East Palo Alto High School, a charter school operated by the Stanford School of Education, reached a wonderful milestone this week: the four-year-old high school turned out its first class and celebrated the fact that 90% of the graduates, most of whom are disadvantaged, will be going to college. (Full disclosure: I serve on an advisory panel to Stanford’s dean, Deborah Stipek.) Only 40% of the high school students in the Ravenswood district, which serves East Palo Alto, even graduate, let alone go to college. When the class entered the new school four years ago, 60% of them were reading at least two years below grade level. Stanford is beefing up its teacher training program and participants go to EPA High to student teach. Top Stanford professors such as Linda Darling Hammond are involved. All students are offered health services. Stanford undergraduates work as tutors. In March Stanford was granted a charter by the Ravenswood school board to expand the high school to K-12 over the next six years. California, of course, doesn’t allow universities to authorize charter schools directly. That might hurt kids. A bill that would have given public universities and colleges the right to authorize 10 charter schools was killed last year, at the behest of the California Teachers Association.
–Guestblogger Richard Lee Colvin, Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media, Teachers College, Columbia University