Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Hot topic: Edison charter school

This from a reader:
Some writers have expressed concern that Edison Charter Academy did not have their website up. Since our technical coordinator has returned from his summer vacation he has cleared the website of the old Edison Learning material and we have a new website up and running: http://www.edisoncharteracademy.com/. Since it is new there will be additional information each day, so it is a work in progress. I would appreciate it greatly if you could let your readers know. Also, we are only 3 students shy of being able to add our fourth kinder class and many parents have stated they read your blog so we appreciate the opportunity to share our new programs and many changes. You may consider posting that we have hired a fully qualified and experienced teacher to do our Spanish/English dual language Kindergarden and have many interested parents changing into that class so its almost full!

29 comments:

  1. I've heard that Edison is changed for this year. What exactly is the difference? Is there new management, new teachers, new curriculum, or what?

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  2. As a public-school advocate who followed the rise and fall of Edison Charter's former operator, the controversial, New York-based for-profit Edison Schools Inc., I'm interested in learning how Edison Charter smoothly switched to being independently operated. That's quite a change, and the website makes the school policies look very thought-out and organized. Did they change much from the days of the for-profit chain operator? (Also, I'm a school food wonk always curious about cafeteria operations -- who provides the breakfasts and lunches?) Thanks for the info!

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  3. There is nothing on the website that says it is under new management corporation. It says that it was founded in August 1998. I would expect the "About Us" page to clearly delineate past and present management companies, and outline fundamental differences (philosophical and academic) that one can expect if enrolling their child today versus years past. If it is already a "10" on similar schools ratings (under old management, which was considered failing), then what does new management expect to improve? Mission and Vision statements sound canned and appear to be marketing statements written by a consulting company. Would anyone ever write a Mission or Vision statement to the contrary and expect enrollment? And all the rules, right down to how to sit and use your utensils in the cafeteria, do not make Edison sound like a joyful place for a child.

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  4. I know, I was considering touring it till I saw the litany of rules including no gang colors (royal blue or red). I thought, dear god, I do not want to send my kid to a kindergarten where they have to explicitly say no gang colors, or even where the primary emphasis is on behavior management as opposed to academics/arts/play/PE.

    So, um, "new" Edison folks, who are you, what's changed, who is running the show, and what's different?

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  5. Replies:
    I'll be happy to answer all questions at length- feel free to call me- 970-3330 ext. 3050
    Anonymous 9:39: The difference is that the school is now an independent community charter school. To assist with that transition the Board hired a consultant in March 2010 who helped the Board disengage from Edison Learning. The difference mainly is that now that the school is independent they can have consistent administration- Financial Manager, Executive Director/Principal, and a 501c3 non-profit status. Edison's wonderful teachers have remained for many years- much loved by students and parents and firmly rooted in this community. Curriculum is research based and set to CA standards- no changes needed.
    Caroline: Smooth switch- thanks to the dedicated teachers, staff, new admin. and helpful consulting firm- along with a dedicated School Board. School policies are very thought out because the teachers who make the policies along with parent/community input have been working at the school for so long- they know what works day to day. They have changed because Ed Learning tried to force many canned policies which did not work well. Food- we PROUDLY use Revolution Foods! Check out their website- GREAT food- healthy! They serve it to our students cafeteria style and the kids (and teachers) love it!
    Anonymous 4:56: As we have said, the website is just getting started and by a Tech guy who is "technically" on summer vacation! Mission and Vision statements were drafted by the teachers during a three hour professional development, then additional input from students and parents produced the final products which we are all very proud of. Correction- our school was not considered "failing". We missed AYP last year by 0.5 point on one subgroup. Terminating management was not about test scores or teaching and learning. It was about connecting with the community and having the ability to make collaborative decisions with the school stakeholders instead of a management company. Our expectations of students have been in place for years, and make our school a wonderful, safe, and exciting learning environment. Our parents love having school uniforms and it is through the input of staff, community, and parents that our dress code was created.
    Anonymous 6:18: Who are we? An independent community school. What's changed? No more long-distance management from a for-profit company. Who is running the show? Collaboration! Gifted, highly qualified teachers, experienced administrators, parents, community members, and a School Board who all have the same philosophies! We don't claim to be the right school for every child, we don't believe there is a one-size-fits-all for kids. We say- Here we are, we offer core curriculum subjects along with a new dual language Spanish/English Kinder (recently added in response to requests from the community), full time HQ teachers in Art, Drama, Dance, Music, and Physical Ed as part of our belief in the Arts and their value, and a well-known after school program. We'll keep posting our additional info on the website- and if it looks right for your child- come and see us! If not, I'm sure you'll find just the right place!
    Best Wishes- Adrienne Morrell, Executive Director

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  6. Replies:
    I'll be happy to answer all questions at length- feel free to call me- 970-3330 ext. 3050
    Anonymous 9:39: The difference is that the school is now an independent community charter school. To assist with that transition the Board hired a consultant in March 2010 who helped the Board disengage from Edison Learning. The difference mainly is that now that the school is independent they can have consistent administration- Financial Manager, Executive Director/Principal, and a 501c3 non-profit status. Edison's wonderful teachers have remained for many years- much loved by students and parents and firmly rooted in this community. Curriculum is research based and set to CA standards- no changes needed.
    Caroline: Smooth switch- thanks to the dedicated teachers, staff, new admin. and helpful consulting firm- along with a dedicated School Board. School policies are very thought out because the teachers who make the policies along with parent/community input have been working at the school for so long- they know what works day to day. They have changed because Ed Learning tried to force many canned policies which did not work well. Food- we PROUDLY use Revolution Foods! Check out their website- GREAT food- healthy! They serve it to our students cafeteria style and the kids (and teachers) love it!
    Anonymous 4:56: As we have said, the website is just getting started and by a Tech guy who is "technically" on summer vacation! Mission and Vision statements were drafted by the teachers during a three hour professional development, then additional input from students and parents produced the final products which we are all very proud of. Correction- our school was not considered "failing". We missed AYP last year by 0.5 point on one subgroup. Terminating management was not about test scores or teaching and learning. It was about connecting with the community and having the ability to make collaborative decisions with the school stakeholders instead of a management company. Our expectations of students have been in place for years, and make our school a wonderful, safe, and exciting learning environment. Our parents love having school uniforms and it is through the input of staff, community, and parents that our dress code was created.
    Anonymous 6:18: Who are we? An independent community school. What's changed? No more long-distance management from a for-profit company. Who is running the show? Collaboration! Gifted, highly qualified teachers, experienced administrators, parents, community members, and a School Board who all have the same philosophies! We don't claim to be the right school for every child, we don't believe there is a one-size-fits-all for kids. We say- Here we are, we offer core curriculum subjects along with a new dual language Spanish/English Kinder (recently added in response to requests from the community), full time HQ teachers in Art, Drama, Dance, Music, and Physical Ed as part of our belief in the Arts and their value, and a well-known after school program. We'll keep posting our additional info on the website- and if it looks right for your child- come and see us! If not, I'm sure you'll find just the right place!
    Best Wishes- Adrienne Morrell, Executive Director

    ReplyDelete
  7. Adrienne, how do you afford Revolution Foods? I think I saw that you're only charging $2/meal. Revolution has lost many clients (including districts and also charter schools in SFUSD) because of their high cost, and SFUSD has not been able to consider them for that reason. (Legally they have to accept the low bid, and Revolution is pricey.) Does Edison have teachers or volunteers working in the caf? SFUSD has paid (unionized) caf workers, which is a key point.

    Anyone who knows me will be highly amused that I'm defending Edison Charter Academy (and in fact I do wish them well). But regarding the gang color issue: This was a hot topic during the 6 extremely successful years I was an Aptos Middle School parent. The key point is that Latino parents really, really, REALLY want these rules. It is a cultural gap; to me, at first it was like sheesh, just don't let your kids wear the colors -- but I have to recognize that I live in a different world despite being only a few minutes from several low-income barrios. When Latino parents see it as an issue protecting their kids from harm, and it certainly doesn't hurt my kids NOT to wear red and blue, I came to realize I had to respect that. Apologies for anything in that comment that wasn't perfectly PC, but there it is.

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  8. Caroline: We charge $2 for breakfast and $3.25 for lunch. We don't really "afford" Revolution foods very well, in fact some years the school contributes quite a bit from the general fund. We had three companies come and do taste tests with the kids/teachers and Rev Foods just couldn't be beat for their healthy, fresh choices. Teaching the kids to love healthy food is a top priority. No teachers work in our cafeteria-Instead we administrators choose to do lunch duty to have that time to interact positively with the kids. I have heard that you are our harshest critic! Since the new Edison Charter Academy is all about collaboration- your advocacy for kids and all comments are always helpful to us. -Adrienne

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  10. I am not a fan of charter schools overall, but independently run charter schools aren't the big issue to me. For-profit charter schools are another matter -- parasitical and immoral. Trying to skim profits for shareholders from public school funding is just wrong.

    So as you can see, it was Edison Schools Inc. (and its subsequent incarnations) that were the targets of my criticism, not a small independently run charter school.

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  11. Shouldn't someone writing on behalf of a school spell "it's" correctly?

    Just sayin'...

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  12. 10:18 -- I'm not seeing the "it's/its" problem to which you refer. The person who appears to be writing on behalf of Edison has the handle, "isitsummeryet," which I read as "Is it summer yet," not "Is its ummer yet." Or maybe you were talking about something else? I'm not anyone with a pro- or anti-Edison view (just curious about the future of a school near where I grew up), but I'm not seeing any glaring its/it's error that raises red flags.

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  13. Caroline, thanks; that's not un-PC but in fact very clarifying.

    Yeah, 10:18. Caroline used "its" correctly, and no other commenter did, so to whom (to use proper grammar) are you referring?

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  14. I would like to echo Caroline that the dress codes are largely supported, often quite passionately, by Latino and also African American and Samoan families. As has been explained to me, the concern is not about gang activity at school but about the time period spent coming and going to school or to the school bus stop. Edison is K-8, yes? Many middle schoolers take MUNI to school, especially from the poorer SE neighborhoods. Driving may not be an option given parents' jobs or lack of a car.

    I'm not personally a fan of dress codes, especially regarding color, but then I have the luxury not to worry too much that my kids will be mistakenly targeted as a rival gang member or targeted for gang membership. Some of our community's families don't have this luxury. It's a request I can understand and therefore I have supported it within our diverse school when the debate has been hashed out.

    Another reason that parents seem to like the dress codes is that it sets kids apart from the drop-out culture and the gang culture. It's a marker--this family supports these kids being in school, not on the corner. One reason why so many parents love parochial schools.

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  15. The last sentence of the original blog post reads:

    "...changing into that class so its almost full!"

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  16. Oh, now I get it, 2:24. Before, I was just looking at the comments.

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  17. We could all spend endless time pointing out each other's errors/typos. I personally fear karmic retaliation: If I correct someone else's error/typo, I'm guaranteed to commit a much worse one.

    Adrienne, does ECA still have outside philanthropic funders, or are you having to launch a whole new effort -- or just function on the regular funding?

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  18. Funding: Along with the standard state funding, we adhere to the reduced class size regulations for a bit of extra funds, but most importantly ECA is partnering with the Delores Community Youth Foundation. We also rely on grants written by staff, parents & community members.
    Editing: I'm currently trying to keep up with 6 blogs, emails from our website, our Facebook page in the works, and the GreatSchools site- usually after 9pm when my family heads off into their own areas! My sincere apologies in advance for any past and future errors! :-)

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  19. when will parents learn how to spell KINDERGARTEN?

    The original post: "Kindergarden"

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  20. Nitpicky, I know, but I really wish that the author of this post had done a little grammar and spell-checking.

    It's "Kindergarten", not "Kindergarden", and the author uses its where it's is needed.

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  21. If you really want to be nitpicky: The commas in the final sentence of the previous post should have been placed within the quotation marks.

    Now may we please return to the subject at hand? If we corrected all the spelling and grammatical errors on this blog, the site would be a version of Strunk and White instead of a place to discuss San Francisco schools. I'm willing to overlook the mistakes (and informality) for the purpose of learning more about the schools.

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  22. Is this the same Caroline who called for Edison's closure last year and who ranted endlessly about charter schools (ANY charter school) being another tool of the right wing conspiracy to kill public schools?

    My gosh, you've gone soft.

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  23. To be fair, her argument, while hardly pro-charter in general, has always been a bit more complex than that. She's allowed that some independent, local charter schools are working as originally put forth--as both incubators for new ideas and as alternatives for kids for whom traditional schools don't work. The one most often cited is CACS but maybe Edison will now fit that bill by cutting ties with the for-profit Edison company. Gateway seems to be working on the high school level for some kids.

    Caroline's main beef, and it's not a bad point, is with the national political movement for charters that is supported by a set a big-time philanthropists (Gates, Broad, Walton). The national movement is also supported by right-wing libertarians who oppose the teachers' unions (and some even oppose public expenditure on schools) and see this as a way to undermine traditional public education. They tout the successes of charters (many of which have built-in advantages of philanthropic funding that is non-scalable, plus the ability to cherry-pick students and kick out difficult ones). Yet recent evidence shows that charters do no better than traditional schools despite these advantages. The kicker isn't that Edison (remade) or CACS are bad, but the political movement that is promoting charters as the answer to what ails public education.

    A significant set of charters is run by shady operators and/or chains. They are all over the map--there are wonderful independent ones and some truly awful ones. I'm more moderate than Caroline in that I think there is room for a few charters to promote innovation and provide alternatives to meet the needs of of all our kids. But I am aware that the larger critique has some merit. Charters will not save public education no matter how hard Arne Duncan and the Big Philanthropists push the idea. The unregulated rush to approve charters in CA has allowed the creation of some terrible, and taxpayer supported, schools that are outside the control of our elected boards. We need to address these issues. None of which is to say that CACS or Gateway or (new) Edison are bad to have in SF.

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  24. I was late to this party, wasn't I?

    I really couldn't have said it much better than 11:12 did.

    In the big picture, charters have become part of the public-school-crushing, teacher-bashing, community-dividing test-and-punish "education deform" juggernaut embodied originally in No Child Left Behind and now, sadly, in the Obama administration's wrongheaded Race to the Top.

    But small independent charter schools are really not the problem. I wasn't aware that Edison Charter Academy had declared independence from the remaining shreds of its corporate master until I read it here a few weeks ago, so that wasn't what I was targeting last year when I proposed taking the campus back from the for-profit operator.

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  25. It will be interesting to see what will become of Edison Charter Academy. There had been so much turmoil over the years, most of it internal. Being in program improvement does not bode well for the school, nor does the lack of continuity that prevailed over the last several years due to loss of valued administrative personnel and the founding board which ensured that Edison Schools did not overreach their primary responsibility, which was to provide specific services. Idealism has it's place, but, in the end, as with all of our public schools, you have work with the bottom line. Edison Charter Academy is up for renewal next year. With SBE making public statements regarding enforcing charter school standards, I wonder what sort of pass they will get. Even more curious, a K-8 charter school slated to open in the Mission, mirroring the demographic body Edison Charter Academy currently serves. Would they have bothered trying to open such a school if Edison was such a draw? I wish them much luck, and that is because families have their children enrolled. The apathy needs to end somewhere.

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  26. Mission Prep, the proposed charter you refer to in the Mission, hasn't been approved, 12:37. The SFUSD Board of Ed rejected it, viewing its proposal as inadequate. The would-be operators are reportedly taking their proposal to the state Board of Ed, which is very pro-charter. But currently, the charter movement is making a show of speaking up in favor of more accountability for charters, and that includes members of the State BOE. So that might make the SBOE a bit more cautious about approving a charter petition that a local district has deemed inadequate. So there's no guarantee that this proposal will sail through.

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  27. "The unregulated rush to approve charters in CA has allowed the creation of some terrible, and taxpayer supported, schools that are outside the control of our elected boards."

    Well, given the likes of Kim-Shree Maufus, I'm not sure being outside the control of elected school boards is necessarily a bad thing. School boards in places like SF are elected by voters who don't even have kids. (No offense to Rachel Norton intended.)

    Schools where kids are given diplomas without a core set of knowledge and problem-solving skills designed to help them function in the world and afford the opportunities to work at advanced levels if interested, well, that is a bad thing, and charter school status should not exempt a publicly funded school from failure on that front. Trouble is, who decides what that "core set" is . . .

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  28. ^^well, no doubt there are less-than-stellar board members and boards, but what's that old saying about democracy being imperfect but better than any other system? a far sight better than corporate control. i don't have a problem with non-parents voting, as the principle of public schooling is that we should all care about the kids (and future workers & economy-makers) in our communities. now, it would help to have an educated voting populace, definitely grant you that.

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  29. It is to meet people from all over the world with whom you will be able to create beautiful and longlasting friendships.The method of teaching Spanish has been adapted to the needs of our students.

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