A Stanford-run charter elementary school will close in June. Citing poor academic performance and behavior issues, Ravenswood trustees voted 3-1 to deny a one- or two-year extension for the nearly four-year-old East Palo Alto Academy Elementary, which has more than 200 students. (I wrote about the school’s problems here and here.) The Stanford-run high school was offered a charter till 2012 or till another sponsor takes over. The local high school district, Sequoia Union, already has said no.
More time wouldn’t help the elementary, said Superintendent Maria De La Vega.
It was a “stunning rebuke” to Stanford’s education school, reports the Palo Alto Weekly.
Stanford’s heavy hitters — including the high-profile Professor Linda Darling-Hammond, who headed President Obama’s education transition team — were kept waiting for hours and not asked to speak.
Trustees had a financial incentive to close East Palo Alto Academy Elementary, the Weekly notes. Ravenswood’s budget problems will be eased significantly by the return of Stanford New Schools’ 200 elementary students.
Fish-barrel-shooter Greg Forster prints a Whitney Tilson e-mail:
Linda Darling-Hammond (along with Ravitch, Meier, and Kozol) is among the best known of your typical ed school, loosey-goosey, left-wing, politically correct, ivory tower, don’t-confuse-me-with-the-facts-my-mind’s-made-up, disconnected-from-reality critics of genuine school reform. (Forgive my bluntness, but I can’t stand ideological extremists of any persuasion, especially when kids end up getting screwed.)
LDH and Stanford’s Ed School decided to test their educational theories in the real world, starting a charter school in 2001 to serve the low-income, mostly-Latino children of East Palo Alto. I credit them for this – in fact, I think EVERY ed school should be REQUIRED to start and run, or at least partner with, a real live school.
Stanford’s original partner, Aspire Public Schools, left after five years due to a “culture clash.”
It doesn’t take much imagination to guess what happened when, freed of Aspire’s rigor and focus on the critical basics (like teaching children to read properly!), the ivory tower theories ran head on into the reality of East Palo Alto kids. The results were easy to predict: the school fell on its face:
Darling-Hammond has blamed the students — many are English Learners — and the tests for the school’s failure, Tilson writes. But other schools are educating the same kind of students, including a K-8 charter run by Aspire.
This appears to be your classic “happy school,” a phrase coined by Howard Fuller to describe the most dangerous type of school – not the handful of violent, gang-infested high schools, but rather the elementary schools that are safe and appear ok: the students are happy, the parents are happy, the teachers are happy, the principal is happy… There’s only one problem: THE KIDS CAN’T READ!!!
I’ve written a Pajamas Media column on this that should run soon.