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New charter school seeks high school district's OK

Original post made on Sep 20, 2010

A Sunnyvale man is setting his sights on the Mountain View Los Altos High School District to house his proposed charter school.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, September 20, 2010, 11:16 AM

Comments (17)

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Posted by James
a resident of Monta Loma
on Sep 20, 2010 at 12:18 pm

Whoever Bruce William Scott is, he needs to be stopped. The idea that the shortage of resources in public schools will be in any way alleviated by creating another school is simply befuddling. We need less bureacracy, not an additional layer, which is ultimately what he offers. More spending on students and teachers, less on academic theorists masquerading as administrators, I say. Let's not even get started on the P.E. thing. The connection between body and mind is well documented, and this desire to reinvent the wheel should not be entertained.

And on a personal note to Mr. Scott, thanks so much for pointing out that the fact that I don't speak a second language automatically disqualifies me from any pretense towards understanding any culture other than my own. So nice to have the 'priests' around to interpret the Latin bible for us.

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Posted by cbfla
a resident of another community
on Sep 20, 2010 at 12:59 pm

Charter schools belong in areas with underperforming schools. MVLA high school district offers the best of the best to the students in this area.

Mr. Scott, you have missed the boat here. You couldn't ask for much better in the way of cultural diversity as we have in Silicon Valley. Our family lived in Asia for four years and while our children attended school and learned another language, it was just living their that gave us a better appreciation of another culture. You don't need to have a "special" school here for that. There are plenty of schools that children can attend on weekends to supplement foreign language study.

Take your plan somewhere else where there is more need and less fortunate students.

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Posted by Elizabeth
a resident of Waverly Park
on Sep 20, 2010 at 2:36 pm

A school focusing on foreign language & technology sounds great. The Mountain View DI program is so popular, with a waiting list each year - it could be a great feeder for some of the students.

However, I am so against the idea of more academics and less athletics. I believe that South Korea may not need PE, but our eating habits and lifestyles in the US are so different. Mr. Scott, have you seen the statistics on obesity in US?

Plus the sports is often what keeps middle/high school students away from smoking, drinking & drugs.

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Posted by Kerri, a 49-year-old, 25-year MV resident
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Sep 20, 2010 at 3:48 pm

Mr. Scott needs to be stopped, now. Where does he get off trying to siphon the hard-earned, carefully-planned funds of the MVLA high school district in order to subsidize his private agenda? My husband and I have lived in the MVLA district for 25 years and have graduated two children, now in college, from MVLA high schools. The district is well-run and academically successful, and monies brought in via bonds and parcel taxes are allocated to meet the current and projected needs of the district as it stands today. I am angry that the district may have to spend money to fight Mr. Scott's folly. Should Mr. Scott be successful, the district will be on the hook to provide "reasonably equivalent" space to house the school, which would be tremendously expensive and compromising to the district. Residents should fight this tooth and nail, making their disapproval known both at the high school district and at the County Board of Education. It was the latter entity that approved the Bullis Charter School and cost the Los Altos School District untold hundreds of thousands of dollars to house their school and fight many lawsuits over the years. Let's nip this in the bud and send Mr. Scott packing. I'm appalled.

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Posted by ann
a resident of another community
on Sep 20, 2010 at 4:51 pm

BRAVO TO MR. SCOTT AND WELCOME......bring it on.....our public schools need competition...the charter school is a welcome addition ....and will challenge their students.....and the public schools to do isn't the problem in our public's the teachers and the whole corner on the market they have...COMPETITION IS A GOOD THING...and the guaranteed jobs and pensions in our public schools needs to be redone....what if we guaranteed all our children a's no matter how good or bad they performed...and bravo to bullis charter school.....they should be proud of their accomplishments...

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Posted by Why here? and why at all?
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Sep 20, 2010 at 6:46 pm

Anybody read the web site for that school? There is no mention of our community at all, the closest it comes to a specific location/community is in its one-line SOUTH BAY COLLEGE-PREP (9-13) SCHOOL (by the way who would be paying for 13th grade?); so why pick MVLA?

I am not opposed to a charter school at the high school level. But, Mr. Smith should really reach out to the community he (and his backers?) deemed in need of his proposed charter. Also some public disclosure on Mr Smith's backers would be welcome.

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Posted by Kristine
a resident of Monta Loma
on Sep 21, 2010 at 1:11 am

You know if they have some simple encouragement of bicycling to school could serve as a low cost form psychical education. They could also teach physical oriented crafts-work. Like Wood and Metal working.

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Posted by Clyde
a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Sep 21, 2010 at 3:01 am

Well put, ann. We guarantee those employed by our public schools jobs and pensions for life and get mediocrity in return and the likes of deluded personalitie suffering from CEO envy.

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Posted by Parent
a resident of Waverly Park
on Sep 21, 2010 at 8:12 am

Our public high schools are far from mediocre, they are outstanding. And if you have had any students take any of the many Honors and AP classes offered at both Mountain View and Los Altos high schools, you know that the students are being challenged. With the district's open access policy for high-level classes, any student can sign up for any Honors or AP class of their choosing, so students can design a course load that challenges them, whether that means one Honors class or 5 AP classes. As for languages, the goal is for every student in our district to meet the UC and CSU "A to G" requirements, which means that every student studies a foreign language for 3 years -- 4 years, starting with the graduating class of 2012. (The A to G requirement is currently 2 years of the same foreign language with 3 "recommended" -- which means you take 3 years. Starting with the class of 2012, the requirement is 3 years with 4 "recommended" - so everyone who wants to consider a CA state college will study a language for 4 years.)

PE is not a huge time sink or commitment in public high schools. Two years of a PE class doesn't take anything away from the kids' academics. While I might agree that teaching kids to be physically active might be better accomplished in ways other than making kids move through a series of sports, the programs are well-designed, in my opinion, the teachers are fair, and it's not a burden. And after-school sports are critical for a lot of students to give them a sense of belonging and being part of a group. It can keep kids connected, which in turn will keep them engaged academically. Same with the many other wonderful electives our schools offer, from performing arts to marching band to clubs -- both the academic ones like Academic Decathlon and Speech & Debate, to the "fun" ones, like Anime Club or Knitting Club.

I think some charter schools can be effective in areas where there is a real need. This school is not one of them. In a district like MVLA, this school would be a "boutique" public school for for affluent families. The students in MVLA who might possibly benefit from some type of charter school are not the ones Mr. Smith is trying to attract with this concept. I think charters like this are a misuse of the charter school concept. Mr. Smith should open a private school and let the parents who share his particular and narrow vision of education pay for the privilege. Don't punish the rest of us by taking away funds that provide our students with an excellent education.

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Posted by Parent
a resident of Waverly Park
on Sep 21, 2010 at 8:16 am

Bad self-editing. When I said "the goal is for every student in our district to meet the UC and CSU "A to G" requirements, which means that every student studies a foreign language for 3 years -- 4 years, starting with the graduating class of 2012" -- I mean every student who plans to meet the UC or CSU requirement. I said that later in the paragraph, but not here. Not every student does take the full complement of language classes, but I believe that the majority of students do meet the A-G requirements.

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Posted by Observer
a resident of another community
on Sep 21, 2010 at 10:56 am

this same drama played out in Sequoia district
"our schools are great" "95% of graduates go to college" "we're not an inner city"

however when one dug below the surface there ... 30% of freshman didn't graduate 40% of freshman didn't meet the complete A-G requirements (language + science + math + english + ...) Just 30% of freshmen completed the full A-G requirements.

A new school arrived Summit Prep which hit those high goals on a lower budget. One change was to require athletic participation - sports, club gym, class but not to chew up academic time with PE class which is a senseless duplication. Many other innovations drove success at Summit: now the #2 school in the Bay Area behind Lowell. A second Summit (Everest) is now open and Summit 3 (Rainier) was just approved last week. and competition has also sharpened the focus of the schools in the sequoia district and they are doing better.

A more complete analysis can show whether there is a need in MVLA: it takes about 30 minutes on the state website A more complete study is required to whether Mr. Smith's proposal is a credible solution to that need - which comes both through direct enrollment and through competition.

you can see more of Summit in the current film Waiting for Superman.

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Posted by Sceptical at best
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Sep 21, 2010 at 11:13 am

Why is Mr. Smith downplaying the role of Physical Education and sports? Yet if you look on his website, he is already asking for money for P.E. equipment and Sport uniforms.

"While income from the state of California is expected to cover core items such as operating and maintenance costs, it is insufficient to cover extra services and activities, such as physical education equipment, field trips, and sports uniforms, as well as, eventually, a permanent campus and related facilities."

And why is Mr. Smith (the website shows that his contact information is from Irvine) trying to start the charter school in northern California? Where is the need? Did he fail to get the program going in southern California and thought he might have a better chance of getting it funded in Los Altos/Mountain View?

What are his credentials and experience in developing and implementing educational programs? The background given sounds like he has bounced around from one job to another. Lastly, who are his financiers? Trace the money and your likely to get a better idea as to the true goal of the program.

Unfortunately, the website is sorely lacking in details. Provide details, not lofty ideals and maybe people might buy into the concept. Otherwise Mr. Smith looks like another "education guru" who claims to have the ultimate answer to educating our youth.

I'm not buying what he is selling!

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Posted by Observer
a resident of another community
on Sep 21, 2010 at 11:26 am

As an example

The district class of 2008
started with 901 Freshmen
graduated 748 seniors
completed A-G entrance requirements for 505 graduates (ie the minimum entrance requirements for San Jose State or any CSU school)

graduation rate = 83% college readiness rate = 56%

for comparison, Santa Clara county as a whole is 81% college readiness rate is 38%

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Posted by Joanne
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 21, 2010 at 2:52 pm

I've been a resident of the cuesta Park area for greater than 42 years and at no time has there been a flood of our Cuesta neighborhood. More government money to burn! We just keep paying for bureaucratic projects without proof of need that the annex actually requires such designation. Might we request more scientific evidence in the Voice paper to help the community understand the need in better specifics re: the project? Would the army corps of engineers be able to give a second opinion? Is the Voice biased in any way in favor of the project? Opposed? Investigating the projject and the revenue required might make for interesting reading since the USA infrastructure is under the microscope by the Feds these days.

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Posted by Parent
a resident of Waverly Park
on Sep 21, 2010 at 11:39 pm

The charter schools always skim the cream. I don't mean rich kids with lots of advantages, I mean the kids with families who are motivated to get them to college. These kids might have done equally as well if they had stayed in the local school; who knows? Charters are a self-selecting population, so you would expect that a lot of them would have much higher graduation rates, college acceptances, etc. than a large public school that has to take all comers. They are starting off with a different population.

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Posted by James
a resident of Monta Loma
on Sep 22, 2010 at 2:08 pm

Anyone giving kudos to the Bullis Charter School is , and I say this hopefully, out of their mind. Bullis was created because the ultra wealthy in the hills wanted their own school. Lacking the population to fund the school they wanted, they used their wealth to sue the Los Altos school district into paying their way. Read up on some of the Bullis/LA School District court decisions, Bullis has been repeatedly shut down by the courts, and they do not present the Bullis parents and administration in a very flattering light.

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Posted by MV native
a resident of another community
on Oct 16, 2010 at 11:25 pm

Mountain View and Los Altos High School are both good schools, but the doesn't mean that residents of the district shouldn't have a choice. Charter schools are public schools. They are education start ups were innovation thrives . Some will be successful, some will not. They do not cost tax payers any more money than the other schools in the district. They are not taking money away the district. Successful schools like Bullis Charter offer an alternative, increase property values and save tax payers money. Most importantly they do an excellent job of educating children.

Bullis has students from all over the district and a super long waiting list. This year's API score places it in the top 10 of all schools in California.

I don't understand why James, from the Monta Loma neighborhood is so upset-unless he is a teacher's union rep or a school administrator. It would be great if students at Monta Loma had the option to attend a charter. I went to Monta Loma in the late 60's and early 70's. It was not a good school then and it's much worse now.

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