The racial and economic achievement gap comes up, in some form or another, at almost every Oakland school board meeting. Yet there are a handful of schools here in this city that have made that gap invisible, at least on their campuses, and I sometimes wonder who is paying attention.
Take the Oakland Charter Academy, a charter middle school in Fruitvale with a Latino population of about 93 percent. Last year those students — the vast majority of whom qualify for free or reduced-price lunches — scored a 902 this year on the state’s Academic Performance Index out of a possible 1,000 points.
The average Latino middle schooler in California scores in the 600s.
I wrote a story in today’s Trib about the loads of work that these kids (and those at the American Indian charter schools, which use a similar model) are putting in every day — and about the general skepticism surrounding their success. You can read it here.
This fall, the Oakland Charter Academy became the second public school in Oakland to win a National Blue Ribbon Award from the U.S. Department of Education. During the ceremony, OUSD’s charter school director David Montes de Oca said this:
“Throughout this country are people who believe not all children can learn. Sometimes it takes a small school from the ‘hood to prove them wrong.”
What lessons can be learned from the academic achievements of Oakland Charter Academy and American Indian Public Charter School students? To what extent do you believe a school can help students overcome external factors and learn enough to compete with wealthier kids for spots in colleges or jobs?