Today’s Examiner carries the news that the Board is currently considering a charter petition from a group of parents and the Ujaama Community Foundation that would establish a K-12 boarding school eventually serving several hundred students.
The idea seems roughly modeled on the SEED school in Washington D.C. , which was created in 1998 by the SEED Foundation (a second site opened in Maryland last year). The program was created to offer inner-city students a rigorous educational program in a protected environment – to help them escape both the troubled schools and the troubled streets of their neighborhoods. (The New York Times wrote an interesting story about the SEED School in D.C. earlier this fall, reprinted on the Foundation’s web site.)
So far the petition has been given a negative recommendation by the Curriculum and Labor/Personnel committees ; Buildings & Grounds and Budget committees will evaluate the petition in the next two weeks. It should return to us for a final up or down vote on Dec. 8.
You know this will prompt a comment from me. However, I have to say that’s because I follow these issues very closely.
A key point about the SEED school, as with so many “it’s a miracle!” charter schools that are hailed by the either uninformed or dishonest for working magic with at-risk students, is its sky-high attrition, as noted in that NY TImes article.
“Some kids don’t last beyond the first year or two at SEED. Until recently, the school lost about 20 percent of the student body each year — mostly in middle school and mostly boys. The incoming class of 70 students slowly dissipated each year so that by senior year, the remaining students barely filled a gym bleacher. The high attrition made the school’s much-lauded college acceptance rate less impressive: If a class of 70 seventh graders fell to 20 students by the time of graduation, those remaining 20 students were arguably among the best — at least in terms of self-discipline and a willingness to stick it out — of the original class. Adams, who became the head of SEED two years ago, has been improving the attrition rate by reducing the number of staff members with authority to dismiss students and taking a more nuanced view of dismissal-worthy offenses.”
This paragraph makes clear that SEED is kicking out the challenging kids — unlike KIPP (which is also infamous for the attrition of its less-successful students), it didn’t even try to claim that they just somehow happened to float away from the school on their own.
Yes, SEED has started to try to reduced the attrition (or so they claim), as of two years ago. But do we really want a school here in SF that claims success based on kicking out more than 70 percent of its students? Do I need to come schlepping out to a meeting to point this out or is the BOE on top of that issue, Rachel?