Who Wants to Sign Up for the Proposed Charter School? District Releases Details

Rancho kids and families are big majority of those interested in signing up for the proposed North Bay Academy.

Details about a new charter school in Novato have been distributed by the Novato Unified School District, which is reviewing an application from the nonprofit group vying for a new educational choice for local families.

The least surprising fact to either side of the controversial issue is that most of the people interested in the proposed North Bay Academy are from Rancho Elementary School.

In early November, the district will call a public hearing to review the North Bay Education Foundation's petition for a school that would follow the Core Knowledge system of teaching, according to an NUSD release sent out Monday. The possible location of the school is undetermined at this point; it is not to be confused with the existing Novato Charter School in Hamilton, which uses Waldorf-based teaching methods.

The foundation's first go-round on the petition filing was rejected and the district requested more information, but NBEF quickly complied and the district approved the revised document Oct. 19.

Most of the kids and families who signed a non-binding petition of interest in the new school are tied to Rancho, which, like the existing Novato Charter School, does not have traditional neighborhood boundaries from which to draw its student body. Most people involved in the North Bay Educational Foundation are affiliated with Rancho, which has the highest grades of any elementary school in Marin County.

Rancho, which has a lottery system to determine its enrollment each year, is accepting more children from its neighborhood without going through the lottery process, and the district is studying new boundary policies for all of its schools. Many in the community have rallied to have Rancho turned into a neighborhood school and do away with the lottery system since the state says every public school must teach the same curriculum. On the flip side, many have rallied to defend Rancho's setup and say nothing could be more fair than a lottery system.

Out of 256 kids/families already enrolled in NUSD schools who expressed interest in the proposed charter school, 181 were affiliated with Rancho according to numbers released Monday. Aside from Rancho, the next most were 18 from Hamilton Meadow Park, 14 from Pleasant Valley, 14 from Olive, 11 from Loma Verde, eight from San Ramon, six from Lu Sutton and four from Lynwood. Interest was evenly spread throughout the grades except for a big drop among kindergarteners.

There were 71 Novato kids/families not affiliated with NUSD schools who expressed interest in registering for the North Bay Academy. Of those, 53 of those were kindergarteners. Fifteen of the non-NUSD names were from kids/families now attending Good Shepherd Lutheran School.

All but eight of the 365 kids/families who declared an interest in the new charter school were from Novato. Thirty-seven were petitioners with students currently in seventh or eighth grades.

The district chose not to release personal information about those who signed the petition. "However, if a Public Records Act request is received, only the petitioner signature and name will be released," the district said.

Documentation on the charter school bid can be found on the district's website; look for the words "proposed charter school" on the left side of the main page.

NUSD said anyone can send in comments about the proposed charter school to charter@nusd.org. Information about the public hearing will be available as soon as a date has been established, the district said.

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Clayton W. October 26, 2012 at 10:48 PM
(G) The means by which the school will achieve a racial and ethnic balance among its pupils that is reflective of the general population residing within the territorial jurisdiction of the school district to which the charter petition is submitted. Novato= 21% Hispanic, 2% black. Charter submission not even close.
Tina McMillan October 27, 2012 at 12:13 AM
Clayton If you read the petition the means is in there; it includes an outreach plan and if the dsitrict and the charter work together it would be even more effective. None of the existing charters have been closed just because demographics are different in a district. In our neighborhood schools we have percentages ranging from the single to double digits in ED and ELL. The law does not say you must find people to apply that fit these categories. Take a look at the charter and the appendices. It is in there.
Clayton W. October 27, 2012 at 02:26 AM
That's your interpretation, Tina. And neighborhood schools serve their neighborhoods, not the whole community as you claim this charter is going to do.
Elaine Chyrklund October 27, 2012 at 04:30 AM
It is difficult for me to believe or understand that parents are willingly "signing up" for a charter school that is being headed up by people that--while upstanding and contributing members to our community--do not have the credentials, training, or background to properly run a school (as I can tell from the NBEF website). We have two kids that have gone through Hamilton, both are now at San Jose Middle School. Our community is being divided by this Charter proposal--this is a fact. It is also a fact that we are blessed/fortunate/lucky to have such amazing schools and teachers in Novato (throughout Novato). Finally, one of the main points of NBEF is that the Charter proponents state that families of private school kids will "come back" to the district (specifically because of the Charter school). I am not seeing that at all in the numbers of the intent to enroll list. If parents and kids are happy at their private school, it is difficult to believe that they would leave their "tried and true" school to join a start up Charter school.
Tina McMillan October 27, 2012 at 06:07 AM
The CK curriculum was chosen with the help of local teachers, Rocklin teachers, and parents just like those on NUSD's board. It is a well established curriculum that has gained attention in recent years because it dovetails with the core standards being implemented throughout the country. In 1992 California created charter laws in order to increase curriculum diversity.North Bay Academy will have an experienced director as well as teachers from NUSD that want to remain in the district and participate in a new program. Charter is a common experience in Napa, Sonoma and SF. Some people have left NUSD because there were too few choices. Just like NUSD has created more magnet schools, NBA will be another district choice. In some communities charters thrive alongside neighborhood schools. Take a look at the charters in Petaluma. Our Superintendent was the board President of the River School charter in Napa and has worked with charters in the past. Our community has dealt with conflictual issues before. Sometimes airing differences is a good way to learn more about an issue and about each other. It starts with facts and a constructive dialogue. The meeting on the 8th will give the district a chance to talk, it will give NBA a chance to talk and it will give the community a chance to ask questions and air views. Charter is not for everyone but for some it will be a school of choice. It does not have to divide the community. That is also a choice.
Mama of3 October 27, 2012 at 01:54 PM
I don't think we need to buy into Eric Hirsch's ideology about what everyone should know in order to have a content rich, thematic based education rich in non-fiction literature and fiction related to the content. Have a look at what is being developed and adopted nationwide in our public schools in concert with the new Common Core standards: http://commoncore.org/_docs/cc-history_and_geo_maps-120327.pdf Common Core to Develop History, Geography Curriculum Maps to Support Teaching the Common Core State Standards Experts, Educators Point to Need to Increase Focus on Social Studies WASHINGTON, DC (March 27, 2012) – Responding to data showing an acute narrowing of the curriculum and to the new Common Core State Standards (CCSS) requirement for the teaching of high quality informational texts, Common Core (CC) today announced that it is developing a series of K-8 curriculum maps in history and geography. These new, CCSS-aligned curriculum maps will draw their content from the best state social studies standards in the nation. Please do not think that there is a current need for Core Knowledge when our excellent public schools are addressing the need for a better focus on content right now. If you need to be involved and have a stronger voice, go to your local school and join the PTA, or at least begin by discussing this with your neighborhood school principal.
Answerme October 27, 2012 at 03:57 PM
The law says by which the school WILL achieve a racial and ethnic balance....not "try" not "attempt" and not "hope for"....because if the school does not achieve this balance, then it is failing the intent it was started in the first place! It would not be serving all the community, a common point charter supporters so often tout. No Board would approve a school that claims to want to serve all, then open its doors with 90% advantaged and well performing students. This charter will not be approved.
Tina McMillan October 27, 2012 at 04:22 PM
Mama First, no one is selling you Core Knowledge, it would be a choice for any interested parent, just as our magnet schools, like MSA, are choices. Second, you cannot use curriculum as synonymous with standards. Standards are the goal and curriculum is the path by which you get there. Our Waldorf charter is another path to core standards that takes a completely different approach from either Core Knowledge or the district. The goal is the same while the paths are different. In the case of Core Knowledge, some states have chosen to utilize that path to reach the core standards because it is a good fit for their programs. Providing diverse curriculum options is part of California's public school system. So indeed, our excellent public schools are addressing the need for diverse curriculum choice by creating magnet, charter and alternative education programs.
Justin Hubbs October 27, 2012 at 04:27 PM
Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't school boards all over the state (and probably the country) run by lay-people who do not have credentials, training, etc. Why do you suppose that's permitted? The school will be run by a highly qualified principal, asst. principal and dean. I think the quality of these individuals will be critical to the school's success.
Tina McMillan October 27, 2012 at 04:31 PM
Answer If you are correct and charters must fit the narrow definition you provide then please explain the existence of charters throughout California that do not reflect the demographics of the communities in which they exist. The law says will provide a plan, plan will include outreach, outreach will persist. That is exactly what all charters do, they provide a plan, they do outreach and they persist. The law does not say, the plan must be successful from day one or you can not open your school. If it did then no schools would open without first using affirmative action to fill seats specifically designated for students based on race and socioeconomic factors. The law specifically prohibits such an action. The law says you must use a lottery to fill seats if there are more requests than spaces available. Once a school opens if it becomes popular but lacks the space to expand you would think the law would say that the people who are needed to better reflect the missing demographic would take first choice. Again, that is not the case. It really is possible to read, ask questions and understand what the law says about charters. I think you will find that your assumptions are not based in fact.
Ross Ingels October 27, 2012 at 04:41 PM
School boards all over the State are run by elected officials.
Justin Hubbs October 27, 2012 at 04:51 PM
Ross, are they required to have credentials, training, etc.?
Tina McMillan October 27, 2012 at 04:55 PM
Clayton If your claim were based in actual charter school law then we would turn to census data to see what the demographics are of multiple counties because students can apply to join a charter from throughout California. If charter law wanted to be affirmative in their actions to create socioeconomic and cultural diversity they would allow charters to fill seats based on those criteria. What the law says and the charter plan must mirror is the effort to create diversity in demographics but then the choice remains personal. One reason Core Knowledge was chosen as the curriculum for the charter is because it's focus is the concept of cultural literacy. It is intended to provide all students with content specific curriculum that will allow them to not just increase test scores but to understand significant events throughout history that form the basis for our understanding of the world. Hirsch uses methods similar to other programs it is the content the is unique in his program and that content allows core standards to be reached by a wider array of learners. Check out YouTube about Hirsch and Cultural Literacy on McNeil/Lehrer News Hour http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ROIujiY1uZU
Tina McMillan October 27, 2012 at 05:35 PM
NBEF Charter "The Academy has begun operation with a founding Board of three members. It will transition to a governing board of five to seven members upon charter authorization. The Academy Board of Directors is a policy-making board and its duties include overseeing the school leadership. The Board will delegate all school management decisions such as hiring teachers and school staff, day to day management, and implementation of the adherence to school policy to the Principal. As indicated in the Governance Structure diagram below, The Academy’s mission guides the work of the Board of Directors which hires, oversee, and evaluates the Principal, who in turn, hires, leads, and evaluates a staff in executing the mission." page 105 The charter board receives no payment for services. It is made up of parents and communities members. Like other public service positions it requires a lot of work, for no pay, because you believe in the service it provides to the community. The derogatory comments that have been made about the NBEF board do not bolster the position of opponents. You could easily make similar criticisms of our school board and you would be completely wrong there too. School boards are made up of parents and community members that make a commitment to support public education by volunteering service. The charter is no different.
NovatoAVID October 27, 2012 at 06:40 PM
thank you Clayton W.....i love reading this stuff...separate is not equal
NovatoAVID October 27, 2012 at 06:55 PM
Motivations for separatism: Groups may have one or more motivations for separation, including: *emotional resentment of rival communities *protection from ethnic cleansing and genocide *justified resistance by victims of oppression, including denigration of their language, culture or religion *propaganda by those who hope to gain politically from intergroup conflict and hatred *the economic and political dominance of one group that does not share power and privilege in an egalitarian fashion *economic motivations: seeking to end economic exploitation by more powerful group or, conversely, to escape economic redistribution from a richer to a poorer group *preservation of threatened religious, language or other cultural tradition *destabilization from one separatist movement ---giving rise to others *geopolitical power vacuum from breakup of larger states or empires continuing fragmentation as more and more states break up. *feeling that the perceived nation was added to the larger state by illegitimate means *the perception that the state can no longer support one's own group or has betrayed their interests
Mama of3 October 27, 2012 at 07:14 PM
Tina, I am not saying that curriculum is the same as standards. I'm pointing out that Core Knowledge is about specific content. E.D. Hirsch's whole argument is about needing more specific content to meet the standards. The link I provided above explains how nationwide, new curriculum maps are being used to provide more specific content in the areas of geography and history, and are linked closely with the language arts standards, areas which initially sparked E.D. HIrsch's prescribed curriculum. Furthermore, the Common Core standards involve more use of nonfiction texts, another area in which more content is infused into the standards. These are areas on which E.D. Hirsch focused in his curriculum. The point is that they are being addressed right now nationwide in public schools outside of Core Knowledge schools. I am not using curriculum as synonymous with standards. Did you read the information in the link I provided?
Tina McMillan October 27, 2012 at 09:33 PM
Mama Yes, I did read the information provided by your link. I also have been reading the educational reform articles and the curriculum articles on the CK site. No one is suggesting that a CK school be the only curriculum offered in Novato, quite the contrary we are looking for increased curriculum diversity. Your comment implied that what we have is close enough to be the same. That is not accurate. What is being adopted nationwide are standards, the road to reaching them is as diverse as CK is from Waldorf is from Montessori and so on.
Beth October 27, 2012 at 10:10 PM
I believe you were asking in the past about the difference between a Core Knowledge curriculum and the Common Core Standards currently being slowly implemented in our public schools (supposed to be fully implemented by 2015). This PBS video may be helpful as it speaks to both: http://video.pbs.org/video/2234867356
Mama of3 October 28, 2012 at 12:28 AM
Tina, Yes, I agree with you. The curriculums are not the same, but they achieve very similar goals. So it really comes down to what specific content you want your child to be exposed to. It is a doctrine - dogma, at least one scholar would say. http://www.theobjectivestandard.com/issues/2007-summer/false-promise-classical-education.asp. And I think it's important to understand that you don't have to leave your neighborhood school to get an excellent education with the same goals and similar pathways to those goals (though without necessarily the focus on classical western perspective). I also feel that people ought to take a closer look at what's happening in the district before deciding it doesn't work or isn't working. Things are changing.
Tina McMillan October 28, 2012 at 03:10 AM
Mama Only a fraction of the 8000 district students are electing to participate in the North Bay Academy charter. The same is true of Novato Charter School (Waldorf inspired curriculum), Marin School of the Arts(A visual, musical and performing arts magnet school), NOVA ( our independent study program) and many of the other alternative curriculum options that are available in our district. I don't think anyone is arguing that their school is the best school; I know I am not. Charter is about options, no more, no less. As for pathways to the core standards goals, I would argue that Core Knowledge is different from the current curriculum options available at our neighborhood, charter and alternative schools. It is about exploring what works best for each family.
Clayton W. October 28, 2012 at 03:41 AM
Private is also an option. You want something different, put up or shut up.
Tina McMillan October 28, 2012 at 06:00 AM
Clayton I am surprised to hear so many people act as if public charters are the worse thing to happen in education reform. This is one of the few issues that has support from both political parties. There is a reason why you need to question a lot of the bad press being thrown around about charter schools. Much of it isn't accurate. In Novato we have had two charter schools to date. One, a Waldorf based K through 8 that has been with us for 16 years and the other a technology and arts based high school that closed. Neither has left the district with debt. Both have offered opportunity. I don't know if you realize it, but in May President Obama declared a national charter schools week: NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim May 6 through May 12, 2012, as National Charter Schools Week. I commend our Nation's charter schools, teachers, and administrators, and I call on States and communities to support charter schools and the students they serve. IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this seventh day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand twelve, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-sixth. BARACK OBAMA http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/05/07/presidential-proclamation-national-charter-schools-week-2012
Clayton W. October 28, 2012 at 01:55 PM
I love how you always have to get in the last word Tina...just like the old school yard argument...my dad can beat up your dad.
ConcernedNovatoan November 01, 2012 at 08:01 PM
I find it interesting in all this discussion about charter schools in Novato, no one has applauded the efforts of the only current charter school in Novato. I had neighbors who had children who attended Rancho initially, but ultimately moved them to Novato Charter because they felt it was a better fit for them. I think parents have a right to see that their children get the best quality education possible. And in order to get that, you need to have CHOICES...
Tina McMillan November 01, 2012 at 09:45 PM
Concerned Novatoan I think if you go back through posts you will find that those of us that know about Novato Charter School and its Waldorf curriculum have been posting links and making comments about the rich and wonderful curriculum model Waldorf offers. I have been using the Memorandum of Understanding from NCS to make comments about how the district handles the financial relationship between the two schools. What I found most inspiring was the video and the written history. Watching how families came together to create a school from an empty lot was incredible. I think if I had a wish it would be that NCS could take in more students. I believe NCS has a waiting list of several hundred students each year. Some of the other districts in CA that are using the CK curriculum in charter and magnet schools also have other schools of choice. It is wonderful to see such a rich curriculum offered by a district. I think Novato has an opportunity to do the same. If we can only challenge the misstatements that pervade this discussion we may be able to turn things around. If you support charter in our community please consider writing to the school board. They need to hear from all of us.
Marys Mama November 01, 2012 at 10:36 PM
Tina, you have a habit of labeling posts that run counter to your opinion "misstatements that pervade this discussion." A lot of us are simply offering our opinions. Please stop vilifying people simply because they don't agree with you.
BJL November 01, 2012 at 11:19 PM
It would be nice to "hide" specific posters comments because it gets very old and exhausting seeing the posts that are so long spewing the same thing time after time. I have about five of the self righteous know it all posters I skip every time I read. Now back on subject - look how easy it is to be quick and to the point : NO THANKS! NO CHARTER!
Anne November 01, 2012 at 11:38 PM
I heard the Prop 39 papers were filed today with the NUSD. Anyone going to the workshop tonight at NUSD?
Great Kids, Great Schools November 02, 2012 at 02:23 AM
Yes on 30. Not yet on Charter.


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