SCUSD Observer

Sacramento, California

St. Hope’s indebtedness

Yesterday’s story in the Sacramento Bee outlines the depth of St. Hope’s fiscal indebtedness to the city’s school system. The highlights include the scope and history of the problem. The reader comment section tells the rest of the story. Some of these are just too astute to fade away into cyberspace. Below are some excerpts:

When the occupant of your prized-possession campus in the heart of our city can slip $1 million dollars in the hole while bleeding you of revenue-generating enrollments at PUBLIC high schools, you’re in no position to propose the cutbacks this District so obviously needs.

I thought the whole point of St. Hope was that they would do a better job teaching the at-risk student. Let’s be clear, it is not hard to teach motivated kids, even if they come from poor households. The trick is to motivate the unmotivated. Maya seems to admit what we all feared. St. Hope’s goal is to take the best students for themselves and leave the other high schools with the more challenging students.

All the “access” in the world won’t help Sac Charter if they can’t retain the students they already have. Their dropout/expulsion/turnover rate is way higher than the other public comprehensive high schools. And remember, these are students who chose to go to this school. No one forced then to go. They don’t leave because the school has such high expectations. West Campus and HISP also have very high expectations of their students and there is a waiting list to get into these schools/programs. The real reason may simply be that Sac Charter is not a good match for the majority of students in the former Sacramento High School attendance area.

I was in the first class to graduate with all four years of Sac High being under St. Hope (2007). Each year we saw less and less students, the students that actually needed help. St. Hope doesn’t give help to the students who are enviromentally or SES challenged, they simply drive them away to other schools- to be someone else’s problem. St. Hope wants people to think they are this shining beackon of light for students and their community, but it’s all smoke and mirrors. Work at St. Hope, or send your child there….then you’ll see if they worked as hard for their students as they do their image, then we would have some hope.

To suggest that some mysterious cadre of “union operatives” is behind this movement is just plain crazy. I live, and work in a City that I love precisely BECAUSE of its diversity, and I oppose St. HOPE because it fails us as a community when it ceases to become the melting pot that was and is the promise of PUBLIC education. Its not a union thing. It’s not about color. It’s about accountability. St. HOPE works on a different campus, on a smaller scale. All the Board needs to do is move them to a different facility, and let the citizens reclaim the Sac High Campus for the benefit of ALL.

I for one, have read the charter and have gone to board meetings regularly for the past year and a half. If you read the charter, they also say that they’ll have special ed students and English Language learner students. They also say they’ll reflect the demographics of the SCUSD and the former Sac Hi attendance area. They fail on ALL counts. The school was the most diverse in the dist. as a regular public school. It is now the LEAST diverse. It was supposed to help the children of Oak Park first. Over 50% of families in OP are ELL yet the school went from 30% ELL to less than 10%.The fact is, they DO NOT serve the students in the former Sac High attendance area many of whom are ELL and poor performing. The most at-risk are counseled out. KJ said on Oprah, if you aren’t on the college path, then this school isn’t for you. That’s a sure-fire way to ensure that the more difficult to educate students don’t show up at your door.

Someone forgot to tell Mr. Maya what an independent school is. As an independent charter, they are in essence it own school board and district. So SCUSD, did not have to list them as a school on the website or any other literature. But that is besides the point. St. Hope owes the district money, period. If St. Hope does not want to adhere to being an independent charter, then they should changed their status. Furthermore, what/who gave St. Hope the authority to move students from there campus to a high school charter campus? Should not that have gone before the board, or was a MOA restructured to allow this to happen? I want St. Hope to succeed, but enough is enough. Make Sac High a non-independent charter, while allowing St. Hope to run teaching operations only.

…the school continues to be significantly under enrolled five years after the charter was granted. Mr. Maya seems to underscore the claim that part of the attendance issue (and $ woes)is that Sac Charter is not a good option for kids who are reluctant students (those kids who may be there by “default” as he says). St. Hope displaced a comprehensive high school, one that was charged with educating all students–even those with no interest in college and those who tend to chafe under “strict” requirements. And that’s always the rub with public education: some kids are simply more difficult to educate than others. But we still have a commitment to them as a society. A college prep school intent on serving only motivated students is the St. Hope dream. Fine. Just not in place of a program for all children: special ed, ELLs, those with caring families and those with no one who nurtures them, kids intent on college and kids who haven’t figured it out yet.


Written by scusdobserver

November 22, 2008 at 4:03 pm

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