The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

12 August 2003

Anything you can do, I

So what would happen if the National Education Association got to run a school?

Seven years ago, the NEA, staked with $1.5 million, decided to get into the admininstrative side of the Ed Biz. The Charter School Initiative, for all its flowery prose, managed to open a total of four schools (out of six planned), and their track record is — well, here's a report from the Education Intelligence Agency. You decide:

Kwachiiyoa opened in September 1999, two years later than expected and after a change of administrators, but the school had the financial and staff support of the California Teachers Association, the San Diego Education Association, the local school board and the teachers' college at San Diego State University. San Diego Union-Tribune reporter Maureen Magee called it "perhaps the most enthusiastic charter school launch the city had seen."

The school was to be run by a 12-member governance council, which consisted of six teachers, two parents, two community partners, one classified employee and one student. "The governance structure of Kwachiiyoa Charter School is based on the philosophy that teachers are professionals whose voice in school management and operations is essential to achieving academic goals," read a school goals document. Goal #1 was "high student achievement."

By the time Kwachiiyoa's initial charter expired on January 14, 2003, enrollment was at half-capacity, three classroom teachers were jointly running the school without benefit of an administrator, and the school was the lowest-performing of the 121 schools in the San Diego Unified School District. It ranked lowest even when compared to other California schools with similar student socioeconomic backgrounds. For the 2002-2003 school year, Kwachiiyoa was forced into a state intervention program for underperforming schools. Similar poor academic results were reported in 2000 and 2001.

Moreover, district staff found the school "had failed to maintain adequate financial records and adhere to commonly accepted accounting practices." The district concluded that the "lack of school leadership clearly contributed to this breakdown of fiscal control and to the failure of the school's academic program."

This year, the Kwachiiyoa staff sought a new charter for the school, without union involvement, but the San Diego City school board denied the application on June 24, citing the school's track record.

Is this the Peter Principle in action? I can already hear Cam Edwards ready to pounce.

(From Education Weak, via Joanne Jacobs.)

Posted at 1:43 PM to Almost Yogurt

Kwachiiyoa was designed as a teacher-collaborative. There was no absolute "administrator" in the model.

And if you check the recently posted API scores, Kwachiiyoa made the second highest gains in the ENTIRE county of San Diego.

Kwachiiyoa was still in its infancy. Does one abort a child at three years old when it is not performing to the ultimate standard? It seems so.

Explain that to the staff, parents and students who wish they could celebrate their API achievements together, but have been disbanded throughout the district and county.

Kwachiiyoa was aborted prematurely.

Posted by: joseph at 1:47 AM on 29 October 2003