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District Denies Charter Petition — Again

The Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District Board of Education on Tuesday denied a second petition from the Tri-Valley Learning Corporation to open up a third charter school in town.

The Tri-Valley Learning Corporation's latest attempt to open a third charter school in town was unanimously rejected Tuesday by the Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District Board of Education, according to a report by the Valley Times.

This was the second attempt by the corporation to get a petition to open the proposed Portola Academy K-8 school approved by the district in 12 months.

Further details from the Valley Times report:

A report by the district's staff said the petition for Portola Academy lacked a clear description of its educational program; did not have clear plan to attract a racially and ethnically balanced student population; would not be able to successfully implement its programs; and questioned its financial plan.

The original petition was first denied by the district in October 2011. It also was later denied by the Alameda County Board of Education and the state Board of Education earlier this year.

View the full Valley Times report on the Contra Costa Times website.

Mom of 2 KT October 18, 2012 at 10:25 PM
People just look at today's published API's while the Elementary Charter has a good API the High School is at 819, down 1 from last year while the so-called inferior public schools, Livermore1 less at 818 but up 4 from last year and Granada at 846 up 6 from last year. So please stop saying the charter school has higher API's, only LVCS does LVCPS does not! Furthermore every student I have known who has wanted a transfer to Mendenhall go it and that is an over 900 API school.
Darwinian Justice October 18, 2012 at 11:13 PM
If LVCS has higher API's as you acknowledge, please explain to me why you think I a) don't have the right to enter a lottery to get my child into that school, and b) why I should have to support an educational system that rewards tenure instead of results? Livermore's school district is in NO position to be judging or measuring anyone else when it comes to financial feasibility or membership percentages (it's a lottery system, idiots). By the way, actions like this by LVJUSD make supporting ballot measures 30 and 38 a lot harder to justify.
Darwinian Justice October 18, 2012 at 11:17 PM
Google the sentence below for the Amicus brief from the Pacific Legal Foundation on this type of issue. Charter-schools-and-their-students-have-a-right-to-defend-themselves-from-biased-attacks.
Darwinian Justice October 18, 2012 at 11:40 PM
@Dingbat: So I guess you'd have no problem with shutting down schools in LVJUSD that score lower academically than LVCS, like Marylin Avenue Elementary?
Darwinian Justice October 18, 2012 at 11:44 PM
And really... if this school is so bad, why is there a waiting list? If this school has a questionable financial plan, how is it that they've managed to keep class sizes down and at the same time not cut any programs? If you really care about children, look at the programs that are offered. Look at the APIs. Then tell me that they aren't receiving a good education.
Just Another Dingbat For Romney October 19, 2012 at 12:31 AM
So what is a "good education"? If a waiting list for a school and high test scores on standardized tests is going to be the metrics by which a school is deemed "good" or "bad", then the value one places on their children's education may be questionable. It may be one thing for a child to know that 2+2=4, but I would also expect the child that knows that to also know exactly why 2+2=4, not that it just does. Knowing why 2+2=4 will take your child farther along in their education than knowing that the answer on the test for 2+2=4. And if your kids aren't taught how 2+2=4, how are they going to learn anything else the rest of their life? And as for wait lists, that may be more of how a school may be advertised out there and that some schools out there have generated enough "buzz" out there that parents are convinced that they should bring their children to these schools. But education is more than just waiting lists and test scores. I would think curriculum has something to do with that, what kind of funding and what kind of mandate they have from their benefactors or even the community in the case of a charter school and what kind of families support this school and its students. But what do I know, I don't have kids, but I come from a family of teachers, though.
Tom Ness October 19, 2012 at 01:02 AM
I can't drive my kids across town to go to some other school. If you continue to open up these charter schools that are not in neighborhoods eventually the district won't have enough money and will have to close a school my child attends. I don't have the means to get my child to another school, that's not fair either.
John Locke October 19, 2012 at 04:04 AM
Let's look at data and research. First of all, if you look at how the charter school has done over time they have shown little growth in English Language Arts. In math they have shown no growth at all over time. They have gone up and then down, and I imagine that they have no idea how, or why they have gone up or down. The data doesn't lie. Neither does the research. Please see Visible Learning by John Hattie. Every researcher in the world refers to this work, which is a 35 year synthesis of research. Hattie assigns an effect size to teaching strategies, programs, effects of home and socio-economic level, etc. He states that if a program, or strategy doesn't have an effect size of at least a .40 that it is a complete waste of time. To put things in perspective he gives parent engagement an effect size of .51, while the use of common formative assessments are a .90 - an effective strategy that schools have control over.) Charter schools have an effect size of .20. Huh... Not worth considering. The Livermore Valley Charter School data confirms this research. Based on data and research I would not put my children at the Livermore Valley Charter School. Education is too important.
John Locke October 19, 2012 at 04:22 AM
Let's look at data and research. The data doesn't lie, and it is clear that over time the Livermore Valley Charter School has shown modest growth in English Language Arts. In math the data show us that the Charter School has shown no growth at all. Every researcher in the field of education now refers to John Hattie's Visible Learning, which is a 35-year meta analysis of research. Hattie looked at effects of teaching strategies, school programs, and at the effects of what families bring. He assigned effect sizes to strategies and programs and determined that if a strategy or program did not have an effect size of at least a .40 that it was not worth doing. To put things in perspective, parent engagement has an effect size of .51, and the use of formative assessments have an effect size of .90. Retention has a negative effect size. Charter schools have an effect size of .20. The Livermore Valley Charter School has become entirely too political. Shouldn't we consider the data and the research when arriving at a decision of where to place our children? I would. Education is too important.
JaneDoe October 19, 2012 at 05:52 AM
Livermore does not have any bad schools. All of our schools are safe, welcoming and provide well-rounded challenges and activities to their students. What it does have is a community that wants what is best for kids-all who come to school with a broad range of variables that affect their lives in powerful ways. Test scores are just one measure of a schools academic progress and are widely misinterpreted and misunderstood. Look at the disaggregated information and ask someone who truly knows how to interpret the scores to explain what the data reports. Then, visit the schools in our district before passing judgement. And remember, most parents want whats best for their children yet it's not a level playing field out there in terms of what families can do for their children. Our school board has approved charter school petitions in the past. They, along with the county and the state boards of education turned down the Portola Academy Charter School petition based on the laws they are charged to uphold. Expecting them to turn a blind eye because it's something a minority of our community wants would be irresponsible. I applaud our school board for making the tough decisions in the face of harsh criticism and threats. They do have the best interests of all of our children in mind. If you think our public schools need help, be an advocate for change in a productive way-volunteer your time, energy and support for all children. It takes a village folks.
Nathan21 October 19, 2012 at 08:04 AM
I feel so blessed to have both of my children in the Charter School. I myself went threw the LVJUSD K-12. Every day I am amazed by what my 9 year old and 6 year old have learned in school! My 9 year old is already learning things that weren't tought to me till 7-8th grade at Mendenhall. Not only that both of my Children absolutely love school! The teachers at LVCS are some of the best I've ever seen. They make learning fun and exciting for their students. It's sad that the LVJUSD just looks at kids as $$. If the LVJUSD really cared about education they would be taking notes on LVCS not getting in the way of LVCS.
JennWalker October 19, 2012 at 12:55 PM
I transferred my child from Sunset to Marylin Avenue, which I consider to be the BEST school in town. He started kindergarten as a non-reader, and is now DRA level 18 at the beginning of 1st grade. You will not find more highly qualified teachers than the Professional Learning Community at Marylin. Parents looking for a choice & quality education should check it out!
Bill Davis October 19, 2012 at 01:13 PM
The district has an obligation to ensure that the children within the district are covered within the law. They are looking at "kids as $$." Furthermore, they are not "getting in the way of LVCS." They are required BY LAW to review the charter and if said charter doesn't pass muster, they deny it. LVCS can always go to the county and then the state, which is what they did last time around and got denied at all 3 levels. Now, they're trying again. Hopefully, it goes better for them this time around. While they are not off to a good start (getting denied again at the district level), they still have 2 shots left, and I have a hunch they will eventually prevail. If *I* wanted something bad enough, I would work with the powers that be to ensure that we all got what we wanted. It seems to me that LVCS hasn't had that epiphany yet. Perhaps their leadership ought to do some introspection.
Al Phillips October 19, 2012 at 01:44 PM
Comments on this article substantiate my belief that we live in one of the best cities in the Bay Area. The passion and commitment that Residents and Parents have demonstrated for their children’s educational development cannot be challenged. I believe that we have awesome and committed Public Schools with dedicated, experienced and knowledgeable Teachers (UNION) and staff. I also believe that the Charter schools have stepped up and filled a gap and a need in the community that was left void when schools closed and to provide an alternative to regular schools. Parents in Charter schools believe that they can make more of an impact on curriculum and have the ability to be part of the decision making process for text books and programs. My admiration for Parents that home school is beyond description, for this is something that I wish I could do, but know my own personal limitations. Lastly, for those that are steadfast in their faith and believe that a well-rounded education contains an element of their spiritual believe, I applaud you. Thank you all for this dialogue and for reassuring me that we are more similar than we are different. We all care, love and value our children. The four reasons above is why I feel strongly about a Parents right to seek out and choose the school of their choice. Thank You and God Bless all of you
Peggy October 19, 2012 at 03:52 PM
There is a great article in the Independent about Marylin Ave. Talk about a school that has gone from the bottom to the top! It may not be at the top of Livermore schools but it does show how a school can move up with the right direction.
Darwinian Justice October 19, 2012 at 05:11 PM
Hattie is far from being the definitive word on education, claiming that "Every researcher in the field of education now refers to John Hattie's Visible Learning" is intellectually dishonest. You're basing metrics on a fundamental belief that teachers should answer to a centralized administration (the main reason why public schools are a failure as a whole), and his work is just that - his work. It is neither the rule nor the definition. I also question your statement: "Based on data and research I would not put my children at the Livermore Valley Charter School. Education is too important." So what you're saying is that based on your research and data you would choose to not put your children there. Ok, good. You're all about choice, right? Then why do you want to shut down their charter and deny me the right to choose for my child? If LVCS is shut down, LVJUSD can expect litigation. You cannot shut down a school on the basis of racial or ethnic "balance" without that decision impacting individual students at that school. Simply put, you're making a decision that is in itself discriminatory. It may be inconvenient for you, but the law protects Caucasians, Asians, Indians and other races of people besides blacks and hispanics. Tread lightly, liberals. You'll be begging for tort reform if you keep this BS up.
herbert spencer October 20, 2012 at 06:46 AM
The LVCS has an API just over 900. About 3% of their students are English Language Learners, and less than 5% qualify for Free-or-Reduced Lunch. A better measure of how well a school is doing would be to look at their Similar School scores which takes into account their demographics. The LVCS has a Similar School Ranking of 6, which means that compared to like schools they are performing in the top 40%. Given this, it puzzles me why they have a waiting list.
Sandy October 20, 2012 at 04:15 PM
I have nothing against the charter school. But those of you making the comments about how your children have become better readers, or are being "challenged" more at the charter school.......I have to debate. . I have two kids at Sunset. A wonderful school. I think THE BEST principal in the district, and some of the teachers could easily qualify for Teacher of the Year. But that's not why I'm commenting here. The parent who stated that her 9 year old is learning now what shed'd been taught in the 7th or 8th grade is not a charter school phenomenon. It's that way across the board! My fifth grader is bringing home algebra homework. And the best part is..... She understands it. I too did not have that curriculum, such as algebra, introduced to me until the 8th or 9th grade. And I went to very good schools in Sunnyvale. The heart of the Silicom Valley. So please don't think the charter school is challenging or teaching your children "better" than our public schools. And there is a ton of parent participation. Whoever stated there wasn't has no clue obviously. And as far as transferring a child to Mendenhall...... I have a few friends who have successfully gotten their children into the school. Without a hitch. Build your own school system, but please stop ranting about how lousy the public schools are ........ When some of you obviously have no proof to back up your statements. I wish you all luck in your endeavor.
herbert spencer October 20, 2012 at 08:04 PM
Shut down Marylin. Here is a school that has shown growth over time with a very challenging population. Their APi has gone up by 163 point in 5-6 years. Their similar school score has gone from a 1 to a 10. I read in a recent article that different authors have studied and published about this school, and that recently they received a visit from a well know scholar who was studying effective organizations, and you think we should shut it down. Wow!! I cannot believe what I'm reading.
herbert spencer October 20, 2012 at 10:33 PM
Darwinian Justice, based on your ranting, and lack of logic and clear thought it appears only to be a matter of time before you eliminate yourself from the gene pool, and go the way of the dodo. It would be Darwinian Justice.
Mal Luba October 21, 2012 at 02:54 AM
Darwinian Justice…. There is so much I’d like to say in response to your posts. They anger me, first of all. Not because I disagree with you, but because you speak in a way that shows little respect for entire groups of people. Note how I am addressing you as an individual? I’m not saying “conservatives…” I’m saying you. Because it’s small minded and offensive to lump people together and bash them as a group, as you have been doing. Next, you say “My child should not suffer just because some minority groups suck at encouraging education. You're not getting a representative percentage because the parents of these kids choose to make other parts of their lives more important than school.” This is, without a doubt, the most offensive comment on this page. I have been working with socio-economically challenged children and their families for almost two decades. The challenges that they face make our first world problems look trivial by comparison. I know parents who are working three jobs in order to get food on the table for their children. To besmirch these hard-working parents and say that they suck at encouraging education and that they have under-prioritized school is ridiculous.
Mal Luba October 21, 2012 at 02:54 AM
And what is your continuous prattling on about pressing litigation against the school district? They have broken no law. They have done nothing that is outside of their rights. The system is set up the way it is, and they are working within the established parameters of it. You don’t like that? Really… that’s too bad. It doesn’t mean you get to threaten and sue. Finally, your suggestion of closing Marylin Avenue Elementary borders on laughable. No school in the East Bay has shown the amount of improvement and growth that they have shown over the past seven years. Sure, you could argue that they started off low, so they had more room to grow. Granted. But a 163 point API gain, and moving from a similar schools rank of 1 to a rank of 10 are the results of a staff and student body committed to excellence. We’re all entitled to our opinions, and I think it’s find to post yours here. But please… try to do it in a way that doesn’t reek of disdain for people who are different from yourself.
Sandy October 21, 2012 at 07:28 AM
@mal luba....... THANK YOU.....Well stated!
Darwinian Justice October 22, 2012 at 08:45 PM
My disdain isn't for people different from myself. My disdain is towards a system that is so completely rigged against choice, all under the guise of equality. Tell me, how is it that liberalism can be pro-choice on abortion, but anti-choice when it comes to schools? If I was to restrict your right to abortion, how would you feel? As for breaking laws, it depends on their actions. You cannot cause material harm to someone because of the color of their skin. By shutting LVCS down because there aren't enough minorities you are causing material harm to the current participants by basing it on a racial component. As much as liberalism hates it, discriminating against whites, asians and indians is still descrimination! So what, exactly, are you against here? As for you "working with socio-economically challenged children and their families", congratulations. That doesn't mean that those communities don't have consistently lower test scores and higher drop-out rates. Why, again, does my child need to be slowed down by them?
Darwinian Justice October 22, 2012 at 08:53 PM
You say "you speak in a way that shows little respect for entire groups of people." You're right. I have no respect for people that don't place their children front and center. I have no respect for people that claim to be for a premise like choice yet set up "established parameters" to deny me a choice. And I have no respect for institutionalized discrimination, which is exactly what was committed when the decision to deny the charter was made! Discrimination is discrimination, no matter what color it is being applied against. As for closing Marylin, you need to read more carefully. My point is that if denying the charter (and thus ultimately shutting down the school) was about scores, you would have to shut down Marylin too. But I don't see any of you calling for that! So why is it that you feel like you have the right to shut down LVCS? Good day.
Mal Luba October 23, 2012 at 02:09 AM
Darwinian Justice… first of all, I’d like to thank you for striking a more civil tone in your last post. You responded to my post point by point without being overly offensive. A good, collegial debate of the issue is completely welcome. You raise the question of choice. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I am all for choice. Time and again, you have mentioned that LVJUSD is trying to take away your right to choose. I don’t believe this is the case. I am a parent in Livermore, too, and I very much enjoy that I have the right to choose from several schools options; including 11 public elementary schools and several private schools. I don’t think this issue is about taking away anyone’s freedom to choose. When the district closed Portola Elementary a few years ago, I doubt you felt that your right to choose was being violated. What was the difference? Next. You keep talking about the district trying to shut LVCS down. This article is not at all about shutting down the existing LVCS campuses. It is about the Livermore School Board denying the petition to open a third school. I’m unclear as to how you read this article, and took it to mean that the district was trying to shut down the existing charter schools.
Mal Luba October 23, 2012 at 02:10 AM
Even if this decision WAS tied to shutting down the existing two campuses, there is no discrimination against whites, Asians, or Indians happening here. The law states that a charter school’s student body must match, in proportion, the community that it serves. If LVCS is breaking this law, and is threatened with closure for failure to comply, that is not discrimination. Finally, let’s talk for a minute about Marylin Avenue, LVCS, and how they compare. You keep mentioning API, so I went to the California Department of Education’s website to gather some data. If we just look at API vs. API, we’re comparing apples to oranges. The demographics of the two schools are very different. Surely, you would agree that students who are learning English as a second language and students who are living in poverty have hurdles to overcome that native English speaking middle class students don’t have to worry about. So let’s do what we can to look at data that strips out those differences. Let’s just look at the Caucasian API’s of both schools. LVCS has a Caucasian API of 912 while Marylin Avenue’s is 873. Both are very strong showings.
Mal Luba October 23, 2012 at 02:10 AM
Realize, though, that the data doesn’t separate out students living in poverty from those who are not. That is confidential data, and is not reported on the CDE website. Without a doubt, a good portion of Marylin’s Caucasian students included in that 873 are living in poverty. If we could have access to the Caucasian non-poverty API (which would more closely match the LVCS student body), we would see a score that was even closer to the LVCS API. Perhaps even higher… there is no way for us to disaggregate that data. You can see, though, that it’s not the average student score that you need to concern yourself with, it’s the score of the students that match the profile of your child. So here’s a question: If you were to see conclusive proof that Marylin’s non-poverty Caucasian students outperformed those at LVCS, would you want to move your child to Marylin?
Alan Heckman November 06, 2012 at 06:46 AM
Here is a link to the video of the denial portion of the hearing. It is too big to upload. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVd_BQOpKBY
Alan December 17, 2012 at 06:03 AM
Competition is good for the consumer - the children of Livermore. It is not good for the district nor the district teacher's union.

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