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Public Core is an organization of West Contra Costa County parents, teachers, community members, and school staff who fight for public control and accountability in our schools. We believe that public schools, open to all, are essential to the health of a democratic society. Our goal is high quality, inclusive public education for all students. We believe that the proliferation of privately-operated schools using public money will increase inequalities in education and in our society. We are dedicated to informing the public about the impact of publicly-funded, privately operated schools on our community.

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Graduation Rates in WCCUSD


Data released in May, 2016, by the California Department of Education show that WCCUSD graduation rates ( are higher than the state average for the first time, and at an all-time high of 84.7%.  The state average is 82.3%. This is quite a remarkable accomplishment considering that six years ago our graduation rate was 72.7% and far below the state average. 

There’s been some closing of the achievement gap with the rates for our African American and Latino students. Six years ago the rate of graduation for African American students was 66.4% and for Latino students, 69.3%. For these most recent data, the rates have climbed to 80.9% for African American and to 82.3 for Latino students.  

Two schools deserve special recognition, Richmond and Kennedy High Schools.  In six years, Richmond went from a graduation rate of 65.2% to 88.5% and Kennedy from 69.2% to 87.3%


Distinguished Scholars in WCCUSD 
Arnold Dimas

Arnold Dimas,

Arnold Dimas

Hernandez, RHS


In April, 2016 two of WCCUSD's seniors were recognized as Gates Millennium Scholars – a four year full scholarship including leadership training and academic support that also provides for graduate school in STEM areas. This year’s winners are Alejandro Hernandez from Middle College High and Arnold Dimas from Richmond High. Alejandro attended Tara Hills Elementary and Pinole Middle and Arnold went to Ford Elementary and Helms Middle. They were selected from an applicant pool of 53,000.  In 2011, Middle College twins Benjamin and Jennifer Ezekoli each won Gates scholarships.  In 2013 Kennedy High student Kelssie Sontay Peres won. Two DeAnza seniors were awarded Gates scholarships in 2014 & 2015 Cali Nguyen and Jasmine Gill. 


U.S. News & World Report released its annual rankings of the nation’s high schools last week. Hercules High School received a silver medal and Middle College High School, a bronze. Hercules was ranked in the top 10% nationally. Middle College had a lower ranking because its students take college classes instead of the Advanced Placement examinations, which are used by the magazine to determine a school’s “College Readiness Index,” a key metric in the rankings. But there’s no other high school like Middle College where once again this year, more than half of the class of 2016 will earn an AA degree at the same time as a high school diploma. 

Visual and Performing Arts in WCCUSD


WCCUSDs “Whole Child / Whole Community” mission drives the District to tap in from different angles to provide students with what they need to become academically strong, socially skilled, and enriched through the many cultural heritages we have here. The visual and performing arts are essential to a “Whole Child/Whole Community” approach. Since the end of the great recession, the District has been able to restore the elementary music program, greatly increasing funds for staffing, instruments and supplies, and develop a Visual and Performing Arts Master Plan. In March 2016, students from throughout the District performed in an all-district music festival.

In April 2016, the District held its 51st annual student art show at the Richmond Art Center Also in April 2016, dancers from El Cerrito High were in New York City for musicals, special dance performances and lessons from one New York’s finest dance companies. For more information, see the visual & performing arts calendar ( for all our student performances. 

WCCUSD Students Meeting the UC/CSU Admission Requirement


One of the things that makes the University of California system the best in the world is the high standards that UCs and CSUs require for admission. To get in to a UC or CSU, high school students must take 15 UC approved college preparatory classes including two years of lab science, three years of math, two years of history, four years of English, one year of visual or performing arts, two years of a second language and a year of a college preparatory elective. These courses are called the ‘A-G’ requirements. Students must also earn a ‘C’ or better or the course won’t count. A huge barrier is the grade of ‘D’ for which a student gets credit toward high school graduation but not toward the A-G requirements.  

In 2006 only 14% of WCCUSD graduates met the A-G standards. For the class of 2015, that percentage had increased to 42% -- or three times as many. The chart below shows the increases for the seven high schools. This chart shows the progress WCCUSD schools are making in getting our students college ready at the UC level. 


ECHS made history! They tied Albany for first and got the flag!!!! Congratulations to: (front row) Claire Sterling, Calder Hansen, Gwennie Gilbert-Snyder, Grace Rusin, and Jae-An Wang and (back row) Kevin Cassman, Marcelo Monsalve, Athena Lynch, and Juan Salinas

I want to share this news far and wide, because it is a real coup for our WCCUSD El Cerrito High School students. El Cerrito High School students have not won a Mathletes competition in anyone's memory, but April 21, competing against five area schools at Oakland High School, they made history by tying reigning champions Albany High for first place to take home the Mathletes flag! The team lost its faculty sponsor this year (the inimitable Daniel Wolf-Root, who moved away), but student captain Gwennie Gilbert-Snyder has taken up the mantle, recruiting more students than ever before and motivating them to go for the win against all odds. Their efforts have paid off, and we are all very proud of them. They have one more chance to take first place next month. Bon courage, Mathletes!

--Pamela Diane Gilbert-Snyder

Kennedy on the Move

From: Harter, Bruce
Sent: Monday, May 02, 2016 5:55 AM
To: Harter, Bruce

Subject: Monday Message -- Replicating the Success of Middle College

Middle College High at Contra Costa College opened in 1989 and has become an incredibly successful school with numerous awards including a designation as a  U.S. Department of Education Blue Ribbon school, a California Distinguished School (twice), and “Best High School in America” recognition four times in the last ten years.  The school routinely has 400 applicants for the 80 open spaces at MCHS each year.

 So the question has been, why can’t we replicate the success of Middle College in other schools? Next year at Kennedy High, we’ll begin to do just that. 
 Two factors make this possible now – a change in California law about dual enrollment and a state grant through the California Pathways Trust.   The Kennedy team will be implementing the best of what’s been successful at Middle College and combine it with the best of what works in our Linked Learning college & career preparation effort.

 Like Middle College, Kennedy students will be taking Contra Costa College courses beginning in the freshman year in high school.  Like MCHS, Kennedy students will take seminar classes to support them in rising to the college-work standards. 
 With the incredible resource that the Fab Lab brings to Kennedy, the team there has developed Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering pathways to compliment the already successful Information Technology pathway.

 So while it may be some time before half the Kennedy High seniors graduate with an Associate of  Arts degree the way that half the Middle College students do now, it’s not unreasonable to predict that more than half the Kennedy High class of 2020 will have a full year of college credit when they graduate.

 So please pass this good news on as widely as you can.
Bruce Harter
West Contra Costa Unified School District
Richmond, CA 94801