with students who want to attend and the site that the school is provided. The teachers that came down from Rocklin explained that their site, which is donated by their school district, has limitations on enrollment at the elementary level due to space but that the Middle and High School site does not have the same limitations. The lottery system is the recourse when you have more people that want to attend than spaces available. I have spoken to many parents who were interested in Novato Waldorf Charter but there was not sufficient space when they applied. No discrimination, just a fact of life. You clearly have an axe to grind with families from Rancho.
LoveNovato June 28, 2012 at 06:08 AM
I guess I am confused--why is it a good idea to be suspicious of a group of parents?! As I said before, if this is a bad idea and nobody wants it, it will fizzle. I don't understand the angle that people who send their child to a particular elementary school are bad people who are not to be trusted. Is it possible that kids who attend/attended that school might read these comments and infer that there is something wrong with their parents?! I would think that looking at this with an open mind would be the best way to actually determine if it's a good thing or not.
Justin Hubbs July 02, 2012 at 06:23 PM
Yup, them Hatfields are at it again...A quick show of hands - who will be attending their new neighborhood school next year? Ross?
Answerme July 02, 2012 at 09:52 PM
Ross has an opinion, not an axe to grind. If having a different opinion is problematic Tina, then judging from all your posts on Patch, you are the Paul Bunyon of Marin!
Answerme July 02, 2012 at 09:58 PM
As for the level of suspicion, we all should question what is being done with PUBLIC money. Lonson and crew attempted to SECRETLY convert Rancho into a charter last year. These are public schools we are talking about, no place for secrecy. The NBEF website does not list Board members, wonder why? They are from the same school trying the same thing in a different way. As for Rocklin school sites "donated" by their district, do the math in Novato. This charter school wants to have 300-600 students in a K-8 setting. There are no more than a few available classrooms at Hill. That means they want to DISPLACE a school and all its students. Which site should that be? No, this new effort has not passed the sniff test, yet. Lonson does not want to create a new school, this effort is to create an island.
Tina McMillan July 02, 2012 at 11:02 PM
AnswerMe There are no secrets behind this. The charter requires preparatory groundwork. Last years Rancho debate became contentious because a small group of individuals chose to make it personal. These were not Rancho parents but parents from other schools. The Rancho parents have done nothing to deserve this kind of press. As LoveNovato mentions, can you imagine how students from Rancho would feel if they knew that adults from other schools were maligning their school, their families and their teachers? As far as location goes our previous High School Charter, MSAT, was housed at Indian Valley Campus. I don't know what sites will be available but forming a charter is not against the law; it is a public option and the derisive comments against the school have nothing to do with the curriculum. They all appear to be part of an anti Rancho campaign for which there is no reason other than ill will. Have you taken the time to look at the curriculum, to listen to the teachers and to consider its benefit to our students? If there are enough people to start the school then it has a chance. This is not a question of being for or against an option. It does not take away from the existing options. No one complains that Novato Waldorf Charter takes students away from existing schools. It is a K through 8. It has been a real asset in the community. I don't see the issue unless it is about bias against Rancho families.
RJB July 03, 2012 at 02:24 AM
"Answerme", you are very vicious and intolerant. Ms. Lonson is trying to give the community an alternative to what currently is being offered to the current schools in Novato. Instead of being criticized, Ms. Lonson et al. should be applauded for their outstanding work in our community and for trying. I have seen in this community when someone questions authority or the establishment the militant few start their smear campaigns. Thank you Ms. Lonson and others for your hard work. As a community member (without school age children) I look forward to another Charter School in Novato and we will support it. Too many parent's are leaving the public school system in Novato. We need to keep them..
RJB July 03, 2012 at 02:25 AM
Tina you are the voice of reason. We thank you
RJB July 03, 2012 at 02:26 AM
4Novato Perhaps the charter school will retain parents who are leaving for private schools or moving to so. Marin will stay in NUSD.
Justin Hubbs July 03, 2012 at 04:16 AM
As much as I love the Novato-Patch whack-a-mole, it irritates me when Novatans pretend they finance this district; we can thank the great state of California for that honor. Speaking of the state, creating a charter is a public option under state law that requires approval from the district, county or state. Don't worry Answerme, you will have ample opportunity to whack the Charter mole and preserve our outdated neighborhood model. Personally, I'm optimistic about the future because people like Lonson and company are willing to do the heavy-lifting for progress, and progress always ends up prevailing.
Steven Norwin July 03, 2012 at 05:07 AM
@Justin Hubbs: And just who do you think funds the state?
Tina McMillan July 03, 2012 at 05:33 AM
Steven In Novato we get general fund money on top of property tax revenue. We would do better if we could get an exemption from ADA requirements. It's something we need to address in the legislature for all low wealth districts. So yes, we all fund the state and we all fund our schools. The innovation behind the charter system is not something to be feared. The idea that this charter is somehow bad but our other active charter is somehow good, demonstrates the lack of reason being applied to this issue. We really need the disgruntled folks who have it in for anyone from Rancho to put the best interests of the children foremost and let the process unfold without the negative rhetoric. Not once have they looked directly at the Core Knowledge curriculum to see why it has inspired a new charter school.
Tina McMillan July 03, 2012 at 05:35 AM
continued I wish everyone on this thread would go to the NBEC website and watch the presentation. Meeting the Rocklin teachers and hearing about their experiences made me wish I had been able to make this choice for my own children. The extended school day means less homework because children will be able to learn at school. The PreK -8 model means one more option to decrease the crowding at our two remaining Middle Schools. There is a K-8 at Novato Waldorf Charter and a K-8 at Hamilton. This would be the third. The set curriculum will give us a means of evaluating the models effectiveness with a broad array of learners. Using small groups allows children at different levels of achievement to grow at their own rates. This school won't be for everyone. The point is to have a choice and not be afraid of a different approach to learning. Here is the link: http://www.northbayedu.org/
Justin Hubbs July 03, 2012 at 03:23 PM
It is rumored, but unconfirmed, that people living outside Novato pay state taxes too. The point is that we are not self-funded. In any event, I highly doubt that folks living and paying outside of Novato (let's call them the state) care about the contrived drama surrounding who the founders are. I suspect they are more interested in the effective use, and efficient delivery, of funds for education; the charter mechanism is one such form of that delivery. With the purse strings comes the power to decide how best to deliver/use state funds. I suspect that if the state sees the charter as a better option, you will have a charter, if not, you won't.
Answerme July 03, 2012 at 03:35 PM
If it is such a great idea, then why aren't any of the school related organizations that Lonson is involved in Novato supporting it? I heard she is president of the PTA for your town! Will you still be in favor if they request to take over YOUR local school? What if they try to hire away YOUR childs teacher? The timing is just a coincidence that Rancho parents are trying to do this when some of them were so upset that their kids have to sit next to neighborhood kids? It just doesn't add up....oh, and have you seen how many disadvantaged kids your current charter school has enrolled? Less than 5.....FIVE! yet it is located right near alot of affordable housing.....
Ella July 03, 2012 at 03:45 PM
As a parent with a child who will be entering NUSD next year, I am very interested in hearing more about this potential charter. Our neighborhood school is fine, but it's always nice to have options, and this curriculum sounds pretty interesting. I don't care about the politics behind the creation of this charter, I care about providing the best possible education for my child. If this school becomes a reality and offers a compelling program, I'd consider it. In the meantime, I'm supportive of any discussion as to how we can best educate Novato's children.
Answerme July 03, 2012 at 04:58 PM
and those conversations would be best done together and in the open, right? Rather than in secret. How about this discussion?.........Instead of attempting to separate physical sites (and students), why not try to integrate Core Knowledge at one or some of your existing schools? That seems fair. Why the need to have a different school or attempt to take another campus over and kick out the current students, whos "choice" was their neighborhood school? If you can have a GATE program at each school, why not have this curriculum offered as an option too? One reason being, IF the school gets off the ground and fails (just like your recent charter schoool MSAT did a few years back), what happens to those kids? The conversation isn't just "choice" with the assumption it becomes successful. Many charter schools fail and leave behind those very same kids in their wake.
Tina McMillan July 03, 2012 at 06:24 PM
Answer You know who these folks are based on your posts so I suspect Novato is also "your" town. No charter has every taken over a local school. If you haven't noticed teachers are being laid off due to budget cuts. If a charter opens up the possibility of hiring back valued teachers then I am all for it. I am also certain that teachers outside the district who have been exposed to this curriculum would be interested in teaching here. Novato Waldorf is not for everyone. I would not have enrolled by children because I share a different philosophy but I was thrilled when they were able to get off the ground because I know many, many children and families who have benefited from a Waldorf method. Core Knowledge has a method that I think will appeal to a broader audience. Location is not always the primary issue. Your fear mongering is both tiresome and childish. If you don't like the program you don't have to send your children there. It's that simple.
Tina McMillan July 03, 2012 at 06:27 PM
The district isn't asking to add a new curriculum approach. Charter and Magnet are the two means I know of to innovate in our schools. Answer, your insistence on making this about take over and kicking out is truly your perception and has never been said about any Novato Charter. Both Novato Waldorf and MSAT found housing separate from existing campuses. Again, fear mongering seems ill advised.
Answerme July 03, 2012 at 08:40 PM
and there we see the grinding of your axe....thanks Tina!!


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