Friday, April 16, 2010


By John Fensterwald | The Educated Guess |

April 15th, 2010 -- Stanford New Schools, a K-12 charter school in East Palo Alto, comes with a good pedigree. It’s operated by Stanford’s School of Education.

But last month, as this blog noted [Stanford-run charter on ‘worst’ list] , the state named it one of the state’s 188 persistently lowest performing schools,  designated for restructuring. Then on Wednesday night, as Palo Alto Online reported, the Ravenswood School Board voted not to renew the school’s charter. Unless the trustees relent, the school will shut down in June.

Contrary to the perception that it’s next to impossible to close a poor-performing charter, here’s a case where it just might happen. Everyone from the dean of the ed school to tearful parents came out to the hearing to request a charter renewal, to no avail.

The school can make a plausible case, despite its lagging test scores, for an extension. Stanford New Schools is a combination of a charter high school and a new charter elementary. The high school has an impressive record of sending students to college — more than 90 percent – but its STAR scores are low. The three-year old elementary charter’s first two years of tests are also low – less than 20 percent proficiency in math and English language arts.  But the school can legitimately argue that a startup deserves at least a little more time.

The board voted 3-2 to deny the charter but subsequently 4-1 to at least consider a two-year extension, under the close watch of the district. The superintendent will present a plan.

Ravenswood itself has been a chaotic district and has been in District Improvement for six years.  Having Ravenswood  intensely supervise a Stanford operation promises to be humbling, if nothing else.

(Update: The New York Times today did an excellent story on the charter schools and the Ravenswood vote. See here: Charter Extension Denied to Low-Scoring Stanford School)


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