Mission Prep Awaits Appeal

Undaunted by the San Francisco Unified School District Board of Education’s May 11 decision to deny a charter for their school, Mission Preparatory School officials said recently that they have appealed their request to the state.

“California charter law provides for a state appeal process,” says Jane Henzerling, the K-8 charter school’s founder. “We are already moving forward with the next steps.”

The board cited insufficient staffing, traditional student discipline, improper salaries for teachers and financial deficiency in the school’s food budget in denying the charter.

The board also found cause for concern in the lack of adequate English as a Second Language programs to support Chinese-American English-language learners.

Several board members commended Mission Prep for its dedication to the intended student body and its mission to offer a longer school year and extra support to prepare students for college.

Now the school’s fate is in the hands of the Charter Schools Division of the California Department of Education and the Advisory Commission on Charter Schools, both of which will review its application. Ultimately, the State Board of Education will make the final decision to grant or deny the charter.

The final vote by the state board is expected to take place this fall, which, if the charter is granted, allows the school a full year to plan before opening in August 2011.

Since 1992, the board has approved 30 of the 74 charter appeals it has received. Ten petitions were rejected and 28 were withdrawn before official review. The board did not take formal action on three petitions, and another three have yet to be reviewed.

Regardless of the state’s decision, Henzerling says she will “continue working to ensure underserved and underperforming students get access to the high-quality educational opportunities they deserve.”

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Filed under: Education, Front Page

7 Comments

  1. CarolineSF

    Where are your tough questions of the would-be charter operator, Kate Reardon? Why does a Boston charter school operator want to open a school in San Francisco? What about the board member of the Boston charter school operator who founded a high-profile for-profit charter chain that collapsed amid failure and scandal? What about some examination of the fact that the state Board of Ed is stacked with charter-industry insiders and supporters and is primed to ram charter schools into districts against their will — is that a sound and productive system?

  2. CarolineSF

    An additional note: The press has not really explored the question of how a charter school authorized by the state Board of Ed works with a school district — nor the question of how the SBOE oversees the charters it authorizes, if it oversees them at all (which I wonder about). Can a charter that is forced into a school district against the district leadership’s will work cooperatively with the district? In the one such case here in SFUSD, the charter seems to have no contact with the district; it’s just a rent-paying tenant in a district facility. Is that always the case? And what about the oversight?

  3. CSFan

    Might want to get your facts straight, Caroline. Ms. Henzerling received training in Boston, but she is from California. Building Excellent Schools, the training organization, is alive and well, and it is a nonprofit, as are all of the independently managed, free-standing schools founded by those who have completed the training. Sounds like you have an axe to grind, and it’s too bad that you’re willing to slander innocent people – and prevent children from receiving the education they deserve – to do it. Shame on you.

  4. Knowledgeable SFResident

    CarolineSF, please do your research before posting rants. Mission Prep is being founded independently by a SF Resident – a former teacher (I believe she also used to work for Teach for America), not some evil big network as you suggest. Also, the ‘Boston charter school operator’ you refer to isn’t a charter operator at all, it’s a nonprofit leadership training program.

    Best of luck, Mission Prep.

  5. CarolineSF

    That seems to be a little hair-splitting. I repeat the question — why is a Boston charter organization, and one led partly by a board member who formerly ran a for-profit charter that collapsed amid scandal and disgrace, working to push a charter school into San Francisco against the will of our elected board of education?

    What about my questions about how a charter school can work within a district if it has been forced into the district against district leadership’s will by the state Board of Ed? As I noted, the SBOE is stacked with charter backers by charter-loving Gov. Schwarzenegger. The SBOE will probably approve the charter, but launching a charter in that matter means it’s making a hostile assault on our district. In addition, charter battles with districts over space are legendary — communities are being torn apart by those battles, currently notoriously in New York City. Do we need more combative controversies here in SFUSD that tear communities apart, with no indication whatsoever that this charter has any promise of succeeding?

    Other questions that reporters should ask include: What is the would-be charter operator’s background that qualifies her to run a school, and what strategies does she have that will help her school succeed when some schools in the neighborhood are struggling? The Mission in fact does have some rising schools that have struggled in the past and are greatly improving; it has some successful schools and some challenged schools. Why does it need a new school? Charter critics say that opening a charter harms other schools in the district by siphoning away more successful and motivated families, and charter critics emphasize that charter schools overall tend to exclude disabled students (especially the highest-need disabled students) and English-language learners. Will Mission Prep have all those negative effects on the surrounding schools, and if not, why not? Will it commit to serving the highest-need disabled students and English-language learners rather than dumping the on the neighboring public schools as most charter schools do? Also, charters are notoriously anti-union; in our union-supporting city, will Mission Prep be like the rest? Those are only a few of the tough questions that need to be asked, and that’s without getting into questions about how stable the financial management will be and so forth.

    Mission Local reporters and editors, I’m really sorry I have to be so harsh, but this is important. You really do a disservice to the community when you only touch the surface of these issues and don’t know enough to ask tough questions. It’s like a doctor trying to help an injured person without adequate training; doing a poor job does harm.

  6. Valerie Barth

    Way to go, CarolineSF! Somebody needs to ask the tough questions. It’s a pity our local journalists don’t seem up to the task – what a sad commentary on Bay Area reporting on education issues.

  7. JoeSF

    Consider Jane Henzerling’s Bio (taken from the Building Excellent Schools website)

    Jane Henzerling made the decision to devote herself to the cause of educational equity more than twelve years ago, and she’s never looked back. She was an acclaimed elementary school teacher and staff developer in Phoenix, Arizona.

    In 2003, Mrs. Henzerling joined the staff of Teach For America Phoenix as Program Director and relocated to Florida to lead Teach For America Miami-Dade, which serves nearly 10,000 students in the county’s lowest-income areas. As Executive Director, she established a diverse funding base and increased new contributions by 250% while strengthening ties with the school board, business community, and higher education institutions. Under her leadership, the professional development program yielded marked increases in teacher effectiveness, which doubled the percentage of students achieving significant academic gains.

    Mrs. Henzerling graduated summa cum laude with a BA in Spanish from Skidmore College and earned her M. Ed in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University. Through the Building Excellent Schools Fellowship, Mrs. Henzerling will launch a K-8 college-preparatory charter school in San Francisco, California.

    This woman has been a successful teacher, leader of teachers, and has experience as an Executive Director in a large, national non-profit organization that is well received in most cities. She’s used to fundraising and working with school boards.

    As a resident of SF, I am happy to see such talent devoting themselves to making our school system better. There are no guarantees in life, but if this school does provide a better academic option for the Mission than what is currently being offered, full steam ahead Mission Prep.

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