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Update: Was Bloomberg Article Fair To Bullis Charter?

image from upload.wikimedia.orgLast week's Bloomberg article describing a small charter school in a fancy part of the Bay Area generated a lot of discussion including this comment emailed in from Caprice Young, the former LAUSD board member and California Charter Schools Assocation ED:

"Bullis is a great school!  I would send my kids there in a heartbeat.  And, I wouldn't pay the $5,000 because I can't -- but my kids still could go there and benefit from the fact that those who could donate large sums do. Every school I know fundraises: traditional, charter, private alike.  The fact that billionaires send their own children to public schools benefits everyone.  They could easily put their kids in private schools and their tuition would only benefit rich kids.  Great public schools, including charters, keep our society from getting more divided. Urban public school systems too often feel hostile to middle class families of all ethnicities, as if their kids aren't needy enough to warrant personal attention or a welcoming environment for parents.  That has to stop or our communities will become increasingly divided.PS. Bullis Charter was created because the school district closed down the only elementary in a wealthier section of town.  The existence of Bullis has drawn those families back into a great public school.  Despite Bullis' growth and success, the district has refused for years to provide a facility -- something that is legally mandated in California."

There are also some comments on my previous post about this suggesting that some of the figures in the original Bloomberg story might not have been fair to the school (that it's as or more diverse than some other schools, and has a higher percentage of low-income kids).  What do you think?  

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Here is a link to letter sent by Ken Moore, Chairman of the Bullis Charter School Board to the Santa Clara County Office of Education. This information was presented at the SCCOE board meeting attended by the Bloomberg Reporter. The letter refutes the claims made in the article.

http://www.bullischarterschool.com/bullischarterschool/lib/bullischarterschool/Ib_BCS_Moore_Letter_to_SCCBOE_100511.pdf

Alexander,

This story was unfair only in that it didn't go far enough. It didn't report on the most important fact of all to Los Altos and Hills parents: that BCS is suing the District, and will keep suing the District, until they SHUT DOWN local public schools. That's what BCS exists for now.

It's test scores are VIRTUALLY THE SAME as surrounding schools--and that's even WITH the school's unfair advantage of charging $5000/year per child, thus weeding out the "low life" who cannot afford that.

You see, the school started as a "reaction" to a local public school being closed. The circumstances around that closing were... not great. It made a lot of people very angry. Some of them were billionaires.

But instead of doing something constructive and starting a private school (perhaps with a charity element to it to make it inclusive), these angry billionaires chose to get REVENGE on the District. It was all very "personal" you see.

To do this they used their own children and children of the district as pawns in their revenge plot. If they wanted to "educate kids" they would have taken a different path, but they chose the path the inflicted the most pain on District administrators (and oh yeah, all of us citizens of Los Altos and Hills but what do we matter).

Now you hear them making any excuse they can snatch at in order to make the case for a school that has no Earthly reason to exist. You hear billionaires talking about how they can't afford another $193 in property tax and how incredibly concerned they are about teachers getting paid too much.

The use of the Charter laws for their purposes was a brilliant bit of cynical lawyering: like figuring out how to "use Food Stamps to buy a Ferrari".

The simple fact is that the voters of California did NOT put the Charter laws in place so billionaires can play some sort of game with our children's education. Charter laws were NOT meant to perform "experiments" on children whose success criteria are completely whimsical. If you have "opinions" about how children should be educated, our society offers you a great outlet: private schools.

Using public money to perform private experiments is not only completely unworkable in the long run, it's completely against the spirit of Silicon Valley, which is about entrepreneurs and their backers risking their OWN money to try something new.

My own suggestion for "fixing" the Charter laws here in California, and putting an end to "boutique charter schools" is adding the following clause to their rules of operation:

***
"Section N.N. The Charter shall maintain standardized test scores of at least 15% higher than surrounding public schools."
***

Simple, fair, and easy to understand: if you cannot make an objectively better school (and sorry, test scores are all we have that's objective), then you have no business taking over public money and assets to play your games with children's lives.

The Boutique Charter School (BCS?) movement must be stopped or it will destroy the GOOD school communities here in California and leave them at the mercy of roving gangs of lawyers and others with nefarious motives.

Thank you for keeping the information flowing on this subject. As parents of public schools here in Los Altos and Hills we need all of the help we can get.

They run BCS like a well-funded Silicon Valley start-up complete with expensive lawyers and PR firms. They indoctrinate their parents to hate public schools--who don't stand a chance against this onslaught. That's why we, as parents, are the last line of defense.

Thank you again,


LASD Parent

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