Old School

Per all the back and forth and debate below, California officials are closing the Stanford University charter school.   The vote was last night.

Stanford officials say they were surprised.  One can only assume that means they were not paying attention given the data as well as the fact that pretty much everyone in the education community out there saw this problem coming and has been chattering about it for the last 18 months and speculating about what the authorizer would do.  Hopefully good options can be found for the students in the lower-school via existing or new schools.   The upper-school remains open until students graduate or it can find a new authorizer.  Keep an eye on that.  Venue shopping by struggling schools is a charter authorizing problem in several states.

The bold act of leadership and accountability on the part of the Stanford ed school would be to invite a proven operator in to help the high school.   Aspire Public Schools is the logical choice.   Their schools all around California, and in this community, serve similar students and are not getting closed for performance.   Aspire was there at the inception of this school.  They parted ways over concerns about the academic focus and now seems like an ideal time to patch that up.

10 Replies to “Old School”

  1. “GIVEN THE DATA!!!” – WHAT!? – 2 years of data tells quite a story now!!!

    can anyone really be surprised anymore when anything so pathetic happens.

    they closed a school that had been open for 3.5 years – it’s a shameful, ethically bankrupt shell game.

    i feel sorry for all the well meaning people in this situation, because it appears there certainly weren’t enough of them in the ravenswood school district.

  2. Not being from California, I can’t comment on the nuances of the situation. My personal take from NYC is that it’s a slap at Linda Darling-Hammond and an early anticipation of the future wave with charters, where local, mom-and-pop and community-based charters are swallowed up by the chains. I believe this is exactly what Obama and Duncan mean when they talk about their eagerness to close unsuccessful charters: it’s an opportunity for corporate chains to scale-up.

  3. Working with charter start-ups, I see that it takes at least three years to begin to get a system in place. Before that, all you have is untested theory and reaction to immediacy. The quick closing suggests politics are afoot–as usual.

  4. 2 Years? The school is five years old and its charter is up for renewal. It failed. That’s it.

    Where is Matt Candler?

  5. Michael from New York refers to “corporate chains.” I think we should note that in New York they do have corporate charters, but in California all charter schools and charter operators are non-profit public agencies. a charter operator, in California anyway, is no more of a “chain” than a school district is.

    Pete V says 5 years Steve F says 2years…interestingly they are *both* right.
    The high school has been operating for 5 years. The elementary school has been operating only 3. Also, what may not be clear is that the data lags a year, so a school running for 3 years has only 2 years of data.

    Stanford made a serious strategic error in opening the elementary school three years ago. The HS is doing OK; It is the elementary performance that got the school’s charter revoked.

    If Stanford had waited until now to open the elementary school, their charter would have been renewed based on the HS performance and they would have had 5 years of operation (and four years of data) to present at the next charter review hearing.

    Many charter folks feel that 5 years is a fair trial period. Stanford was surprised, I believe, that Ravenswood did not see it that way.

    Frankly, the mistake was made Stanford opened up the lower grades. They should have secured some kind of MOU that would separate the performance of the two schools for purposes of charter renewal.

    But, as they say, hindsight is 20-20.

  6. As Joanne Jacob’s PM article makes pretty clear, the high school is not doing okay. They just use grades to cover up a low level of achievement.

  7. Adding to the conversation about the time it takes to “turnaround” a school’s test scores (without getting into how dangerous such narrow measurements are for organizations – the stakes are only higher in schools serving our nation’s future), consider that the Fordham Institute recommended policymakers not to rush to judgment in a 2003 report “Can Failing Schools be Fixed?” The author warned: “[Policymakers] should also resist urgings to pass judgment too fast, as it may be several years before even a successful intervention shows results.”

    But the real debate is not about whether or not performance of schools and those who work in them should be measured, but HOW performance should be measured and HOW it can actually be improved in the first place:


  8. It’s also dangerous to make quick judgments – especially when the judgments affect organizations that serve the public – without doing enough research.

    Here’s some research on someone who strongly criticized Stanford for the closing of its charter school: Chester Finn, President of the Fordham Institute. Finn made some snarky comments about the supporters of East Palo Alto Academy (Stanford Ed School) in his “Avoid Fruit Salad” post to From Checker’s Desk (visit http://www.edexcellence.net/gadfly/index.cfm?issue=565&edition=N#a6032 “). Yet he himself directly supported two charter schools that closed for poor performance in 2008 (Fordham Institute supported Omega School and East End Community School in Dayton, OH). What was that about throwing stones in glass houses?

    So, who’s ready for a more authentic conversation? I know parents, students, and teachers are.

  9. Stanford has an excellent school of education.. Was John Rickford involved within the development of the reading curriculum? There is a proven reading program for students in grades 7-12. developed specifically for functionally illiterate Black students with a built-in behavorial modification program within the curriculum… Dr. Rickford is quite aware of the exsistence of the “Bridge A Cross-Cultural Reading Program” Please review our new book “Between the Rhetoric and Reality” Lauriat Press;Simpkins&Simpkins,2009..

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