A new school on Terra Linda’s campus? A group called IPSO Schools is proposing a charter school that would be housed on TL’s campus, and possibly usurp a large chunk of our district’s budget.
A major issue with the IPSO Schools proposal is that the introduction of a charter school to the San Rafael school district would require around $1.3 million dollars. This money would be taken directly from the San Rafael City School District. Unfortunately, this could lead to classes being cut, or teachers being laid off. Also, the school is funded based on enrollment. This charter could potentially lower enrollment at TL, which would add to the money we would be losing.
The charter’s goal is also flawed, as they want to provide students with programs that TL apparently doesn’t offer. They are pitching the idea that they have a personalized learning program for each individual student, so everyone gets the help they need. TL already has a very similar program in place, called AVID; it stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination. So the charter is really not offering a new program that no one has ever thought of before, as AVID helps students here at Terra Linda to get into better colleges especially if their parents didn’t attend a college or if they’re a first generation American. In comparison to the program the charter school is offering, it is a different way of achieving the exact same outcome: helping first generation students get into a four year college. The charter school is claiming to help students who don’t speak English as a first language and give support to those students. However TL has a SDAIE program that supports new students and English learners, which shows that the need for a Charter school is pointless and irrelevant.
Although the charter school says it is a “public” charter, it really isn’t. Sure, a student wouldn’t need to pay tuition, but students would still have to apply to get in, and the school has discretion over a student can stay or be expelled. Then they can pick and choose who they want to be at the charter. They could even kick out underperforming teens in order to make themselves look better and gain community and financial support.
Charter schools have boards appointed by the charter organizations instead of one elected by the public. That means that when controversy and problems arise, people won’t have any control or a voice. For example, in 2014, the San Diego Unified School Board members appointed a parent Aimee Nimtz, to the charter school’s governing board. She then went on to fire three principles in quick succession. This is different from a public school, where the community can vote to have changes enacted, and vote to have people like this impeached.
Erik Schoengart, a well respected chemistry teacher at Terra Linda High, attended both of the district board meetings and spoke about the general feel and the concepts that IPSO were proposed. “The atmosphere was very anti IPSO and against the charter”. After the meeting, Schoengart came to the conclusion that “IPSO doesn’t bring anything new to the table, and there is no advantage.”
We contacted IPSO asking them a question we felt was most important: how are their programs are different from AVID and SDAIE offered at TL? We also asked them why they don’t make the charter in their district where Marin City kids attend. This was their response: “I apologize for the delay in my response. We see a need for an additional public school option that ensures all students are prepared for success in college and that supports students in following their own passions in the community. I encourage you to read the section of our petition entitled “Educational Program” which outlines the rationale for starting this school and describes how our program is unique. AVID is a great program, however, what we are proposing is a significantly different approach.” You can find the petition posted on the Board Agenda on the SRCS website. Not only did she not really answer the question about putting the charter in the Tamalpais Union District instead of SRCS, she also didn’t prove how their program was different from AVID.
As of the 26th of September the proposal for a Charter School has been rejected by the San Rafael school district board on a unanimous vote because of the many problems that the bid for this school was riddled with. It is clear that the IPSO charter is not something that would benefit the people it’s trying to reach and would also have a great negative impact on Terra Linda High School.
See the following link to a petition for the charter school: