From: Dave Cortright
To: Santa Clara County Board of Education
Cc: Santa Clara County Superintendent and Staff
Sent: Friday, December 23, 2011 10:21 PM
Subject: California Education Code section 47601(b) is the single biggest reason why Bullis Charter School should not exist
Members of the Santa Clara County Board of Education,
In the past few months I've spent a lot of my free time digging into charter schools in general and Bullis Charter School specifically. And as you know (because I've shared them with you :-) there are numerous issues once could focus on. But in this letter, I want to focus on one issue in particular. For me, it is the key issue as to why Bullis Charter School (BCS) is not currently—and has never been in its entire eight year existence—compliant with the California Education Code regarding charter schools. It is section 47601, which says:
It is the intent of the Legislature, in enacting this part, to provide opportunities for teachers, parents, pupils, and community members to establish and maintain schools that operate independently from the existing school district structure, as a method to accomplish ALL of the following:
Let me pause here to emphasize the fact that the word "all" appears in this statement of law. There are 7 requirements listed in section 47601 (identified by the lowercase letters a-g), and this sentence—in no uncertain terms—requires that a charter school must accomplish all seven requirements. The second requirement in section 47601 (identified by the letter b) states:
Increase learning opportunities for all pupils, with special emphasis on expanded learning experiences for pupils who are identified as academically low achieving.
From everything I have seen regarding BCS and their educational program, there is nothing to indicate that they are in any way attempting to recruit academically low achieving students. In fact the evidence points to the exact opposite: they are recruiting students who are overall academically high achieving.
I searched the most recent Bullis Charter School petition, and in that entire 117 page document there is not a single mention of Section 47601 (compared with 29 mentions of Section 47605). There is also no mention of academically low achieving pupils (or any synonymous phrase like "under-served") in the document. All references to student recruitment in their charter petition refer specifically to achieving racial and ethnic balance so that they may meet the requirement of Section 47605(b)(5)(G). (And I feel the need to point out here that even with all of the language surrounding their desire to achieve racial and ethnic balance, they are still failing for the 9th straight year to do so, with half the number of Hispanic students as the district.)
Now LASD is one of the best school districts in the county (and state for that matter). But even in this great district, there are academically low achieving students. BCS is the only charter school in LASD, and charter law section 47601(b) requires that BCS place a special emphasis on expanding learning experiences for these students. Yet here we are, in the 9th year of BCS' existence and they continue to flagrantly ignore this section of charter law. But what disappoints me the most is that you are letting them get away with it.
To me, section 47601(b) is really the essence of charter schools. They should exist to help the kids who are struggling in traditional schools. They should be an means by which we can reach the bottom 5-10% of our students and pull them up to where they should be. BCS is not doing this. BCS is flagrantly breaking charter law by spurning section 47601(b). And it is primarily for this reason that articles like the Bloomburg one get written.
So I ask you—nay, beg you—to please start enforcing the California education code section 47601(b) with BCS. If they cannot or will not follow the charter law as written, then they must no longer exist as a charter school.
Thank you for reading, and for your consideration of my points. Happy holidays.