Two charters scheduled for discussion at MHUSD meeting - Morgan Hill Times: Schools

Two charters scheduled for discussion at MHUSD meeting

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Posted: Friday, September 27, 2013 4:21 pm | Updated: 3:52 pm, Fri Oct 18, 2013.

The Morgan Hill Unified School District’s Oct. 8 Board of Education meeting will be a double feature of charter school petitions.

Part I is Rocketship Education’s public hearing on the petition to open one of its schools in MHUSD in the fall of 2014. The Board will not take action, but instead only listen to community members’ voices.

Part II is the Board of Education’s much-anticipated vote on whether to approve Navigator Schools’ petition and allow the organization to open its third charter school for the 2014-15 school year.

“It’s a lot for one night, but, with the processing of the applications and the time constraints, it just kind of aligned that way,” said Board President Don Moody. “There’s going to be one vote that night and that will be the Navigator vote.”

Interim superintendent Steve Betando announced the district will address both petitions on the same night. The meeting will be held in the Britton Middle School gymnasium to accommodate a larger audience. The public session begins at 6 p.m.

“We want to make sure everyone can be heard,” Betando said. “The Board needs to hear from the educational community.”

Director of Development Jessica Garcia-Kohl for Rocketship Education said she does not have a problem with holding the public hearing and a vote on separate charter petitions at the same meeting.

“We knew that was a possibility,” said Garcia-Kohl. “We’re just looking forward to having a public discussion on the merits of Rocketship in the Morgan Hill community and how it can serve all students.”

James Dent, co-founder of Navigator Schools and principal at Gilroy Prep School, said he does not “have a problem with it” and is confident that some board members “are going to vote ‘yes’” on Navigators’ petition. He added that four trustees have visited the Gilroy or Hollister campuses this past week and all seven have taken tours, which he described as “unprecedented” compared to previous school district boards. He also gave MHUSD’s trustees his “highest compliments” during the petition process.

“They’ve asked more questions than any other board,” Dent said. “They are trying to find out the facts because there have been some misconceptions put out there that have been laid to rest with their visits.”

Some of those “misconceptions,” Dent said, revolved around Navigators’ handling of special education students and critical thinking in the classrooms.

Rocketship’s public hearing will be the first item on the school board’s agenda, Betando confirmed.

Dent said he’s “not really concerned with order.”

“Obviously, it would be preferable not to have to wait until 10 o’clock at night,” he continued. “I just want the day of the vote to finally be here.”

Navigator was the first to petition MHUSD back in April, but pulled its application for revisions at the district’s request in June. They re-submitted their petition Aug. 9, clearing up concerns with No Child Left Behind legislation and mandatory parent volunteer hours.

Rocketship, already approved to open 20 charters within Santa Clara County by the county’s Office of Education, notified MHUSD of its intentions in June. Meanwhile, Rocketship held a bond issuance hearing at the Aug. 28 City Council meeting to attain $50 million to finance the construction of schools in Morgan Hill and San Jose. The City Council rejected that, and Rocketship instead decided to first petition MHUSD, which it did Sept. 6.

Navigators’ public hearing Sept. 10 - held in the auditorium at Britton Middle School rather than the district office - brought out hundreds of community members with nearly 70 speakers offering their varying opinions.

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  • webster3 posted at 4:44 pm on Sat, Oct 5, 2013.

    webster3 Posts: 70

    Barmando...if only you looked closely at the data, you would see and understand the weaknesses of your argument. Also, if the Feds do not grant a waiver it does not mean that California will administer the outdated STAR tests The only sanction involved can be to withhold federal dollars which are a small piece of the funding pie. California is moving on and field testing the new generation of assessments. Anything else would be living in the past. Ironic how the charter innovators are so reluctant to let go of the obsolete system. ...a curious example of human nature I guess. API's will not be calculated for two years for as the State transitions to the Common Core curriculum. We're using our collaboration time to do that already. Math is fully implementing now and both English and Math have switched over to common core aligned benchmarks to aid in field testing. Scooter, I'm not sure I understand the axe you have to grind based on personal experience..but stop by and we'll chat about your concerns, suggestions, and I can even show you the exciting things we do with our collaboration.

  • RayBlanchard posted at 3:56 pm on Thu, Oct 3, 2013.

    RayBlanchard Posts: 66

    Either way, hopefully all of this focus and attention to our Morgan Hill schools, and the evolution of standards and testing, should be a good thing for our kids! These are exciting times for education. As parents and members of our community, everyone should ask teachers and our MHUSD Board how to get involved and help our District. Great stuff!

  • Scooter posted at 1:32 pm on Thu, Oct 3, 2013.

    Scooter Posts: 16

    Star testing or no Star testing - it still does not change the personal experiences we have had or the failures in our district. Spend less time worrying about charter schools and more time implementing technology, inspiring students, intervening where necessary and doing your best to make sure EVERY child receives the education they deserve. Spend collaboration time collaborating - don't use this time to plan an email campaign against charters. You're doing this at my children's expense! You want to be respected and supported. Give us a quality district worth supporting.

  • Barmando3 posted at 11:44 am on Thu, Oct 3, 2013.

    Barmando3 Posts: 39

    webster3: The fact that the Governor signed AB 484 does not mean it will now be implemented. The Federal government will now have a say in the matter. So until the Federal government makes a determination whether or not to grant a waiver request from testing, we do not yet know the final framework of what testing will occur in the next two years while we transition to common core. But, look... we are testing for science this year. Moreover AB 484 states that the public may reference the most current API scores for each District and its schools even next year. So that means next year we can continue to rely on the API score for 2012-2013 to reference how our students performed along the continuum of achievement in standardized tests. We can also continue to compare our District schools against the performance of other Districts using the 2012-2013 test data. Your apparently have a dislike for API scores. But the API score is comprised of the performance of students in standardized tests. Even if going forward standardized performance test scores will now comprise 60 percent of the new measure, you can bet that interested persons are going to closely examine and comment on the performance of our students in those standardized tests. Rocketship has not landed on a crater because there is no crater. The 2012-2013 API scores continues to provide the basis for why Rocketship will be a good for those parents who want the choice of alternative academic models for their children.

  • webster3 posted at 3:28 pm on Wed, Oct 2, 2013.

    webster3 Posts: 70

    Here’s some highlights from AB 484---complete link:

    It's tedious reading, but here's my favorite sentence from the bill:

    "It is therefore necessary that the accountability system evolve beyond its narrow focus on pupil test scores to encompass other valuable information about school performance,"

    The API argument has never been solid....every law maker up to the governor believes that. Only those with a vested business interest are clinging to it like scrooge to a nickle.

    some other highlights:

    This bill would, for the 2013–14 and 2014–15 school years, upon approval of the state board, authorize the Superintendent to not provide an API score to a school or school district due to a determination by the Superintendent that a transition to new standards-based assessments would compromise comparability of results across schools or school districts.
    The bill would delete the provisions establishing the STAR Program, and instead establish the Measurement of Academic Performance and Progress (MAPP), commencing with the 2013–14 school year, (That would mean a field test for schools this year)

    The API has been recognized as being unfair and it will change:.. Read H twice if you believe existing API's are all that important!!!

    (4) (A) The API shall consist of a variety of indicators
    (B) (F) (i) Commencing with the baseline API calculation in 2016, and for each year thereafter, results of the achievement test and other tests specified in subdivision (b) shall constitute no more than 60 percent of the value of the index for secondary schools.
    (G) Results of the achievement test and other tests specified in subdivision (b) shall constitute at least 60 percent of the value of the index for primary schools and middle schools.
    (H) It is the intent of the Legislature that the state’s system of public school accountability be more closely aligned with both the public’s expectations for public education and the workforce needs of the state’s economy. It is therefore necessary that the accountability system evolve beyond its narrow focus on pupil test scores to encompass other valuable information about school performance, including, but not limited to, pupil preparedness for college and career, as well as the high school graduation rates already required by law.--(it goes on to provide a laundry list of factors that may be expanded)

    Sorry Charter proponents....your rocketship just landed in a crater...maybe you need a new Navigator!

  • webster3 posted at 2:23 pm on Wed, Oct 2, 2013.

    webster3 Posts: 70

    The governor signed SB 484 more star tests (except in Science) and no more API's for 2 years. (what will we argue about) until a new system can be designed. In the press release, the State superintendent of instruction characterized our past testing and accountablitiy system as "outdated policies of the past." I guess that sums up the API argument for charter schools.