Rocketship Charter to Petition the California State Board of Education

Stakeholders for Transparency urges you to contact the California State Board of Education, and request they deny the petition for Rocketship Charter School. The board will be hearing the petition on March 9, so the earlier the better!

Rocketship charter is known for it’s intense “drill and kill” curriculum. which is not at all suitable for young children.

Rocketship charter has targeted students in the Monument Corridor, promising their families better schools. Rocketships main reason for targeting the Monument community is purely financial. With the new LCAP school funding, students who qualify as English Language Learners, and for free/reduced lunch are worth more money than students who do not. The current oversight of Charter Schools in California is abysmal, at best. There is no guarantee that the additional funding would be spent on ELL programs.

Placing Rocketship in Concord will not create additional jobs, or bring any additional funding to the city.

What it will do, is divide our communities. Our school district is zoned for neighborhood schools. Children and families need the support of their communities, and in turn, work to better their own schools. Rocketship has not been able to secure a site for their school, so MDUSD is forced to offer them equitable space. MDUSD has approved a resolution to place Rocketship at Ayers Elementary, and Silverwood Elementary. Both of these schools have major traffic issues already. Adding an additional 125 students, if not more, will make the traffic in these areas completely unmanageable, and unsafe.

Please, write to the State Board of Education, urge them to uphold the decision of our locally elected school officials, who have already denied Rocketship at the MDUSD level, and at the County Board of Education level.

You can email sbe@cde.ca.gov. Alternatively, you may also call the SBE at 916-319-0827 or send a facsimile to 916-319-0175.
In addition, we urge you to write, call or email the contacts listed at the bottom to express your wishes to deny Rocketships appeal to the state.

Limit your reasoning to not having Rocketship in the community at all!

To see the staff reports of MDUSD and CCBOE that support these agency’s unanimous votes to deny, please follow these links:
http://esb.mdusd.k12.ca.us/…/fe89dc4a-67d2-416b-b4c6…

http://www.boarddocs.com/ca/cccoe/Board.nsf/vpublic?open

To see the report of why MDUSD has to offer space to Rocketship:
http://esb.mdusd.k12.ca.us/…/a7aa0b8c-1e99-41bc-8e07…
and
http://esb.mdusd.k12.ca.us/…/812c9e07-ce8e-4115-951e…

To see the proposal Rocketship has sent to the State: (item 7)
http://www.cde.ca.gov/be/cc/cs/accsnotice020916.asp

Additional info regarding Rocketship:
http://www.stoprocketship.com/
http://www.stoprocketship.com/…/CityCouncilPresentation…

Additional info regarding “corporate” charter schools:
http://www.salon.com/…/were_onto_the_phony_education…/

Urge the following to deny the Rocketship petition:
Contact Information
To contact the State Board of Education members or staff, please send an email to sbe@cde.ca.gov. Alternatively, you may also call the SBE at 916-319-0827 or send a facsimile to 916-319-0175.
charters@cde.ca.gov | 916-322-6029

Urge the following to contact the California State Board of Education and ask them to deny the Rocketship petition:

Concord
Mayor: Laura Hoffmeister
Vice Mayor: Ron Leone
Councilmembers: Edi Birsan, Tim Grayson and Daniel Helix
1950 Parkside Drive, MS/01
Concord, CA 94519
Phone: (925) 671-3158. Fax: (925) 798-0636
CityCouncil@cityofconcord.org
Note: For correspondence sent to City Council, City Clerk or City Treasurer, please put Attention; followed by the name of the specific elected official.

Walnut Creek:
mailto:mayor@walnut-creek.org

Pleasant Hill:
http://www.ci.pleasant-hill.ca.us/forms.aspx?FID=74

Martinez:
Mayor Rob Schroder: 925-372-3501 rschroder@cityofmartinez.org
Councilmember Mark Ross: 925-372-3544 mross@cityofmartinez.org
Councilmember Lara Delaney: 925-372-3542 ldelaney@cityofmartinez.org
Councilmember AnaMarie Avila Farias: 925-372-3543 amafarias@cityofmartinez.org
Councilmember Debbie McKillop: 925-372-3541 dmckillop@cityofmartinez.org

Contra Costa County Supervisors:
Karen Mitchoff: supervisormitchoff@bos.cccounty.us
2151 Salvio St., Suite R
Concord, CA 94520

Ph: 925-521-7100
Fx: 925-646-5202

 

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2 thoughts on “Rocketship Charter to Petition the California State Board of Education

  1. Harold Capenter

    OPEN LETTER TO Charter School Commission Members (Brian Bauer, Cindy Chan, Dr. Arturo Delgado, Ari Engleberg, Atanyi Howard, Cailtlyn O’Halloran, Dr. Mark Ryan, Dr. Wesley Sever, Curtis Washington):

    From a friend w/permission to post:
    —————————-

    February 10, 2016

    Dear Charter School Commission,

    Thank you for allowing me an opportunity to address your Commission yesterday during public comment.

    The following email attached below was forwarded to the State Board of Education in advance of your meeting.

    I apologize that you may not have received this in time for your vote concerning Rocketship Charter Petition.

    As a parent who traveled to this meeting quite a distance (along with 3 other parents who came separately, on their own accord, and was not aware in advance of their attendance), I am disappointed by the vote which I believe was not fully staffed by all members of the Commission. I only point this out because 4 parents attended this meeting from my district. We traveled 90 minutes to give a ONE minute public comment.

    Our District Board of Education (elected by the people) and the County Board of Education (elected by the people) and the parents who were represented in the audience, along with the many letters from parents (some letters written in Spanish) which were presented to this board by one parent, were all against this charter. Our opinions should have weighed heavily on your commission.

    As parents, we are not against all Charters, as we have two very well regarded charters in our district. Eagle Peak Montessori (a charter I wanted my three children to attend, but couldn’t get into the charter) and Clayton Valley Charter High School (which my kids will attend when they reach high school). As you can tell, the parents in our district are not anti-charter. We are, however, anti-Rocketship Charter and for good reason, as also noted in my email attached below sent to CA BOE. I’ve provided well researched information that should have been taken into consideration prior to the vote.

    Rocketship has a 50/1 ratio of students to teachers. By their own admission, they say their students receive 2 to 3 times more computerized instruction than a traditional public school. Research bares out that students who received their instruction via computer are less likely to remember the information, perform poorly on tests, (as compared to children who receive their instruction from a qualified/credentialed teacher), and are less likely to use critical thinking skills, highly needed to compete in our global economy.

    Rocketships lack of adequate credentialed staff, many of them from Teach for America, leave within 3 years of their teaching contract; losing nearly 40% of their staff on a yearly basis, is of great concern to me, especially for ELL and minorities who are a large proportion of their student body in the Monument Corridor (Concord, CA).

    Also, given Rocketships increased number of hours of instruction via a computer and the high turnover rate of their teaching staff, I believe their students could not possibly receive an optimal education from a dedicated and caring staff who wants to stay. In fact, how can a grade school charter make the leap that they are preparing students for “college and career” when there are many years between grade school and “college and career”? Where is Rocketships statistics that show their students move onto “college and career” at a higher rate than traditional public schools?

    “Rocketship student scores on tests are not any better than the surrounding schools in San Jose or Los Angeles”. This is a quote from the Mercury News concerning Rocketship Charters. Rocketship has asked for space on a campus in our district (MDUSD). They are expecting 600 students. This will likely impact an already cramped campus with on average 700 students per campus. Even if these students are divided between two campus sights, 300 students is a big impact on parking, traffic and the like.

    I also note that many of your members are proponents of Charter Schools and perhaps are proponents of Rocketship Charter as well. You are an appointed commission by Governor Brown and I find that you did not weigh the decision from the local elected District and County Board of Education in your deciding vote. Both of these elected Boards of Education did not give their approval for this charter, but yet, an appointed board does give approval. I find this is a travesty for the parents in our district.

    I sat through the petitions for Rocketship at the District Board and the County Board who both provided a thorough evaluation of Rocketship petition. They were very considerate and asked many questions of both sides. During your meeting, Rocketship was ask many questions, but no follow up was allowed from the District or the County Board Staff.

    Many of the questions your commission asked of Rocketship did not have a good response from Rocketship Staff.

    Rocketship staff stating over and over, “it is difficult to teach this population” as a response and reason for teacher turnover within and across their school and was weak. This was just one of the many weak responses. And, in fact, the Rocketship response of “it is difficult to teach this population” has racism undertones in their response. I hope you will revisit and listen to their responses to your questions again, as it was not an answer I would have recommended to give to you, in answer to the reason why their teacher turnover is almost 40%! If it had not been so sad, one could have laughed at that response “it is difficult to teach this population”.

    Your commission was not thorough with them. You were not direct in your questions. You were NOT pushing them for answers to their weak admissions about “teacher turnover”, and you did not further question them about non-credentialed staff, numbers of Teach for America teachers, special education program (they never answered that fully), English Language Program (never answered that either), number of hours computerized instruction, scores on tests as compared to surrounding public schools, and the list goes on and on.

    In general, your petition was weak and so was the vote of the board, not thoroughly allowing the District or County Board to provide a retort to the answers/responses from Rocketship. Rocketship repeated several times, “they (District/County) never came to our sights for a visit”. Your commission did not allow a follow up with the County or District. Rocketships answers were lacking in clarity and response. Yet, your commission recommended approval for their charter.

    Cindy Chan works for the Superintended of Public Instruction and presented the “CDE Petition” and recommended approval. I believe she should have appropriately recused herself from the vote, but did not.

    There was some confusion about how the motion was carried forward and I believe the Chair was not impartial having made up his mind prior to the hearing and providing his opinion prior to the motion being carried forward. The lack of review of all the public comments and lack of review for the numerous parent letters presented to the commission is a concern.

    In addition, during my ONE minute public comment, I was rudely interrupted by the Rocketship Audience, and the Chair of the Commission did not admonish the audience. This interruption cut into my time and disrupted my train of thought.

    It is just amazing to me the lack of impartiality of this commission. The Chair provided his opinion prior to the motion being brought before the board (saying he was giving a vote of yes). I thought this was highly unusual and perhaps swayed the remaining members who voted 5-1, recommending the Petition of Rocketship Charter.

    Lastly, several members of the board were absent from the meeting and the vote. Two of the three left the meeting prior to the commission vote, and another was absent (perhaps due to illness?), leaving those who were “proponents of charters” in attendance, which also I believe swayed the vote in favor of the Rocketship Petition.

    I ask why did 2 of your members leave prior to the vote and why wasn’t the vote delayed until ALL members could be present? If a delay of the vote had gone forward this would have given the commission an opportunity to review and fully consider public comment, as well as the parent letters against the charter. After all, as an appointed board and as esteemed as this position is, our concerns as parents deserved better.

    Thank you again,

    CC: Governor Jerry Brown and Staff, U.S. Representative Mark DeSaulnier

    Denise Pursche

    ———————

    February 8, 2016

    California State Board of Education
    Charter Division, CA-DOE
    1430 N Street, Room 5111
    Sacramento, CA 94814

    Dear Advisory Board, Mr. Board President Kirst, Vice President Straus, and Trustees Burr, Holaday, Oritz-Licon, Rucker, Sandoval, Sun, Williams, and McFarland:

    The California Charter Schools Association provided their stamp of approval for the Rocketship petition in Concord, CA. However, both Mt. Diablo Unified School District (MDUSD) Board and the Contra Costa County Board of Education, denied their petition last year.

    The California Charter Schools Association received about 8 million dollars from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Rocketship Charter has also received millions of dollars in support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. How convenient that the California Charter School Association provide their stamp of approval to Rocketship! Both of these organizations likes to argue that “charter schools ARE PUBLIC SCHOOLS.” While it is true that these schools do receive public tax payer dollars, there is little else that qualifies them as a public entity.

    By their own accord, Rocketship Charter say they are “free from most rules and regulations governing conventional public schools,” even when that “red tape” was designed to protect students. While the CALIFORNIA CHARTER SCHOOL ASSOCIATION website promises that “if a charter school cannot perform up to the established standards, it will be closed,” the LAUSD, the San Jose Unified School Districts and Office of Education, as well as the California State Superintendent of Public Instruction have all displayed an unwillingness to hold these schools accountable to the laws governing public schools.

    Worst of all, charters have not proven to be any more successful at providing children with the education that they deserve and need. Despite their ability to cherry pick the easiest to educate students, recently released test scores showed that independent charters within the LAUSD and those within the San Jose School Districts, where Rocketship has over 20 schools were “below the state average”.

    Recently released scores from tests taken last spring show Rocketship’s nine elementary schools in San Jose “generally performed from poor to middling in both English and math”. Rocketship Education has attracted generous high-tech funding (much of it from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) and national attention for its SUPPOSED success with the hardest-to-educate students, but now it is grappling with some test scores no better than those of surrounding schools.

    Rocketship opened its first school in a San Jose church in 2007, targeting poor and Latino students. It operates independently of school districts and charges no tuition. Well, Rocketship charges no tuition because it obtains public tax payer dollars. However, though Rocketship obtains public tax payer dollars, they and other charters like themselves do not report to the local County or Local Boards of Education and this must change!

    Rocketship Education, and other charters like themselves have no accountability to you our esteemed board members, and they have no accountability to the public tax payer who funds them. The promise of charter schools, that they could do it better has not been fulfilled.

    I ask you to give a vote of NO for Rocketship charters.

    Please find some research relevant to Rocketship Charter below.

    Thank you.

    Denise Pursche
    Mother w/3 children in MDUSD

    Here is a bit of research based on my public comment.

    Scathing report find Rocketship hurt poor kids:
    http://www.progressive.org/news/2014/04/187666/scathing-report-finds-rocketship-school-privatization-hurt-poor-kids

    “Rocketship performs poor to middling” (quoting):
    http://www.contracostatimes.com/education/ci_28807510/california-charter-school-scores-dive

    Racial gap for test scores:
    http://www.mercurynews.com/news/ci_28782503/californias-school-test-scores-reveal-vast-racial-achievement-gap

    “Charters perform no better than public schools”:
    http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Education/2010/0629/Study-On-average-charter-schools-do-no-better-than-public-schools

    “Rocketship Charters perform no better than surrounding schools” (quoting):
    http://www.mercurynews.com/news/ci_28807509/california-charter-school-scores-dive

    Diane Ravitch:
    http://dianeravitch.net/2015/01/07/brett-bymaster-rocketships-rocky-expansion/

    Rocketship Charters have receive about $2 million dollars from Gates Foundation
    http://www.gatesfoundation.org/How-We-Work/Quick-Links/Grants-Database#q/k=rocketship

    California Charter School Association received about $10 million dollars from Gates Foundation
    http://www.gatesfoundation.org/How-We-Work/Quick-Links/Grants-Database#q/k=California%20Charter%20School%20Association

    The Rocketship education model
    Economic Policy Institute – Do Poor Kids Deserve Lower Quality Education Than Rich Kids?:
    http://www.epi.org/publication/school-privatization-milwaukee/

    “At the core of what distinguishes Rocketship’s education model from other schools are four principles: the replacement of teachers with computers for a significant portion of the day; a reliance on young and inexperienced teachers for the rest of the day; narrowing the curriculum to math and reading with little attention to other subjects; and even within these subjects, a relentless focus on preparing students for standardized tests.
    A 2012 national profile of the company describes Rocketship as an experiment aimed at “mass production” of education (Merrow 2012). The first step in creating a mass-production school is shrinking the curriculum to the basics: math and literacy. The company’s “mission statement” for its Milwaukee school consists of one sentence: “Rocketship Milwaukee … will eliminate the achievement gap by graduating our students at or above grade level in Literacy and Math” (Rocketship Education 2011, 7). More recently, the company has added a modest amount of class time for science, social studies, art, and other “enrichments” (Rocketship Education 2014b; Haines, Voskuil, and Dilber 2014). But none of these is taught by faculty certified in these fields, and these subjects are not generally taught as separate classes. Instead, science is “embedded” in math classes, and both art and social studies are “embedded” in language arts. Thus, the “key outcomes” of social studies instruction are defined largely in terms of literacy goals, including “the ability to use informational text, mastery of academic vocabulary, and increased reading and writing skills” (Rocketship Education 2011, 32). Activities unrelated to literacy—enacting a mock Congress, writing one’s own constitution, or bringing in family members to tell oral histories—may be expected to be marginalized within this curriculum.
    Most importantly, teachers’ salaries are primarily based on their students’ math and reading scores (Rocketship Milwaukee 2014b). No matter what theoretical job description an employee may be given, when she is told what determines her salary, that is the real job description she takes to heart. By linking salaries so tightly to math and reading tests, Rocketship implicitly instructs teachers to devote minimal attention to anything else. Thus, it may be unsurprising that one family reported that, in three years of their daughter attending Rocketship’s Mateo Sheedy Elementary School in San Jose, California, they had never seen her receive homework in any subject other than math and literacy (Rocketship Mateo Sheedy Parent, 2012).”

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  2. Denise Pursche

    STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION MEETING IS TOMORROW TO APPROVE THE ROCKETSHIP CHARTER. IF YOU CAN ATTEND, PLEASE DO! IF YOU CAN’T ATTEND, PLEASE SIGN THIS PETITION IN EITHER CASE – THANKS. This will be a state-wide decision that will have rippling effects. I encourage everyone who sees this post to sign this petition. For my friends in Contra Costa County whose schools would most be impacted, I want you to know that I have seen first hand the disastrous Rocketship expansions in San Jose. The fracturing of the community and the harsh, punitive climates are not a model you would want to have move to your area. Please sign and share this petition in solidarity with public schools that are serving students in a far better (and healthier) capacity than this corporate charter chain ever would. More to come soon. https://www.change.org/p/california-state-board-of-education-insist-that-the-california-state-board-of-education-deny-flawed-charter-school-petition

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