BayTech hangs on

A number of Bay Area Technology School families came to tonight’s school board meeting. They planned to urge the district to keep the charter school open, but they didn’t need to.

A decision was announced at the beginning of the meeting, before some of them had even arrived.

Instead of denying BayTech’s five-year charter renewal — as her staff had originally recommended — Oakland’s schools chief Kimberly Statham announced she would extend its existing charter agreement for 45 days.

On Aug. 8, the school will propose a one-year charter renewal, which is expected to be approved. Next summer, it will ask to stay open for five more years. The school plans to eventually expand through the 12th grade.

By next year, Statham reasoned, more testing data will be available. The school opened in the fall of 2004, meaning that district staff had only two years of data — test results from 2005 and 2006 — with which to establish trends. This year’s test scores don’t come out until August or September.

It wasn’t clear whether community pressure or a change-of-heart prompted the change. Maybe it was the meeting with the school’s lawyer earlier in the day.

Whatever the reason, parents and kids celebrated the small victory in the lobby of the district office. The unexpected recommendation came to light after school had let out for the summer, so the phone trees have been active ever since, said Kimberly Wilson, a former San Leandro school board member who pulled her son out of a public middle school in that district to attend BayTech.

They told me about the school’s caring teachers, unique course offerings, tech clubs and tight-knit group of families. Darius Thompson, 14, said the “academic standards” were rigorous, and that his teachers were excellent.

“The facilities could be improved on,” he said. “But school ain’t about the facilities. It’s about the learning environment.”

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • Jim Mordecai

    I am not a lawyer, but I thought charter school charters were granted by the authorizing authority for five years and then they were evaluated. I don’t believe the law allows for extension of 45 days or the ability to grant a charter for less than five years.

    If BayTech or any other charter petitioner applies for a five year charter and doesn’t begin when they plan, they are stuck with being evaluated in the shorter time frame.

    The concept of a charter school is that it becomes a charter because it will be held accountable for performing. Now BayTech is understandable asking for more time to meet its performance goals, but if it is a charter and the District holds charters to rigorous standards it must close the school as staff has recommended.

    However, if charters are merely a political arena to pressure school boards/state administrators into being sustained then the advocates of charter schools must not claim they are held to a higher standard than public schools except in theory.

  • Maria Erbil

    Bay Area Technology is part of the Gulen Movement, which has multi-layers of foundations that support the schools (90 in the USA) as well as tax payers money. These foundations launder money across state lines among the various Gulen Islamic inspired Schools – Sonoran Science Academy (AZ) Magnolia Science (So. CAL)
    Horizon Science (OH) Harmony Science (TX) Coral Science (NV) and more. Their foundations for the Bay Area School is Accord institute, Pacifica, but there are about 50 more foundations all uner RUMI out of Washington DC.
    Gulen Schools as well as Bay Area immigrates teachers from Turkey with no teaching credentials under HB-1 Visas. Most of the Teachers pay 40% to the foundation of their salary. All the schools have Turkish principals, teachers and people controling the board.
    They also have a dog and pony show they participate in for Turkish singing, dancing and poetry that the Pacifica Institute puts on.
    Gulen is an interesting character, he lives on 200 acres in seclusion poconos area of PA.with guards.
    His own education is only to the 12th grade but his expanded educuation is in Islamic Theology. He is worth $52 Billion and owns all the media, Insruance, banking in the turkish American community.
    Also the high awards the schools boast about? are untrue they are all from Gulen sponsored events. the foundations also wine and dine local politicans, and other note worthy people. Many are given free trips to turkey. Tell me again where our tax dollars are going?