Phil Matier: Oakland Board Votes To Close Top Charter Schools
OAKLAND (KCBS)— The Oakland Unified School District voted 4-3 to close American Indian Model Schools, a collective of charter schools, Wednesday night, despite pleas from parents and students who find its strict teaching and disciplinary style very effective.
School officials plan to appeal the decision to close schools that have courted their share of controversy over the years.
These are some of the most high-performing schools that you’ll find in Oakland. It’s also one of the original charter schools in Oakland. Its leader, Ben Chavis, is a charismatic, spare-the-rod, spoil-the-child kind of guy. But there was some question as to how he ended up being the landlord in their buildings and how he obtained consulting contracts. There are allegations that money was being directed towards him and his wife.
The school does have a lot of support, however, and that was reflected in how close the vote was.
Interestingly enough about three quarters of the students in these schools are of Asian-American decent. I think their families enjoy the disciplined curriculum and quite frankly they don’t want their kids to be in the Oakland public school system.
Really this focuses on the issue of charter schools. The teacher’s unions will say they’re poorly run and monitored. They even have alleged that charter schools will say they perform well when in fact they’re not. The truth is they draw students away from the public schools.
But these kids are high-performing and they and their families want to feel safe. If the parents are motivated and they want to take care of their kids, those are the schools that succeed. It’s the adults that don’t recognize this that are failing the kids.
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