Public Core Opposes Summit Charter Renewal
Public Core Chair, Joanna Pace, presented a shortened version of this statement at the November 18 WCCUSD Board Meeting. The issue will come up for final decision at the first meeting for newly-elected members on December 16. We urge all supporters of public schools to make their views known to the Board.
We urge the Board not to renew Summit's charter. At the least we urge the new Board to delay the decision to allow them to fully look into the matter. Our opposition is based on one general and two specific concerns:
1. Summit's academic performance is no better than that of the district as a whole. Neither ELA or Math are at level. In addition, for 2019, the California Department of Education’s Dashboard has classified Summit’s Chronic Absenteeism and Suspension rates, two statewide priorities, as red. This is the lowest possible designation. Compared to 2018, the 2019 Dashboard shows clear evidence of poor results on state priorities. This is a school on a downward trend.
2. Summit enrolls consistently fewer English Language Learners than the district as a whole, by a wide margin. ELLs comprise 33% of enrollment in the WCCUSD, Summit Tam’s comprise only 20%. Moreover, although reclassification is the goal of all ELL programs, Summit reclassifies very few ELL students. In 2019-20, Summit Tam reclassified only 3.5%, compared to the District’s 9.9%. In 2018-19, Summit managed 2.8%; the District managed 12.7%. Measured by state provided data, Summit's ELL program is a failure. This alone should give the board pause as it reconsiders this charter.
3. Just as worrisome as the above concerns is Summit's student attrition rate, which is said to be the highest of all charter schools in our District. Students are leaving Summit for a reason.
Together, Summit's mediocre performance on state-level priorities, poor results for English Language Learners constitute data-founded, legally compliant reasons to refuse this charter. Combined with unusually high student attrition, these make a clear case that the Summit charter school is demonstrably unable to implement the program, as they are “not serving all pupils who wish to attend," per Education Code 47607 (d)(3).
Notes: *Dashboard colors range from red for the lowest score, to orange, yellow, green and blue for the highest score.
**Rating for EL Progress runs from Very Low, to Low, Medium, High and Very High.
*** Membership in these groups is known to negatively influence educational outcomes. All are tracked and monitored by the California Department of Education
Source: California Department of Education Dashboard
Key takeaways: Summit is underperforming in Chronic Absenteeism, Suspension Rates, and English Learner Progress compared to both District and State. The school suffered a decline off 17.4 points in ELA. They are serving about half the % of ELs as the District, no Foster or Homeless students, about a quarter fewer Special Education students (3.9%), and about 10% fewer Socio-economically challenged (SES) students (7.5%).
Charter Money Defeated Across the Board
Public Core endorsed all of the successful candidates. We now have a WCCUSD Board which is fully committed to advancing public education. We thank the candidates who ran for these positions. We thank the United Teachers of Richmond for their work in recruiting good candidates, pulling together a united labor slate, volunteering for phone banking, and contributing enough money to be able to challenge the massive amounts poured into this election by charter school interests. See the table below. The amount spent in these races is 5 to 10 times the amount spent in neighboring school districts which have not been targeted by charter school corporations.
We also thank all the people who made endorsements, participated in social media, and communicated with their own lists. And we thank the Richmond Progressive Alliance for including our candidates in their canvassing and other election activities.
Report by Public Interest
Charters Hurting School District
"Public school students in California’s West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) are paying dearly for privately managed charter schools they don’t attend. Unchecked charter school expansion in recent years has added to the cost of educating students who attend traditional public schools. This has increased pressure on the district to cut spending on academic tutoring, services for English learners, and more.
"Charter schools add $27.9 million a year to WCCUSD’s costs of running its own schools, this study finds. That’s a net loss, after accounting for all savings realized by no longer educating the charter school students. As a result, the district has $978 less in funding for each traditional public school student it serves. This previously unmeasured cost is a conservative estimate. The district faces additional fiscal pressures due to charter schools that are too difficult to measure, such as the inequitable proportion of state funding it receives for educating high-needs students.
"...this report’s aim is not to debate the value of charter schools as educational policy or review all fiscal pressures facing districts but to document a cost that has previously gone unmeasured and ignored in California educational planning."
New data released in May confirms that charter schools, which are publicly paid for but privately managed, drain funding from traditional, neighborhood schools. In this five-minute documentary, California’s public school leaders, teachers, and students describe the damage their schools endure because the state allows for an unlimited number of charter schools.
The report, Breaking Point: The Cost of Charter Schools for Public School Districts, calculates the fiscal impact of charter schools on Oakland Unified School District, San Diego Unified School District, and San Jose’s East Side Union High School District.
- Charter schools cost Oakland Unified $57.3 million per year. That’s $1,500 less in funding for each student that attends a neighborhood school.
- The annual cost of charter schools to the San Diego Unified is $65.9 million.
- In East Side Union, the net impact of charter schools amounts to a loss of $19.3 million per year.
Using the Pandemic to Privatize Our Schools
Due to the pandemic, schools are grappling with new expenses on top of the fiscal problems they were already facing, and the confusion of instantly having to reorganize their delivery of education. Privatizers see this as a prime opportunity to “outsource” as many public education functions as possible and use schools' temporary reliance on computers and distance learning to give private operators a foot in the door.
The Network for Public Education (NPE) is raising the alarm. Trump’s Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, took $180 million in federal coronavirus relief funds and is allowing states to compete for a share of that money by proposing one of three remote learning options, the first being “microgrants” — what most would call “vouchers" -- an idea that is strikingly similar to the "education savings accounts" backed by private school choice supporters like DeVos.
The NPE is mounting a campaign to email Congress in opposition to this blatant attempt to privatize our schools.
In the Public Interest has compiled “11 warning signs that someone is trying to privatize your public school." Some of the signs relate to the dangerous ground that schools are on as they reorganize to deal with the pandemic, with privatizers looking to turn the situation into an opportunity for outsourcing to private companies. These include emergency powers, changes in procurement rules, and "new creative and effective" approaches in education. Others are a direct assault on public education disguised as “help.” One example is education technology companies offering free trials of their software for distance learning. See the complete article.
"Co-location" Means Closing Neighborhood Public Schools
For three years, PublicCore has been warning that continued WCCUSD approval of charter schools will lead to the closure of neighborhood schools. Now that chicken is coming home to roost. Unless neighbors and concerned community members rise up and say "NO!” El Sobrante will lose its middle school.
Pinole Middle School has already been forced to share its site with Voices Charter School as part of a practice known as "co-location." Across the freeway in El Sobrante, Crespi Middle School has been forced to share its facility with Invictus Middle School. According to Prop 39 (aka “the charter school law”), each February, charter schools must make their anticipated facility needs request to the school district in which they are located. WCCUSD superintendent Matt Duffy has announced that both Voices and Invictus will be asking the district for more space in the 2019 – 2020 school year.
One of the options the district is considering is to close Crespi Middle School, move those students to Pinole Middle School, and allow Voices and Invictus to take over the Crespi site. Even though the district says it has no immediate plans to close Crespi, it has also stated that if enrollment falls that it will be closed.
PublicCore is vehemently opposed to this option, as it gives public school students and their families fewer choices and takes away El Sobrante's only middle school.
What you can do:
---Read the concerns of Joseph Glatzer, 7th grade history teacher at Pinole Middle School (see below)
---Contact the WCCUSD Board of Education [email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com]
Letter from Jospeph Glatzer:
I'm Joseph Glatzer, 7th grade history teacher at Pinole Middle School. I'm here to oppose Voices getting any more of our classrooms and deepening their occupation of our campus. My criticism is with the charter system, not individual families.
I noticed in reading Mr. Duffy's report that it says our enrollment at Pinole Middle is down. It had been down the past few years due to charter encroachment, but because of the amazing job our staff has done, our enrollment is up pretty significantly this year. Is the board aware of that? Parents are fed up with the lack of actual teaching at Summit, and we get kids coming back from them nearly every week.
Also, we know you're not trying to close Crespi until 2 years from now, but that doesn't make it any better.
How much smaller could our classrooms be if we weren't hemorrhaging money to charter schools for their own profit?
Hiding behind the law and saying you have no choice doesn't make any sense. Voices is not holding board meetings in Contra Costa County. They're in violation of their charter and it should be revoked. The dangerous driving, traffic and noise is out of control. Our students are being hurt by a de facto private elementary being artificially wedged into their school.
It's time for the school board to adopt the NAACP resolution for a moratorium on charter schools, which was just endorsed by UTR. Are you going to be on the side of the NAACP or on the side of a deeply segregated de facto private school which is taking our desperately needed public funds?
The argument has been that if you don't approve these collocations then we'll get sued and that'll cost the district a lot of money. But we're already losing tens of millions of dollars from approving all these charters and co-locations. We're going to have severe financial challenges, like we see in Oakland, if something doesn't change. So we might as well unite with other districts and fight for what's right.
Prop 39 can be challenged as unconstitutional under the California state constitution, because it guarantees children the right to an education, which charters are endangering.
This is a civil rights issue and a human rights issue. We learned from Gandhi and Martin Luther King that respecting unjust laws is an immoral act.
Don't take away any more of our classrooms at Pinole Middle. Thank you.