Thursday, April 23, 2009

Clear View School ends its charter status...not with a bang but a whimper

Charter ends, but another may begin
By Chris Moran
Sand Diego Union-Tribune
April 16, 2009

Background: In 1994, Clear View Elementary School converted itself into an autonomous charter school in the Chula Vista Elementary School District.

What's changing: A majority of teachers voted to let the charter – its permission to operate – expire in June.

...In June, Clear View will become the first charter school in Chula Vista to give up its exemption from much local bureaucracy and state regulation and revert to a traditional public school...

Seven of the 29 teachers who wanted to continue working for a charter have drawn up plans for another autonomous campus – Leonardo da Vinci Health Sciences Charter School – at a vacant church nearby.

Last month, they petitioned the Chula Vista school board for permission to open this summer. They are scheduled to get their answer Tuesday when the Chula Vista school board next meets.

...Few teachers were still using project-based learning. The school exercised its freedom primarily through how it spent money.

Nor was the school achieving its potential. From 1999 to 2008, Clear View was the least improved of the Chula Vista district's schools. It also posted the lowest reading and math scores for non-English-speaking students of all 44 district schools last year.

This year may not be much better. The vote on whether to stay a charter school caused internal strife that ended friendships and caused some employees to avoid the teachers lounge, Principal Sherroll Stogsdill-Posey said.

[Maura Larkins´note...This is typical of teacher CULTURE in CVESD and elsewhere. Politics supersedes professionalism with distressing frequency. And children suffer the consequences.]

“I do believe it will have had an effect on instruction this year,” she said. “This has become such a huge issue that it can't not seep in.”

...Then the economy tanked, Chula Vista became a foreclosure capital and the number of teaching jobs stagnated. Now the district has to release temporary teachers because of its tight budget.

...Reading specialist Meg Rabine voted to end the charter...For her, resigning from the district could have meant losing $10,000 to $15,000 a year in salary for the rest of her career. Although she supports charters, Rabine came to Clear View because she respected and liked its teachers. If the school stayed charter, most of those teachers would have left Clear View for the secure employment of the district's traditional schools...

Amber Goslee isn't ready to abandon charter schools...In Goslee's class, students record songs on laptop computers. They write scripts and make videos. They design learning stations from which their peers glean information on plate tectonics.

After eight years of teaching, Goslee also has much to lose if her new venture fails. But the way she figures it, she has more to lose if she abandons the charter's ideals.

“I don't want to stay in schooling, in education, if it continues to be so scripted,” Goslee said. “I'd rather have my freedom than my security.”

Goslee is among those who drew up the da Vinci plans for 160 kindergarten through sixth-grade students...

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