Alameda Charter School Woes

An application for a proposed charter school in Alameda was denied 5-0 by the school board Tuesday night. Officials of the proposed K-12 charter, Nea Community Learning Center, were hoping to postpone the vote by thirty days in order to respond to charges that the application didn’t provide a comprehensive description of the program. The school is the project of the nonprofit Community Learning Center Schools, which already has another school in Alameda, the Alameda Community Learning Charter School. In an article in the Alameda Journal, Paul Bentz, CEO of Community Learning Center Schools, said the more than 170 applications from families wanting to attend the school was proof enough of the strength of their program.

The charter has been hot topic on the island lately, especially on blogs. On Blogging Bayport Alameda, a big issue has been how the charter would hurt other AUSD schools, which are already suffering under budget constraints. (The public charter school would share funds with other schools in the district.) Some parents say their overachieving kids are stiffled at the big public schools, and would thrive in a more intimate, academically challenging environment. Others say the real impetus behind the charter, which, by law, must reflect the district’s population, is seclusion for privileged white kids, and that secluding high-performing students would hurt the rest of the population.

In any case, the debate isn’t over yet. Officials with the charter said they’ll likely appeal the decision to the county and the state department of education. – Kathleen Richards

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