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ACCS Meeting Notes for October 5, 2010

Meeting notes taken at the ACCS meeting on October 5, 2010.

Advisory Commission on Charter Schools
An Advisory Body to the State Board of Education

California Department of Education
1430 N Street, Room 1101
Sacramento, CA 95814-5901

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Members Present

Dr. Vicki Barber
Dr. Paul Cartas
Beth Hunkapiller*
Mark Kushner
Curtis Washington

Johnathan Williams, Member, State Board of Education

Members Absent

Brian Bauer
Gary Davis
Corri Ravare


*Beth Hunkapiller is the State Superintendent of Public Instruction’s designee.

Principal Staff to the Advisory Commission

Bonnie Galloway, Consultant, CDE Charter Schools Division
Celina Torres, Consultant, CDE Charter Schools Division
Dmitriy Voloshin, Consultant, CDE Charter Schools Division
Steven Work, Consultant, CDE Charter Schools Division
Carolyn Zachry, Consultant, CDE Charter Schools Division
Michelle Ruskofsky, Education Administrator, CDE Charter Schools Division

Call to Order

Chair Barber called the meeting to order at 10:21 a.m.

Flag Salute

Mr. Washington led the members, staff, and audience in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Approval of Meeting Notes

Chair Barber called for a motion to approve the meeting notes from August 18, 2010.

ACTION: Dr. Washington moved that the notes of the meeting held on August 18, 2010, be approved as presented. Mr. Kushner seconded the motion. The motion was approved unanimously, by a vote of 5-0.

Review/Reordering of the Meeting Agenda

Chair Barber announced that the order of the agenda would not be changed.

Public Comment

Chair Barber called for public comment related to non-agenda items. Hearing none, she called for the presentation of Item 1.

Item 1: California Department of Education Update – To Include, but not be Limited to, the Public Charter Schools Grant Program, University of California Approval of Online Courses, Update on the September 2010 State Board of Education Meeting, and Accountability Reporting Program Data for State Board-authorized Charter Schools.

Ms. Hunkapiller reported on the following items:

Item 2: Report on Regional Occupational Centers and Programs, and Multiple Pathways.

Pat Ainsworth, Director of the CDE Secondary, Career and Adult Learning Division, offered a presentation on the Multiple Pathways report [http://www.schoolsmovingup.net/cs/mps/print/htdocs/mps/home.htm] External link opens in new window or tab. . This report, released in May 2010, was a result of Assembly Bill (AB) 2648.

Chair Barber thanked Mr. Ainsworth for his presentation and asked commissioners for questions and discussion.

Chair Barber asked what Regional Occupational Programs (ROP) were available to charter schools. Mr. Ainsworth reported that the idea is to treat Career Technical Education and ROP as the same and accessible to all students, charter and non-charter.

Mr. Kushner commented that his understanding was that charter schools couldn’t participate in ROP, and supported any efforts to increase their participation. He also commented that the Multiple Pathways report’s emphasis on the time/learning variable for traditional public schools was good; and that many charter schools have been doing this for years.

Chair Barber noted that e-learning, and its funding and plans for the future, were essential for students in charter schools and traditional schools. Mr. Ainsworth reported that it should be a choice for all students, and hopes that districts can get flexibility to make it work.

Ms. Hunkapiller thanked Mr. Ainsworth for his presentation.

Chair Barber called for public comment. Hearing none, she called for the presentation of Item 3.

Item 3: Petition for Establishment of a Charter School Under the Oversight of the State Board of Education: Consideration of the Barack Obama Middle School Petition, Which Was Denied by the Compton Unified School District and the Los Angeles County Board of Education.

Carolyn Zachry presented the CDE staff recommendation, which is for the ACCS to recommend that the SBE approve the establishment of the Barack Obama Middle School (BOMS) under the oversight of the SBE. Ms. Zachry noted that the BOMS petition had been previously denied by the governing board of the Compton Unified School District (Compton USD) and the Los Angeles County (LACOE) Board of Education. Ms. Zachry then gave a brief overview of BOMS’s proposed education program and reported that the petition meets all of the requirements for the establishment of a charter school pursuant to Education Code Section 47605.

Chair Barber then requested a presentation from the BOMS petitioners. Glenn Noreen, director of Barack Obama Charter School (BOCS) and Ingenium Charter School, both currently SBE-authorized charter schools, presented. He reported that both schools are doing quite well. Over the summer, the schools conducted a month-long professional development session for staff on the Reinventing Schools Model (RSM). BOMS also plans to implement RSM if it is approved. Mr. Noreen then turned the presentation over to a colleague to provide more detail on RSM, including RSM’s focus on grade-level standards; specific strands in reading, writing, and math at the classroom-level; focus on performance-based outcomes and student mastery of skills; a specific scoring guide for proficiency – all standardized for all teachers. RSM’s results demonstrate a more linear approach to using rubrics in the classroom, and proof of proficiency charts. Mr. Noreen closed the presentation by thanking ACCS members for their time and consideration.

Chair Barber then requested a presentation from the Compton USD. Representatives from the LACOE Board of Education were not present at the meeting. Alejandro Flores, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources at Compton USD, presented via PowerPoint the district’s reasons for denying the BOMS petition.

Chair Barber asked commissioners for questions and comment.

Mr. Kushner asked Mr. Flores to repeat the main points for the district’s denial. Mr. Flores noted generally that all of the reasons for denial combined together pointed to a “larger problem.”

Mr. Washington asked about BOMS’s recruitment strategy, and for clarification on the student population currently served by BOCS. Mr. Flores stated that BOMS does not plan to offer recruitment materials in both English and Spanish, which is what the district does. Mr. Washington then asked about BOCS’s teacher credentialing. Mr. Flores responded that LACOE found an error, and BOCS admitted to mistake in hiring.

Dr. Cartas noted that the district’s presentation includes concerns about safety and credentialing at BOCS, but that the district’s written findings do not mention these concerns. Mr. Flores said those concerns came from LACOE. Dr. Cartas asked if the following issues raised by Mr. Flores in his presentation were actual written findings made by the Compton USD governing board: BOCS testing results, teacher credentials, and district concerns about safety. Mr. Flores said “no.” Dr. Cartas asked if Mr. Flores had any evidence to prove his claims. Mr. Flores said “no.”

Chair Barber asked Mr. Flores about BOMS’s lowered enrollment projections. Mr. Flores stated that lower enrollment projections would be a concern; but he does not have evidence to show that lower enrollment would cause BOMS to be financially unviable. Chair Barber then recalled a number of assertions made by Mr. Flores in his presentation, including a letter dated September 1, 2010, that were not official findings made by the Compton USD board. Mr. Flores confirmed that the letter was included in an information memorandum to Compton USD board members, and the letter was not acted on by the board. He stated he was unsure whether BOMS ever received the letter.

Chair Barber then asked for questions from commissioners to the petitioners.

Mr. Kushner asked Mr. Noreen if he had any facts to correct. Mr. Noreen stated that BOCS enrollment is 270, and their enrollment is limited because the school is in a Prop 39 facility that does not meet school’s original Prop 39 request. The BOCS cafeteria is on dirt, which Compton USD had promised to pave over, but has not completed the work yet. He stated that BOCS’s main recruitment was focused on Latino students and that they will work harder for BOCS and BOMS. BOCS’s actual population is 2 percent English learner, 22 percent Latino, 89 percent African American, and 90 percent eligible for Free and Reduced Price Meals; and every classroom has a credentialed teacher.

Mr. Washington asked about the ethnic balance of BOCS’s teaching staff. Chaleese Norman, BOCS principal, replied that BOCS has 5 African American teachers, 4 Hispanic teachers, 2 mixed ethnicity teachers, 1 Asian teacher, 1 Filipino teacher, and 1 Caucasian teacher.

Chair Barber asked the petitioners to address the teacher credentialing issue. Ms. Norman stated that the 30-day substitute credential belongs to a teacher that was credentialed under her married name, not her maiden name, which is why Compton USD may not have found her on the CTC website; and the other teachers are University interns that are paired with fully credentialed teachers. Ms. Norman stated that the BOCS assistant principal does not have a California credential, but there is no requirement in California law for a charter school administrator to have a credential.

Ms. Hunkapiller asked about BOCS’s academic performance in 2010 and the school’s plans to help students meet all AYP targets. Ms. Norman referred to the RSM model; 4th grade students actually scored at proficient in math and they will build on that progress this year; BOCS is implementing tutoring sessions and a Saturday intervention academy; the school is using a leveling process for students regarding state standards and identifying gaps in learning; and the Parent-Teacher organization is engaged, working to help students at home, and addressing social issues for student academic success.

Chair Barber then called for public comment. Hearing none, Chair Barber called for a motion.

MOTION: Mr. Kushner moved to approve the CDE recommendation for approval of the Barack Obama Middle School Charter Petition to the State Board of Education. Dr. Cartas seconded the motion.

Chair Barber asked for discussion of the motion. Mr. Washington noted the importance of evaluating charter school innovation and superior performance compared to the rest of district; and expressed his desire that charter schools work with the local district and be approved locally, although, he noted, that does not appear possible in this situation. Ms. Hunkapiller encouraged the BOCS staff to increase its outreach efforts to English learners and Latino students, as recommended in the CDE staff report.

Chair Barber then called for a vote on Mr. Kushner’s motion.

ACTION: The motion to approve the CDE recommendation to recommend approval of the Barack Obama Middle School Charter Petition to the State Board of Education was approved by a vote of 4 to 1, with Mr. Washington in abstention.

Chair Barber called for a break at 12:40 p.m.

The meeting resumed at 1:15 p.m.

Item 4: Charter Schools and Online Courses, Independent Study Requirements, Senate Bill 740 Funding Determinations, and the Pupil-to-Teacher Ratio for Nonclassroom-based Charter Schools.

Ms. Hunkapiller reported that there is a CDE workgroup that is studying ways to streamline independent study apportionment requirements and creating two attendance accounting systems instead of four. The workgroup is also considering how to attach quality measures to nonclassroom-based programs; defining online, hybrid, and blended model programs; how to account for and fund instructional minutes or mastery/completion; how to define a school “site”; and teacher quality and measurable effectiveness.

Chair Barber then called for public comment.

Jeff Rice with APLUS+ applauded Mr. Ainsworth’s presentation and noted that public education has been based on a factory model for over a century, while at same time society is more service-oriented, and the education system has not adapted. He stated that students should be treated as customers in the system and not a product; and that “hard district lines” and site locations need to be considered differently.

Jim Konantz with K12 Online Learning stated that K12 provides online education to students no matter their location and needs, and offers students the ability to learn more efficiently, with more options and individualization, and without the constraints of seat-time classes and having enough students to fill a class for an Advanced Placement course. He noted that the state needs to allow such programs to flourish and determine how to pay for it. Mr. Konantz also stated that the state academic standards should be the minimum and that online learning can go beyond those standards.

Chair Barber asked Mr. Konantz about specific impediments faced by K12. Mr. Conance stated that their obstacles are: (1) online education in California is limited to the county and adjacent counties where a charter is locally approved, per Education Code; (2) lots of time and effort are spent on non-instructional activities (recordkeeping, etc.), and accounting and auditing burdens are huge; (3) for standardized testing, schools have to provide supplemental instruction as required by the Education Code, which places restraints on resource centers.

Colin Miller of the California Charter Schools Association echoed former comments, and noted that innovation in education is going forward but systems and processes are not catching up with them and are stifling progress. He stated that AB 2027 was a good first step to start the discussion in the Legislature, but future efforts need to broaden to impact the entire education system. Mr. Miller said that it would be good for the ACCS to reevaluate the Senate Bill (SB) 740 regulations and determine whether the spending targets act as possible artificial barriers to progress. He offered his assistance in this effort as well.

Peter Birdsall of School Innovations and Advocacy noted that AB 2027 came out of the San Diego County Office of Education, which shows that traditional schools are struggling with issue too. The issue of ADA was a major impediment. He also stated that professional development for teachers is very important to ensure high quality online instruction and delivery.

Hearing no additional public comment, Chair Barber asked the commissioners for discussion.

Mr. Kushner asked for clarification on the definitions for online, hybrid, and blended programs. He stated that SB 740 and its implementing regulations need to be updated to consider new innovations and paradigms in education. Mr. Kushner also warned about the dangers of over-regulating these programs and the importance of protecting the freedom to innovate.

Dr. Cartas echoed Mr. Kusner’s comments and concerns regarding online learning. He said that it should be promoted, but cautioned against more regulations. Dr. Cartas reported that his own traditional school sees very little change despite increases in collaboration, funding, and other innovations; but the online charter school he created sees the opposite results, and technology plays an essential role.

Ms. Hunkapiller asked the commissioners to give examples of how to ensure high quality and performance in these new education models. She asked “What would hinder progress in reaching for quality?”

Mr. Kushner stated he would measure quality on test scores, multiple assessments, etc., and hold them accountable for performance. As long as the school has careful financial controls, they should be offered flexibility and freedom from constraints. He noted that at the SF Flex Academy, students have to be in class five days a week to get classroom-based attendance according to California law. Other states do not have this issue. Families and students have needs that do not often match well for this seat-time requirement, and schools should be able to innovate to meet those needs.

Chair Barber stated that the language and paradigm on this issue needed to change. The perception is that independent study programs (online, distance, etc.) are less accountable, while she thinks that it is actually more accountable. For example, Dr. Barber noted that there is no quality learning measure for kids sitting in seats, but in independent study programs, teachers must show work product and learning to get paid for their time. Chair Barber stated that synchronous learning should absolutely be considered the same as traditional seat time. Kids today are very different than even ten years ago; they have been raised with technology and require and different methodologies to engage them in learning. She noted that charter schools are the place that innovation should happen and the hands of charters should not be tied because this would negatively impact the traditional school system as well.

Mr. Washington noted that the education system was designed for students to learn in the classroom, but now it is challenging to have administrative staff to support teachers in the classroom. He expressed hope for the discussion to move forward with the inclusion of teacher input, to preserve the positive teacher and student experiences that can occur in the classroom. Mr. Washington recommended that the best of the current system be combined with the best of what technology can provide to produce high quality opportunities for students.

Chair Barber then called for additional public comment.

Peter Birdsall of School Innovations and Advocacy expressed agreement that the delay in UC course approvals is a problem. He noted that his organization has worked on this issue with UC since 2004, and has received little assistance in submitting materials, getting a response, etc. This impacts students because they cannot get into UC or have to jump extra hurdles. Mr. Birdsall encouraged the State Superintendent of Public Instruction and the Secretary of Education to get involved in this issue as members of the UC Board of Regents.

Jim Konantz of K12 Online Learning agreed with Mr. Birdsall and recalled the many delays experienced by K12 in attempting to get their classes approved by UC.

Jeff Rice of APLUS+ noted, with all due respect, that UC appears to look at online and personalized learning as not as valuable as traditional, classroom-based learning. He stated that there needs to be more voices at the state level to help UC understand that these innovations are making a positive impact on many students.

Hearing no additional public comment, Chair Barber thanked Ms. Hunkapiller for bringing this agenda item forward to the ACCS, and expressed appreciation on behalf of the ACCS for Mr. Williams’ participation in the meeting today.

Mr. Williams thanked the ACCS, Ms. Hunkapiller, and members of the audience for their work, and noted that the discussion today was enlightening. Chair Barber echoed these comments, and also expressed appreciation to the CDE staff.

Chair Barber adjourned the meeting at 2:30 p.m.

Questions: Charter Schools Division | charters@cde.ca.gov | 916-322-6029 
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