Rosalia Hurtado wanted a school that could send her child to college. She lives nearby Morse High School, in southeastern San Diego, but she didn’t like what she saw.
She watches in the afternoons as students leave school. They cuss. They’re disrespectful. They fight. They don’t allow her to pass by on the sidewalk, she says.
Academics might scoff at the notion that it’s a school’s job to instill values like respect and courtesy. For Hurtado, it topped the list.
“If your child has respect, that means your house has respect,” she said.
Monique Brooks, a parent from Lemon Grove, wanted a school where her son was treated fairly – not singled out or punished more harshly than his classmates. Where he was safe from the violence that plagues nearby schools. A school where she felt welcomed walking into the front office and teachers cared as much about her son’s emotional well-being as they did about his grades.
“I just never felt that warmth and love at my other school,” said Brooks.
We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?
Change starts at the top http://www.delaineforgovernor.com/
Strict discipline is needed in SUHSD as a student posts a picture of his penis on social media, where it is seen by students district wide. This student was only suspended for one day, comes back to school accusing his teachers of talking about his penis in class. The teachers, who said NOTHING get reprimanded by the principal. Something still stinks at SUHSD. Teachers need support with classroom discipline. Teachers need to be valued and appreciated. At Sweetwater Union High School District teachers are being abused. What happened to our neighborhood school? They got principals who support disruptive behavior and blame the teachers.
Interesting read on this subject.
Always happy to see reports of successful schools and happy parents. This fits right into the Trumpworld narrative. Is O'Farrell an advertiser on VOSD? Just asking .
1) What is driving success at O'Farrell? Pedagogy? Stringent discipline? Parent communication and involvement? May I suggest it's the latter. My child is doing very well at a public school that isn't stringent in discipline nor progressive in pedagogy because of parent communication and involvement. You get that down, and everything else will conform to shared expectations between school and home. Simple as that.
2) Charter schools are, by definition, schools of choice. There has to be a modicum of parent involvement for the child just to get in the door. Public schools will always serve the kids whose parents don't pay a lot of attention to their education. Guess which group of kids is likely to do better? The ones with parent involvement. This is why the public schools in poor neighborhoods end up struggling.
3) Charter schools don't have to serve everyone in the community. Public schools do. The handful of good charter schools in SD county will be difficult if not impossible to get into for most families who won't get picked by the lottery. (State laws require a charter schools to pick in a random lottery.) This point is where I have the most trouble with charter schools. The crappy charters are easy to get into, the public schools HAVE to take you, and the good charters will wait list you to death.
--Also where I have a problem with the voucher system. You think all the good private schools are suddenly going to absorb struggling kids from other schools? No. You'll have a whole new crop of private schools pop up with most of them being crappy for-profits and doing a worse job than the schools they came from. The good private schools that will pop up in response to a voucher system will be inaccessible to most students because they'll either cherry-pick or run a lottery like the charters.
Great article. Thank you.
If a traditional school and charter school do exactly the same job educating the same group of students, which is better? Charter. Why? Because a charter can be relatively quickly closed or re-organized to improve outcomes. Traditional schools just can't or won't do that, so the misery can last decades.
Teaching methods are one of the keys. If teachers can make school interesting and fun (don't scoff), more kids will learn and behave. The key to doing those things are flexibility in how the curriculum is implimented and the selection of hard working, innovative teachers. Unfortunately those two elements are often negatively impacted by the teaher's union in public schools. The inability to do things differently and get rid of teachers who are ineffective, makes teacher unions one of the road blocks to improving public education.
My grandkids went to Hitech Chula Vista, a charter school that runs from kindergarten through high school. I, therefore, saw the innovative teaching and calm/safe atmosphere of the school first-hand. The school had a no tolerance policy with regard to drugs and any type of violence (we are talking expulsion in those instances) and teahers worked long hours in lesson plan preparation. Those few teachers who were not doing well, were fired. Broadly speaking, that is how a school should be run.
Interesting Mario. Remember a couple years back your story about Esther Omogbehin who tried to implement these same clear, consistent
consequences for misbehavior as principal of Lincon?
That didn't go over too well with the teachers,unions or the district did it?
Omogbehin was asked to leave by school board member Marne Foster with the help of Cindy Martin.
Yes indeed, the district has proved over and over "its for the children"
"To Jonathan Dean, O’Farrell’s superintendent, clear, consistent consequences for misbehavior is part and parcel of holding students accountable, keeping schools safe and supporting his teachers."
what a novel approach. Perhaps it should be a model
Good story. But those scores are a little understated. There aren't just better than Lincoln, Morse, and Gompers. Why doesn't anyone publish these scores side by side anymore? Standardized test scores aren't everything, but they matter.
Those English scores are higher than a lot of schools, like La Jolla High School (74%) where the average household income is over $150,000. And those math scores are higher than several schools like Point Loma (39%) where they average income is $94,000. For reference the average household income in Enacanto is $64,000. Underprivileged kids outperforming privileged kids. Huh.
CA math and English scores:
@Ted Gyles Thanks for posting a link to scores so that we can all compare how schools are doing. The O'Farrell scores demonstrate that over time students, grades 6-11, show growth in ELA and math. Most of the students enter the middle school in grade 6 (about 60 come up from the elementary school, and that is only a fraction of the 300 in each MS class) - through a public lottery (no screening). The letter of intent is a simple form to fill out with mostly demographic data and contact information - no more hoops to jump through to enroll students than what public schools require. I have one student in public school and one in a charter, so I can tell you that from our experience.
The students who enter O'Farrell are from the surrounding neighborhood, and most of them walk to school. There is never a silver bullet when it comes to creating great schools. However, common-core aligned curriculum, powerful research-based instruction, teachers who dedicate countless hours to supporting student success, after-school programs that engage students beyond the regular school day and policies and procedures that maintain order to keep the students safe are strategies that work, and I believe help to create the kind of success we see at O'Farrell. It is not magic. It is common sense, smart educational practice.
Mario, I'd like to get more facts about how children are admitted to O'Farrell and how many go back to Morse and Lincoln when suspended for misbehavior.
I'd recommend to those interested, an article, "Charter School Achievement: Hype vs. Evidence" at educationjustice.org, a program of the Education Law Center.
Less anecdotal, more based on studies of the charter school data.
The test scores at O'Farrell tell me that these children are not random selection or lottery...even though they may use a lottery.
Oh...never mind, with Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary, we'll all be taking our vouchers to La Jolla Country Day.
@francesca There you are! I just took the time to inform myself by looking at their lottery form/process on the webpage. You enter your student's name and grade. There are no demographic questions, no special needs questions, no essay - just enter name. Also, I see that this is a 100% free and reduced lunch and 100% minority - Look at their website, but I think you already now this:).
@francesca Interesting you point to a study from 2009. That same organization has an updated study that is more positive, as referenced inThe Learning Curve: Race and Class Often Color the Debate Over Charter Schools
Thanks, Dennis. Interesting article.
So many studies done...Charter vs. Public School...
I even found an article from the National Education Policy Center that questioned the conclusions in the article you referenced, the study done by CREDO.
"Time to Stop CREDO Worship"..describing flaws in their results.
Studies aside, any school, that can screen applicants before admitting them, then expel children who don't behave, will have better results on tests.
Public schools can't do that.
@francesca O'Farrell has a public lottery. Parents fill out a letter of intent that is a one page form asking for contact information. There is no screening, no essays, tests, or auditions. Students are selected at random. They are informed by mail if they are selected by the lottery, and then they fill out the rest of the enrollment paperwork that all schools require. My daughter attends our local neighborhood elementary public school, and our son attends O'Farrell. We selected this school for him because of its nationally-recognized AVID program and for its academic program. While I understand that some charters may operate differently, I can assure you from our personal experience that O'Farrell runs an extremely legitimate lottery process. The vast majority of O'Farrell students are local to the neighborhood, and their test scores reflect their abilities when challenged with rigorous curriculum supported by outstanding instruction--we have some of the best teachers in the country at our school. Curriculum is aligned TK-12, and collaboration is the heart of the instructional practice. The policies around safety and discipline are there to ensure that students have a safe, supportive environment in which they can learn. The test scores demonstrate that the longer students are with this school, the more they improve and show growth. Quite frankly, any school could replicate what O'Farrell does, and the school is happy to share its successes.
Thanks for replying, Lauren.
Sounds like it's not the admission lottery that makes the difference. Does it take place in a public place with all applicants names included and parents in attendance?
"Challenged with rigorous curriculum"? What test do the children take and how aligned is the curriculum with the test?
"Outstanding instructors", "Some of the best teachers in the country"...How are they different from public school teachers and specifically what do they do?
"Collaboration, safety, discipline"...How is it different from other schools and how many children are asked to leave O'Farrell based on behavior?
You chose the school because of the "Avid Program" but this program was started at Clairemont High and is used at most/all of the high schools.
Don't mean to criticize, just get more information, so these amazing practices can be duplicated in all schools.
Very interesting story. I like the graphs and quantified data. I have heard for the last several years that this school academically surpasses many schools with similar student demographics. It will be interesting to see the comments by the anti-student folks - I mean the anti-charter folks. Where are you Richard?:) Great job Mario.