The Alameda Unified School District board voted last night 3-1, with board president Bill Schaff out of town and Janet Gibson dissenting, to approve the Nea Community Learning Center charter. The school’s facilitators have requested space to house the new school at Longfellow Education Center. The Island has details.
Ten days ago I attended a two-hour workshop sponsored by the Alameda Unified School District on the finer parts of the laws governing charter schools. I learned a good deal about charter law, but by far the biggest takeway from the panel discussion, which included Chuck Cadman of School Consulting, Inc., Carlene Naylor, the associate superintendent for the Alameda County Office of Education and Carolina Monroy of the California Teachers Association, is that the key to a successful charter, however it’s organized, is cooperation between charter and district. Monroy:
The reason we have some really good charters is because they’re working in a very complementary manner with the school district. There’s give and take. There’s discussions of the financial aspects. There’s constant ongoing communication…
When I’ve see they haven’t been really successful is this mindset that’s competitive, that we’re doing what the district can’t…that’s really very harmful all around.
As those of you who followed the first application for charter from Nea last year may have noted, there seems to be some negative history between the district and the Nea organizers, many of whom are affiliated with the Alameda Community Learning Center. So whatever the school board decides tonight on Nea’s second application, my hope is that district administrators and charter administrators will work hard to work together.
As reported by the Alameda Journal (the host publication of this blog, where you can find all the stories from the print paper), the folks organizing Nea, a K-12 charter school, have submitted a new charter school application to the Alameda Unified School District.
Back in January 2008, the first Nea application was turned down by the District for lack of detail, and then turned down by the County Board of Education in April. While many people in the education field I respect have, over the years, made clear some of the problems with charter schools—primarily that they deplete already-scarce district resources—I understand, too, why they appeal to parents, especially those with children who, for whatever reason, are not thriving in the regular school system. My understanding is that Berkeley Unified has done a good job not losing money and students to charters by having programs that attract parents and children who are looking for options, including bilingual classes, an arts magnet, and a school-based garden and cooking program. The Alameda board will hear the proposal (thanks for the link, Mike McMahon) at their October 28 meeting.
Last November, the people who run the Alameda Community Learning Center, a charter school for children grades 6-12 housed at Encinal High, submitted an application to Alameda’s school board for a charter for a new elementary school called Nea (NCLC). The Alameda school board denied the charter and so, as the process goes, the ACLC/NCLC folks took their appeal to the county board of education (they can appeal next to the state next). Last night the county turned down that appeal. School 94501/94502 has more details.