Red light, green light: Oakland district says no to charter, county says yes

The Community School for Creative Education will open in Oakland, after all. The Waldorf-inspired charter school won an appeal last night from the Alameda County Board of Education. In January, the Oakland school board denied the charter upon the recommendation of its charter schools’ office.

It’s the second charter school this year to be rejected by the Oakland school district only to get the green light from the county. The board voted 5-1 to let the Waldorf-inspired school open in Oakland, with Fred Sims voting `no.’ Felix Elizalde wasn’t present.

Last month, the county board also allowed East Oakland’s Cox Academy to remain open next year. In March, the Oakland school board voted to close the school, saying it had not lived up to the terms of the charter.

This also means that these schools will be accountable to the county board from here on out, not the Oakland school district.

Katy Murphy

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

  • What?!?!?!?!?!

    The members of Oakland’s Charter Approval Board is known for having very high standards, holding schools accountable to their expectations, and not letting in schools that may be poorly managed.

    I am shocked that it is considered acceptable practice for Alameda County to approve two schools that were denied charters for substantial reasons. Were there any changes that needed to be made in order to get the approval?

  • http://perimeterprimate.blogspot.com/ Sharon Higgins

    Here’s how it works. Hopeful charter operators can submit their petitions to authorizer # 1, the local school district school board. If rejected, they can advance to authorizer #2, the county school board. If rejected by #2, they can try again with #3, the state school board. Oakland has one other county-approved charter school, Envision Academy. The Envision Schools network was launched b/c of funding from Bill Gates.

    Ken Berrick is the Oakland representative who sits on the Alameda County Board. Everyone feel free to write to him and ask him to explain.


    By the way, Schwarzenegger has appointed a set of people to the state school board who are ultra-friendly to charters. If you look at their minutes, you’ll see that approving charters rejected by local districts is one of their main items of business. MO

    1. TED MITCHELL (SBE President) is the President and CEO of NewSchools Venture Fund, an organization which supplies charter management organizations with extra funding.
    2. YVONNE CHAN is the principal of a conversion charter school in LA, the Vaughn Next Century Learning Center.
    3. JOHNATHAN XAVIER WILLIAMS is a charter management organization founder and co-director (The Accelerated School network in South Central Los Angeles).
    4. DAVID P. LOPEZ, President of The National Hispanic University in East San Jose which operates a charter school on its campus.
    5. RUTH BLOOM (SBE Vice President) is married to a rich LA lawyer and sat on the board of the LA Museum of Art with Eli Broad for many years. She’s a stated Democrat, but six months after her reappointment to the SBE by Arnold S., she donated $20,000 to him.
    6. JIM ASCHWANDEN is executive director of the California Agricultural Teachers’ Association and is involve with vocational ed organizations.
    7. GREGORY W. JONES is a State Farm insurance executive and chair of California Business Roundtable and chair of California Business for Education Excellence, two free-market/pro-charter organizations.
    8. ALAN ARKATOV who, among other activities, sits on the board for Alliance for College-Ready Public Schools, a charter management organization which has opened 16 charter schools in the Los Angeles area.
    9. BEN AUSTIN is an assistant city attorney for Los Angeles and the executive director of the Los Angeles Parents Union (formerly the Small Schools Alliance, aka the Parent Revolution). He used to work for Green Dot Public Schools.

    See which force has been very busy at work while everyone else has been clueless?

    More at http://perimeterprimate.blogspot.com/2010/05/getting-to-know-schwarzenegger.html

  • oakey

    It seems to me that this is another indicator of the irrelevancy of OUSD. As district shrinks from votes of non-confidence by Oakland parents putting their kids in schools outside the district, it will continue down this road. Without reform, it ain’t getting any better, folks. I see no talk of that anywhere in Oakland. Turn off the lights when you’re done.

  • TheTruthHurts

    The Governor, parents and others are growing increasingly “friendly” to charters. WHY?

    Because Districts have been unable to demonstrate that they can get their act together in a timely fashion and children are losing their futures while we wait.

    Disclaimers for the conspiracy theorists

    Yes, I know corporate interests play a part in this, but in areas where parents feel the local schools do well, charters are scarce.
    Yes, I know charters can do as well and as poorly as District schools.

    Bottom line: Parents care about safety and performance (in that order) and until OUSD delivers both parents will seek alternatives and politicians, corporations, non-profits and others will try to provide it.

  • Alice Spearman

    Yhese charters if located in Oakland still must meet the standards set for by the board. The oversight, (or lack of) does rest with the county, however when they re-apply it will have to go through us. So let’s see if they do what they state they can do. By the way, the Cox charter lost ground on the API this school year. It is just plain politics, it is not about what is right for the chuildren $$$$$$$

  • ousd funemployed

    Ms. Spearman, from the information available on the CDE website, Cox went from an API of 587 in 2008 to an API of 665 in 2009. That is a significant increase. Not only that, but Cox outperformed Reach Academy, a District elementary school on the same campus that had an API of 596 in 2009. Yet there is no evidence of a District effort to close Reach Academy for their poor performance.

    In light of this, I have to agree with you. It isn’t about the kids, it is about $$$$$ and politics. And who should we blame for this fact?

  • harlemmoon

    Now’s a good time to ask how the district’s PR plan is coming along………

  • Alice Spearman

    Excuse me, it was the CST. We’ll see how Reach did this year. And again, who took the tests? They made movement in Math, they lost ground in ELA. But it does not matter, the administration has greased the palms of the county board members. If folks choose this school, oh well it is their choice.

  • Chauncey

    You know Alice- I have been a community supporter of your position. Most recently, your dialgue appeared to be stern yet fair when holding people accountable. I said it then, and say it now- the problem Ms. Spearmen is that you and the other board members are a bit confused.

    You see, you represent the people of Oakland in your specific neighborhood. You DO NOT Represent OUSD. As a matter of fact, I voted for you to be there and hold them accountable for all of the disasters , some of which you sat through! Instead, you went and exposed your truth.

    Check out your statements….. “they greased thepalms of county board…? What the hell does that imply? Could that mean your board is also on the take? They did not pay you guys enough? How much did they pay? Do you know?

    Damn Alice, why cant you see OUSd screws many more kids up then any other instituion in this city-I know you do? Is the district or union taking care of you or other members?

    That is the problem with you misguided ELECTED officials; everything has to be dirty. What do you think the public will get from your comments?

    Look, I pay taxes, my kids got to charters, and yes I voted for you….. NOW Go do what I wasted my constitutional right of vote that my and your ancestors died for, instead of simply portecting the status quo” or those that grease palms,”.
    Is this what Steve Jubb’s company did for you? What happened to that whole stance?

    Now to be clear…I dont support no damn Waldorf in the ghetto, but my point is the wolf in sheeps clothing that are sitting there representin who knows rather than me or my family.

    Oakland has got major problems.

  • Turanga_teach

    Ms. Spearman, I’m confused. API is directly linked to CST. I don’t understand how a school which made (indeed, significantly exceeded) its growth targets for both the school as a whole and all subgroups within it could have lost ground on the CST. I also looked at the CST scores from 2008 and 2009, and saw gains in both ELA and math across all grades.

    Can you please clarify?

  • harlemmoon

    Speaking of wolves in sheep’s clothing; Ooooh, Steve Jubbs? Come out, come out where ever you are!
    The real question, as you so triumphantly raise, Chauncey is Who, exactly, is running the district? Of course, once that is discovered, the rest of the jagged pieces fall neatly into place.
    To say Oakland has problems is a little like calling a disaster a mere distraction. And confused school board members are but pit players in the churning, steaming political machinery of the district.
    All this to say: Expect nothing from do-nothings, including Alice, who so clearly acts far, far differently from that which she speaks.

  • sue

    Of course the school board members are on board foe reasons other than the greater good.

    How many use the board as a launching pad for politics? How many get kickbacks? How many were promoted there by unions?

    I think Chauncey makes a very vaild point. Board members were slected to hold OUSD accoiuntable, and now they act like its protecting OUSD’s coffers.

    I would assume that a board members job is to represent what is best for Oakland students regardless of where they go to school (cause charters are under the district).

    These comments do shine a bad light on elected officials.

    We need to stay away from incumbents- No to Torlakson!

  • Joe Public

    The board is supposed to protect the district’s coffers, interests and liabilities…to think of it in any other light is short-sighted. At the end of the day they exist to provide public oversight of the district…whether they, individually or collectively, know what they are doing or not. (we can all answer that one)
    As far as I know most of the charters that exist have no oversight other than a few cursory visits from the district charter office throughout the year. They have appointed”boards” as required but no one sits on them from the district. They can pretty much do with public money for the course of their charter period.

    Just for fun and giggles think of it this way…any charter organization that has 1000 students and gets conservatively $7000 per student gets a five year run at it…well when you do the math its $35 million over those five years. Not too bad for a not very well if at all “oversighted” organization.

    Keeping with the business model of education…of course Alameda county can say yes to a charter denied by the district. It serves their interest because I am sure that they get some type of “oversight” percentage fee generated from the charter school’s ADA. Maybe OUSD wasn’t willing to settle for the “oversight” percentage only and wanted all of its money.

    Clearly we are in lean years however it would be fair to say that even in the best of budgets it has been and will always continue to be about the money.

    So at the end of the day we can say what we want about Spearman or any of the OUSD board members. Just keep in mind that at least they have to walk through the public stonings and political circus acts. These “schools of choice” don’t and are probably laughing all the way to the bank.

  • J.R.

    Speaking of Torlakson, is he even sentient? This guy is a CTA puppet who just toes the line and obeys the CTA’s every command. Not that supers do much of anything vital for education(except put out some press releases and do some interviews once in a while). We don’t need paper pushing educrats, we need to keep our best teachers the people who teach our kids. These other “management” people are just part of a “created” employment mill that specializes in “makework”. “Shovel it in” and “shovel it out” and shovel it in and shovel it out again. Does anyone realize that we actually have plenty of money for the education of children, not necessarily the huge bureaucracy that goes with it(ADA has been fairly stable) at most districts in California over the last twenty years(except OUSD)but the size and scope of district office management and staff in in districts has increased 20-30%(I will find the link to corroborate this and post it).

  • J.R.