Mike McMahon AUSD
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Charter School Application Comments

January, 2008

At the end of 2007, Alameda Unifed School District received applications for two charter schools. During the review process, the Board of Education received comments from the community regarding 2007 NCLC's application and Renaissance's application. In 2008, Nea Learning Community submitted a second chrater application and the Board received comments from the public.

Comments from Community Regarding the Renaissance Charter School Application

For Renaissance Charter Approval Against Renaissance Charter Approval
2 1

Resident 1/28/2008

On behalf of the Teacher Education Department at CSU East Bay , I would like to offer my strong endorsement for the Renaissance Leadership Academy. The key elements for this recommendation are as follows:

  1. Our department’s mission is to train educators who can teach diverse learners from all walks of life. The mission of the CSUEB College of Education and Allied Studies involves promoting social justice by fostering broad access in education. RLA promotes these values and objectives as well. Simply put, their mission fits ours.
  2. Ms. Mandy Tham has served for CSUEB as both instructor and student teaching supervisor. She has always demonstrated a strong work ethic, close attention to detail, and has been a pleasure to work with. Her dedication to the educational process and the belief that we can each make a difference, only if we apply ourselves in true dedication to the educational process, is evident in her work.
  3. Ms. Tham has a reputation among student teachers and classroom students as an educator who encourages students to be their best. She believes in providing her students with a learning experience that is challenging, but at the same time supportive of their efforts.

Parent 1/10/2008

I would like to present to you in this email my support for the Leadership Renaissance Academy and it's sponsors.

I have two boys in the Alameda public school system and just between my two boys, I realize that all children are not cut from the same cloth and as such not all schools should be made from the same mold. I moved here from overseas and after having so many educational options (public, subsidized private, private and charter), I found it very difficult to find a place to live nearby a compatible school with available space for my two kids. After several changes, my kids are both happy and seem to fit into their school culture. However, I know that other parents struggle to find the compatible place for their kids to thrive without having to absorb the financial burden of a private education. For me, like others, a private education is not even an option.

In addition, it seems that there is a need for another elementary option as the lines for Kindergarten registration begin the evening before. I feel fortunate that I only had to get into line at 6.30 am to get one of the last spots; but I got one so that my two kids could be in the same school.

I am not sure that I would change my kids again since they are happy where they are and that makes me content. However, I think there is a gap that needs to be filled in the public primary and secondary educational system in Alameda and I think Renaissance Leadership Academy has the recipe to fill this ever-widening gap.

Thanks for reading my letter of support and I hope your decision has a favorable outcome for RLA as I think it will provide for many families.

Educator 1/13/2008

How does the Renaissance Leadership Academy differ from the Nea/NCLC school in general terms? Is the application coming from a different group? Is it to be a dependent or independent charter?

I read almost the entire Renaissance application and was struck by the obvious fact that the application is identical to the program in any good public school. I read closely, looking for differences. The only differences I found were due to smaller class (and school) size. Class size reduction is one of the most important factors in terms of enabling student success.

Parent 1/10/2008

In reading the Renaissance Petition as follows:

Renaissance Leadership Academy 46

A. Preliminary List of Discretionary and Non- Discretionary Offenses Leading to Suspension and Possible Expulsion

Students who violate certain policies and procedures, who are a serious disruption to the educational process, and/or who present a health or safety threat may be suspended for up to ten school days. Renaissance Leadership Academy will follow its Code of Conduct definition of limits of acceptable behavior and behavior that may/will constitute student suspension.

Repeated violations of Renaissance Leadership Academy’s Code of Conduct may result in suspension. Suspension may be conducted in-school or outside of school at the Principal’s discretion. These violations include, but are not limited to:

  • Lying to any person in authority
  • Forgery
  • Plagiarism
  • Blatant disrespect
  • Vulgarity by word or gesture
  • Throwing objects
  • Verbal altercations
  • Leaving the school grounds without written authorization
  • Willful refusal to follow directions from any person in authority
  • Damaging or destroying school property or the property of others
  • Repeated refusal to comply with the student expectations as defined in the Student Commitment to Excellence

This is sometime behavior seen at many school but does not always lead to suspension or expulsion?

I guess this is there way out of any problem children from a sterile environment and push the challenging kids out and back into the public domain.

Why can't these Charter groups be forced once a student is accepted to keep that student even if there is a discipline problem. Maybe then they can se what real kids in the real world are like.

It will only really count if these Charter Programs can really work through the hard problems some of our youth experience today to really see if the story they are trying to sell really works.

If you just take a sterile group of kids with parents pushing then of course the results will differ then when you really have to deal with the full spectrum.

Comments from Community Regarding the 2008 NCLC Charter School Application

For NCLC Charter Approval Against NCLC Charter Approval
5 0

Parent 11/24/2008

I want to express my support for the NCLC charter school. I live on the west end of the island and would like to have the same high quality education choice for school that parents on the east end of Alameda have now. My daughter is in fourth grade and attends Paden Elementary School which is a wonderful learning community. I want her to have the same wonderful experience in middle school. Our current plan is to place her in a private school unless she can attend ACLC or NCLC.

I know you have given this a lot of thought and want what is best for all the students. As one parent, I want to thank you for your service to AUSD.

Parent 11/24/2008

I am here to ask you to consider protesting any application from the Nea Charter School to take Longfellow Education Center under Prop 39. While I understand the acceptance of Nea's charter application to be a fait accompli - I do not believe that the loss of Longfellow should be treated as such.

Under Ridgecrest Charter School v. Sierra Sands Unified School District the courts elaborated on Prop 39 - what is and is not mandatory when considering a site request. While under Ridgecrest a district is certainly required to accommodate a charter school's students with a "reasonably equivalent" school site, they are also allowed to "consider all of the circumstances" surrounding that site request. It is not a given that the request must go through as stated - in fact, the district leadership is given the chance to evaluate a site for a charter school to the "maximum extent practicable" from the perspective of the district.

Most importantly they are allowed to "consider the impact on the district's education program" itself. And under Ridgecrest that meant that the site chosen did not need to be one site for the entire school - but the charter school could be appropriately accommodated on multiple sites as long as they were "contiguous" which could mean one site - or "adjacent to a school site."

Therefore, it is completely reasonable to assume that Nea could be adequately and legally accommodated at multiple sites - K-5 at an elementary for instance with 6-8 at another. There are many options. We are not tied to seeking the solution that most immediately fits the application - only one that allows for the safety and well-being of students. And to meet that criteria we could get creative.

But the reality is I see the work going on there every day - I see the Head Start children come to school - watch as their mothers drop them off and go to the Family Literacy Program to take classes and learn English. When school is over, the Food Bank arrives and everyone lines up to receive assistance. At night, students wanting to be California teachers come to take classes at the Pipeline Project - and fathers who have been working all day arrive on bikes to take a computer class.

The work at Longfellow on behalf of bettering families is not being done at another site on the West End - not to the extent and in as comprehensive a manner. Other community based organizations are doing fantastic work - but no other site is currently being used for or is available for providing multi-age group educational opportunities - while still coordinating access to social services.

What we see in Ridgecrest is that a district is allowed to "consider the impact on the education program" - and I think it is short sighted of us to not protect the work being done at Longfellow for that reason alone.

Studies show over and over again - if we really want to address the achievement gap - we must shore up and support the family. The hours between 8:30 am and 3:00 are not enough. As a rule, what happens at home matters and helps shape the trajectory of a student's relative academic success or failure. In most cases, everything from parent education to access to supportive services translates into tangible academic success.

Longfellow's support of West End families with children is the best, tangible investment we can make in the future success of students struggling academically. Students will learn English faster if Mom is learning it as well. They will do better in math if they have food and if Dad is getting a better job because he took a computer class. If their younger siblings are in a pre-school environment we can address their academic needs prior to the elementary years.

Without the Longfellow site - I worry over the longevity of these programs. And as we all know the needs of our working poor and English learning families are increasing in these harsh economic times.

But perhaps more importantly - I see a lost opportunity to expand on the work being done there. Rather than simply stay with the status quo - being merely reactive to needs as they arise - let us instead embrace a holistic approach to education by honoring the family. Let us look for opportunities to co-grant write with existing programs - really create a family centered place of learning on the West End that expands the opportunity for academic success for our students who need our support most. Let's take what is already there and grow it. Let us work together to create a fully functioning Education Center that addresses the family - knowing that as we do we are creating a long-term sustainable model for student success. There are models for successful implementation for such a comprehensive approach - we can research them and begin to fully realize the potential of coordinated efforts between public education and community based organizations.

But without a centralized site that West End families can access by foot - those efforts and goals will be severely hampered if not impossible to achieve. And I would see that as a tremendous loss for students' academic success. When we are facing larger achievement gaps in our Alameda students of color than ever before - we must thoroughly examine what we can do to support the family to truly be of assistance to those students.

I understand how difficult these decisions are to make. I respect you all and the effort and thought you each put into making these difficult decisions. And I appreciate any consideration you give my concerns.

Parent 11/23/2008

I am writing to encourage you (1) to oppose Nea's Prop 39 request for Longfellow for the site of their new charter school (of course, only if the charter is approved, for example with a contingency that an acceptable MOU be completed) and (2) to be sure AUSD meets the timeline/deadline for registering such an objection. (Under the new regulations, the deadline for registering any such objections -- in writing -- is December 1 so that if AUSD were to miss the December 1 deadline AUSD might have waived any right to investigate and negotiate this issue further.)

With respect to issue (2), the timeline, I imagine you and Chuck the consultant are are already well aware of the deadlines. I just mention this because the "downside" of missing the deadline would be so great.

Under the new regulations, by Dec. 1 the school district shall review the charter school's projected needs and let the charter school know of any objections. These objections must be in writing and the district must state the projections that they feel are reasonable. My impression is that these regulations do not take effect until 09-10, but it could be the case that that means they apply now for Prop 39 requests for the 09-10 school year. The whole new timeline seems to be set out pretty clearly here:


I'm just not sure whether those regulations apply to requests FOR 09-10 or only apply to requests made IN 09-10.

With respect to issue (1) the request for Longfellow, I'd just like to raise a few concerns for your consideration:

(a) If Nea's estimated enrollment is based on signatures from families who were interested last winter, that would be an invalid basis from which to predict their enrollment now. One effect of the debate over Nea last year is that there is now a (somewhat) better understanding among the public of the negative fiscal impact on AUSD of granting a charter like Nea's. As a result, some families that were interested in Nea last winter are not interested now. (I know people in this category.) So enrollment estimates should be based only on interest among families this fall, not stale numbers from 2007/early 2008. I don't know whether Nea will try to "pad" their numbers in this way in order to get a larger facility than their numbers support, but if they did so, that would be inappropriate.

(b) As you know, the student count for facilities need only be based on AUSD students, so that if there are Oakland, San Leandro, etc. kids in the Nea charter pool, their numbers should be subtracted when calculating the size of facilities needed.

(c) At the Charter Workshop at Haight, Chuck the consultant made it clear (I believe by quoting Reed Hastings) that in assigning facilities to a charter school under Prop 39, a school district must treat the charter students the same as it would "regular" new students from the district.

Chuck said something along the lines of "If AUSD got 100-200 more students, you'd have to make facilities available for them." That's true. But if AUSD enrollment did unexpectedly spike by 100-200, especially given the current financial risks/uncertainties facing AUSD (including the prospect of school closures), there is NO WAY AUSD would re-open Longfellow as a regular school site.

If there were an unexpected spike in AUSD enrollment, the new kids would be fit into existing facilities. Treating Nea students equally would mean the same for them: They shouldn't be treated worse than other AUSD students, but they also shouldn't be treated better by getting a huge facility that no other new AUSD students would get. So, they would and should be put into vacant classrooms at existing sites. Prop 39 does not require that all the students from a charter be housed at a single site and they shouldn't be, since new "regular' students wouldn't be.

(d) As Cynthia Wasko and another witness or two explained two Board meetings ago, Longfellow currently provides essential services for the very neediest populations in West Alameda. (She also suggested there was some ADA generated from a program there.) The population that now walks to get those critical services at Longfellow will not be able to get them if the Longfellow center is broken up. With a deep recession underway that we know will hit the most vulnerable among us the hardest, keeping the Longfellow services intact is essential. There are a variety of alternatives for Nea's site (dispersed as other students would be, other sites).

Thank you for your consideration.

Community Member 11/22/2008

I would respectfully request that the agenda item, NEA Charter School Petition Vote, be tabled so that the newly elected school board has a chance to review the charter petition, its effect on the educational system in Alameda and the AUSD budget for the 2009-2010 school and beyond. There is no immediate need to vote on this petition, this Tuesday, November 25th.

Community Member 11/22/2008

I am a member and registered voter of Alameda. I strongly request that the charter for CLCS be approved.

Thank you for your consideration of this matter.

Parent 11/22/2008

Like the world as a whole, you know more than most, that Alameda School District faces a difficult financial future. Besides having academic advantages, charter schools typically (and the ACLC model, in particular) have a lower cost of education.

While there are logistical issues to overcome, like impacting the district pool of funds, there is no doubt that transitioning to and maintaining charter schools can work: just witness New York City. School-within-a-school works...

I don't want my children's education cut to the bone. I want them to have options, not just a one-size-fits-all education. I urge to to adopt Charter schools as a strategy, and grant NEA in particular.

Parent 10/31/2008

I attended Tuesday evening’s public meeting in support of Agenda G – 8, The Nea Community Learning Center Charter Application (N.C.L.C.), but had to leave early to put my children to bed. There are many reasons Alameda parents need a K-12 charter school that will be modeled after Alameda Community Learning Center (A.C.L.C.) a successful charter school with a proven track record of allowing learners to meet their full potential academically and socially. Traditional schools work for most children, but not all and for those children that A.U.S.D. is not serving; a public charter school choice is needed to allow them to succeed academically and socially. Please support and approve N.C.L.C. as an alternative educational choice for Alameda students/residents kindergarten thru 12th grade.

The Nea Community Learning Center will embrace all types of students and allow them to excel. Diversity comes in many forms: ethnic, economic, social standing in the community, parent education and differences in families in general. N.C.L.C. will have a diverse population in all of these areas because it will accept applications from all Alameda residents regardless of where they live without boundaries. Alameda has different ethnic and economic neighborhoods, as does every city in the Bay Area. A.U.S.D. unknowingly creates segregation by enforcing the neighborhood school attendance zones. The concern from the board about ethnic diversity and/or balance is not an issue. Charter schools accept applications from any/all-interested students in Alameda regardless of were they live or their ethnic makeup. When to many applicants enter the pool they select their students by random lottery. As for the Alameda Unified School District neighborhood attendance zone requirements, ethnic balance cannot be achieved nor is it an issue in the predominately white or of color neighborhoods.

The success of the Alameda Community Learning Center has to be recognized because the new charter school will follow its operating guidelines - and it will work for elementary aged (K-5) students/children. Private school is unattainable to most Alameda residents especially those residing on the West End. N.C.L.C. wants to operate its school on the West End of Alameda where the needs for educational improvements exist. It is my understanding that all charter schools are granted independent operation with the exception of Alameda Community Learning Center. I am not an authority on charter schools nor do I believe the public in general has much understanding of charter schools with the exception of there successful difference of educating children. I believe when charter schools are approved at the city level, attendance can be given to city residents. At the county level, attendance preference is given to the county residents. At the state level, no preference is given. If the Alameda Unified School District Board approves the Nea Community Charter School, attendance preference will be given to all Alameda residents.

There is a sense of confidence children learn and have with each other that no educator can teach (it is self taught when a child is allowed to learn to ask for help from peers). I am a strong believer that a 7.5-hour school day is enough time to accomplish schoolwork. Homework takes away from a child’s natural curiosity to play, love and learn at home. Family time is equally important to education, yet it is replaced by the amount of homework required by the traditional educational system. Occasional project based homework is acceptable. Some students leave Alameda Unified School District because their neighborhood school may not be the right learning environment for them.

I am a parent of three wonderful and completely different children. My oldest son struggled in a traditional elementary school environment (xxx Elementary School, one of the highest academically achieving schools in Alameda) because he was afraid to ask questions in front of peers. I visited A.C.L.C. when he was in second grade and immediately new it was a perfect match for him. If he had had the opportunity to be at N.C.L.C. in his elementary years he would not need to fill in his educational gaps. He is excelling at A.C.L.C. because there is never a missed opportunity to ask a question in private with a facilitator and/or a fellow supportive learner. My middle son is a recognized G.A.T.E. student, but due to budget constraints the G.A.T.E. program does not come close to offering him what he needs. My youngest daughter is over confident, controlling and very artistic and our neighborhood school does not match her personality; it will stifle her free spirit. If given the opportunity she will attend N.C.L.C., if not I may have to look outside of Alameda for other charter school educational opportunities. I cannot afford private school.

My oldest son is certainly not the only student in academic history to struggle with asking questions in a classroom environment for fear of ridicule by fellow students. He chose to go without the information he desperately needed to succeed in school and struggled at the below basic and basic level on standardized testing and received grades reflecting this throughout most of his elementary school years. At the Nea Community Learning Center there will never be a missed opportunity for help because teachers and fellow students will always be accessible outside of the classroom. This is only one of the many advantages that needs duplicating and extending into elementary years.

I apologize in advance but I have to again sing parental praise for Alameda Community Learning Center’s success for my eighth grade son. For the first time in his life, he made the honor roll last year and is receiving exceptional grades this year. I attribute these dramatic grade improvements to the learning environment that only A.C.L.C. has – this needs to be replicated and extended into the elementary years. He is happy and truly enjoying school. He gets clarification when something is unclear from fellow students (learners) and teachers (facilitators) outside of the classroom (support is everywhere and there is never a missed opportunity for help). Most of his homework is completed in school. He has been able to work on his achievement gaps during project periods/free periods at school on the computer aided guidance set up to be used at school or home and/or with the help of facilitators and fellow learners. I have always known he was bright, talented and could succeed academically if he could get the answers to his questions. The unfortunate side of this is he should have been in this learning environment earlier – in his elementary years.

My fifth grade son is the complete opposite. As I mentioned earlier, he is classified as a gifted and talented student. He excels academically but his homework load is ridiculous and has been since kindergarten. He tests above proficient and his grades reflect this but he makes sacrifices daily to complete his homework and is growing to dislike school in general. At Nea Community Learning Center all of his schoolwork and homework will be completed at school and he will have more free time to play with his siblings and friends and follow his interests. He is frustrated and needs to choose his own path.

Most parents want their children to attend the same school when age appropriate. I feel a K-12 school should have a sibling preference, but understand the issues behind not including this stipulation in the charter petition (not allowing a sibling preference based on the premise that a sibling preference will promote unbalanced ethnic diversity or future enrollment issues will create other issues, but that’s not my call). My youngest child, my daughter, is three and I think her temperament would benefit from attending the environment of the self-motivated learning Nea Community Learning Center will promote. I fully support its opening. My children are not the only children in Alameda that need this school to become a reality. I would rather take my chances at the lottery than have no opportunity of choice in the City my husband and I chose to raise our family in.

As a tax paying, voting resident of Alameda with children that do not fit into the traditional school system, I am tired of hearing about the budget issues (they will always exist) - I want to hear the board vote to help the children who are falling between the cracks (my children and many others) and recognize that under achieving schools are not a perception problem. My Alameda neighborhood school (Washington Elementary School) has a significant amount of Oakland residents as the student population and a vast turnover each year, little to no parent involvement in the PTA and/or volunteer efforts in the school. I hold responsible the open enrollment policy –it does not exist in white affluent East End neighborhood schools, but it is the rule in under achieving of color West End neighborhood schools, forcing these schools to have a large out of district student population with a high turn over rate and low neighborhood children enrollment, low and/or no parental stake in the school community i.e. PTA and/or volunteering. The reason East End schools are high achieving schools and West End schools are low achieving schools are very simple the rules are not the same across the board within the district. Is this legal? One reason ACLC is a high achieving school, is that the student population is mostly Alameda residents who’s parents have a stake in the community and it does not concern them that their children attend a school on the West Side of town – the population it mixed ethnically, economically, socially, educationally and everyone is encouraged to strive for greatness just as they are. N.C.L.C. will be located on the West Side of Alameda and will accept applications and give preference to all Alameda residents if it is passed within the city of Alameda. N.C.L.C. will not be forced to make the unfortunate cuts the A.U.S.D. board has and will continue to make at under achieving schools in Alameda. Don’t misunderstand me, they will still have to balance a budget and make good choices regarding programs for the children’s benefit, but with the input from parents to keep them on track.

The bottom line is the options that Nea Community Learning Center will give K-12 school aged children are endless. They will get a great education, all the academic help they need, learn how they learn as an individual, embrace the love of lifetime learning and find and follow their interests. I believe this school will be a blessing to all types of children, but not for every child - yet neither is a child’s required attendance zone Alameda neighborhood school. Parents need to choose the school that is right for their child. This choice will allow more parents to stay in the Alameda public schools.

I implore the Alameda Unified School District Superintendent and Board Members to vote yes on the Nea Community Learning Center charter. Passion for the future of children is why you all became involved in Alameda Unified School District or wish to become involved. The duplication of the proven track record of Alameda Community Learning Center’s success extended to elementary school aged children is invaluable (un-traditional school learning is vital for some children to succeed). All parents want their children to become successful in life and this means academic and social success. I apologize in advance for the lengthiness of this letter, but I am a passionate parent. Thank you in advance for your time and consideration. Vote Yes on the Nea Community Learning Center!

Parent 10/14/2008

I'm quickly scanning the application and have reached the part of about the racial and ethnic balance. Can Nea opt out of mirroring the asian population as they have stated that they are going to do in their application?

Comments from Community Regarding the 2007 NCLC Charter School Application

For NCLC Charter Approval Against NCLC Charter Approval
51 40

Community Member - Letter to Editor, Alameda Sun 1/18/2008

I'm disappointed the tax-funded charter school thing didn't fly. Holding teachers accountable and awarding merit pay to quality schools is good.

Fact is, we haven't taken the model far enough. I think we should have charter police forces. Like charter schools, we should provide tax money for diversified law enforcement. We could start with the proven school model and have Catholic police precincts, Jewish, Evangelical, Muslim, Chinese Christian, agnostic and so on. We'd then establish tax-funded magnet police precincts with low crime to attract deserving citizens.

Of course, like charter schools, the police would be the ones to pick who lives in a district. Success would be measured using a police performance index (PPI). In law-abiding precincts, officers would get merit pay. Where law breaking was high, cops would be held accountable. If rampant crime didn't drop, officers would be put on probation, reprimanded or even fired.

Still no improvement? Then under-performing police stations would be closed down entirely. Citizens would be given tax vouchers to relocate to better areas. Don't want to move?

Then tax money would go to purchase firearms to form peer-driven, well regulated militias like in the Constitution. Which, to think about it, might make whole communities in Alameda lively learning-centers indeed.

Educator - Letter to Editor, Alameda Sun 1/18/2008

Despite the recent rejection of the proposed Nea Community Learning Center charter school, a school that would represent more choice in public education for Alameda families, the Alameda Unified School District and the Board of Education do favor educational choice. However, the educational choice they favor is not for Alameda; it is for other cities.

For years AUSD and the Board have empowered parents by giving them the choice to send their children to schools where they will be served best. Those families, however, are not Alameda families. Those families are from other cities. Last year's AUSD-commissioned demographics study indicates that there were nearly 500 students from other districts, the majority from Oakland, attending Alameda public schools.

For more than 10 years, AUSD and the Board have recognized the importance of giving Oakland parents a choice, regardless of the resulting nearly $3,000,000 per year that Oakland Unified is losing in educational funding. Despite Oakland Unified's financial troubles and declining enrollment, AUSD and the Board have empowered Oakland residents to take their children and their children's educational money out of Oakland Unified and bring them to Alameda schools.

AUSD and the Board should be applauded for recognizing the importance of choice. They understand that the financial impact of taking nearly 500 students per year from OUSD is irrelevant compared to empowering parents. Denying Oakland parents public education choice would be tragic.

Denying Alameda parents public education choice is tragic.

Educator 1/12/2008

I have e-mailed Don Perata about an idea that I have had: there should be an amendment to the charter laws so that financially threatened school districts can have the ability to deny charters based on those financial criteria. It is inconceivable that the state would want to create receivership for a district just to allow a new charter. I think the city and county governments in Alameda, along with the school board, should petition the Assembly and Senate to make those adjustments.

No law has ever been written in stone: the SAT 9 became the CATT 6, NCLB will be dead or re-constituted next year, the 21st Amendment even canceled the 18th. These laws can change too.

Parent 1/8/2008

I'll make this short as I'm sure you are getting tired of reading notes from Alameda citizens on this issue, and hearing from us at the board meetings. (we will be there again tonight)

My wife and I strongly support the approval of the NCLC charter. We live in Alameda, pay a ton of taxes (bought into the island during the peak of the market), and we currently send one of our two children to Washington.

We, along with all the state legislators, NCLC applicants, and petition signors, believe that we deserve choice in how our childs educational dollars are spent.

For obvious reasons we believe that the ACLC model is a success (test scores, and our neighbors children are at ACLC and rave about how great it is). We acknowledge that ACLC is not perfect, and it's not for everyone, but is certainly is right for others.

We are those "others", and we deserve to have our rights fairly represented by our school board. (that's you)

The arguments that have been put forth to deny the charter are weak at best and all have already been addressed clearly and directly by the NCLC team.

Give progress a chance, please vote yes on the NCLC charter.

Parent 1/8/2008

I am writing to you one last time (hopefully) about the NCLC Charter School application. As a parent of a future AUSD student, I implore you to consider this application carefully and I ask that the School Board resoundingly reject this application and let the community as a whole know that accountability does matter and the the buck stops with this School Board.

In addition to rejecting this application on its deficiencies and inability comprehensively outline their program for their proposed new population of K-5th graders, I request that the School Board step up its monitoring of Alameda Charter Schools in general. For some reason, Alameda in general has turned a blind eye to the going-ons at ACLC in particular and recent stories that have arisen about the culture at ACLC are troubling considering that ACLC is heralding itself as understanding how to get students to love learning where the traditional public schools have not.

Before any Charter School should be allowed to expand, it is incumbent that we understand how it is currently operating. While previously, there may not have been the political will to closely examine the operations at ACLC and Alameda's other charter school, the recent scrutiny given to charter schools in Alameda shows that the community is interested in knowing how their money is being spent.

We all look to the School Board to provide leadership on the education of our children and while historically many school districts have been reluctant to become more involved in overseeing the accountability promised by charters, I am hopeful that this School Board will be different.

Parent 1/8/2008

You have a very tough and thankless job. Thank you!

I urge the Board to vote YES on the NeaCLC Charter application.

  1. My 11th grader, xxx xxx, at ACLC has blossomed in its educational and small community environment.
  2. Gladly those that don't like the format for whatever reason can return (with their state funding) to AUSD. For those that don't like AUSD, they don't have as easy a transition to somewhere else.
  3. Any minority representation or drop-out issues seem undermined by the lack of a meaningful sample size. ACLC has wanted to expand for some time.
  4. Given its lottery format, ACLC (&NCLC) will be as diverse as the willingness of parents & kids to apply there. (How could you fault McDonalds because folks earning more than $100K are underrepresented? It's "the Choice [sic] thing."
  5. I can tell you is ACLC is a very accepting (not just tolerant) environment for kids of all types! Safe too.
  6. Above all, parents and School Boards are charged with educating our kids as best we can. That includes alternatives like NCLC. It seems obvious that one size does not (and can't) fit all. Schools are one of the few things in our society that are so restrictive. Religion, shopping, food, restaurants, cars, computer - all have tons of choices. Schools? Not so much (;-( So choices like BASE and NCLC are necessary. If AUSD offered alternatives like this, all this would be a moot point.
  7. While there is some risk in a K-5 component, it may free up some spaces at other more crowded/popular schools (Edison, Franklin).
  8. I do not pretend to understand the funding challenges AUSD faces, but conceptually, these charter schools take kids (revenue) and teacher (expenses) out of the AUSD system. Schools close . . . and then a charter steps in to take it over! And I guess it reduces the "contribution to overhead and surplus" that the District needs to fund its staff. At some point an FTE will need to be eliminated to stay in budget. So be it. Apparently things will have to get MUCH worse before CA chooses to revisit Prop 13, etc. In the meantime, innovation and change are good and must be embraced if we are to catch up, much less keep pace with the rest of the industrialized world.
  9. And speaking of our ranking in the world, in the US, who among us would advocate or defend the less than stellar performance of our school systems, if they weren't so firmly entrenched. Lots of reasons why, of course, but lots of causes for concern and more work and innovation to be done to change outcomes.

So let's try one that has a solid (if not perfect) track record. As they say, "The Perfect Plan is the enemy of the Good Plan." Look at government in general.

The easy vote is NO. The leadership vote is YES!

Parent 1/8/2008

I am opposed to the new charter schools being considered by the board at this time. I am the parent of one current AUSD student and two future AUSD students and a former teacher for the district. I will have a child or children in the AUSD public schools for the next 17 years. Decisions you make today will affect me and my children for years to come. I am a strong supporter of public schools. AUSD cannot afford to support any new charter schools when our budget is so extremely tight. After watching last winter as huge cuts had to be made at the expense of the students and faculty, it scares me to think what else will be jeopardized by a loss of money that would accompany the approval of more charter schools. I ask that you not approve any new charter schools in the Alameda School District.

Parent 1/8/2008

While reading the article on the new charter school, I noticed some pieces of information that were missing. I learned last week that ACLC is not a part of Alameda Unified. It is not a part of Alameda Unified and yet it uses Alameda Unified classroom space, Encinal teachers for A.P. classes, and Encinal coaches for sports. When the learners at ACLC take statewide tests, the scores do not in any way reflect on Encinal.

I don’t think many of us here in Alameda understand the impact of certain types of charter schools on a school district. I understand that there are many kinds of charter schools. This particular one depends on Alameda Unified for space, money, and teachers.

While I don’t think that the new charter is responsible for district money, or the decrease in spending, we all should be. We all should be aware of what this means to the children who do not attend the new charter school. We all should know that more will need to be cut from the district budget-music, p.e., counselors, and on and on. We, as a community, are responsible for the future of the district and the children who live in Alameda.

After writing this, I spoke with a group of Encinal teachers who came in to xxxx while I was working. They had a lot of stories to share-most of them were about the lack of respect and the use of Encinal classes. I don’t believe that the new charter should be approved. I didn’t know until all of this came up that ACLC was not a district school. I didn’t understand the impact of the school on our district. I’m not just talking about the financial impact, but of the test scores. Learning that ACLC learners can use Encinal for classes and that the teachers of Encinal do not get credit for the high test scores of those learners was a real eye opener. This all needs to be made public. The parents in Alameda will have a better understanding of what the charters mean to a district.

Parent 1/8/2008
I am opposed to the NCLC Charter proposal. My daughters attend Paden and Chipman and I am very happy with the education they receive at these schools. I think a Charter school on the West End will pull resources away from our schools and I don't think the "lottery" system is truly a lottery.

Parent 1/8/2008
Please vote “yes” tonight, for the new NCLC Charter school, at the BOE meeting. Voting against the charter based on ANY race is DISCRIMINATION. Where does the discrimination stop??? Education should not be based on race in any manner.

Parent 1/8/2008

I am unequivocally against the application for NCLC. Charter schools have become a big dollar business in America . They have lobbyists and lawyers helping them work every niche at the expense of the rest of the children in their respective districts. Schools like this are a private school with a public school check written for them. I have no problem with people who look at the public system that is offered and deciding to spend their money to choose private system. I have a huge problem with parents wanting another system that uses my dollars for their alternatives.

To make matters worse in the AUSD/ACLC relationship; ACLC uses the best AUSD has to offer, takes credit for that service as if they preformed the task. What they actually offer on site resembles a Friday night at a frat house. I am on the EHS campus almost daily and am amazed at the freedom young people are given to roam at will. Nothing about the inward or outward appearance of ACLC resembles academic excellence.

Alameda has said we don’t want big box and big business in our town, so lets keep the newest corporation from taking our schools from us.

Parent 1/8/2008

I've read through the evaluation of the NCLC charter proposal noting each of their findings; and I've read through each of the NCLC Petitioners responses...item for item...and it looks great! The findings noted detailed concerns, the responses addressed each concern.

It appears that all questions were answered; signatures and affirmations submitted and, in good faith, the AUSD's participation was welcomed with the audit exceptions and deficiencies, also the financial systems and processes.

Kudos to ACLC for providing an extremely detailed and comprehensive explanation of each of the ACLC "drop-outs." I noted, you all probably did as well, that not one of the "drop-outs" actually dropped out of school but went on to finish their education in another venue, another state and even another country.

Although the Special Ed curriculum is no longer needed by my son, I was impressed with Carrie Blanche's description of her philosophy and program at ACLC. I chatted with my son (an ACLC Sophomore) about the Special Ed kids and his impression was "Why is this an issue? They're Learners at the Center just like me."

After our first visit to ACLC, my son was simply ignited about attending. There wasn't a waiting list that moment in time and we applied, he was one of 14 applicants to 28 openings. It looked good. Island-wide test scores were released a week before the lottery and by the time the lottery happened, there were 56 applicants for the same 28 openings. He was one of the lucky 28, he was jazzed, I was relieved he'd gained entry into a Learning Center that offered more choices for him to succeed. He'd been in a "purple folder" since the 3rd grade.

There wasn't always a waiting list. It appears now that the waiting list for not only ACLC but also NCLC holds nearly the racial distribution sought but also a grand group of Alameda Learners and their parents who are also jazzed about a Learning Center that ignites their children. Unfortunately, we can't choose who hastens to get themselves on the lists. We can't choose who tries out for the baseball team, who can qualify for Honors AP Math or who applies for a scholarship. Some things we just can't choose.

We can't choose the ethnic background that chooses this style of learning/teaching. We can't choose the parent's who agree with the Center's philosophy of learning or self-governing. ACLC can definitely appear foreign to those only familiar and comfortable with the standard style of teaching. Most parents who tell me they wouldn't put their child at ACLC feel their child requires more structure and discipline than the Center offers. Fair enough. They already have great choices in Alameda.

We offer more choices at each school's level, we offer more choices even outside the classroom; we have to offer the Learning Center choice.

And, the very, very cool thing is, that we don't have to wait for a new group to get up and running. In Alameda, we have an amazingly successful Center that has the immediate ability to expand and open its doors to Alameda families, like a turnkey business.

Once again, thank you for your in-depth consideration of the NCLC Charter approval. Although I can't be in your chambers with you tonight, I'll be watching from my living room with my fingers crossed for the families on the waiting lists, the families who want this great choice to expand on their island of Alameda.

Educator 1/7/2008

As a graduate of Alameda public schools, a current public elementary school teacher, and an Alameda resident and community member, I urge you to vote no on the proposed new NCLC charter school. Growing up in Alameda I benefited immensely from Alameda's excellent public schools, at Amelia Earhart, Lincoln Middle School, and Alameda High. After attending college, I chose to become a public school teacher myself, being able to look back on the inspiring teachers and quality education I had in Alameda. It wasn't until I studied education as a field and began applying to jobs in public schools that I realized just how great Alameda public schools are-- and the new charter threatens to detract immensely from them. In a small city with shrinking student enrollment, it would be harmful to Alameda pubic schools to take away enrollees and student-based funding for the purpose of an untried, questionable K-12 charter. In applying for public school teacher positions I also learned what an incredible job Alameda teachers do for comparatively little pay. With current budget restrictions and threats of school closures and loss of student enrichment activities, it makes no sense to approve a charter school whose mere existence would nullify the school parcel tax my classmates and I worked hard to help pass our senior year of high school.

As an elementary school teacher, I also know how important it is for students to be taught explicitly and systematically at an early age in school, especially in reading. This is not part of the curriculum or philosophy of the proposed charter, nor do they plan to have properly experienced and certified teachers.

Considering the excellent schools Alameda currently strives to maintain, and the potential harm to school funding and therefore school quality caused by a new charter in Alameda, I urge you to vote against the NCLC charter. Recognize the outstanding work educators in Alameda are already doing, and the many students already being inspired on a daily basis.

Parent 1/7/2008

I am writing in support of the approval of the Nea Community Learning Center application. I have read the public comments on the proposal. One concern is that Nea would be like ACLC and serve a niche that is not a representative mix of the Alameda population. The second is that Nea would takes funds from AUSD. My daughter is in her 4th year at ACLC and has thrived in the close-knit environment. She has many great friends at ACLC, some older than she, some younger, and they live in many different neighborhoods in Alameda, from Bay Farm Island to Alameda Point, with the majority living west of Grand Avenue. ACLC attracts students who desire an alternative college-preparatory education and those students come from all parts of Alameda. This may not be a representative mix of the Alameda population, because most of the students at ACLC wish to attend college, but it is certainly not a niche.

I understand that it is the responsibility of this board to see that all children in Alameda are served. As a homeowner in Alameda, I support the public schools and will continue to do so long after my daughter has graduated. I’m very distressed about public school funding in California and I hope the Board will join with other school districts to tackle the fundamental problem, which is the unequal funding of school districts combined with overall low state funding. However, I don’t see this as a reason to deny the Nea charter school application. This is like a business trying to survive by cutting costs while failing to address its product offering.

ACLC is unable to expand further and meet the demand in Alameda for alternative education. Please take a chance on the future of public education and approve the Nea Community Learning Center application.

Educator 1/7/2008

As an educator in Alameda and parent of AUSD students for the past 18 years (2.5 more to go) I strongly urge you to NOT approve the new charter for ACLC. Although I am a huge proponent of choice and recognize that all kids do not learn the same way, I DO NOT believe choice should come on the backs of the other AUSD students, monetarily speaking.

Additionally, I am furious about the amount of time which has had to be spent by district staff and the school board on this topic, when more pressing issues face our students and our schools, including the budget crisis facing the state, reduction in enrollment, poor principals and teachers, unbalanced schools (in terms of numbers in attendance), school boundaries, the achievement gap...I could go on and on!

Finally, if I was a school board member some of the questions I may be asking ACLC are the following:

  1. How can you accept students who do not live in Alameda into your program when you state your waiting list is 100+? (as of 12/14, 6 ACLC students live out of town (Oakland, San Pablo, Castro Valley---4 are African American, 1 Latino, 1 White). ) Additionally, I found this summary on prop 39: "Proposition No. 39 also contains a charter school component. This component of Prop. 39 requires every school district to make available to all charter schools facilities sufficient for the charter school to accommodate all of the charter schools in-district students in conditions reasonably equivalent to those in regular public schools, and the facilities must be "contiguous, furnished and equipped." The school district may charge the charter school a pro-rata share of the school districts' facilities costs as specified in the legislation. The facilities requirement takes effect three years from the date of the measure or, if the school district passes a general obligation bond measure, the first day of July following passage."
    I gather the law requires that we dip into our general fund to support our in-district students of charter schools, but why must we do so for the out-of-district students?
  2. Are they (ACLC) reimbursing students for book purchases made by the students who are being encouraged to take college level courses at the College of Alameda instead of the AP classes at Encinal, since they are still responsible for providing a free education? (ACLC must pay for the seats at EHS, but not at COA, which in my opinion is the reason kids are being encouraged to attend COA and not EHS).
  3. While ACLC rolls in the accolades about what a wonderful school it is have they ever made it public what resources they currently get from Encinal High?
  4. Why would students leave ACLC? Why have they left ACLC? What type of exit data does ACLC keep? What changes have they made in an effort to reduce their number of exits?
  5. Why are some students heavily recruited with phone calls and splashy brochures, while other students receive nothing?

I truly appreciate all the time you have spent on this issue, but again, while time and additional fees are being spent to discuss this matter, there are another 9500 students in this district who need the attention of the district staff and school board. Please think about the other 9500 kids in this district when you vote tomorrow night.

Educator 1/7/2008

I wish to weigh in on the ACLC charter issue. I have been a classroom teacher at Encinal since the beginning of what was then referred to as the ‘secret school” or Arthur Anderson Community Learning Center, now known as the Alameda Community Learning Center and have seen it grow and develop. I have been recognized on the state and national level by various educational institutions, universities and national magazines as an innovative educator and the College Board certified my Advanced Placement classes. I have collaborated with many of the ACLC facilitators on various projects, and respect Paul Benz, who serves as chief architect of the current application to expand their school, who I consider to be a dedicated educator. I have gained additional insight into ACLC, because I teach Advanced Placement classes at Encinal, and have had the privilege over the last five years of having many ACLC students in my classes, and can attest to the ability and drive of those students, as well as the support of their well to do parents. However, I do not believe the ACLC model has much to do with their achievements and I am against expanding this model.

Originally, Arthur Anderson Community Learning Center was a well-funded and innovative program, led by experienced and exciting teachers. The equipment was first rate, the computers were modern, the class sizes were small, and the learning seemed to be exciting. But that was then. Today, ACLC is a dirty, chaotic and crowded environment where many of the students flaunt the rules of the AUSD by riding skateboards through the hallways, walk without passes out of the Center whenever they like, and make a tremendous amount of noise disturbing the ongoing classes at Encinal. As a parent, I often wonder if parents actually see what is going on over there as students sprawl on couches, tune out the world on headphones, and play hide and seek in the parking lot. With few exceptions, the higher-level learning, as well as the physical and social needs of students are “outsourced” by ACLC.

And what educational advantages are there in this “innovative” program? The ACLC advanced students take AP classes at Encinal in any of our twelve AP classes, or go the Alameda Junior College. This is exactly the same as students at AHS or at EHS. For physical education they hike to the old Navy Base. For music they take band, drama, choir or guitar at Encinal. To play sports they play on Encinal’s sports teams. For social needs, they attend our assemblies and dances. The classes taken at the Center are basic mixed grade levels – which leads to mixed results. The “Honors” classes given at the Center are not recognized by the UC system and they teach no AP classes, as they lack certification by the College Board. However, the clear success of the ACLC program is that have been able to maintain high standardized test scores by selective admissions, and the clear failure to serve Alameda’s large population of English Language Learners, Asians, Blacks, Hispanics, or developmentally disabled, who go to school in the rest of the schools in Alameda. Their student population DOES NOT represent the West End of Alameda, or AHS. The “lottery” system currently employed by ACLC has not worked to diversify ACLC (despite claims of de facto neutrality) as the majority of the students at ACLC are white and or privileged. Recognizing this obvious weakness, the ACLC staff has made recent and half-hearted efforts in the last week of the 2007 school year to solicit students of color from Encinal High School, passing out fliers and hosting free lunches without apparent effect. In summary, the formula used by ACLC is to teach the core classes at the Center, outsource the high level classes, and maintain a privileged student base. Unfortunately, that has been seen by the State of California as the key to becoming a “Distinguished School.”

I am NOT against the idea of student participation, student run discipline, or student government as modeled at ACLC. These ideas go back to enlightened thinkers like Thoreau. And I am very impressed with the manner in which the students understand their school and take ownership of their education. The model they ‘espouse” will actually work with highly prepared students from college educated families. Of course, so will ALL programs at ANY school, public, private, charter or foreign with that student population and parental support. As an example, there are no charter schools in Piedmont – none in Orinda, and they are nowhere to be found in Rancho Santa Fe. They are not necessary. Therefore, that is not reason enough to expand this flawed model of public education.

Let’s tell it like it is. ACLC is a “niche” school – serving a small select group of Alameda parents who are either too horrified at mixing their kids with the rest of the public school population, too thrifty to pay private school prices or hope that this school can offer something “different.” Mr. Benz has taken advantage of the State of California’s and AUSD’s emphasis on high test scores to attempt to expand his school. He knows the dirty little secret of test scores – that the highest scores will come from the children of parents who went to college themselves. A recent study provided that family-based factors such as the quality of day care, the home vocabulary and the amount of time spent reading and watching television in the home account for two-thirds of the success of students. Building on this formula, ACLC limits the admission of lower income minority groups, as well as English language learners and developmentally disabled and always has high tests scores. Why do you think Piedmont scores higher than Alameda High School or Encinal in standardized testing? Did you really think it was better teachers?

In conclusion, I am not against ACLC, its facilitators or its students. In theory their program does offer important alternatives to a privileged few. It is important to maintain this niche program, although I am concerned that by doing so AUSD encourages and validates a two-tier educational system which allows more money per pupil to be spent than on the rest of the students. However, what I am against is perpetrating the lie that ACLC has built a better educational mousetrap that should be expanded on its merits to include more children from college educated families and fewer students of color or those from the less privileged classes, thereby hurting the majority at the expense of the already privileged minority.

Parent 1/7/2008

I urge you to deny ACLC/NCLC's charter proposal.

Rob Siltanen said it best,

"The charter applicants (NCLC) are unlikely to successfully implement the unsound program they propose. NCLC has acknowledged publicly the risk surrounding the K-5 (elementary) portion of their charter by explaining that it would be "a bit of a trust walk." That's not good enough for our kids and it's not good enough under the law."

Parent 1/7/2008

I am against the proposed new NCLC Charter School . Any benefits from it (which are at best, doubtful) are outweighed by the terrible budget deficit the AUSD would incur as a result of it. Many more school children would suffer for the few who might benefit. Vote against it.

Parent 1/7/2008

Please approve the charter application for NEA Community Learning Center on January 8th.

We are in great need of an alternative public education model for children becoming bored or discouraged by the current public education structure. I feel NCLC has a great model to bring back enthusiasm and interactive, engaging learning. I believe the NCLC team is well qualified to implement the plan successfully. I have personally gotten to see the talents of many of the NCLC team from my years volunteering at Washington elementary and research/observation at ACLC.

I have tried tremendously to rally community support for Alameda public schools over the years through the PTA, community groups and community projects. But there has always been a void to appeal to homeschoolers and private schoolers opting for a less structured environment. And, although statistically my own children continue to perform academically in the top percentile at Washington , I see them lose more interest in school every year. Luckily they continue to find academic interest outside of school through the library and museums, but they both ask me why learning at school cannot be as interesting. I myself am considering homeschooling or a public charter school in another city to keep their interests in education alive. I would much rather keep the money in the AUSD.

NCLC would certainly not be for, nor could it accommodate everyone and therefore I do not believe it would endanger the existing public schools enrollment. However, I do believe it would bring those that have left or are going to leave back to the public school arena and provide a much needed choice for everyone. Please respect the needs of the community, and enhance the reputation of AUSD by approving the charter application.
We love Washington school, and the low test scores are NOT one of the reasons we are eager to send her to NCLC. The test scores at Washington are largely due to circumstances out of the school's control and they have not and will not affect her success in school, (as far as passing tests is concerned). We are worried about her declining passion for learning.
I just wanted to point that out, as test scores seem to be the determining factor in Alameda as to where parents want to send their children. It doesn't affect our decision in the least.

Paul Bentz, NCLC 1/7/2008

On behalf of Community Learning Center Schools, we are writing regarding the Nea Community Learning Center (NCLC) charter school proposal on the upcoming Board agenda.

Thank you for reading and considering our charter proposal. We recognize that the District, like us, is vested in and committed to high quality education for all Alameda public school students. It is in this spirit that we have been reaching out to and working with AUSD over the last several years; it is in this spirit that we submitted the charter; and it is in this spirit that we are sending this message.

The 150-page proposal was the most lengthy and detailed ever submitted to the District, longer than any charter proposal approved or denied by the District before. We were especially pleased to note that the staff recommendation agreed that our educational model is sound and that our team is extremely capable, thus providing the grounds for approval of the charter. Nevertheless, we acknowledge that the Evaluation Committee for the District raised thirteen (13) specific issues as the basis for a recommendation of denial. We feel that we had, in fact, addressed many of these issues in the charter; and we feel that the remaining issues could be further clarified to the satisfaction of the District. We have already – in just the last 60 or so hours since the staff recommendation was publicly released – worked together as a community of learners and educators, to prepare a response that addresses all of the issues in the staff recommendation.

We therefore respectfully request a 30-day postponement of the vote on the charter and the opportunity to sit down with the District staff and consultant to work through the outstanding issues to mutual satisfaction.

Parent 1/7/2008

I was quite surprised, and disappointed, to hear that the Superintendent has reccommended denial of the NCLC charter application. Unless I don't understand the facts, it seems very likely to me that NCLC stands a good chance of getting their charter approved by the county or the state given their excellent track record. As you have noted previously, AUSD will be required to provide space to this school if their charter gets a sponsor. Therefore, if AUSD has to provide space and access to programs, parents will apply to attend leaving the neighborhood schools anyway, and good teachers want to be a part of this program; why would the district deny this ultimately win-win opportunity and not be able to market this success story as their own? Basic laws of economics show that countries with trade barriers and heavy handed governments develop at a much slower pace; the same can be applied to the school district. Not allowing options for children who may not thrive in industrialized, test taking school environments slows educational progress for everyone, not to mention increases the gap between rich and poor. Where is the equity in that? By denying this application AUSD is relinquishing any opportunity of influence to this program, as well as revenue sharing from the families that may come back to the system from private schools and home schooling, and finally a learning opportunity to rotate teachers from all of the schools in the district into and out of this environment that may ultimately benefit every single child in the AUSD system. The only way that AUSD would benefit financially from not allowing NCLC is that they are 100% certain no one else will sponsor this school and parents who can't afford to send their children to private schools such as Julia Morgan or move to the Edison School district (and still not be guaranteed a place for their child) will have no choice for a better learning opportunity based upon their child's specific needs.!

Lastly, I would like to make note of some of the supporters for this program; they are your public school PTA presidents, PTA council president, AEF board members, AUSD reflections chairperson, awards teachers and the state of California Superintendent of schools. These individuals do not sit back and ask what you are going to do for them. They put in countless hours of volunteer time helping all AUSD students improve their learning opportunities. Instead of denying a successful academic model to flourish you should make plans to learn from them and create a contract that allows both sides to succeed. In this age of knowledge management successful organizations will have to adapt or die.

Parent 1/7/2008

I am writing in support of the approval of the Nea Community Learning Center application. I have read the public comments on the proposal. One concern is that Nea would be like ACLC and serve a niche that is not a representative mix of the Alameda population. The second is that Nea would takes funds from AUSD. My daughter is in her 4th year at ACLC and has thrived in the close-knit environment. She has many great friends at ACLC, some older than she, some younger, and they live in many different neighborhoods in Alameda, from Bay Farm Island to Alameda Point, with the majority living west of Grand Avenue. ACLC attracts students who desire an alternative college-preparatory education and those students come from all parts of Alameda. This may not be a representative mix of the Alameda population, because most of the students at ACLC wish to attend college, but it is certainly not a niche.
I understand that it is the responsibility of this board to see that all children in Alameda are served. As a homeowner in Alameda, I support the public schools and will continue to do so long after my daughter has graduated. I'm very distressed about public school funding in California and I hope the Board will join with other school districts to tackle the fundamental problem, which is the unequal funding of school districts combined with overall low state funding. However, I don't see this as a reason to deny the Nea charter school application. This is like a business trying to survive by cutting costs while failing to address its product offering.

ACLC is unable to expand further and meet the demand in Alameda for alternative education. Please take a chance on the future of public education and approve the Nea Community Learning Center application.

Parent 1/7/2008

I am writing to you to encourage you to approve the charter application for NEA Community Learning Center on January 8th.
I have enormous respect for the talented, skilled, hard working teachers in Alameda Unified School District. The way I see it, No Child Left Behind policies have robbed them of the opportunity to teach the subject matter in a way that inspires my daughter (a third grader). She excels in every subject and her standardized test scores are in the 96th percentile, but as each school year comes and goes, I see her become increasingly disenchanted with her classroom experience, her assignments, and her homework. Worst of all, she is becoming indifferent to the inherent joys of learning.

No school can serve the needs of every child. This is the case in both the traditional classroom and for the proposed NCLC. For my daughter, however, NCLC offers a learning model without which I would have no choice but to send her to a traditional classroom and continue to watch her detach from the wonders of learning.
Please approve NCLC's charter application.

Educator 1/7/2008

On Friday, January 4th, Superintendent Dailey released her recommendation regarding the proposed Nea Community Learning Center. Her recommendation was for the Board to deny the charter petition. While discouraging, the decision was not surprising. What was surprising was the tack that the Superintendent and her Charter School Evaluation Committee took to explain their denial. They outlined thirteen points that they used to justify their denial and their claim that "it quickly became apparent that the NCLC Charter Proposal was seriously deficient."

The NCLC Core Action Team and consultants, including an attorney specializing in charter school law, closely reviewed the denial and justifications. Of the 13 points the committee outlined, 2 address typos we inadvertently included in the charter application that we have since corrected, 8 can be easily addressed by submitting more information (which they could have requested at any time), and 3 are based on statements they made that are absolutely inaccurate.

One of the most egregious inaccuracies is the committee's repeated claim that "a disproportionate percentage of students of color are reported to drop out of the current [ACLC] program." Two of the thirteen points are based on this inaccuracy. Since this inaccurate claim is one of AUSD's main reasons for denial, and since our detractors are repeating it on numerous blogs and emails, our Program Evaluation Committee carefully investigated three years of data for the reasons learners of ALL colors left. The findings are outlined as follows.

[AUSD's] assumption of dropouts is inaccurate. Our program evaluation committee looked into this claim and determined that the primary reason non-Caucasians left the program was because they moved out of Alameda. Here are the facts: By the end of the 06-07 school year, 16 learners left, 6 of them were non-Caucasian (37%, similar to the 40% non-Caucasian percentage in the school). Of the 6 non-Caucasian learners who left, here is where they went: 1 African American learner went to a private African American School in Oakland, 1 African American learner moved to Pittsburg because his parents bought a new house, 1 African American learner moved to Africa, 1 Hispanic learner went to EHS, 1 Filipino learner went to Bishop O'Dowd, and 1 Filipino leaner went to Chipman. By the end of the 05-06 school year, 19 learners left, 11 of them were non-Caucasian (57%, higher than their 42% percentage in the school that year.) Of the 11 non-Caucasian learners who left, here is where they wen! t: 1 African American learner received a scholarship to go to Head Royce after attending ACLC for three years, 2 Asian learners went to EHS, 1 African American learner became home schooled, 1 African American learner left to go to EHS, 1 African American learner left to go to AHS, 2 Hispanic learners went to EHS, 2 Filipino learners moved to Dublin, and 1 Pacific Islander returned to Chipman. By the end of the 04-05 school year, 18 learners left, 8 of them were non-Caucasian (44%, similar to the 42% non-Caucasian percentage in the school). Of the 8 non-Caucasian learners who left, here is where they went: 1 Hispanic learner left to EHS, 1 Hispanic learner left to AHS, 1 African American learner moved to Louisiana because his father was in the Coast Guard, 1 African American learner went to Island high to graduate, 1 African American learner went to Chipman, 1 African American learner moved to Oakland to be a star basketball player on the Oakland Tech team, 1 Asian American ! learner moved to Pleasanton, and 1 Pacific Islander went to EHS. Freedom and parent choice cuts both ways. Parent choice provides learners freedom of movement to find a program that works for them.

The third inaccuracy was the committee's claim that "The NCLC Charter Proposal includes a plan to deny promotion of K-5 students, who do not meet promotion expectations, to the 6-12 program. This decision further diminishes the likelihood of achieving a racial and ethnic balance which would reflect that of the district." Nowhere in our charter petition do we use the phrase "deny promotion" with respect to any students. Our charter petition states, NCLC K-5 learners will demonstrate achievement towards the District's graduate profile as measured by the K-5 promotion portfolio and their individual or team project that is assessed by the facilitator and community team. Meeting the promotion expectations is a requirement for being promoted to the 6-12 program.

Moreover, the committee seems to imply that, if any student is denied promotion, it will be a student of color. The committee's assumption that students of color will be the ones denied promotion is dangerous and borders on stereotyping.

To quote John Edwards from this weekend's Presidential candidates' debate, "The forces of status quo are afraid of change." The bottom line is, AUSD is desperate to stop NCLC from becoming reality. They see us as direct competition and are desperate to hold on to our children's educational funding, regardless of the cost to our kids. However, families are entitled to choice in their children's education. Choice should not be reserved only for those families who can afford to send their children to private schools like the Julia Morgan School for Girls.

Our Core Action Team has prepared a detailed response to the committee's recommendation and will forward a copy to you directly. Please consider the responses carefully when making your decision to approve the charter petition.

Parent 1/7/2008
The AUSD website states “WHAT EVER IT TAKES”!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Please vote “yes” for the NCLC charter school. The parents children of Alameda deserve the choice as to how their children are educated. Choice should not be reserved only for those who can afford private schools. My son is being denied the advanced education that he needs for his accelerated education. He is ahead in many areas and the current school programs cannot and will not support. I have asked and been denied. Please vote yes so that my son and others are not left behind.
As for the claim that this school will deny money from other schools:

The State of California forbids a school district from denying a charter because of financial impact. This law supports families' right to have a say in where our children's educational funding should go. You are not taking money from the district, because it is not their money in the first place. It is our child's educational money. We have the right to choose which public school that money goes to, and no one should presume to know how best to educate our child.

As for Superintendent Dailey’s recommendation:
[AUSD's] assumption of dropouts is inaccurate. Our program evaluation committee looked into this claim and determined that the primary reason non-Caucasians left the program was because they moved out of Alameda. Here are the facts: By the end of the 06-07 school year, 16 learners left, 6 of them were non-Caucasian (37%, similar to the 40% non-Caucasian percentage in the school). Of the 6 non-Caucasian learners who left, here is where they went: 1 African American learner went to a private African American School in Oakland, 1 African American learner moved to Pittsburg because his parents bought a new house, 1 African American learner moved to Africa, 1 Hispanic learner went to EHS, 1 Filipino learner went to Bishop O'Dowd, and 1 Filipino leaner went to Chipman. By the end of the 05-06 school year, 19 learners left, 11 of them were non-Caucasian (57%, higher than their 42% percentage in the school that year.) Of the 11 non-Caucasian learners who left, here is where they went: 1 African American learner received a scholarship to go to Head Royce after attending ACLC for three years, 2 Asian learners went to EHS, 1 African American learner became home schooled, 1 African American learner left to go to EHS, 1 African American learner left to go to AHS, 2 Hispanic learners went to EHS, 2 Filipino learners moved to Dublin, and 1 Pacific Islander returned to Chipman. By the end of the 04-05 school year, 18 learners left, 8 of them were non-Caucasian (44%, similar to the 42% non-Caucasian percentage in the school). Of the 8 non-Caucasian learners who left, here is where they went: 1 Hispanic learner left to EHS, 1 Hispanic learner left to AHS, 1 African American learner moved to Louisiana because his father was in the Coast Guard, 1 African American learner went to Island high to graduate, 1 African American learner went to Chipman, 1 African American learner moved to Oakland to be a star basketball player on the Oakland Tech team, 1 Asian American learner moved to Pleasanton, and 1 Pacific Islander went to EHS. Freedom and parent choice cuts both ways. Parent choice provides learners freedom of movement to find a program that works for them.

The third inaccuracy was the committee's claim that "The NCLC Charter Proposal includes a plan to deny promotion of K-5 students, who do not meet promotion expectations, to the 6-12 program. This decision further diminishes the likelihood of achieving a racial and ethnic balance which would reflect that of the district." Nowhere in our charter petition do we use the phrase "deny promotion" with respect to any students.

Educator 1/6/2008

I am writing to add my voice to those urging you to deny the NCLC Charter application at Tuesday's Board Meeting. I do this as a parent, teacher, and concerned citizen of Alameda. I do this for the reasons so cogently articulated in Rob Siltanen's January 3, 2008 column in the Alameda Sun, and for the reasons stated in my husband's (xxx xxx) & my January 4, 2008 letter in the Alameda Journal. I do this in support of public education in Alameda, and the greater good of our students and community.

Parent 1/5/2008

First of all, I want to compliment you on your website and comprehensive explanation of what has been going on. I think a politician’s key job is communication and you have been exemplary. I haven’t been following this very closely but have found, through your site, everything I need.

I’m neither for nor against the petition, but I have some serious reservations. xxx was a student there from 7th grade on, she dropped out last year as a tenth grader. We had a similar experience as some of the disgruntled parents wrote about. xxx didn’t go to math class for 6 weeks and we didn’t find out until report card time. The school took no action in response to the truancy other than to drop her from the class. The educational philosophy at ACLC is that students should teach themselves to become “learners”. The “facilitators try to create high expectations and are encouraging and flexible with the students, but they don’t really teach much. The kids are supposed to go out and learn for themselves. If the kid is highly motivated and bright, this works great, but if they need structure or just a quiet focused environment, they are out of luck.

Questions I’d like answered-

Parents are routinely told “maybe your kid isn’t a good match here.” (We were told this, I’ve had several other parents tell me that they were also.) Why is this acceptable at ACLC while no other public school could get away with it? Will it be acceptable at NCLC?

It is well and good to recruit from the West End and emphasize diversity in drawing in applications and admissions, but if non-conforming students leave (whether encouraged or not) it apparently leads to a near all white student body, as at ACLC. What will NCAC do to improve minority retention? What about the culture at ACLC discourages minority retention?

What percentage of incoming 7th graders, or 9th graders, actually graduated from ACLC? xxxx came in with about 50 kids. The average graduating class seems to between 8 and 12. Why? If we did a similar comparison at Encinal or Alameda High would the result be the same? In other words, for every 50 9th graders at Encinal, do 8 to 12 graduate with qualifications for college, as at ACLC?

Will the new school admit kids at all ages? ACLC doesn’t, believing that older kids (beyond 9th) won’t be able to acclimate or succeed. Will NCLC be the same way?

My concern is that it will become an elite institution for gifted students, thereby reducing diversity in the rest of the schools. On the other hand, I think that having a variety of learning environments for students to try and thrive in is a good thing. One size does not fit all and having a free market of ideas and approaches should make for a stronger student body.
Can the charter be granted with the condition that they have a certain level of student retention?

Parent 1/5/2008

I have read the staff report dated Jan 4, 2008 for the 'NCLC' application. The report seems fair and balanced and the findings that show major deficiencies do not appear to be able to have quick “fixes”.
Please support the staff report and findings and vote to deny the application.

Parent 1/5/2008

I am a Alameda resident,parent, taxpayer, and voter who believes that all Alameda parents should have access to choices for their children within the Alameda public school system. I believe the Nea Community Learning Center (NCLC) charter petition offers a unique and proven educational approach, and would help address the long wait list at ACLC. I hereby petition the governing board of the Alameda Unified School District (County of Alameda or State of California, if necessary on appeal) to give full consideration and grant approval to enable the creation of the new NCLC public school.

Parent 1/5/2008

I urge you to reject the proposed new charter school. The lack of K-5 educational experience of the staff and administrators of this unproven new program makes it an unacceptably risky path for our students. Please reject the charter proposal and continue to focus on the needs of the entire district.

Parent 1/5/2008

My husband and I urge you all to vote *_for_* the proposed charter school run by the same people who now run ACLC.
I have been an educator, parent, businessperson and now a grandparent whose children attended and now grandchildren attend public schools in Alameda. Our oldest granddaughter's 6th grade was to be at Lincoln School. Our daughter, who lives and works in Alameda, looked at private schools throughout the east bay because Lincoln was NOT her first, second or third choice school. We told our daughter we would help pay for any school they chose.

We believe in public education, so that was very hard to say. The duo visited many schools and were accepted at all of them. They chose to stay in Alameda, and get on the lottery list for ACLC. Through the summer, they waited because their name was not initially drawn; they were 5th on the waiting list. By September, our granddaughter received a letter that she now had a place at ACLC. She lives in the east end, all her friends were going to Lincoln, friends and their parents voiced many doubts as our granddaughter anticipated going to school across town. The east/west tale is still alive in Alameda.

Mid way through her 6th grade, many friend's mothers and fathers were calling our daughter and son in law asking about ACLC.

Many got on the next waiting list.

Now in her second very successful year at ACLC, our granddaughter is thriving. A couple of friends were chosen from the next ACLC lottery and they enrolled at ACLC. Those friend's grades have risen dramatically. What IS education all about? Certainly, it is not the buildings, the accoutrements. Education is instilling the idea of learning and wanting to learn more. /If/ those ideas have been accepted by a student they need reinforcement throughout their school years.
ACLC has excelled at that task.

Parent 1/5/2008

Please vote no on the Charter. Concentrate our resources on our existing schools.

Parent 1/4/2008

I strongly urge you not to approve the NCLC charter application.

The NCLC application seems to rely mostly on precedent set by ACLC as indicating the future success of the proposed K-12 program. Based on ACLC's actual record, and the verbal input of many members of the community, that seems a very tenuous claim. ACLC's program seems to serve a self-selecting niche of the Alameda Community, producing commendable results for that niche, but not demonstrably better than those students would have otherwise achieved in AUSD schools. There is nothing in the application to assure that the K-12 charter would operate any differently, and that is counter to the stated goal of providing education for a representative mix of the community.

I'm also very skeptical that the self-directed educational program employed for grades 6-12 at ACLC is at all applicable to younger children in grades K-5 - which leads me to conclude that NCLC's intentions for their K-5 program is, for all practical purposes, unspecified in this application. That is a strong justification to refuse the application.

Finally, I know financial impact is not grounds for refusing an application, but as a Board I think you are responsible for the best interests of the entire Alameda public school community. There is little doubt that the financial hit of losing 300+ students to this charter will have measurable and damaging impact on the quality of public education offered to the rest of the Alameda community. In this respect, the charter laws seems to place you in a conflicted position. If the previously stated reasons for refusal of the application are not already sufficient, then siding with the interests of the majority is a reasonable response to this conflict.

Parent 1/4/2008

Please vote YES for the NEA Community Learning Center. As a proud parent of 2 ACLC graduates and one senior who are off to prestigious private universities, we are confident and can speak from experience that this learning style has greatly benefitted our children. These are the universities they chose, the list of acceptances is impressive in that colleges of caliber are looking to innovative creative middle/high school programs to draw their student population from. Additionally the opportunity to begin learning at earlier grades makes the transition easier and possibilities even greater. We have seen changes in the elementary school our youngest, now second grader attends. When there is the end of multi-age classes, dissolution of the Academy program and absorption of multiple other schools all unique learning opportunities dissappeared. The main public critic(ref. Alameda a Sun editorial of this past week) is repeating the arguments we heard from other Alameda High school teachers when ACLC graduated it's first senior class and our oldest was in 7th grade and again when we applied for charter status. Now past ACLC's 10th anniversary those same people have either never stepped inside our school or have had some of their previous supporters now sending their children there(ACLC). Their arguments are based in fear and ignorance which is an outrage for one who calls himself an educator, I suppose he would support freedom of speech why not freedom of choice for one's education. Many of these small minded insulated and prejudicial ideas made us seek out another neighborhood in Alameda to live in and find activities and other supportive networks outside of Alameda, with the exception of ACLC. We strongly urge you to vote YES now, we need it for our youngest child and Alameda needs it to move forward to be recognized as the small island with big innovative, progressive and inclusive ideas for their youth.

Parent 1/4/2008

One of my daughters went to ACLC and I found it to be the most disorganized and chaotic learning center I've ever beheld. Kids come and go as they want. No one "makes" them go to class. We lost 2 years of learning while my 7th/8th grader daughter sat on couches, chewed gum, goofed off and did not go to class. She asked the counselor (who has since been fired or left, not sure but she's gone) to rearrange her class schedule so that her classes (as an 8th grader) began at 1 p.m. and went to 3 pm every day. No one ever consulted with me, and when I went down to ask about summer school opportunities, I found out my daughter had essentially been AWOL from school for several months. No phone call, no note home, no parent conference. Her science teacher and sent home an F- grade (lower than an F?) because of xxx's absence from class but NEVER called me in the entire school year. If I hadn't gone in, I would not have seen anything until the report card came out -- far too late to do anything.

The school supposedly uses peer discipling/review in a democratic process -- thus, if a student misbehaves, his peers are supposed to give consequences. Despite missing 4+ months of classes, there was no discipline from the students/peers/ACLC -- because no one had tracked her attendance. There was no actual record or follow up.

Disorganization was rampant. No one (from kids to teachers) knew anything, or who was responsible for what, and the kids ran screaming through the main center all day long. The "quiet" area is anything but. Parent-teacher conferences are student-led, and those I attended were the lamest excuse for a student project I have ever seen -- very half-hearted and last-minute work, and no consequences from the "facilitator" for insufficient effort (apparently any effort was good enough)

While I am an avid proponent of alternative education (I have homeschooled xx kids), I cannot urge you strongly enough to vote no on allowing ACLC facilitators to take any more kids down this path. While the program works for a *select few* students -- who would succeed anywhere -- I have no doubt that their ability with kids less inclined to study (to close that achievement gap, etc) is nil.

Parent 1/4/2008

I am writing in supprot of the approval of the Nea Community Learning Center. All children do not fit the mold of a traditional education. For the past 11 plus years the Alameda Community Learning Center has proven to be a viable alternative for those of us who have children who need an alternative approach. There are many people who have been denied that alternative because ACLC has not expanded. With more than 125 students on a waiting list, it is time to increase the availability of this style of education. And it might be advised that the Board of Education consider incorporating the education style into our existing education structure. If a concern of not approving this charter is loss of Students and thus ADA all that is needed is creating a school that adopts this approach.

I am sure ACLC would be enthusiasticly supportive.

Please support the Nea Community Learning Center Charter.

Community Member 1/4/2008

Our district has survived school board recalls, boards that cared less about children and their education than about a political agenda, but this is probably the most destructive assault on our children that we have faced.
It is the responsibility of this board to see that all children in Alameda are served. Approving this application is an abrogation of that responsibility.

There is ample proof of the inability and/or unwillingness of the existing charter to meet the requirements of the ed code vis-a-vis charter schools. I urge you not only to deny this request, but to undertake an exploration of the present charter's compliance with all laws and regulations.

Parents 1/4/2008

As Alameda residents with children of 3 years and 9 years of age, (one at xxx) We hope that you may vote in favor of the charter for the N.C.L.C. school. We believe public education in general lacks a broad range of choice that is much needed and at present those choices are limited here in Alameda.

Parent 1/4/2008

Please vote YES on the Nea Community Learning Center charter petition. I support parent choice within the public school system. CLCS has a proven track record and should be permitted to replicate and expand their excellent educational program for grades K-12 for Alameda's residents.
I plan to enroll my youngest child in third grade next fall at the NCLC. My other four children have attended ACLC and have benefited greatly. There are positive aspects of the ACLC model of education in preparing our children for today's world that extend beyond the learner to the entire family and the community at large. Let's give this opportunity to more learners and families in Alameda.

If you take the AUSD motto, "Student success, whatever it takes" seriously, I know that you will vote YES with confidence for the NCLC Charter. Voting otherwise will seriously damage your credibility as shepards of fine public education.

Parent 1/4/2008

We urge you to vote "NO' on both charter school applications being considered by the board. We fear AUSD will suffer irreparable damage by a yes vote on these proposals.

Parent 1/4/2008

My son was floundering until he was able to attend ACLC.
I have a friend in San Lorenzo who has smart kids...but shy who had to do alternative ed who both would have loved a school like ACLC. Choices are important. Can't this be done in a way that the school district doesn't feel robbed?

Yes...for NEA And ACLA Thanks, parent of two children who have had the best of Alameda schools , including Paden, BRAVO, ENcinal High and ACLC. Older son now at UCLA.

Educator 1/3/2008

As the former employee of Encinal High School for xx years we experienced first hand the relationship between EHS and ACLC. It was strained at best. We always welcomed the ACLC students as they took classes (mostly AP and World Languages), played on athletic teams, and participated in a myriad of EHS school activities. However, the ACLC adult leadership fully took advantage of all EHS offered, picking and choosing to meet their needs. They used a threat of Proposition 39 and litigation to get what they wanted.

The Alameda community does not need a new charter that fully embraces the tenet of Proposition 39 that states a charter is "exempt from most state laws and regulations" A new charter would negatively impact the AUSD neighborhood school policy. Our district is losing enrollment, we do not need to lose more. We should be working to market and showcase our existing schools to the public under a model of continual improvement and innovation not supporting a new charter.

Therefore, as the parent of three public school graduates, an Alameda resident, and a former AUSD employee I heartily oppose the approval of the proposed k-12 charter and I encourage your NO vote.

Parent 1/3/2008

I strongly oppose the proposed new charter school and urge you to vote no.

Parent 1/3/2008

I oppose the new NCLC charter school as I believe that it, like ACLC, will not reflect the community's diversity. ACLC is over 60 percent white and does not represent the demographics of the district or the west end. Also, the formation of the charter will cripple the AUSD budget and harm the children in the district.

Parent 1/3/2008

Please vote "No" on the charter schools. The thousands of other kids in our schools will suffer the consequenses of the lost revenue. As is, we deal with less money and less services for the kids each and every year. Please, vote "No".

Parent 1/2/2008

Please vote yes on the Nea Community Learning Center charter petition. I support parent choice within the public school system. CLCS has a proven track record and should be permitted to replicate and expand their excellent educational program for grades K-12 for Alameda’s residents.
I have a daughter who will graduate from ACLC this year, a son who is in xxth grade at ACLC, and a son in 4th grade at a different school this year. My two older children have had the unique opportunity to be treated as independent, creative thinking people who are learning how to learn about and negotiate through the very complicated and confusing world we live in. They learn from "facilitators" who, sometimes, rather than answer a question directly, might say, "ask your neighbor, talk among your peers, look in your book, the internet site..., etc." The school is buzzing with ideas, bursting at the seams with young minds looking for answers, formulating questions, working on projects, percolating ideas in synergy with each other and their facilitators.

Along with it's merits, of course, there are challenges for some of the younger students. Much of the learner's success depends upon their willingness and ability to manage their project time and study time properly. Experience has brought with it changes that address this by providing more structure of 6th and 7th grade learner's time. It only stands to reason that using the ACLC/NCLC model for K-5 will prepare the middle and high school learners to take greater responsibility for their own learning while helping our youngest growing and developing minds to create, question, and learn freely and without restraint, within the styles which they best learn.
I am particularly excited about my son starting xxth grade at NCLC because he has Type 1 Diabetes. He has had many constraints at the "regular" school, like having to go to the office to test his blood sugars, thereby, losing classroom time, not being allowed a cell phone, no help counting his carbohydrates for lunch (nobody's JOB to do that), nobody to learn how to use his pump functions or change a battery or a pump site, if needed. He is not safe there in an emergency if I am not able to get to the school. At NCLC I know he will be taken as the individual as he is and the instruction of carbohydrate counting will be integrated in his math and the diabetes care can be studied in science, etc. I know that he will be embraced where he is--in a positive and "can do" framework, not in a "we don't do that, we don't have the staff" attitude.

NCLC is based on real life for all--not the few.
Please give full consideration and grant approval to enable the creation of the new NCLC public school.

Parent 1/2/2008

Please vote "YES" to the NEA Charter request before you on Tuesday, January 8.

Parent 1/2/2008

I am writing in support of the proposed NCLC school. I have 2 children at ACLC and twin xxx graders. My first graders are very advanced and I would love for them to have the opportunity to go to NCLC and be able to have more input on their learning and take classes with older kids if they are ahead of their class. I have been very happy with my kids experience at ACLC and while I am happy with the twins elementary school, I would love for them to have the opportunity to go to NCLC. I plan to enroll them in ACLC in the 6th grade, but I wish they could begin expanding their educational choices earlier.

Parent 1/2/2008
I vote yes on NEA Charter School K-12 and it is wonderful.

Parent 1/2/2008

My son has attended ACLC for the past x 1/2 years. This model of education has proven itself and other children in Alameda deserve to have the opportunity to participate in it. If the goal of AUSD is to serve all children then holding back support because it takes dollars from other schools in the district does a dis-service to the families that would benefit from the NEA/ACLC experience.

Also, as a taxpayer, I find it unreasonable to have two facilities sit empty when there is a school with a waitlist of approx 170 students.

I urge you to vote yes on the expansion of ACLC/NEA Center.

Parent 1/2/2008

I am in favor of the NCLC charter school petition.

Parent 1/2/2008

Petition to the AUSD School Board Members

We the undersigned are Alameda residents, taxpayers, and voters who believe that all Alameda parents should have access to choices for their children within the Alameda public school system. We believe the Nea Community Learning Center (NCLC) charter petition offers a unique and proven educational approach, and would help address the long wait list at ACLC. We hereby petition the governing board of the Alameda Unified School District (County of Alameda or State of California, if necessary on appeal) to give full consideration and grant approval to enable the creation of the new NCLC public school.

Educators 1/2/2008

We have great respect for the three of you and what you offer to the Alameda School District and the kids.

We are very concerned at the prospect of one more charter school, much less two. If charter schools were funded on their own and required to follow the same rules as the regular public schools, fine. We do not wish to see our dollars taken away from the programs in the District schools that are struggling to maintain excellence while under the requirements of the federal and state laws. Our public schools must take all students, no matter their talents, must deal with all issues, no matter their origins and are expected to educate all, no matter the cost. We do not want any of the support for our local schools removed to support selective students in a charter school.

We would also like to see the evaluations of the BASE program, the ACLS program that supposedly have been completed by the state. Who is evaluating the actual outcomes in relation to the schools' proposals and plans? Who is evaluating the staff?

We would like to know how many kids graduate in 4 years, enter colleges and graduate from colleges. How many students attending the charter schools live in Alameda? live elsewhere and come here? How many students in the two existing charter schools return to their home high schools and graduate from them?

We understand the decision can not be based on funding. However, when Alameda public schools are adequately staffed, classrooms equipped, full curriculum offered, ie. AP programs at the two comprehensive high schools, complete offering of elective and state of the art career technical education programs for all middle and high school students, and complete physical education activities. In other words, if we can offer these quality educational programs to charter schools, then we can certainly offer them to all children in the city of Alameda.
We urge you to vote against any charter proposal.

Parent 12/31/2007

Please vote yes on the Nea Community Learning Center charter petition. I support parent choice within the public school system. The Alameda Community Learning Center has a proven track record and should be permitted to replicate and expand their excellent educational program for grades K-12 for Alameda’s residents. ACLC currently has a long waiting list of over 100 students, some of whom have applied more than once, who would like to participate in this exciting learning environment.

Parent 12/31/2007

I am writing to urge you to approve the NCLC charter application; I currently have two students at ACLC and want to have the same opportunity in a K-12 setting for my four younger children.

Parent 12/31/2007

Our community has it in their hands to do something right for our children and for our future. We can do this by voting yes to a new Nea Community Learning Center.

I am basing my opinion on my family's experience with ACLC. My son is in xth grade at ACLC and absolutely loves it. His education seems project based, which in my opinion is the best way to learn. One of his assignments was to design a culture which followed studying Egyptian Culture in Humanities and reading the "Golden Goblet" in English. It appears that the facilitators are working mindfully by integrating common themes in the different disciplines they teach. I wish my other son's school, Franklin Elementary, would use the same common thread to teach reading, writing and social studies instead of teaching what word or problem will show up on the STAR exam.

Parent 12/31/2007

As a parent of a xxth grader at ACLC, I enthusiastically urge you to vote yes on the Nea Community Learning Center Charter Petition. It’s an excellent educational program and all Alameda families should be given the opportunity to make this choice for their kids.

Community Member 12/31/2007

Please vote yes on the Nea Community Learning Center charter petition. I support parent choice within the public school system. CLCS has a proven track record and should be permitted to replicate and expand their excellent educational program for grades K-12 for Alameda ’s residents.

Parent 12/31/2007

My two children -- an xxth & xxth grader -- both attend the ACLC. Never have I been more pleased to see teenagers, not only get a solid college-prep education, but actually love school. After every weekend (and now, during break!), they're excited to go back. Let's be real: how weird is that?

There's a reason. The ACLC is as close to democratically-run as a school can get. My kids love it because, as they're being challenged academically, they're learning that they have control over their own education. And as you must know, when people have a sense of ownership, they take better care of their possessions, their surroundings and themselves.

The proposed NCLC will give more Alameda families the same opportunities we've been fortunate enough to enjoy these last several years. Each year, the waiting list for the ACLC grows, and more and more kids are turned away from this fantastic opportunity.
Furthermore, the proposed NCLC will incorporate the lower grades, allowing kids to literally grow up in the kind of nurturing, empowering, high-academic environment that current ACLC kids enter into in the middle school years.

Please vote yes on the Nea Community Learning Center charter petition. We all want what's best for our kids, and parent choice is crucial when it comes to education for their children. CLCS should be permitted to expand their solidly established, proven, and excellent education program to all grades, and to more Alameda families.

Parent 12/31/2007

Please vote yes on the Nea Community Learning Center charter petition.
I support parent choice within the public school system. I have 4 children attending Alameda public schools. My oldest one is at the ACLC and is loving every moment of it. My second oldest cannot wait to be at ACLC. The youngest two will also follow in their brothrs' footsteps.
CLCS has a proven track record and should be permitted to replicate and expand their excellent educational program for grades K-12 for Alameda’s residents.

Educator 12/31/2007

Please vote NO on the proposed NCLC new charter school. Approving the charter would have a disastrous financial impact on AUSD. The charter applicants have proposed an unsound program. Moreover, the program they have proposed is unlikely to succeed. Their new school is also highly likely to serve a population skewed towards certain groups and not to serve certain other groups that are most in need of support to close the achievement gap.

Parent 12/22/2007

My name is xxx x. I am a 20-year Alameda resident and the parent of a 4 year old preschooler and an 8 year old Washington Elementary student. I am also a math facilitator at the Alameda Community Learning Center (ACLC).

Below is the Factsheet for the proposed new charter school, Nea Community Learning Center. I recognize that education in Alameda is a critical issue and that Alamedans should receive as much information as possible so they can choose what is best for their children. I am contacting Alameda families in as many ways as possible to let people know who we are and what NCLC is about, so you may see this information elsewhere.

In an attempt to be as objective as possible, I have listed only the facts regarding ACLC and the proposed NCLC. If you have questions about any of these statements, feel free to contact me, the staff at ACLC, or the Alameda Unified School District for clarification.

Factsheet for Proposed Nea Community Learning Center

This factsheet is designed to inform Alameda families about the proposed new charter school, Nea Community Learning Center. The vision for NCLC came from Alameda public school teachers and parents who wanted to make the successful Alameda Community Learning Center available to more Alameda families. As demand for ACLC exceeded capacity and its waitlist grew, ACLC requested to expand its current 6th through 12th grade program within the Alameda Unified School District. The request was denied. Finally, in response to the increasing demand and with the encouragement of many Alamedans, ACLC decided to open NCLC with one major innovation—the new school would also have an elementary component. This elementary program will incorporate many of the same innovative educational practices of ACLC, but is designed to address the needs of younger learners. More information about the elementary program is forthcoming.

ACLC and NCLC Open Admissions Policy ACLC has historically accepted applications from any Alameda family.
NCLC will accept applications from any Alameda family.
As public schools, ACLC does not and NCLC shall not charge tuition.
ACLC and NCLC are open to any interested family, regardless of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, primary language, or geographic location. Unlike Alameda and Encinal High Schools or any other public elementary or middle school in Alameda, NCLC will be open to any Alameda family regardless of their assigned school boundary.
Admission to ACLC is based on random lottery supervised by AUSD for the past 12 years.
To increase access to all Alameda families, NCLC has eliminated the sibling policy regarding automatic admission. If demand exceeds capacity, siblings will also be subject to the lottery system.
While open to all Alameda families, NCLC is recruiting most heavily in Alameda's West End, historically the most ethnically diverse and socioeconomically challenged part of Alameda.
NCLC has requested that AUSD provide complete citywide K-12 mailing lists so it can market to all Alameda families in multiple languages. AUSD denied the request.

Educational Plan for K-12 Program

NCLC plans to replicate in its 6th through 12th grades the best educational practices from the successful ACLC model.
ACLC was awarded the 2007 California Distinguished School Award (the first charter school in Alameda county to receive the prestigious award).
ACLC was awarded a Bronze medal in December, 2007 by US News and World Report as one of the top 8.5% of high schools in the nation.
ACLC has scored an API score of 10 for five years in a row.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Jack O'Connell, recently recognized ACLC as a school "with a good track record [that] should be replicated."
ACLC graduates must meet the University of California a-g graduation requirements. These graduation requirements are higher than those of Alameda and Encinal High Schools.
NCLC plans to implement an innovative Kindergarten through 5th grade program (the Elementary Vision is explained in a separate document). Three Alameda educational leaders with over 75 years of educational experience lead the elementary implementation team.

Linda McClusky
AUSD Teacher of the Year – 1997
AUSD Team Diversity Member
Media Center Teacher, Science Teacher (K-8) Paden School – 4 years
Special Day Class Teacher – (3-5) Miller School – 4 years
Teacher/Director (Pre K-3) Sara Project Day School – 12 years
Credentials: Elementary Education, Special Education, Mathematics, Administrative Leadership (K-12)

James Venable
Title 1 Coordinator / Literacy Coach – Washington School
30 years experience teaching in grades K-5
Reading and Writing Expert – Started NCTE Reading Initiative at Washington School
Educational consultant to schools on Louisville Writing Project
Credentials: Master of Arts in Teaching, Clear Multi-subject, Cross Cultural Language and Academic Development Certification
BTSA Support Provider

Betsy Weiss
20 years of Elementary Teaching Experience – (K-5) including 10 years of K-1 Multiage Grouping
AUSD Mentor Teacher – 4 years: Math, Science, Best Practices, and Development Education
Title 1 Reading Teacher/Literacy Coach – 5 years
Owner/Director/Teacher – Secret Garden Preschool – 5 years
Credentials: MS Environmental Education, Elementary Credential

Teachers, parents, and students will govern NCLC democratically

Alameda public school teachers and Alameda parents initiated the NCLC charter movement.
NCLC's governance is based on the ACLC governance model.
NCLC will have no administrators—the teachers will run the school.
Students will oversee appropriate disciplinary issues through the Judicial Committee process as established by ACLC.
Students will have a significant voice in establishing the rules and policies of the school.
The Governing Board will consist of teachers, parents, and students, all of whom will have voting power.

Using the District Email lists, two Emails were sent out by ACLC employeees. Below are the EMails and the subsequent responses from AUSD employees.

ACLC Employee Email #1 12/21/2007

10 Reasons to Support the

Nea Community Learning Center (NCLC)

  1. NCLC is a public school: NCLC will be nonsectarian in its programs, admission policies, employment practices, and all other operations, shall not charge tuition, and shall not discriminate against any pupil on the basis of ethnicity, national origin, gender, or disability.
  2. NCLC is a school for all Alamedans: NCLC will market to the entire Alameda Community and will not discriminate based upon where you live in Alameda.
  3. NCLC offers fair and equal access to all: NCLC will be a public school that will accept its learners by a random lottery.
  4. NCLC will help all kids succeed: NCLC will serve all learners regardless of disability or special education needs.
  5. Many Alamedans want K-5 school choice like NCLC: Alameda families support the K-5 program idea. NCLC has already received 166 applications for its K-10 program in three weeks of recruiting, 101 for its K-5 program.
  6. NCLC is teacher driven: All 12 signers of the charter petition are certificated teacher leaders and union members.
  7. NCLC is an extension of a proven, successful school: NCLC seeks to replicate the 12 years of ACLC success and expand it into the lower grades (as was the original vision by the Alameda community) to increase parent and student choice for 408 students over three years.
  8. NCLC offers experience: The new K-5 NCLC Core Action Team has over 75 years of elementary school experience and has been leaders of innovative successful programs in the past. The team has vast experience working in Alameda ’s Title 1 schools (schools with children of poverty).
  9. NCLC is about community participation: Teachers, parents, and learners will serve on the NCLC Governing Board, offering democratic and responsive decision-making.
  10. NCLC is built on a recognized model: The California Department of Education has awarded the NCLC founders with a grant to disseminate its success and the highest ranking education official in California , State Superintendent Jack O’Connell says, “Schools like (ACLC) with a good track record should be replicated.”

What the NCLC Core Action Team is doing to make this a reality:

  • While all Alamedans are welcome to apply, NCLC seeks to locate on the West End and is targeting West End families. We are leafleting in West End shopping malls, recruiting West End 9th graders, and will soon be leafleting West End Middle and Elementary Schools.
  • NCLC has done some mailings (limited by our ability to get mailing lists) to Alameda families in multiple languages.
  • NCLC is targeting ACLC’s wait list of 130 (Currently grades 6-9, 60% non-Caucasian) for its new school.

What the critics say:

  • “ACLC holds its learners to high standards.” True. NCLC will do the same. Its graduation requirements meet the UC a-g requirements. It is true that 15-20 learners leave the ACLC each year (For a variety of reasons, one being they do not want to be in rigorous college-prep program.) That is part of what choice is all about.
  • “The student body won’t be diverse and reflective of Alameda .” FALSE. People are saying that those of non-Caucasian ethnicity are over-represented among students who leave the ACLC. Not only is this not true, but it obscures the truth as to why learners leave. By the end of the 2006-07 school year, 6 of 16 learners leaving the ACLC were learners of color. (Roughly their proportion in the school.) Two Filipino learners left, (One to Bishop O’Dowd and one to EHS), One Hispanic learner left for EHS, and three African American learners left (One went to an African American private school in Oakland, one moved to Africa, and one moved to Pittsburg. CA.) Students leave Alameda schools for a variety of reasons: affordable housing, better opportunities, change of jobs, etc. This is true in all of Alameda ’s schools and is a fact of economic life on the island.

Everyone deserves choices. All of Alameda families deserve an opportunity to attend a high performing public school. Without NCLC, West End kids will be waitlisted at ACLC, and are not eligible for AHS due to their address.

Thank you from the NCLC Core Action Team: Paul Bentz, Maafi Gueye, Linda McCluskey, James Venable, Betsy Weiss and Lowry Fenton.

ACLC Employee Email #2 12/21/2007

To my fellow AEA members,

If I had to sum up my feeling about being a teacher (facilitator) at ACLC it would be one word “Empowerment.” At ACLC our team -- all AEA members -- has control of our budget, our curriculum, our schedule, and the power to change the way we run our program. I never felt this level of empowerment when I worked at Alameda High for the nine years I was there. During those nine years it felt like an awful lot of the power resided in the AHS administration and the district office and, for the most part, my “power” resided in my ability to make decisions about how to deliver the AUSD mandated curriculum in my classroom. At this juncture, in many classrooms across this district (I am thinking of my daughter’s AUSD elementary classroom), “fidelity” to scripted curriculum has whittled away even that sense of limited “power.”
It is very liberating and empowering to be a part of a school in which everyone teaches, no one is a full-time administrator, and all of us share in the administration of our program. One of the most amazing off-shoots of our empowerment is that it multiplies outwards—our students and parents are empowered too: they serve on the committees that administrate our school, they suggest and help to implement policy change, they too have a voice in our school and they use it.

Once upon a time, when our school was first created, the district had a vision for changing education in this district and even had plans to become a model for 21st century educational reform. Our school was a part of this vision as were the academies at Wood and Chipman, and entire schools, like Paden, that gave parents and students educational choices. Equally important, these schools gave teachers career choices and opportunities. Seven of the eleven teachers at ACLC were AUSD district employees before choosing to work at ACLC. In addition to giving parents and students educational choices in the Alameda public schools, our new school will allow AUSD employees to make a career choice if that is something they are interested in; currently, three AUSD employees, all AEA members, are involved in designing the educational program for the new school.

If it were up to me, I would design an entire school district of choice for all parents, students and teachers and offer the experience of empowerment that I have at ACLC to any teacher who is interested in it. When we support schools of choice for parents and students please remember that we are creating choice for Alameda teachers too.

Responses to the EMails from AUSD employees 12/21/2007

Educator 12/21/2007 in response to ACLC EMail
I was surprised this afternoon to receive in my AUSD email in-box the gifts of propaganda and political spin about the proposed new charter school in Alameda, NCLC.

I don’t have the time right now to respond comprehensively to the “10 Reasons to Support NCLS” or to the misleading and incomplete “What the Critics Say” section, but I think some response is appropriate so that the hundreds of recipients of that email at least have an opportunity to consider alternative points of view on this issue.

I’m unsure whether AUSD email is the appropriate venue for such a message, in part because we may all now find our AUSD email clogged with messages about this issue, as Ms. Fong-Wedgwood pointed pit in an email earlier this afternoon. (In fact, although I have been speaking out against the proposed new charter school, I have strived not to use AUSD email for that purpose.) But since Mr. Bentz already sent his message via AUSD email, in this case I’m going to use AUSD email to respond.

I understand and respect that there are diverse opinions about charter schools in general and this proposed charter in particular. Based on what I know so far, I am opposed to this particular charter because:
(1) If the charter is granted, there will be a devastating impact on AUSD students, staff, and teachers due to the resulting budget cuts,
(2) The population ACLC now serves (and that ACLC/NCLC is likely to serve) is skewed towards already advantaged groups (not only ethnically as Mr. Bentz’s email implies, but also socio-economically and educationally (e.g., in the percentage of students with college-educated parents)).
(3) Renewed opportunities for innovative teaching and learning (and increased parent choice) are likely to be coming soon **within AUSD** as part of the Superintendent’s “Pathway to Excellence and Equity” planning process for the future of AUSD, and
(4) There are serious questions about whether the K-12 program CLCS has proposed can actually succeed.

District Administrator 12/21/2007 in response to ACLC EMail
The District’s acceptable use policy forbids solicitations, advertisements or political lobbying.
Please refrain from using the Districts mail system to promote the bennifits of your proposal.

Educator 12/21/2007 in response to ACLC EMail

xxx and others please be careful how you use the district’s email as you are treading thin ice; please do not elevate this issue to a litigious level as it and your current methods of informing adults and students could become grounds for a union grievance or disciplinary action.

Educator 12/21/2007 in response to ACLC EMail
Does this kind of email fall within the district’s term of use agreement?
If not, please stop filling up our mailboxes!

Educator 12/21/2007 in response to ACLC EMail
Thank you for explaining the potential benefit for 408 students in our district. Can you address NCLC's fiscal impact on Alameda's other 9,500 students? It's been estimated that your program would result in 1.5 to 2 million dollars in budget cuts.... Is it fair to make the many suffer, for promises to a privileged few?

Educator 12/18/2007

Let me start with full disclosure- my older son went to ACLC, my younger son is a xxx at ACLC, and I have been teaching at xxxx since ACLC came into being. With that said, let me go over three reasons why the new charter school should not be approved.

1. Money. Forgive me if I have the numbers wrong, but about a year ago we lost three hundred students, and had to cut some 1.8 million dollars. Those cuts have affected my work and the support students get at EHS, and most likely around the district. It makes little sense to then do this to ourselves by supporting this new school. We'd lose three hundred kids, need to cut another 1.8 million and be in an even worse place than we are now.

2. Privilege. By my calculations- taken from the 2007 STAR report- ACLC is about 65% white, with 65% of the parents with a college education or more, and with only 8% economically disadvantaged. These numbers vary drastically from EHS and AHS, and make ACLC a school that caters to a very narrow slice of this community. While not a certainty, I imagine the same sort of folks want the new school, making it, and ACLC for that matter, in essence a private school paid for with public school money.

3. Race. While not the intention, and never the intention, what has happened with ACLC is something that has happened all over the country- the re-segregation of America's school. Under the guise of choice and freedom and innovation, the school is the whitest and most elite in the district (see the above numbers). Several years ago the battle was over vouchers- seemingly intended to help kids of color move out of poor public schools, the value of a voucher did not cover private school costs, and only subsidized the expenses for wealthy parents who could pay for a "choice." Charter schools (many, but not all) have achieved this same effect. Those kids with parents able to transport them to ACLC, those parents able to make the kind of financial contributions expected of parents at ACLC, and those parents able to support the child centered learning approach of ACLC, benefit from ACLC. And again, the majority of those folks are white, educated and financially stable. I don't think it is the purpose of the school district to satisfy the needs and desires of those folks, especially at the expense of rest of the district.
Please understand- I respect the teachers at ACLC, and understand the parents who want choice, but I think a better use of the innovations and energy for change that exists is to direct it all towards our lowest achieving students, to see if new models can help close the achievement gap. By allowing a new version of ACLC to exist the achievement gap would only widen, as those students who come from privilege would be allowed to separate themselves from the other students.

Parent 12/15/2007

I've been reading about the NCLC charter application and a question came to mind: I saw repeatedly that they referenced the "successful ACLC model" and cite API scores and AYP as evidence. My concern is that ACLC (and potentially NCLC) end up -- by chance or design, doesn't matter which -- with a self-selected group of motivated, self-directed learners. It would then be no surprise if we grouped these kids together in a single school and their test scores were great. Has anyone been able to "validate" the ACLC scores by comparing the ACLC student scores with the scores of students on the waiting list? As a former high school teacher, my suspicion is that we'd see the scores of the ~150 students on the waiting list (and still mostly in the AUSD system) match pretty well the scores of the ACLC kids.
ACLC and NCLC sound like wonderful environments for a particular type of student. My concern is that these schools would essentially be magnet schools for kids that are already high-achieving in the AUSD system. And it would be a lot of money to spend on kids that are already succeeding in the AUSD system. I like what they say about recruiting students from all over Alameda, in different languages, etc. But if their main argument is that they want to replicate ACLC, I'd want to be sure that ACLC is actually succeeding in a meaningful way, with students that were not already high-achievers within AUSD.

Full disclosure: I have three kids -- two at xxx and one on the way there. I love the school and am concerned that NCLC will pull the high-achievers and the most-involved parents out, leaving me the lone member of the PTA.

Parent 12/15/2007

Hi! I have two children. One at xxx and one at xxx. And I am very upset at the idea of a charter school instead of Chipman Middle School. I understand of course that Chipman has a lot of issues. But, many of those issues would be solved by changing the boundaries and making things fair for all Alameda students. Why overcrowd one school so that Chipman's enrollment is so low that they have to accept students from other cities just for enough funds to stay open?

My daughter went to ACLC in the 6th grade and it was an awful the experience. And I was not the only one with that awful experience. At least 4 other 6 graders that I knew of left the school feeling the same way. Kids need structure and discipline and TEACHERS. At ACLC the District has no control to step in and help out. And ACLC's suggestion of "maybe your child would do better elsewhere" when a student is not performing helps to keep their API up.

Please do what's fair for all of our kids. Change the boundaries and allow Alameda schools to be for Alameda children. I hate hearing people complain about camping out for a spot at school so their kid can go to school with another kid on their block. I just want my kid to go to school with kids in Alameda. And we live right around the corner from Chipman. I don't want to ship my kid across Alameda to get a good public school education. But, there is no way that I would send my child to a charter school ran at all like ACLC.

Please change the boundaries and don't allow another charter school over here. Please don't let the threat of Lincoln kids going to private schools make the decision. Just because the kids on this side of town can't afford that does not make them less of a priority. I believe that you are all at the District because you care for each child.

Parent 12/15/2007

I would like to express my strong support for the proposed NEA Community Learning Center. My 13 year old daughter made the switch from Wood Middle School to ACLC this year (she is in 8th grade) and the difference has been profound. At Wood the teachers were largely indifferent. The work consisted of reading from the textbook. In her science class the teacher assigned extra textbook reading as punishment, but never did a lab or a project with the students. My daughter was never given a creative writing project or a history project in school. There was no library for the students, nor were there computers available. We got a spot at ACLC this year and the academics, parent support, and quality of instruction have been off the charts. xxxx has made incredibly detailed science projects, has advanced math and Spanish studies, and is encouraged to plan her own study time in order to learn time management. The staff expect excellence and never let the students slide. I know NEA !

We will have similar standards because Paul Bentz and the ACLC crew are behind NEA. Please know how important it is for the school board to approve this exciting new Charter School.

Parent 12/11/2007

Please approve the petition for a new charter school in Alameda and continue to offer our families and students educational choices. We are so lucky to live in a community where there are alternatives and I urge you to continue this. I speak as a parent of a new student in 8th grade to ACLC. My son is absolutely thriving in this environment and I am thrilled for him to have this opportunity. Please make this a reality for other families and their children.

Parent 12/11/2007

Regarding the possible opening of NCLC, I'd like to voice my strong support for opening the school. I have a fourth-grader and first-grader at Edison. For middle school, we have been looking at private schools with both children in mind because we don't feel that Lincoln can meet their needs. Both children are very bright, focused, and love learning but have been painfully bored and unchallenged since starting elementary school and have developed very negative attitudes toward school. We feel that Lincoln would just be a continuation of the same. ACLC may be a good option but we know that we can't count on getting into the school. We would welcome the opening of NCLC as a possible option to going outside of the community to private school for both children. We believe that public schools should come as close as possible to meeting the needs of all students, and we haven't found any good options in Alameda's school system for coming close to meeting our children's needs so far. ACLC/NCLC seem to offer a potential to thrive for bright, self-motivated children that we haven't seen in other Alameda schools.

Community Member 12/11/2007

I just wanted to send a quick note asking you to not approve the Nea Charter School application. While I understand their program for 6 - 12 students is sucessful given their population, I am not convinced due to their application alone that they will be able to provide the the appropriate education to K - 5 students. I hope that you will carefully consider the financial impacts that this proposed charter school expansion will have on the rest of AUSD and its students. While I understand and appreciate parents and students right to choice in their school, it is incumbent on the School Board to do what is in the best interest of all students, not just a select few.

Parent 12/11/2007

It would seem that the proposal to use Woodstock school as new charter school in Alameda would be more than robbing Peter to pay Paul, but more concerning: Taking money from many students in order to offer new services for a few (and looking cursorily at the demographic data, a few who are not representative of the AUSD population).

With yet another year of budget cuts/concerns forthcoming, I want to write in with my support to carefully look at the financial aspects of this proposal, specifically how it helps or hinders the financing for Alameda’s current students and total population.

We avoided the budget bullet last year, future years will become more difficult without increasing the possible financial burden of yet another charter school.

Secondly, the language in the proposal (which I have only briefly browsed) seems to favor specific families over any students. While I completely respect the hard work that families may have put into the project, however, the role of public education, as exemplified by your unanimous support of a lottery in the case of kindergarten over enrollment, is to serve all families and students. The proposal to give certain specific families preferential enrollment seems to smack of favoritism and preferential treatment of specific people.

Parent 12/11/2007

I support the formation of a new K-12 charter school by the good folks at ACLC. It will help relieve crowding at Edison and other elementary schools. Anything to avoid changing school zone boundaries.

Parent 12/11/2007

Congratulations to AUSD and each of you for running a great school district and being acknowledged by the media, ratings agencies and politicians for doing such a fine job. Every year or two I consider putting my children into private school and after researching alternatives and taking tours, decide that AUSD provides opportunities that are at least as good and in many ways superior.

One of the reasons AUSD is such a good district is the variety of educational choices it presents. ACLC in particular has been a great choice for my oldest child. ACLC's focus on individual responsibility and it's flexibility in structure and content encouraged and enabled him to take classes not only from ACLC but also from Laney College, College of Alameda, Keystone National High School, Encinal High School and UC Berkeley Extension. We live in a truly rich educational environment here in Alameda and ACLC helps their learners take full advantage.

ACLC's long waiting list shows that many more students would like to choose this educational approach but can't. You can help these students make their own choices and take full advantage of all the educational opportunities available to them by approving the NCLC charter.

Parent 12/11/2007

I write to express my support for the Board's approval of the new charter petition for the Nea Community Learning Center.
My son has been a student in the Alameda Unified School District since our family's move to the Island in July 2004. After a disastrous beginning and Seve's missing most of his first semester due to Alameda High's inability to accommodate his needs, AUSD was faced with an NSP placement had ACLC not accepted Seve as a student.

As a special needs student with a highly unusual combination of strengths and weaknesses resulting from his extreme prematurity (diagnoses include visual impairment, mild cerebral palsy, mild-moderate pulmonary insufficiency, medical fragility, social deficits, NVLD, intractible pain issues, cognitive, anxiety and learning disorders all NOS), Seve has found a "home away from home" in the community educational setting ACLC engenders. Seve's unique gifts with regard to language arts, his neurologic processing challenges and deficits in rote learning and math, his substantial need for anchoring by teachers who know him and his global issues, his need to have his hard work and drive to succeed despite his challenges witnessed and validated, his need to find out what he can do instead of what he can't do....his need for an individualized education within a supportive community, all this has happened at ACLC.

You have a real winner here, a recognized, tested winner......you have an educational model desperately needed at this momentous time in our history nationally and globally....an educational model that engenders engaged, creative learners within a participatory, democratic community.
I would be glad to speak with you or the board at greater length about our experience with his community of learners.....and I say "community of learners" because the facilitators of learning at ACLC are life-long learners themselves.

Parent 12/11/2007

I have a son in 11th grade at ACLC. The school has been a real win for him in providing an environment that he thrives in. Although bright, he had a lot of difficulty in learning to read and write. At ACLC, he has succeeded, getting mostly A's despite taking on a really challenging curriculum, including some classes at College of Alameda.

I am greatly in support of extending this model of education through the charter of NCLC.

Parent 12/11/2007

I will be unable to attend the Board meeting this week but wish to raise concern and ask that the Board deny the Charter application. I do not believe that the ACLC group has no experience in K-6 education and that replicating the environment at ACLC for a younger group is not likely to be successful - I also believe it will severely harm our District's ability to move forward financially (removing 300+ students from our student population will cause financial harm to the District).

Please vote against this proposed charter school.

Parent 12/11/2007

hank you for working so diligently to keep this island informed. Please consider making the new Charter new school a reality.

Student 12/11/2007

As a recent (2005) alumna of ACLC I would like to express my support for the charter petition for the Nea Community Learning Center. As you all know, ACLC offers a non-traditional learning and teaching model seeking to instill qualities of the life-long learner into its students such as self-directed and self-motivated learning and cooperation with peers as well as the opportunity to develop leadership, time management, etc. skills and much more; and, it is successful. You should not have to think twice about supporting this proposal and what's more, the citizens of Alameda are rallied behind it.

I moved to Alameda the summer before seventh grade and had heard about ACLC (then AACLC) from my 4-5 split class teacher in San Francisco who spoke extremely favourably about the school. So I went to the center for an interview with a women with crazy hair (Linda McCluskey) and was lucky enough to learn that there was a single spot open for a seventh grade girl. I went...

Eight years later I find myself currently in London and recently in Ethiopia on a self-designed study abroad program through my university back in the states, Harvard University. Of course I cannot say that I wouldn't be here now if I had never gone to ACLC because that would be impossible to know for sure, but ACLC surely enabled me to expand my learning beyond the traditional sense academically, democratically, as a leader and a role model, as a valued member of the community, and furthermore as a life-long learner.

I do not yet know what I want to do and how I want to spend the rest of my life (graduate school?, medical school?, more time abroad?) but no matter what I do I will be bringing along the lessons and experiences I had had at the center to all the future roads I will travel.

Parent 12/10/2007

I am a parent of a current student at ACLC. Today, my son, xxx, is spending the year in France as an exchange student. Five years ago, nobody would have predicted this, as Casey was shy and even phobic of strangers and new situations. In his years at ACLC, xxx became an active member of the California championship ultimate frisbee team, a leader in the ACLC community as a member of the Governing Board, a widely read contributor to the Alameda Sun, as an intern reporter, and more importantly to me, a caring and generous brother to his younger sister.

I am writing largely because of xxx's sister, a fourth grader at Edison School and a devoted fan of the "Center", but also for many other fourth and fifth graders. When xxx leaves fifth grade, there is likely to be a large number of applicants for attendance at ACLC, too many to assure her even a good chance for admittance. Why should this be important? Isn't Lincoln a good school with high test scores and excellent teachers? Lincoln is of course a good school but it is not a place where xxx would have become the person he has become, and I don't feel it is a place that xxx can become her best.
We can give more parents the chance to send their children to a community learning center. You can give more parents the chance by approving the application of NeaCLC. I know that some are concerned that ACLC somehow robs AUSD of resources or students. Yet the purpose of the charter school legislation was to promote diversity and innovation in education, to improve all schools and school districts by fostering new initiatives. So, more accurately, the CLC's are investments. Schools throughout the country are turning to learning communities as a new model. Here in Alameda we already have a successful demonstration. You can choose to join with ACLC in the search for new solutions to our educational challenges by extending this demonstration to primary grades. Please do so.

Community Member 12/10/2007

Should the board deny the charter, and ultimately be forced to accept it by some outside agency, and the cuts that the charter school cause brings out the anger and upset from the community, a Board that has said no, and been overridden, is in a better position than a Board that simplly said okay.

Parent 12/10/2007

I’m afraid we are unable to attend the meeting on 12/11, where I understand you will be considering a new charter school named Nea Community Learning Center. I am aware of the ACLC program and am very interested in having a program like this for earlier grades. Our son attended Alameda public schools for kindergarten and first grade. We were unhappy with many things about public education, but mostly we were unhappy with the lack of alternative choices to loosely speaking was a “one size fits all” style of teaching. We looked carefully for alternatives in Alameda, but sadly could find only religious based programs. This year, or son’s second grade year, we moved him to xxx in Oakland.
We love the Alameda community and it was a very difficult decision to make. We would eagerly move him back to Alameda if a charter school, such as NCLC, were opened.
We urge you to approve this important charter.

Parent 12/10/2007

I am writing to express my support for opening the NEA Community Learning Center . Our children need an alternative to schools that have become so concentrated on test scores that our students aren’t getting a balanced education. Our children need an alternative to hours and hours of meaningless homework (“busywork”, I like to call it), taking away from family time and a well-rounded childhood. Had there been more space available at the Alameda Community Learning Center when my son was going into sixth grade, we would now have some family time, my son wouldn’t be experiencing the results of constant stress of endless homework, and my son would be able to enjoy the kinds of activities that he should as a twelve year old. I have friends who either currently have, or have had, children at ACLC. These children have received a good, solid, education, not only in traditional academic areas such as math, but they have also learned lessons and have had experiences that will help them in life. While I personally believe that all schools should be run on the principles that govern ACLC, I realize that will not be a reality in the near future. At a minimum, we should have the option of sending our children to a school that, I believe, will teach our children what they should be learning.

While I have your attention, I would also like to express my concern about the amount and type of homework that is assigned to students, especially in middle school (I haven’t yet experienced high school with my son, so I can’t speak to those years). I have a seventh grader, a 4.0 student, who, as I alluded to in the prior paragraph, has become so stressed over homework that it is beginning to affect things like his sleeping and eating patterns. I’m not talking about an hour or two of homework each night, I’m talking about 2-3 hours of homework every week night plus 6-8 hours over the weekend. What this means is that he has limited time to do anything besides homework. By the time he gets home from school (he rides his bike so at least he gets some exercise), he may be able to get in an hour or two before dinner. He’ll have a break around dinner time, and then have another hour or two of homework after dinner. Over the weekend, I like to provide some other experiences for him that I feel are important in his life. We go to synagogue Friday night and/or Saturday morning, and we deliver Meals-on-Wheels on Sunday mornings. If we do these activities, we have little time for anything else because of the homework. While he may have time to go hit a bucket of golf balls or play a quick game, we can’t go away for the weekend or even do something like go for a hike because he’d be stressed about the time it will take and getting home to finish his homework.

It’s no wonder that teen-age suicides have increased, that we have kids going through things like anorexia and bulimia, and that violence in general has become more prevalent. Our kids have become so stressed over the expectations of the educational system that they don’t have time to be kids anymore. I beg you to please take a look at what our students are going through. I’d be happy to participate on a task force or in any other way to look at this issue and come up with some recommendations for giving our kids back to us, their families!

Parent 12/10/2007

I am the parent of a first grader at xxx Elementary.

I have read the charter application for the Alameda Community Learning Center. I oppose the approval of this application for the following reasons:
The financial impact to Alameda public schools has not been discussed or clearly presented. What will the impact be when 300+ students leave our public schools?
ACLC has not presented enough information in their application as to their expertise in operating a K-5 program. Why should we assume that success in a program for older children will work for the early grades? I understand that teachers experienced in teaching the lower grades have joined ACLC. I also understand that K-5 students will have separate classrooms and a different experience than the older students. However, we need much more detail than that presented in the charter application.

ACLS claims that establishing the school in the west end will be a bonus for the west end. How will that happen with the lottery system? How will the demographic percentages be achieved in order to mirror the demographics of the west end? How many west end children will actually attend the school? There is obviously a selection process - not a lottery. How does that selection process work?
I'm not comfortable with the lack of detail in the charter application. I think our public school children deserve our focus and energy. Please make sure that decisions regarding our children are carefully considered so that all of our children will benefit.

Educator 12/9/2007

I'm in the midst of contemplating a "rearguard action" against CLCS's charter application and have some factual/informational questions.
I am aware that the possible legal bases for the Board to deny the charter are relatively narrow, though upon reflection I do believe the Board could and should find that CLCS is demonstrably unlikely to successfully implement the **K-5** program set forth in the petition. I have read nearly the entire charter application and have come to the conclusion that whatever success ACLC has or has not achieved with their skewed population of 6-12 students, they have insufficient experience with the very different world of K-5 education, particularly with the diverse K-5 population they claim they will be aiming to serve. They have some good-sounding “K-5 people” signed up to be “team leaders” but the charter exaggerates/misrepresents their skills: They are not as qualified as the application suggests. Accordingly, I believe a strong argument can be made (and the Board could and should find) that CLCS is not likely to successfully implement the K-5 program set forth in the charter petition and the charter application should be denied.
Unfortunately, making this “legal argument” forcefully enough to prevail might require some pretty tough advocacy. The way the law appears to be set up, the most viable argument opponents of this charter would seem to have to make is that these people (xxx, xxx, xxx and xxx) aren’t up to the job for K-5. That argument could be a bit ugly.

But the alternative to making that case seems to me to be the very high probability of further painful budget cuts affecting every student and employee in AUSD. And that’s where my questions for you arise.
My own primary interest in opposing the charter is not that it will fail for K-5 or that charter schools are “bad” in general or the abstract. Rather, my own opposition is based on my belief that in the particular context of Alameda in 2008, if the Nea Community Learning Center does enroll 308 to 408 learners students from AUSD as they suggest in their application, the financial impact on the remaining 9500 or so AUSD students will be just as devastating as would any other 300-400 student decline in enrollment. Am I missing something? Wouldn’t the result of the 2-3% decline in AUSD enrollment that would occur if this charter application were to be granted likely be millions more dollars of budget cuts? In a year when the state budget is facing a significant deficit so that cuts on a statewide basis are also possible, this is a recipe for a budgetary disaster for AUSD students.

Even if **the Board** cannot use these budgetary concerns as a legal basis for the charter, they seem to me to be important for generating political opposition generally among parents/employees/the public. For those who are unsure (myself included) about the propriety of making the tough case “the K-5 people aren’t up to this job” argument outlined above, the degree of harm AUSD faces does affect the calculus of whether/how to fight using that (and possibly other) arguments. I suspect that all those people who will be yelling for hours at the Board at the 2008 and 2009 rounds of “community meetings” on harsh budget cuts heading our way and all the teachers/CSEA folks upset about their inadequate pay and benefits/layoffs during the next round of negotiations may not yet “get” how destructive granting this charter might be.
My assumption is that when a decline in enrollment is spread across more than one school site (as it would be likely to be if the CLCS/Nea charter is granted) AUSD still faces the same fixed costs (and substantially the same variable costs) and must then make cuts proportional to the decline in enrollment, not necessarily at a 1:1 ratio, but probably at a very high ratio. Do you have any sense of the general relationship in such cases (e.g., each 1% in enrollment in district wide enrollment necessitates, on average, a .75% cut or a .5% cut in general fund expenditures)? Using what I think is a conservative estimate of .6%, it looks to me as though a 3-4% decline in enrollment to Nea would result in something like 1.8%-2.4% in the budget, which would mean something roughly in the range of 1.5 to 2 million in cuts. Ouch.

Parent 12/7/2007

I strongly support the creation of the Nea Learning Center. I have 2 children attending schools in Alameda and had tried in the past to enroll them in ACLC. Unfortunately we never made it off the waiting list.

One of my children is a kinetic learner and I have found the traditional approach to education offered at the schools place him at a disadvantage. This child also has 2 learning disabilities - dsylexia and dsygraphia- and he would have been better served in academic environment that enabled him to present information in a non- traditional manner.

Here is an example of what happens if you don't fit the mold for students in the AUSD -

I attended the info meeting for incoming freshmen at AHS. I sat through all the presentations about how great the school was, how they offer AP this and AP that. At no time were the needs of students like mine ever addressed. I hung around after the presentation to ask about what was offered for kids who aren't on the AP track.. Mr. Janvier was obviously unprepared to answer my question.
My other child attended Edison. While academically I was pleased with the school I found that socially she had a difficult time. She is not a girly, girly nor a tomboy, just an individual with her own take on things. The pool of kids that she could hang with became smaller and smaller as the groups of boys and girls separated as they do at that age. She also experienced quite a bit of bullying and put downs and decided to not use the bathrooms at Edison because she got so much grief for using the girls rooms.

I tried to get my daughter into ACLC as I believed it would be a much better social environment for her. Again, I found myself wait listed.
While Alameda does have a terrific school system it can be made better and stronger by offering an alternative to families who don't quite fit with the traditional model. I also wonder if the creation of Nea would help alleviate some of the problems with overcrowding at some schools that the district is facing.

Please give the creation of Nea serious consideration. Have a full public discussion about the merits of the school and its impact on the families in Alameda who don't quite fit in to what you are doing.

Community Member 12/6/2007

And all charter school options in Alameda – this is a proven educational method and parents need options. Please grant their charter.

Parent 12/6/2007

I urge you to vote in favor of approving the new charter petition for Nea Community Learning Center.

My wife xxx and I have been residents of Alameda since 1991. We watched, with great interest, as the then Arthur Anderson Learning Center opened in 1992. Since then, our family has grown with addition of our two boys; a 3rd grader (Edison) and a 6th grader (Lincoln). My 6th grader is on the waiting list at ACLC and would like nothing better than to have the opportunity to attend ACLC.

I think there is enough interest and support in the Alameda community to support a new K-12 charter school. In this time of declining funding for education and empty promises by our politicians, we need to replicate educational models that prove to be effective. Please approve the charter petition. We, as parents, absolutely need more choices for our children.

Community Member 12/4/2007

Given ACLC's awards by US News and World Report and as a California Distinguished School we are in full support of the Nea Community Learning Center proposal. We have a son in 3rd grade and a daughter who will be starting kindergarten in 3 years. We want these opportunities for our children's educations.

Educator 12/4/2007

I am writing to express my deep concerns over the expansion of ACLC in their proposal before the Board.

I want to be clear: I support ACLC and its student-centered constructivist procedures and am supportive of its continued existence as a semi-dependent charter school of its present size. But I worry about how its expansion will drain away students from other schools. As we all remember, Wood Middle School , where I work, was slated for closure this year. I support the concept of neighborhood schools, and this expansion idea I fear would be fatal to the capacity needed to keep the middle schools alive and active in their neighborhoods.

It is dangerous to consider ACLC as a benign influence if it expands—despite its admirable record and fine learning community.

Educator 11/30/2007

I skimmed through the charter school's application and the only red flag that I saw was the performance review process. It appeared rather vague to me. This is all I could find in the document: "The Lead Facilitator will have the responsibility of evaluating the performance of the facilitators, counselors, and office manager on a yearly basis. The NCLC board has the right, if it so chooses, to review these performance evaluations before they are delivered to the staff members. The Lead Facilitator, with input from the NCLC Governing Board, will determine the criteria by which to judge the performance of these employees." I believe that performance review standards and procedures need to be clearly stated and completely described before employees are hired. Teacher evaluation (or, as in this case, "facilitator evalution," should be based on the California Standards for the Teaching Profession and administrators should be fully trained and fluent in the use of these CSTPs. The performance evaluation system should be reviewed in a timely manner.

Parent 11/28/2007

How will opening a K-12 charter school positively impact the District as a whole? I am somewhat puzzled by last night's presentation. Am I missing something?


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