Hope in the Iron Triangle

In a high-crime neighborhood in the Bay Area, children are attending a new charter school. Richmond College Preparatory provides high expectations, small classes and a longer school day and year. From the SF Chronicle:

The sounds of gunshots often send children fleeing for cover in Richmond’s Iron Triangle neighborhood. But a charter school, founded by a lawyer using some of a multimillion-dollar settlement from a chemical disaster, is nurturing hope for a brighter future in one of the Bay Area’s poorest and toughest neighborhoods.

Richmond College Preparatory school is applying such extra resources as an in-house licensed psychologist to counsel families touched by gun violence and operates with an extended school day and year.

The area was exposed to sulfuric acid from a chemical plant in 1993. Some of the settlement money went to a Children’s Foundation, which is helping fund the school in its start-up years.

Critics say the school and other charters don’t help the entire community, just a handful of high-performing students with motivated parents.

The school started with a preschool in 2005 and now has kindergarten and first-grade classes. Students, chosen by lottery, weren’t “high-performing” before they enrolled. In this Chronicle slideshow, all the students are black or Hispanic.

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  1. Frank Zavisca says:

    Why would one school help the “entire community”?

    “Critics say the school and other charters don’t help the entire community, just a handful of high-performing students with motivated parents.”

    Is there something wrong with a “Handful” of high-performing Minority students?

  2. Exactly, Frank Zavisca!

    What exactly is the criticism?
    Yes, someone ought to figure out how to help everyone else but in a neighborhood like this every student — regardless of parents or motivation — is at risk.

  3. SuperSub says:

    School helps capable kids learn how to be productive citizens.
    Some students, aware of where they came from, give back to the communities that they grew up in.
    Community as a whole improves.

    Yet again, the same forces that axed gifted education because they feel those who are more capable are less deserving of education are trying to stike at charter schools that offer the same thing.

    The more and more time I spend as a teacher, the more I’d like to institute a system of tracking based upon overall cognitive ability.

  4. Charley Cowens says:

    The quote from the blog entry didn’t give the full context:


    Since this is my district, I know Ms. Pfeifer would oppose any charter school no matter what, but she does raise a valid point about this particular charter school buried in her anti-charter rhetoric. The settlement that is funding this charter was for a presumed health harm to a whole community. How this turns into the educational expenditure of a charter school aimed at a very small group of families is puzzling (well, not really) to me even though I don’t have quite the strong adversion to charters that Ms. Pfeifer has.