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Author Topic: Charter School Discussion Continues  (Read 25588 times)
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« on: December 19, 2010, 06:11:09 PM »

FROM DECEMBER 19th:

The Oregon law
Oregon’s charter school law says one or more schools in a district, but not all, may become charter schools.
But, if a district has only one school, state law does allow the district to convert its only school into a charter school.



What changes with charter status?

Money: Charter school developers can apply for three-year grants of up to $500,000 that can be used for planning and implementation of a new program

Flexibility: Charter schools don’t have to meet some state standards that apply to most school districts. For example, charter schools have more leeway in instructional hours

Innovation:
Charter schools are intended to be incubators of unique learning models, provide choice and new opportunities to students. For example, in Paisley, Mark Jeffrey created an agriculture-based curriculum. He used charter grant money to purchase animals, starting with a bull and five heifers. A corporate ranch loaned the district land and Paisley launched a ranching program, where kids could learn how to vaccinate cows and also created partnerships with the U.S. Forest Service to do stream studies and other projects. 

Boundaries: Any student can attend a charter school, regardless of the district in which they reside. Becoming charter schools enables the school and district to draw more kids from nearby areas.

Source: Kim Melton from this article; http://www.oregonlive.com/education/index.ssf/2010/12/oregons_rural_schools_look_to.html).



Corbett's Current Charter Info:
http://corbettpost.com/csd/charter-school/

Do Charters Skim?
http://corbettpost.com/csd/charter-school/which-is-it/

From Bob Dunton’s letter to parents on 4-25-2010:

“Here is a thought:  Corbett Charter School is not your neighborhood school.  One profound difference lies in the governance model.  In a traditional public school, patrons can, based on where they reside, harangue the local elected board, assert their right to local control in public meetings, threaten recall board members or to lobby against the next construction levy.  The Board is directly responsible to the voters.

Charter Schools are different.  The Corbett Charter Association appoints the Charter School Board.  The association board administers the non-profit organization and its members created Corbett Charter School.  They designed the Corbett Charter School.  With expert assistance from the Charter School Board members, they secured the start-up grant, applied for the charter, negotiated the charter agreement, staffed the school, all in record time.

It’s important to note the the Corbett Charter Association is a corporation.  It conducts business. It is not a democracy. It’s not even a representative democracy.  It does its business in whatever way seems best according to its own lights.  Those who wish to do business with the Association do so on a strictly voluntary basis.  And they may choose to do business elsewhere if there is a better alternative.”
Link to the entire letter: http://corbettoregon.com/forum/index.php?topic=216.0

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« Reply #1 on: December 19, 2010, 06:28:47 PM »

Corbett School District Goal
The goal of the Corbett School district is to foster intellectual development, social awareness and civic responsibility among the members of our community.

Corbett Charter School's Director, Bob Dunton, and his most recent blog post:
Sunday, December 19, 2010 | http://justahumbleoeuvre.blogspot.com/

Posted by Bob Dunton at 10:34 AM:

A Few of My Favorite Things
Overheard lately:

1. Corbett Schools lack focus and have no identity. (If they did, they could perform like...oops!)
2. Corbett Schools leave students behind.
3. Corbett Schools had a $2,000,000.00 budget for Special Education last year.
4. "I saw it in the budget myself!"
5. "I'm embarrassed that Corbett students pass only 25% of their Advanced Placement exams."

How can one possibly respond to such devastating criticism? I've given it some thought. Here goes:

1. The earth is flat. (Come on. If it's round, why don't we fall off?)
2. The lights in the Middle School are powered by very quick, tiny men wearing nylon pants so that their rapid circular racing around each fixture generates static electricity. The light switches only exist to let them know when lights are needed.
3. The sun revolves around the earth.
4. "I saw it myself". No, really, it started out in the East and traveled West all day. Are you calling me a liar? Or worse?
5. Harvard, Reed, Sarah Lawrence, Vassar, USC, Willamette, George Fox, Baylor, Liberty, U of O, OSU, SOU, EOU, WOU, MHCC University of Portland, Portland State, Linfield, Pacific University don't seem to be embarrassed, and neither are the families who are saving thousands (and years) during hard economic times to get their kids through school.

That last one actually warranted a response, as it was the only one that had any basis in reality. Props for that. But the rest of the story is this...Corbett students are taking college level exams. To imagine that the 25% passing rate is embarrassing is to miss the point. How would we feel about a volleyball team that won 25% of its matches against colleges and universities around the country? Or a football team that won 25% of its games in the Pac 10? Absurd, of course. But academically, that's the league we are playing in. And we are seeing some all-star performances.

It is dazzling to watch, if you are able to follow the game. If, on the other hand, you know schools like I know soccer, it can be a little disorienting. That's why I hardly ever complain about the soccer coach's game plan. "You only scored on 25% of your possessions? What's going on here?!"
Posted by Bob Dunton at 10:34 AM
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Barbara
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« Reply #2 on: December 19, 2010, 08:14:29 PM »

 Angry Angry Angry  All I need to know about Bob Dunton I learned on his blog. Man. He is so snotty. He also made fun of our high school kids here in Corbett at an assembly in front of Charter kids adn called Corbett kids hillbillies and made a joke about how they dressed. That's very intelligent. He writes nasty bits on his blog and pays himself over $200,000 to be a Charter School Director of less than 350 kids? Really? Also he and his wife both are administrators and teachers at the Charter in Corbett now so how is it they can't afford to live in Corbett cause that is apparently what he tells people year after year. Just how exactly did our school board agree to his salary/this charter agreement to begin with? Bob Dunton's own words and actions define him perfectly and there is nothing you can do or say to a guy like this that he won't do to himself. Just let him go. Unfortunately all these other school districts where he has been trying to go and open new Charters keep denying him and rejecting him. I think he is getting testy now myself. The reason he gets denied all these new Charters he wants to open? Because of not meeting the needs of all the students in his proposals I think is a big part of their explanation. I read one "RECOMMENDATION TO THE SCHOOL BOARD REGARDING THE CASCADE LOCKS CHARTER SCHOOL PROPOSAL" from Bob Dunto from Cascade Locks that said as much. www.hoodriver.k12.or.us/.../Cascade-Locks-Charter-Recomdtn-05-20-10.pdf " Summary: There are no well‐described plans to assist low‐achieving students. Services to English Language Learners are not well described. The charter will expect all Special Education services to be delivered by the school district and does not assure that charter school teachers will deliver required modifications and accommodations to students on IEPs." So to the families and kids here in Corbett that are having a rough time with these same issues or that were having a rough time before pulling out and going to private schools or other charters or other schools just have to read his blog to see how sensitive he is to them or how much he really cares about Corbett. Why can't he just answer a question like a grown up instead of belittling people? All he does is make people angry and he doesn't help make anything better by posting stuff like this. I don't need to know any more about this guy. I will be at the next board meeting to say as much too. No more Bob Dunton Charters. If we need another Charter let's get one that is financially proven and supports all kids not jsut those with plans to go to " Harvard, Reed, Sarah Lawrence, Vassar, USC, Willamette, George Fox, Baylor, Liberty, U of O, OSU, SOU, EOU, WOU, MHCC University of Portland, Portland State, Linfield, Pacific University......" Or let's start a school like that idea in the article in the Oregonian that makes more sense for our area, kids and future. Let's do something our community can get behind. It can not get behind Dunton at this point because he so clearly is not behind all of our kids.
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skierhood
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« Reply #3 on: December 26, 2010, 04:33:17 PM »

Hey I have an idea, why don't we focus on the kids.  Sure Corbett Public and Corbett Charter are two distinct legal entities, but that is where the separation should stop.  The strategy is to maximize the resources available and create an environment where kids are challenged and have an opportunity to excel.  You have to have a certain amount of "mass" to make anything successful.  You need to be able to have a full band, full sports teams, and to be able to have some diversity of academic subjects offered. 

Set the goals a little higher and students will strive to exceed those goals.  Put students in an environment where others are succeeding and all will want to succeed. 

Corbett School has supportive parents, and teachers and adminstrators who are willing to expend the extra effort to make sure all students are successful. My kids are in their second year at Corbett and they both love it.  They are challenged when they go to school instead of being bored.  They are given opportunities to study at their individual level.  They both have teachers that will go the extra mile. They have been able to go to outdoor school and to learn about the religions of the world and midieval times. 

When I look at Corbett, I see a school that I am proud to be a part of and I am glad my kids go to school there.  Nothing in life is free, good things cost money and we all need to do our part to insure that the kids of Corbett School are successful in life.  From my perspective, the funding source doesn't matter, property taxes or voluntary donations,  both will help our school succeed.

Just take breath and look at the good in Corbett Schools and while you are at it, send them a christmas present, it will make you feel good(it did for my wife and I).  Happy Holidays

 

   
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Barbara
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« Reply #4 on: December 26, 2010, 08:25:42 PM »

SkierHood---OF COURSE it is about a focus on the kids but for those of us lvingn in Corbett for a long time it is really about ALL our kids and not just how well your kdis are doing. Some people seem to have no problem bringing in "mass" amounts of whatever is working for their own and/or their own personal benefit with simply no regards to what isn't working for other kids not thriving and many that are no longer in Corbett because they couldn’t find help here. It’s so sad. The sales pitch is not very comforting when you know that the "corporation" standing to benefit the most from our area schools is already in bed with the majority of the school board and our superintendent and a few other ‘well read and written’ folk now to help them pitch the deed. This should be a frank discussion with our community about how this will change our small town and small school into something very different than what it is today. And again, if it is so successful then why wouldn't other school districts jump at a chance to start this model in their own districts? The simple answer and the one I hear most often as a complaint against Bob Dunton and CSD is because there is an obvious lack of focus on ALL kids. If you don’t like it or your kids aren’t doing well you aren’t supposed to advocate for them. And once more from the top, as one part of a recent denial of Bob Dunton’s Charter model in a neighboring district they wrote: " No well‐described plans to assist low‐achieving students. Services to English Language Learners not well described. The charter will expect all Special Education services to be delivered by the school district and does not assure that charter school teachers will deliver required modifications and accommodations to students on IEPs." We should be allowed to have options and a conversation with our PUBLIC SCHOOL BOARD before we have another ‘announcement’ scenario at to more Charters based on this model or any other. Skierhood I really don’t fault you or anyone else for being happy with how well your kids are doing in Corbett. IT’s great for you and for them but try not to fault those that find their experiences very different from your own. They have their reasons and they are just as real to them as yours are to you.
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« Reply #5 on: December 27, 2010, 10:02:02 AM »

1. Corbett Schools lack focus and have no identity. (If they did, they could perform like...oops!)
2. Corbett Schools leave students behind.
3. Corbett Schools had a $2,000,000.00 budget for Special Education last year.
4. "I saw it in the budget myself!"
5. "I'm embarrassed that Corbett students pass only 25% of their Advanced Placement exams."

How can one possibly respond to such devastating criticism? I've given it some thought. Here goes:
•   I thoroughly enjoy the fact that Mr. Dunton continually feels the need to aggressively criticize and respond with snide remarks to those who might disagree with his views or the views of the Charter or Corbett School District (CSD).  Although I have attended multiple school board meetings, have spoken, and have submitted written statements to be included in the record, I have never posted on a forum or blog.  I have decided to respond to Mr. Dunton’s most recent post as it is impossible to have a dialogue in any other public fashion as my response would never fit within the three-minute rule at a traditional school board meeting.  I also realize that he is no longer technically associated with the CSD, however, his statements and opinions have a direct relationship to the CSD.  Also, I feel the need that a larger audience needs to see such comments in order to make more informed decisions in regards to the upcoming movement of adding additional charter schools or expanding the existing charter in our district.  This is a bit of a lengthy response, so thanks for your time while reading it. Here are a few of My Favorite Things……. 

1. The earth is flat. (Come on. If it's round, why don't we fall off?)
•   When the dog bites……. Quite a response.  I am guessing for those of us who question the fundamental stance of a district we are reduced to wondering if the earth is in fact flat.  If the CSD had a vision that extended beyond the current year we would not be in this desperate financial crisis. Yes, we would still be busy trying to find ways to offset the state funding woes of this economy but we would not be reduced to: expanding a charter program that is not proven, being absorbed by a neighboring school district, or trying to secure a loan to remodel the Springdale school.  CSD knew for many years that their investment property (CAL) was near its end and that state funding would again be reduced in this biennium.  With that fact being known to the leaders in the CSD, proactive steps should have been taken.  If this were the case, a shortened school year, staffing, and special program reductions could have been evaluated as potential savings.  In addition, the need for a bond levy could have been identified at an earlier date (such as last June) and planned for by the board and community to garner support during the most recent election.  However, none of that took place and we were presented with a crisis and minimal planning in regards to our next steps.  Are these the actions of visionary leaders, experts in their field, or supporters of a community school? I would say no to all three. However they are the actions of either short-sighted individuals or those who have another agenda.
2. The lights in the Middle School are powered by very quick, tiny men wearing nylon pants so that their rapid circular racing around each fixture generates static electricity. The light switches only exist to let them know when lights are needed.
•   When the bee stings….. I did not realize that little green men in tights had anything to do with leaving students behind.  I guess my years of schooling have left me unable to bridge that gap.  Speaking of gaps, we have a growing number of students who are in fact being left behind.  After evaluating the percentage of students we identify for Special Education Services, I can only imagine that some of our kids are not being served (and required by law) in the CSD.  During the 2009-10 school year, CSD only identified 5.1% of the school population in need of special services.  On average, other east county school districts identified 15.3% and other districts similar to CSD identified13.95% on average.  With this in mind it can only be assumed that several students are not getting their individual educational needs met (unless we consider ourselves total outliers to the ten districts I included in this evaluation).  Now, one could say, “look at the test scores”.  When you do, it will be noted that of the 5.1% of students served in the CSD: only 45% met in the Reading benchmark test, 52% in Math, and 50% in Science.  To take this one step farther, districts that identify twice the number of special education students are performing very close to this. Based on comments made by Dr. Trani and CSD staff in various school board meetings, it has been explained that the multi-aged classroom have served as a natural way to differentiate instruction and accommodate all learners.  I also know that the Corbett Charter utilizes this model (a multi-aged blended classroom).  Based on the data, CSD is not doing a fantastic job of either identifying students or serving student needs once identified.  Using this data and some relatively simple logic, we are in fact leaving kids behind.  This is one specific example as to how we must focus on what is best for all students not just the traditional or exceptional learners.
3. The sun revolves around the earth.
•   When I am feeling sad……. I don’t think there was 2 million dollars budgeted for Special Education (and I have seen the budget document developed by the Budget Committee).  In addition, if CSD had spent that much, then the students would have performed much better on the state Science test and known that Mr. Dunton was erroneous in making the above statement.
4. "I saw it myself". No, really, it started out in the East and traveled West all day. Are you calling me a liar? Or worse?
•   I simply remember my favorite things (bitter, calculated, one-sided, inflammatory comments)…… There are many items outlined in the budget that are not consistent with current budgetary and spending practices.  For example, why is 100% of all state funding for charter students passed through the district? What will happen when the students’ home district requires their 7.5% per elementary school student and 2.5% for each high school student?  What does $45,000 dollars in administrative services look like between the Charter and CSD? Do the Charter students pay extra for field trips that are combined with CSD students to cover the cost of transportation? Why did we allow “State Funding Black Magic” and a “computer glitch” for salaries to push us 1.5 million in the red at the beginning of this school year? These are all interesting questions; at least I think they are. Some have been answered (well kind-of), adjustments have been made (layoffs and cuts), and some continue to float above us like a big hydrogen filled zeppelin waiting to blow (how are we going to fill in the spending gaps for next year- maybe another Charter).  Now to set the record straight, I don’t blame our current superintendent for this situation as he did not develop or sign off on this year’s budget, that was our previous superintendent Mr. Dunton. Mr. Dunton I am not going to call you a liar but rather a deceiver, which is worse. You have misrepresented yourself and the true intentions of the Charter.  You have said time and again that the Charter was a way to save our neighborhood school but you have simply used a time of crisis (somewhat self-inflicted) to create the ideal situation to create and implement what you have always wanted--a school of choice.  Through this model, where you serve as the Director, you can pretty much do whatever you want because it is a school of choice.  If the patrons don’t like the service then they can leave.  There is no obligation to serve all, or those who “dissent”, or those who question, or those who want to be involved on their terms.  There is only room for those who want to fit within your “box”.  What you have failed to realize is that the fallout from this scenario is a public school district that has been left to figure it all out and scramble for ways to make this right because several of us do not want to participate in a school system such as this nor do we want to figure out how we will get our kids to a neighboring district as our only option.  We believe in the neighborhood school where we know all of the students, parents, and stakeholders.  Call it “old-school” but there is something unique and special about keeping a community a community through the use of a school.

5. Harvard, Reed, Sarah Lawrence, Vassar, USC, Willamette, George Fox, Baylor, Liberty, U of O, OSU, SOU, EOU, WOU, MHCC University of Portland, Portland State, Linfield, Pacific University don't seem to be embarrassed, and neither are the families who are saving thousands (and years) during hard economic times to get their kids through school.

That last one actually warranted a response, as it was the only one that had any basis in reality. Props for that. But the rest of the story is this...Corbett students are taking college level exams. To imagine that the 25% passing rate is embarrassing is to miss the point. How would we feel about a volleyball team that won 25% of its matches against colleges and universities around the country? Or a football team that won 25% of its games in the Pac 10? Absurd, of course. But academically, that's the league we are playing in. And we are seeing some all-star performances.
•   Really? It is not the same league it is not even the same game.  The comparison of students competing athletically in the PAC 10 and academically in an AP class is a poor analogy. Not even in the same ballpark.  However if you want to rely on the athletic analogy, the last time I checked four NFL coaches were fired mid-season due to poor performance (some of which were better than a 25% win loss ratio).  Should that be the case with our AP teachers or administrators who oversee these programs?  As long as we are making that comparison maybe we should pursue the same outcome. To be a bit more realistic, I am sure that some students who go through the AP program do perform very well in all exams and therefore contribute substantially to the overall success rate of the school (I have seen some of the data and there a few kids who do very well).  However, how many have no chance of passing one or more exams or are forced to re-take exams because they have been paid for by the CSD?  Many will argue that the test taking experience is part of the “college level” class they are enrolled in and that it ultimately prepares students for the “next level”.  This is not true.  First, there is not a single college class that requires you to take a cumulative exam over a years worth of instruction (this of course is excluding exams such as the Bar and professional exams for medical doctors, nurses, etc).  Secondly, when you really think about it, AP testing is the most contrived display of “knowledge” we could ever ask for. In what profession are we ever required to sit down for 90 minutes and regurgitate all we have learned over an 18-36 week period?  Most likely never. So why is this system such a focus? Is it the National Ranking we have earned through Newsweek and the other recognitions related to the AP program? To make this clear, we have earned our top ranking based on the fact that we have purchased more AP tests on a percentage basis than most other schools in the nation.  Is this really a great honor?  I mean any district could do this if they simply purchased AP tests for all of their kids.  After all, there is no rule stated that you have to be enrolled in an AP class to take the exam.  So Reynolds High School or Centennial or Riverdale could go on a spending spree and be the number one school in the nation.  Is this recognition worth 50-60,000 dollars a year and over two weeks of missed instruction time due to the AP testing schedule? Should I be responsible for paying for other children’s college credits at the expense of programs such as music, athletics, and other co-curricular programs? This does present a double-edged argument as I must also compliment what the CSD has done with their AP program as it is noteworthy and elevates the rigor for all students.  Other school districts can only hope to get to this point in order to better prepare students for life after high school regardless of what they choose to do. I cannot, nor will I ever argue against that.  But I do disagree with the fact that all kids will take each AP exam and if necessary retake the exam in subsequent years until they earn a 3, 4, or 5.

It is dazzling to watch, if you are able to follow the game. If, on the other hand, you know schools like I know soccer, it can be a little disorienting. That's why I hardly ever complain about the soccer coach's game plan. "You only scored on 25% of your possessions? What's going on here?!"
•   I understand soccer as well as I understand schools and the only thing that is disorienting is the analogy used here.  There is no similarity or relationship to passing an AP exam (a one time a year occurrence) and a shot on goal (something that happens multiple times a game and even more often in practice and is a team sport versus an individual effort). The only thing that is disorienting is the misrepresentation of CSD performance on AP exams and thinking that 25% is acceptable and should go without question.
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skierhood
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« Reply #6 on: December 27, 2010, 05:46:35 PM »

I guess I just don't understand why so many people are against the charter school.  By creating a charter school, Corbett is able to get its facilities to full capacity, and by state law is allowed to establish an educational program that is attractive.  As a result each charter student brings in a monthly funding amount (as decided by the state).  Given the unique partnership arrangement between the corbett school district and the charter entity, all that funding stays within the combined school versus part of it going to the district where the charter students originated from.   

I believe some of the classes taught by charter teachers include both in-district and charter students thereby creating some additional opportunities for district students.  The charter school is able to attract strong students and overall there doesn't seem to be any disciplinary problems.  So, the charter student base wouldn't be considered a high cost model.  As far as IEP's and special education plans, etc, why fault the school board and Bob for not providing these services within the charter when state law grants them the ability to take this position.  Not having to handle ieps and special needs within the charter creates a much easier to manage, less costly student base. 

So, you can bring in more kids (up to facility capacity), get more state funding, keep the high touch/high expense areas to a minumum(within the charter), give district kids some additional curriculum opportunities, and have the charter contribute rent to help maintain facilities.  I don't believe that the district entity is having to fund a charter budget deficit. 

All public districts are having funding issues to support special ed, Students requiring IEP's, students needing reading help, etc and therefore I don't think that the Charter School is the cause of all the woes.  If there are areas within the public district that need attention then by all means those should be addressed, it just seems like if you can garner support from a larger pool(district and charter parents) that we could have more opportunity to be successful.

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« Reply #7 on: December 28, 2010, 01:44:02 PM »

I guess I just don't understand why so many people are against the charter school.....
Corbett is a small community and we want our schools to remain small too. Our kids (Corbett district kids and families) should have priority in our public school board decisions. They don't. Who wants 600-900 plus kids coming in from outside Corbett into our schools to push our school-walls and country-roads to bursting? Not Corbett. There are other ways to work this out but there is no interest in talking. The school board and the Charter and Charter board are on the same page and have been all along. That is the truth. The public school board we elected has simply betrayed what we want and need to benefit themselves, the Charter and their interests.
They have sold their soul to the company store.
They just approved applying for a million dollar loan to, in essence, finance setting up room for even more Charter.
Why indeed.
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skierhood
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« Reply #8 on: December 28, 2010, 03:34:29 PM »

So would you prefer to not have a charter school and the associated state funding for those charter students, and see the district not have enough money to survive on its own as a K-12 district.  The state could then elect to merge Corbett with Reynolds and no one in Corbett would have a say about it.  Wouldn't that be fun.  Wouldn't you prefer to be slightly larger and outstanding or would you prefer to get absorbed by Reynolds and have your high schoolers shipped off to Reynolds High.  Reynolds has not met their state achievement targets for special needs kids either. The board is trying to keep Corbett a viable, outstanding entity in a state that is putting no priority on school funding. 

The board is thinking out of the box to survive versus just letting things stay as they were and getting dissolved. 
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« Reply #9 on: December 28, 2010, 04:48:35 PM »

http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2010/03/latest_big_idea_destroying_pub.html

Here is an article to give a little perspective to charter schools. They are considered to be a fad by the lady that wrote this article. Oregon Charter Law can change and then where would our school district be if we set ourselves up to be completely dependent on charter income.

Also, other small districts decided AS A COMMUNITY to go all charter and together decided a charter model that best represented its community. Through many community meetings and discussions, the community got on board with the idea. We were not given ANY choice. I was told, over a recorded voicemail by Mr.Dunton that the deed was done.

Would I have wanted Mr.Dunton's Charter school to represent our community? NO WAY - I am assuming he knows he wouldn't have the community support which is why we weren't given a choice. He has burned too many bridges in Corbett and with the surrounding districts. He is getting a very bad reputation because of his behavior.  I agree - Dunton doesn't have our Community's best interest at heart - he resents us. I want nothing to do with him.

Let's look at the numbers and if we HAVE to become a charter school or have one within our school, let's choose one that our community feels good about.
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« Reply #10 on: December 28, 2010, 07:51:48 PM »

I talked with Dr. Trani regarding the $2,000,000 budget item under Special Programs.  Due to the heading I assumed it was the special education budget.  Dr. Trani did not know what the $2,000,000 was for, neither did Robin Blakely.  In order to get this information from the District office it was necessary for the two of them to get out a separate book listing the information so they could tell me that the $2,000,000 went to the Charter budget in the 2009-2010 school year. 

In the detailed general ledger that I got from the District office it showed that the Charter ended up owing the School District $308,000 at the end of the year.  This money was moved to the School District #39 asset column and dropped from the ending balance for the Charter.  It also showed that the School District owes $247,000 to the Charter.  I have asked for a straight forward answer on these two numbers but have not gotten one from Dr. Trani.  I asked about these two numbers at the December workshop and why we went over the budget by $219,000 I was told by Ms. Blakely that they had not finished moving the numbers around and that they don't have to meet their budget, the budget is just an idea.  But we are showing $670,000 in outstanding LOANS already, with interest of $111,000 per year. 
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« Reply #11 on: December 29, 2010, 07:43:43 AM »

skierhood you said: The state could then elect to merge Corbett with Reynolds and no one in Corbett would have a say about it. Wouldn't that be fun. Me: The old.... 'Let us do what we want and just shut up or we will ship your kids to Reynolds!' speech. Same old. Same old. There is no in between right? If this school board is unable to figure anything else out, or even make an attempt to find out what the community really wants, or work with people that live here, then we need new school board members, yesterday. Mr. Dunton has been quoted saying that 'crisis situations sometimes let you do everything you have always wanted to do.' (That was about two years ago, by the way.) You connect the dots. He was in charge of the budget until this year. He is the one that is helping another Charter board member present this "new" Charter probably at the next board meeting. They are making money on this deal and our community is going to lose our small school and our small community to their benefit. This is not about kids. Not even close. This is about money.

skierhood you said: Wouldn't you prefer to be slightly larger and outstanding or would you prefer to get absorbed by Reynolds and have your high schoolers shipped off to Reynolds High. Me: Slightly larger? Slightly? The numbers heard at the board meeting mean the kids in Corbett could be 1/4 of the school's population. (Probably a lot less as many kids are already finding other schools for their kids out of district to receive help that CSD won't provide them.) Slightly larger? We can be outstanding WITHOUT a charter school. We just have to make the kids our true focus again. Right now the focus is pushing through a Charter school. Why is it OK for you to presume that what has worked for your children is what is best for the entire Corbett population of kids and our whole community? We are already in debt as a district and you are behind taking out million dollar loans to promote more Charters like the one we have? Just remember that when you have a problem, and at some point you will, you were not willing to stand up for anyone elses kids in Corbett and that you only wanted what was best for yours and kids like yours. Don't be surprised if there is no one left to stand up for you.

skierhood you said: Reynolds has not met their state achievement targets for special needs kids either. Me: If Reynolds jumps off a bridge...should Corbett jump off the bridge too?

skierhood you said: The board is trying to keep Corbett a viable, outstanding entity in a state that is putting no priority on school funding. The board is thinking out of the box to survive versus just letting things stay as they were and getting dissolved. Me: The board is trying to do exactly what the strings attached to them tell them to do. I would assume your two years in CSD has been spent seeing what you want to see. If your version of CSD is right how do you explain all the people at the board meetings and on this forum and 'around town' complaining and angry?

Why wouldn't a school board just address these people? And if what we are saying is unfounded, then set us straight. Don't talk about little green men and then expect us all to support you. The more people I talk to in Corbett about CSD/Dunton/The Charter idea - the more I realize how little CSD wants people to know about what is going on here. People have NO IDEA.  Because when most people in Corbett start to find out what's happening in regards to this Charter and increased Charter - they are pissed. That is the truth.
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breezy
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« Reply #12 on: January 03, 2011, 03:02:10 PM »

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/03/education/03ravitch.html?scp=2&sq=diane%20ravitch&st=cse

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/16/books/review/Wolfe-t.html?scp=4&sq=diane%20ravitch&st=cse

Here are the links again, thanks to those of you who let me know my link wasn't working. I’ll try linking to the New York Times which is where the article was originally posted. Diane Ravitch gives an interesting perspective on Charter Schools. She was once their main advocate, now she has done an about face after she has seen the negative affects charter schools are having on children and communities. She has learned the power of recognizing when she is wrong and attempting to make it right. Learning from mistakes, and not doing the same thing again.

Anyway, Charter schools were created to help FAILING schools. Corbett was not FAILIING. They were created to be experimental in educational techniques, which Corbett Charter School is, but WHY would the administration CHANGE the way CSD is teaching our kids to pattern the charter school’s experimental philosophy?  What CSD WAS doing WAS proven to work based on the high scores CSD has received. A combination of 2 grade blends, great teachers, high expectations and a lot of good old fashioned hard work. Why is the district school being changed to resemble the experimental charter school?
 
Corbett School District parents should be given a choice. If they like large grade blends and Imaginative Education then they can (and should be able to) choose to put their kids in the charter school. CSD should teach its students with the proven methods, techniques and blends that were working for us in the past.  CSD not only added 350 students without our communities blessing they changed the way our children are being taught to look more like the experimental charter, they took away OUR choice. Again, these actions greatly benefit the Charter School Director, Bob Dunton. I am guessing he is hoping to capitalize, market and duplicate these methods elsewhere. I read the board minutes from Hood River when Bob Dunton was proposing his Charter School there. He proposed large grade blends, k-6th. Is this where our elementary school is heading?
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Mindy Schmidt
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« Reply #13 on: January 03, 2011, 03:12:24 PM »

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/03/education/03ravitch.html?scp=2&sq=diane%20ravitch&st=cse

Here are the links again, thanks to those of you who let me know my link wasn't working. I’ll try linking to the New York Times which is where the article was originally posted. Diane Ravitch gives an interesting perspective on Charter Schools. She was once their main advocate, now she has done an about face after she has seen the negative affects charter schools are having on children and communities. She has learned the power of recognizing when she is wrong and attempting to make it right. Learning from mistakes, and not doing the same thing again.

Anyway, Charter schools were created to help FAILING schools. Corbett was not FAILIING. They were created to be experimental in educational techniques, which Corbett Charter School is, but WHY would the administration CHANGE the way CSD is teaching our kids to pattern the charter school’s experimental philosophy?  What CSD WAS doing WAS proven to work based on the high scores CSD has received. A combination of 2 grade blends, great teachers, high expectations and a lot of good old fashioned hard work. Why did all this get changed to resemble the experimental charter school?
 
Corbett School District parents should be given a choice. If they like large grade blends and Imaginative Education then they can (and should be able to) choose to put their kids in the charter school. CSD should teach it students with the proven methods, techniques and blends that were working for us in the past.  CSD not only added 350 students without our communities blessing they changed the way our children are being taught to look more like the experimental charter, they took away OUR choice. Again, these actions greatly benefit the Charter School Director, Bob Dunton, who is hoping to capitalize market and duplicate these methods elsewhere. I read the board minutes from Hood River when Bob Dunton was pitching his Charter School there. He proposed large grade blends, k-6th. Is this where our elementary school is heading?



I agree 100% on this post Breezy!
I just wanted to sign in and stand and be counted.

I hope more people will pay closer attention and get involved.
We ( My husband Bruce and I ) have submitted the following letter to the school board at the last board meeting ( 12/15/2010 ) and I wanted to share here.
It is also attached as a pdf if the formatting goes whacky.



Dear Corbett School Board,

Until the below issues are candidly and carefully addressed and resolved it does not feel like we will all be able
to move forward in any meaningful or healthy way as a community in regards to CSD. The lack of trust
between many in the community and the schools is a very real problem now. This stems from many different
issues and depending on who you speak with there are also many different degrees of alarm. Below is a recap
of some of what we feel are some of the most important and most mentioned areas of concern by people in
regards to CSD.

IDENTITY

So who are we? Where do we want to go? How are we going to get there? Who are we going to serve? I guess
I would challenge that we need to have a clear idea and then be innovative AND inclusive to those hesitant to
making changes or that need their concerns to be addressed.

If there is a sense of being left behind, left out, ignored ( or worse ) then progress is going to be a rough road
for our schools and the community will end up suffering greater divides. I believe, to some extent, that is
where we are today in Corbett and what is actively happening.

Are there going to be people in the extreme on either end? Sure. Absolutely. ( Some people will never believe
CSD is going to do anything right and won’t admit it when they do and there will be those that believe CSD
could never do anything wrong, and won’t admit when they do. ) The majority of us out here live somewhere in
between those extremes.

I would say we are identity challenged. People’s perception of what’s happening ( not happening ) in Corbett at
CSD varies. It would seem very appropriate for CSD to define where we are headed as a school district so that
we can all either agree or agree to disagree or have that conversation at least before taking the next step.
This is ESPECIALLY true in the move to take out a large loan in the midst of funding crisis ( interest free or not
) and to move more students into our district and/or into the Springdale School. Changing the landscape of our
community and swelling our school district by 600 out of district students is something that will be hard to
undo once done.

SCHOOL BOARD
It might have been appropriate for the board to campaign for the last levy if they truly believed in the need,
but that didn’t happen. Some of this was because, apparently, it was a surprise to at least some of them that
we even needed a levy. ( To which many people wonder how they didn’t know...though we did show a carry
forward only a few months before the levy was put on the ballot. ) Even without the glitch, as Randy points
out, we were going to be short. Very short it turns out. His information makes it clear they should have known
it was coming. They just were holding out hope for a miracle I guess.

Some of the board’s lack of motivation in pushing the levy, I am sure, was because board members knew they
would have to face uncomfortable resistance to the idea of more taxes by long time friends and community
members. ( Or believed it was a futile attempt so why put their neck out? ) Regardless, the levy failed and
while I don’t blame the school board for the failure, it is obvious to me that a school board could do better to
help the community understand the issues. ( Of course if the school board doesn’t truly understand the issues
– but is only doing what someone else tells them is true, without getting fair and accurate information for the
other side of the coin - then this is a sign of a larger problem. )

Going to board meetings is always recommended if you have a concern or question, and yet many that have
put in their time and efforts by writing letters, going and trying to follow the dots have burned out before any
resolution or answer is found. ( It is also now known that many of these concerns were never made as part of
the formal record – because they didn’t ask for those comments to be made part of the record. ) On the other
hand positive comments and letters were added to the record in our board minutes. This is another area that
doesn’t help the trust issues.

As more parents and community members voice the same concerns and still no answers come, an us vs. them
mentality is bound to have sprung to life. Some are angry... some are shutting down and getting out of the
conversation completely. The community as a whole has probably reached a tipping point with the reality of
what these meetings actually provide them. Most people agree it is a spectator sport with a courtesy period to
allow people 3 minutes of floor time.

In the end though, there is no meaningful dialogue and the consensus is that it has become a waste of time to
go to board meetings because the board ( most of the board ) never addresses or responds to people or their
questions. Randy can only do so much to help answer questions and the district can’t afford a community
relations director ( though could really use one... ) Maybe it is time for a Citizen advisory committee? At the
least, each school board member should be very open and honest as to where they want to see the district in
five years so the community can evaluate and consider if those goals align with or against their own given all of
the information.

CHARTER
We have a Charter School today in large part because we were told it was the only way to keep us financially
stable and to make sure that kids that had always attended Corbett could continue to when the inter-district
transfers were halted. Now there is an even bigger funding crisis and many feel suspicious of the talk about
proceeding with even more out of district students, more “Charter” and possibly even taking out loans to fund
old buildings to be used for more Charter. If the community feels forced ( rightly or wrongly ) into any one
direction I think it will be a critical mis-step by CSD.

WHAT TO DO AND OUR BUDGET
Hoping for the passage of a levy is probably futile in Corbett right now. Simply wanting the way schools are
funded to change is not going to pay our bills either, although I do agree our national priorities need a reset.
So we are left with options that all have their pros and cons and depending on who you talk to the enthusiasm
is north to south on each idea.

To be clear, we have been deficit spending for a long time in the CSD. This funding crisis should not have been
a surprise to those managing the money or paying attention. The former superintendent told our budget
committee that they were only there because they were required by law to have a budget committee and that
regardless of their recommendations, they ( the school & school board ) would do what it wanted. These
statements were witnessed and confirmed to and this created obvious resentment and division over the years.
Our financials are concerning. Our audits point to a lack of internal controls and oversight over the years. There
are more questions than answers today when it comes to how we spend money as a school district. The district
office ‘filing system’ is a problem, there are very large line item dollars in our budget that can not be accounted
for or not easily.

This all makes it hard for the community to think throwing money at a problem is actually going to solve
things. ( Whether through levies, loans or charters etc. ) Money doesn’t solve money problems and this will be
a huge stumbling block for the district until appropriate resources and time is given to putting everything
straight, forming a plan and then moving forward in a more open and transparent manner.

INDEPENDENT AUDIT
Our school board should be responsible to our community and for accountability sakes, we should have an
independent investigation ( line by line ) into our past years budgets to find out where funds are going and
how. ( There are too many open questions as to how CSD is spending or our relationship with the Charter
School. ) We should be able to provide a very clear view of what the actual costs to our district are including
those involved with the Charter School. There should not be a feeling that those asking these questions are
somehow trying to cause problems or are being unreasonable. As we understand it, there are plenty of
questions that seemingly can not be answered and that includes larger line item dollars that would make a
huge difference in where we are today financially.

COMMUNICATION
If nothing else, CSD has done a poor job sharing with the community the reality of cuts already absorbed over
the years and the subsequent financial emergency we can no longer out run. We agree with Randy Trani on
this 100%. Perhaps if this had been addressed in the newsletters sent home over the years it wouldn’t seem
like such a surprise to so many people that we needed a Charter to keep us afloat. ( And then when one
Charter didn’t do it, why the idea of asking for more Charters or bigger Charters or all Charters is not going to
be met with open arms. )

Altruism can be an annoying concept to people, especially those that have had bad experiences with CSD. I am
still hopeful though that we all, in essence, can agree we want the same things for not only our own children –
but all the children in our community.

CSD is at a crossroads and we really want the next step to be one we take working together and not one that
divides us further. Bruce and I think there are ideas out there that can move us to a more inclusive and
productive place but it will take a clear vision of identity and effort by CSD and the school board to actually
address and set policy on recurring problem issues as well as work WITH community members as to what they
want and need from CSD.

If CSD’s school board goes ‘full steam ahead’ into the Springdale School and adds more Charters etc. without
addressing the above issues, this will just be another sign to many in the community that the schools are
marching Corbett along to a private agenda and has no real regard for the changes more and more kids
coming into our area will have.

Better utilizing the building(s) and assets we have already in the district or community for
evening/weekend/even possibly year round schooling options seems more responsible vs. taking out loans to
move in more out of district than district kids. ( I realize there is a ‘killing two birds with one stone’ frame of
thought as to the Springdale School but personally I am just not sure when you are this far in debt...that
taking on more debt is a responsible answer. ) I would like to see other options explored or at the very least a
better definition of the plans for the School in Springdale and the future of CSD.
Thanks for your time.


Mindy and Bruce Schmidt



* Mindy and Bruce Schmidt.pdf (54.46 KB - downloaded 412 times.)
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KLande
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« Reply #14 on: January 04, 2011, 01:25:20 PM »

Wonderful letter Mindy! I am with you and the others here 100% I think some serious changes need to be made and quick. Increasing the Charter is the last thing we need, we've got to take care of our district kids first and foremost. Questions need answers, proposals need to be common knowledge and discussed within the community. So many things are and have been wrong as it appears and loans and charters will not solve these issues. My biggest question is how do we remove board members and elect new ones? It seems so many are stating the board has sat back and let things happen, or those who would do a good job are stifled to just go with it and look away...how can we stop this and get some real Corbettans on the board?....People who are willing to look at all the facts and make some real changes and involve the community, and do what's best for our district kids and not their pocket book!?! It is very scary as a soon to be first time school age parent. My husband grew up here, we moved here together 7 years ago and the schools were wonderful, now it is all crumbling and it makes my job as a parent very challenging and scary to determine where to go from here. We love Corbett everything about it, except this recent school mess the past couple years. As a parent other than food and a roof, education is our number one priority and the most important aspect of our child's lives and to hear where we're headed should have every Corbett parent ready for change, and I think most are but we need to know where and how to begin...I think the parent advisory committee is an excellent idea!
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Mindy Schmidt
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« Reply #15 on: January 05, 2011, 10:58:09 AM »

I wanted to be very clear on a couple things:

1. CSD & Quality of Education - There are some great teachers in Corbett Schools. Our kids have had a good education in Corbett. There have been things we feel could be better but that would most likely be at any school in the world. We have not had any of the very concerning situations I know about personally effect us first hand. But I feel it is important to stand up for those families that have had some serious issues with CSD vs. asking them to be quiet. Many are friends and neighbors.... even those you don't know, you have to put yourself in their shoes and make sure the school is providing what is just and fair for everyone. Some people obviously disagree and have a different philosophy on this.


2. Grade School Blends - We know our kids have done well with the 2 grade blend. We still think a k-2 blend is not ideal. The larger blends lead to issues we have had experiences with that are not positive. We could see K-1/2-3/4-5 being better for the kids. The two grade split was awesome. We supported that and saw it work. The three grade split is concerning and we have reasons we see for this making the job of our teachers a lot harder and not benefiting all the kids as much as they claim. Does that mean some teachers are not great at it? Some are. But some are not. Middle School and High School and larger blends makes sense to us, obviously. The grade school - not so much.

3. Charter - We never had a problem with the idea of having a charter to retain students that were going to Corbett already and that would have been blocked by their home districts. No one that I know did. BUT to be fair to those not so friendly to the Charter idea, since the Charter was put in place with very little community discussion ( really none ), and knowing now that the Charter had been in the works for much longer, I think I could agree there was always more to the Charter idea than just retaining those 70-80 kids. ( http://corbettpost.com/csd/charter-school/ )

4. More and/or New Charter Discussion - Some of what the school board is now facing with community opposition and questions is because of the way the original Charter went through and how it was billed. It takes time and work to explain some of these things as valid or important and that time really has never been taken. There is frustration and negative feelings now on both sides of the coin because of this. Ultimately, this comes down to whether people trust the decisions and the decision makers.

Whether you agree whole heartedly or are not sold at all on the philosophy of this Charter School’s educational model etc., the fact is that a Charter school is supposed to fill a need that can not be filled within the community school. As was said on the post before, our schools were not failing, our budget was.
 
At the root of this discussion is the question of whether or not the school’s administration ( past and present ) and our public school board actually worked to solve our budgetary problems with the community school's best interests in mind or if these financial problems have been allowed to bring us to a place where, in crisis, the educational model they all most strongly believe in can be taken to a larger scale at the expense of our community and small school.
 
The way the original Charter was included and set up was not well received after the community realized what had actually changed and all that it meant. That is exactly what our school board seems to be doing again today and this time it will mean a fundamental change to Corbett and our schools that will not be easily undone and could potentially be a big house of cards financially. Rushing this through without proper and respectful discourse and TRANSPARENCY is going to do more damage in the long run to rebuilding trust.
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stongeastwind
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« Reply #16 on: January 06, 2011, 07:10:02 PM »

Great work on putting together the list of challenges that CSD and Corbett Charter has Mindy.  We need more action like at the Grange last night to focus everyone to the same goal.  I look forward to the corrective actions to take place (new CSD boardmembers, new superintendent, and then new principal of the charter) before more damage takes place in the form of contracts and commitments.  When the boards meet now I pray that nothing is voted on for fear it will be digging a deeper hole.

If you think everything is going smoothly please take your recreational drugs, home sales signs, potential job, and/or the lack of vision that we are doing what is best for all of our kids at CSD and Corbett Charter.  The time is now to lead our kids from failure and strive towards mediocrity.  We need to consider the real bosses of our community school, our kids, the future.
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KLande
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« Reply #17 on: January 07, 2011, 01:46:47 AM »

The meeting last night was great! I am hoping that the community info night will go well too and that the board will truly take note of the community and what they want. I think the job of a board member has to be very challenging and I can appreciate that you won't always please everyone, but I think there have been some huge missteps here and that a lot of people feel betrayed. I felt lost and confused as to what was happening, and struggling to find answers and separate facts from hear say and opinions. I have to give HUGE props to Tori for putting the meeting together, and searching for the facts, and not taking any crap along the way and demanding copies of budgets etc...it was so nice to hear and have a clearer picture of things...which sadly are worse than I had thought. I think the key here is going to be organization. If we want to force the board and the district to listen to the community, than the community has to get organized. I am wondering if anyone has any number estimates as far as how many people want to see change, want to be informed about these major decisions and what's happening financially etc...I see posts here and comments on other blogs or facebook, but I fear that without the masses and big numbers the board will do as it did before...push on and ignore "those screaming paper throwers" or whatever Duntons quote was. We need to start requesting letters from friends/neighbors, canvassing for signatures for the petition, etc etc...I guess I am just wondering if anyone has any idea where this is at as far as how many supporters there are, because honestly the signatures on line and the people at the meeting is a great start but out of a community of a few thousand is that enough? I am not trying to be negative but just wanting an idea if anyone knows the support ratio....and also to motivate and gather ideas to increase support. I am still kind of an outsider here so I don't know that many people in the community.

My second thought or question is that I actually had very little problem with the Charter initially and think it can be a benefit and also gives parents options and choice for their child's education....but do completely agree that CSD should stay as it was and not model the Charter, as then you take away that choice and it is all the same. I for one am against the higher grade blends, 2 is plenty. I also may not have a huge problem with the Charter but I do with expanding it, and I do with the finance mess of it and nothing is proven etc.. I do have a problem with whom is running it as well and think a lot of people do to, it's not necessarily the Charter that people don't like, it's how it was initiated, how it is being handled and pushed to increase before it is proven, when it shouldn't be increased at all, and how it is being run and creating a division amongst students....which leads into my question....what do the students think? I do not have kids currently in the district but I would really like to know how the Corbett Middle & High School kids feel about all of this? How has it changed their daily lives, their social lives, do they feel betrayed, shut out in there own school? Are there student relation problems between the two groups etc etc...Huh Perhaps one of our most valuable assets for knowledge are the students who are living this everyday. It may be a great idea to hold a meeting with the community and the district kids and let us all hear from them and what they think, feel, and want for their schools as well....just a thought Smiley
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« Reply #18 on: January 07, 2011, 11:26:19 AM »

Great work on putting together the list of challenges that CSD and Corbett Charter has Mindy.  We need more action like at the Grange last night to focus everyone to the same goal.  I look forward to the corrective actions to take place (new CSD boardmembers, new superintendent, and then new principal of the charter) before more damage takes place in the form of contracts and commitments.  When the boards meet now I pray that nothing is voted on for fear it will be digging a deeper hole.

If you think everything is going smoothly please take your recreational drugs, home sales signs, potential job, and/or the lack of vision that we are doing what is best for all of our kids at CSD and Corbett Charter.  The time is now to lead our kids from failure and strive towards mediocrity.  We need to consider the real bosses of our community school, our kids, the future.

I have to admit that I am dumbfounded by strongeastwind's post. While Mindy keeps a reasoned head here, some other participants are either out of line or totally off-base. There is much madness in the content of strongeastwind's post; so much so that it's hard to know where to begin chiseling away at the misconceptions and ignorance. If you have suggestions for what the district should consider for dealing with the nearly $600K budget shortfall, then you should add value to the dialogue. If you have nothing but complaints about the Board's or the district's individual actions on specific items, then at least state them along with suggested changes to make improvements.

What's more, I personally bristle at anyone who is asking for a new Superintendent. I believe this is a ridiculous suggestion at best. Since Mr. Trani took the thankless job this summer, he has worked diligently to bring back constructive dialogue and bridge the divides of the past. He is the Superintendent we need and he loves Corbett Schools. Asking for "new this" or "new that" is ridiculous without substance. How would this "new" improve things in your perception?

Also, the entire premise that the Board is running off to get a loan to rehab Springdale School was little more than ignorance that steamrolled out of control. If anyone would simply attend the Board meetings and work sessions they would learn the truth of the matter. Ignorance is not bliss, it is dangerous. Put your torch and pitchfork down and get the facts first.

I look forward to next Wednesday's information night as it will be a chance for the school community to speak directly the real, substantive questions and complaints that actually are worth discussing, as well as the fallacies that some desperately cling to. Criticism without contribution isn't constructive, it's destructive. If you truly care about the schools, then contribute constructively to the conversation.

Now I'll try to contribute to a much more constructive post, by JustMe:

JustMe: "I for one am against the higher grade blends, 2 is plenty."
Response:  I like that JustMe states their case. No drama, just a simple case. Still, we all have opinions about what we like and don't like, but I believe to have constructive dialogue you need to also state "why" and if you think something is negative, then explain "why" it might be. For example, what do teachers think of the blended classes with three grades versus two? What does real research show is most beneficial for the depth-based curriculum we have in Corbett? And better still, could the classes be pushed back to two grade levels with existing staff while still keeping class sizes from ballooning farther than they have?

JustMe: "I also may not have a huge problem with the Charter but I do with expanding it, and I do with the finance mess of it and nothing is proven etc.."
Response: Again, I like that JustMe states their case. No drama, just a straightforward case. But again, "why" do you have a problem with expanding it? Is it because of the "finance mess" (what does that even mean?)? This being said, I like the point about it not being "proven", yet that is the nature of a charter school; it --like it's public school brother-- changes. All schools change as they learn more. It's part of the process. So what would it mean to be "proven"? Are our public schools "proven"? That is, what constitutes "proven"? Graduation rates? If so, Corbett Schools are proven while Portland Public Schools is very much unproven. My point is this: please qualify your statements and don't make claims (e.g., financial problems) without substantiation.

JustMe: "I do have a problem with whom is running it as well and think a lot of people do to..."
Response: I understand and appreciate this comment a lot. I believe Mr. Dunton is a very smart man and he has brought great success to Corbett Schools. I also understand that his candor, tone and demeanor has lead to many burned bridges and incensed many neighbors along the way, and this is definitely unfortunate. It's a shame that such good work can be eroded by poor behavior and politics, soured relationships, and hurt feelings. I don't know how to fix this but I understand that it has created great division. Still, please do not allow Mr. Dunton's tone and candor to be seen as reflective of our new Superintendent or the Corbett Charter School as a whole. Regardless of what inferences some people may make, Mr. Dunton and Mr. Trani are two very different people with two very different methods of working.

JustMe: "it's not necessarily the Charter that people don't like, it's how it was initiated, how it is being handled and pushed to increase before it is proven, when it shouldn't be increased at all, and how it is being run and creating a division amongst students"
Response: I'm glad to hear that you believe that people don't necessarily dislike Corbett Charter School. My children are in the public school and have no notion of any of the adult issues at play. I am thankful for this. I also know many of the Charter teachers and district teachers alike --we have great teachers in Corbett Schools. This aside, the comment about the Charter school being "proven" once again needs qualification. I'm not suggesting that it is proven, but that's a terribly subjective claim without some sort of qualification; with said qualification the point becomes invalid. Also, terms like "shouldn't" in the context of the comment don't make a whole let of sense to me personally. If something "shouldn't" be, then the claim definitely needs to be substantiated. "Shouldn't" for its own sake isn't good enough. Why "shouldn't" the Charter be expanded? Is it because of a distaste for its director or is it this ambiguous, undefined notion of the school not being "proven"? Lastly, if there is any division (and I question to what degree this actually exists), it is not among students, it is among adults. If you believe otherwise, substantiate your claims.

Now for my two cents. I don't know what the best decision is for our district in terms of coping with this budget gap. For me, what I care about most is ensuring that we can retain any program that enriches our students' education (e.g., music), and keep class sizes as close to Mr. Trani's target (24) as possible. Right now there are grade school classes approaching 30 students and this is simply too large for Corbett's depth-based grade school curriculum to be successful. Research shows that while small schools are excellent, small classes also matter a great deal. Here's a great response to the class size question: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=113176988

If anyone is willing to sacrifice class sizes (and subsequent program effectiveness) due to their own misunderstanding of Corbett Charter School, distaste for its director, or displeasure with more out-of-district students coming up the hill, then I am saddened. While I've already made up my mind about whether my displeasure with Mr. Dunton will effect my views on the budget crisis (it won't), I have yet to make up my mind about the philosophical question of whether more out-of-district students in our community is good or bad for Corbett Schools. Regardless of my philosophical decision on this issue, I have decided that I support any decision that the district and Board make to retain as much of what we have now as possible. If there is an option to preserve what we have through absorbing some logistical pain (like we'd see with year-round school), then I want to know about it --and I will support it. I want my kids to be able to learn effectively so they can continue to enjoy their experience at Corbett Schools.
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KLande
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« Reply #19 on: January 07, 2011, 04:15:15 PM »

This whole thing is quite overwhelming to me on many levels but I am trying to get involved and get facts so I can form my own informed decisions and opinions for myself and my family. As for the loan I do believe that paperwork has been filled out...so it is in the process and is not just an idea at this point, from what I have been told, at the community meeting.

To answer the questions presented to me, I will respond but please note that these are solely my opinions, based on my personal history and my beliefs, and what I feel is right. Some may agree and some may not as with most things in life.....

1. The blended grade class concept was completely foreign to me before I moved to Corbett, my initial thought was "that's just crazy!" however after talking with other parents & people in the community I saw the merit in the system and that it does have it's good points and was working...so I was on board with it and figured if it's working for the kids than that's great. However I do believe that if something is not broke you don't fix it. The 2 grade blend was working, so why change that? Why make it 3? Is it to  downsize teaching staff or simply to mirror the Charter methods...I don't know the reasoning here, but I can say why I am against it.

My child as stated before is not yet in the schools, but will be this fall. My child has 2 years of preschool under her belt, but many don't. My child is VERY intimidated by the premise of going to Corbett school, based on the size of the building alone...when we drive by, I always say "look that will be your school next year isn't that cool?" she says "I don't want to go there Mommy, it's too big, there's too many kids there." now this is a girl who is a go getter and very outgoing and again has 2 years of preschool....I know that she will be fine once she's there and is just intimidated a little....BUT many kids do not have preschool before they start K, many kids are shy & reserved, many kids know nothing but there home & family before they start school....so I ask myself what about those kids? What will happen when they start K? I also have to add that I do think that K should be stand alone and the blends should be 1/2 & 3/4 & 5/6 by the way....so when K is your very first initial school experience which in itself is very scary but then you throw in that it's not just other 5yr olds it's in a class with up to 7 & 8 year olds....to me that can be very intimidating and can lead to a withdrawal or disinterest by these younger kids.....they are already unsure of this new environment and now you throw in the big 8yr old Jonny over there and I'm not opening my mouth!....I just don't think many big grade blends are good for the kids, especially at the younger levels. Education and school has to be fun for the little ones, we have to create a great environment where the fear is minimal and I know most 5 yr olds are scared of monsters so they will be intimidated by the older kids by the simple fact that they are bigger and older...not necessarily because they get bullied....which is another issue in itself as I am sure this happens, it did when I was a kid and was in classes of only my grade.....so let's not kid ourselves to think that it doesn't happen....and I think the impact of that in blended classes is more severe.  Building confidence in my child is very important to me, I want her to put herself out there, I want her to be involved, I want her to raise her hand and ask questions, I want her to seek help when she needs it...that takes self confidence....I think that the 3 year grade blend can very easily stifle or shut down that confidence for a lot of kids....1 time of an older student making fun of a younger student, or saying they asked stupid questions etc can be very damaging however innocent or unintentional....a young child is very easily swayed and if they feel laughed at or shunned or joked about for speaking up or asking questions then guess what...they won't ask anymore...they will shut down and withdraw....this is my main concern with the larger grade blends....do these things happen in non blend classes...sure...but I am guessing it happens a lot more and is a lot more detrimental coming from older kids than from your peers. Let's face it when your young age is looked at very differently then when we're adults....so age is a huge issue in class blending that should really be scrutinized and weighed heavily against the pros of the blends. I think it may be OK to blend 2 grade levels but think 3 is pushing it and is asking for more unnecessary issues to arise....this doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of social or possible sexual issues when you get to the older kids....do I want my 12 yr old daughter in the class with 14 or possibly 15 year old boys? Quite frankly my answer is Hell No! Yes I know they will be around her anyways and are on the same campus but I don't need to make that association any closer and have the interaction daily in the classroom. I think there are a ton of issues around these grade blends...and 2 may be do-able as there isn't quite as much contrast in interest and ability, but when you go to 3 or above I believe there is. Also not to mention the load on the staff....can a teacher honestly be expected to handle that? Teach 3 different levels at the same time? You've got K learning to count and 2 starting multiplication (guessing here). I am looking forward to hear next Wednesday what the teaching staff opinion on this is. I just personally feel that 3 grade blend is too much for everyone....the students and the teachers....like I said if 2 worked and our school was plugging along happily....why change that?

2. The Charter and expansion....as stated above I don't think the Charter is a bad thing. However I do believe that keeping the transfer students or increasing them would have been the best thing...but from what I am to believe is that outside districts started denying those and creating the Charter was the answer to retain those students and the monies that come with them. However I do believe the Charter in itself does create some segregation...it has to, they are 2 separate entities, so there are 2 separate groups of students....from what I hear the Charter parents are happy as clams but a lot of district parents are not....and this is where I would like to know why? What is happening in the schools on a day to day basis? What do the Corbett kids think and feel about having the Charter kids here? If there is no segregation than why at graduation are there different cap/gown colors for the 2 groups? I obviously do not like Mr Dunton, but will not crucify the entire Charter concept based on that....perhaps getting him out of it would be the best thing but think that is highly unlikely...but the rudeness and derogatory crap that comes out of his mouth to our community and most importantly our kids does need to stop.

 The Charter learning model is not for me personally and has a lot to do with the grade blends as well as I want my child to be a part of this community and it's schools and the social aspects that come with that and not be primarily with out of town kids.....so even though Charter is not for me...who knows down the road it could be...so I think having the option is wonderful, having the choice between 2 educational models is phenomenal and something we should not be so quick to throw aside. However everything in moderation here is the key...hey I like good beer but does that mean I will fill my fridge with it? no I may have a few here and there...this is how I feel about Charter...it is a good thing, but kept to small numbers and with limits set by the community.

Most of us live here because we want to raise out kids in a small town and have them in a small school. We don't want 1500 kids at our school so our child is just a number in the system, our child becomes a minority in their own school as most kids are from surrounding areas.....there is a mi-raid of problems at bigger city schools we all know that...sex, teen pregnancy, drugs, gangs and on and on....and yes I know these things also exist in small schools too....but the rate at which these things occur are smaller....and that's the point. That is why we are here...to keep the influence of those things as minimal as possible on our children. I do not want to see a huge influx of students flooded into our schools and community...this will completely change everything Corbett is and has been....and that can not be denied....your talking about making district kids 25% of the population....even 50% is ridiculous...this is our town, our kids and our schools.....to have a Charter is great but to eliminate district or let the Charter kids out number ours or to change our education model to mirror Charter to me are all ridiculous ideas and unnecessary notions that seem to be unwanted by the community...

I have also heard talk of bringing in "troubled" kids that have to be transported by police....this is not a good idea...yes everyone needs help and a second chance...but isn't that exactly what Job Corp is? Do we want that brought into our community with the barrels of possible issues that comes along with it? I also heard talk of a program for teen moms....both these groups bring in higher monies than the average students...it is sad when kids are seen as dollar signs...but I know that a school has to be run like a business to survive too...so this all is conflicting in many ways....as for the teen mom scenario that is a hard one for me as a mom of 2 girls that is of course my biggest nightmare in itself...now when I spend my life raising my girls with morals and values and everything I can to prevent that from happening and tell them you can't be a mommy until your really old...then they go to school and see an influx of teen moms or pregnant teens...that is not good to me...as we all become desensitized by the things we see repetitively and this is not something I want my girls to see as common practice at their school. I know it happens to good girls too but I don't need to have it broadcasted in large numbers at my childs school and shown as acceptable. Now can we possibly do this as a night program to bring in monies...yes to me that would be a good thing, help these girls out and help the district but I just don't want pregnant or teen moms abundant in the normal classes.

Onto the "proven" end of things...what I was referring to here is being proven financially. Personally I am not a big risk taker I won't take new drugs recently approved as hey no one knows the long term effects....my thought on the educational model of the Charter is similar....but that is not my concern because I have a choice to go with district instead....so for me the educational methodology of Charter does not need to be proven, that is a personal choice issue for the parents of those students enrolled...but it does need to be financially proven and by that I mean we as a community need to see the proof that the Charter school is covering all of it's own costs and is helping the district financially and not creating a negative financial impact on the district. There has been talk of different amounts just disappearing and no one having an answer for what that money went to, a computer glitch for another amount....a large sum being showed as charter owes district, then carried over to show district owes charter  or something of that sort...I don't know all the facts there and I think that is what people want....we want to know that nothing fishy is being done financially, we want to know that this Charter is covering it's own share, and that it is a positive financially to the district ...and we want the proof! That is also what I mean by financial mess...as when questions are asked the information is not available, and what is, when it is questioned, answers are either not given or not known....this is why we need to have an independent audit of all the finances, so we can get to the bottom of these unanswered questions and really see where we sit so that from there we can start working on a plan to fix things with both the board AND the community. Also to put in place a citizen advisory committee is an outstanding idea and something that really should be a must at this point.

As I am to believe the Charter pays the district rent for the classrooms and covers it's own costs, but adding more students again...does not give any monies for road or building maintenance because these are out of area students whose parents don't contribute property or other taxes to the district which pays for these things. I have also heard that all the state monies that come with these students has gone to district but there has been no setting aside of the percentage that goes back to their home districts...why not? So district has spent these funds and will eventually have to find a way to cough them up? The million plus dollar loan is a nightmare of it's own in my eyes. If we don't figure out how to manage money than throwing more money at it is not going to fix anything, it is only going to create more debt which will incur the need to create more debt to cover that eventually.....I for one would also like to know why it is that District would be taking the loan to renovate the Springdale school for the Charter....what happens if Charter goes away? District is still left owing that 20yr debt. Why doesn't Charter take out the loan themselves is my question....why is the debt being passed off to the district on behalf of the Charter? Why are we looking to take a loan for Charter when from what I have heard our school is going to be needing some major work too, the septic and boilers I believe...so if we take any loan should it not be used to cover the shortcomings in the district budget and for repairs to our existing buildings and not for the Charter expansion?

As for cuts or options to cover this huge 600K shortage in the budget, the attitude coming from the board appears to be that if it's not a huge lump sum figure than it doesn't warrant any consideration. Now to me when times are tough you cut back...we all do, whether it be less trips to town to cut gas, no more cable TV or cut cell phone usage etc etc...many families are struggling and make many little cuts here and there that over time do add up....and from what I heard the board turns their noses up at any such ideas. I heard we spend 11k a year for the washing of towels when we have kitchen staff who says they have the time and would wash the towels if we gave them the washing machine.....there are numerous options and possibilities to achieve what is needed if the community and the board can work together. I know with teachers your going to get what you pay for so to not lower the salary but perhaps freeze it at this time. We need to look at our administrative costs. We need to look at everything and make cuts where needed. There are a ton of wonderful people in this community both parents and citizens who will help as volunteering for chores that would normally be paid positions, or donating funds etc.. I heard talk of a possible community endowment...this can be a great idea too. AP tests run us 30-60K a year and this can be cut right off the top too....the courses should be provided by the district but the tests should be paid for by parents if they want their child to test. As I hear a lot of kids resent AP and don't want a part of it, and it should not be forced on any of them and should be offered as optional. I too hate the thought 0f music and sports being cut and field trips as their is tremendous value in education outside of the traditional book and paper. However I think that parents can pay for sports, and I think through community donations and parent fees these things can be kept going, just not necessarily financed by the district. Two of my many basic philosophies come into play here, 1 being "if you can't afford it, you don't get it." So if we sadly can't afford music and athletics then we may have to go without for a few years until we can rebuild. Yes it sucks, bot so does life sometimes. Secondly "where there's a will, there's a way" so this in turn can counter the above do without....look at the stadium...who do you think those people were who made that happen? Corbett community members and outside donations and fund-raising and a lot of hard work and dedication and volunteering of a lot of wonderful people....the same thing can happen here with our schools. If the community comes together and gets organized and campaigns to save our small school and finds creative solutions and seeks help form it's members....there is a way out of this and I personally do not believe that increasing Charter, going to year round class alternating weeks, or taking out a huge loan are any reasonable or acceptable answers for the community...at least not for me.

I hope that I have answered some of the questions presented to me. I am very happy to hear that your kids aren't aware of the adult issues as that is how it should be so it is encouraging to hear from you that all this drama is not effecting our kids yet Smiley That too is something I hold very high as a parent, is that I want to preserve their innocence as long as I can, let them be kids and focus on learning and having fun they don't need to know any of the cold hard facts of the real world just yet....and I think that too backs a lot of my negative feelings for Charter expansion, by bringing in more city kids, we lose our small school, we lose that close knit community feeling around our schools, we bring a whole mi-raid of more issues or increasing possible negativity around our children simply by increasing the mass of students. I want to see Corbett schools stay with that small town vibe for our children and our community. There are answers out there to be found, but we do have to see the facts and know exactly where we stand in order to move ahead....and we do need more concerned citizens and a cooperating board. I hope that the future brings us all together and creates a great school again for all of our kids!
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KLande
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« Reply #20 on: January 07, 2011, 05:15:37 PM »

I have to add that a lot of this comes down to power....who do we want to hold the power? A Corporation or the Community? That is a question to think about. By allowing the increase in Charter we are allowing the District & the Community to become the minority, to be 2nd.... I think the future outcome of this can lead to the demise of the District completely. To me this is not a good thing at all...and I do see this expansion as being the step to that....where we are no longer community based, a Corporation will run and make all related decisions to our kids education/schooling and we either take it or send our kids elsewhere....is this what we really want?....I think we are kidding ourselves to not face the fact, that is ultimately a very real possibility here.
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Nelson
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« Reply #21 on: January 07, 2011, 07:11:42 PM »

I have to add that a lot of this comes down to power....who do we want to hold the power? A Corporation or the Community? That is a question to think about. By allowing the increase in Charter we are allowing the District & the Community to become the minority, to be 2nd.... I think the future outcome of this can lead to the demise of the District completely. To me this is not a good thing at all...and I do see this expansion as being the step to that....where we are no longer community based, a Corporation will run and make all related decisions to our kids education/schooling and we either take it or send our kids elsewhere....is this what we really want?....I think we are kidding ourselves to not face the fact, that is ultimately a very real possibility here.

Can I hear an AMEN to that?! Thank you JUSTME!!!!!!!!!!!! That is how our family feels! AND great point about the loan. We CAN NOT finance a charter school that is planning on changing Corbett against what we all love and live here for and if it goes down in flames we are all stuck with the debt? WHAT IS THAT? RTrani said they can NOT project out more than two years on whether this will even work out for us here.
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Sector 9
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« Reply #22 on: January 07, 2011, 08:17:48 PM »

I have experienced both sides...AND although dist. side has it's own issues....I'll stick with dist. thank you!!
Nothing against the teachers...but this Imaginative Learning is toooo broad for my taste...and it just flat out didn't work for my children!  The "eventually they'll get it" ideal is NOT acceptable period!!
The charter is also an experimental one. It's the first of it's kind here or in the US for that matter from what I understand??. 
I will change my tune and opinion of this type of new educational style once the first Kindergarten classes of the charter begin to reach the upper grades to see the end results in their testing...most kids that test now (in charter) came from other private schools (that taught traditional education) or were in dist. (again traditional education) before they were in the charter...so of course Charter testing will have positive results for the time being. We have at least a good 5 years to see the results of this form of education that the Charter offers. I wasn't willing to take that risk with my children...Seriously, the k-3rd grade blends ARE too much...maybe if you had like 5-10 students in your class...but 25-30!?! How can one teacher POSSIBLY keep up or even cater to each child in the way that they NEED? It has to be EXTREMELY stressful to them. The 2 grade blends were fine...3 is pushing it, but FOUR??? No...but there is still that lingering rumor of k-6th grade blends...NO NO NO NO NO NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!  Ya, ya, ya, I get the "Don't like it leave" BS but what about us who LIVE in Corbett and PAY TAXES???  Why should we have to leave OUR community and send our kids elsewhere because someone else sees $$$ signs and an ego pumping opportunity? If this Charter works for some people then fine...but it doesn't work for most kids and that's why people are pulling their kids out!! As a result, our community is constantly changing and there are always new faces! Which by the way, I feel bad for the new parents and their children...they are sold on Corbett's fluffed up "reputation" and they are so excited to be a part of it, then they get there and they are like WTH is this???  And most of them high tale it back from whence they came!!

I'm not against "A" charter, as long as it doesn't start to devour our school community and if it actually helps our schools!. I liked Corbett when it was small....the MAIN reason my kids attend there!!  So NO I of course do NOT wish to see an expansion of the Charter. If that means losing some programs...then that means the COMMUNITY needs to step up to do more VOLUNTEERING!!! People will have more opportunities to be involved in the school helping. It stinks all the way around...but if it means saving the school and helping the school from being forced into going full charter or from existing at all by having to be absorbed else where, then so be it!!  And when things get better then slowly things can be brought back...hopefully...

I hope these community meetings help make the changes that we need and brings the community closer together...all of this is just tearing it apart.  Embarrassed
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kw
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« Reply #23 on: January 08, 2011, 10:15:06 AM »

To "JustMe":  I appreciate that you and a few other posters qualify your comments by stating that you currently don’t have children in the school.  This helps the rest of us understand more clearly the basis for comments.  All of your comments are worthy of discussion, but I am only an expert at one topic:  Blending 3 grade levels at primary.
     Had I never experienced blended classes, my first assumptions and concerns would mirror yours exactly.  At kindergarten round-up last year, parents voiced all of these concerns.  However, now that the 3 grade blends are up and running, these issues are either non-existent or no more so than in a traditional classroom.  I work with 55 primary children every day (this is 2 classes) and not one parent has expressed concern to me that their kindergartener is intimidated by the older children or stifled or shunned or joked about.  Of course we have children who will act naughty or even mean from time to time, but these children are spread pretty evenly among the age levels.  There is no pattern of naughty behavior being directed only at younger children.  This may be counter-intuitive to a lot of folks, but this is reality.
     It sounds to me like you would find comfort in seeing this in action.  Perhaps if you watched the interaction of the kindergarteners in a blended classroom and talked with parents of kindergarteners you would see that although your fears are understandable, the situations you imagine are simply not prevalent. 
     If you would like to put your mind at ease, I invite you to call 503 695 3664.  I will arrange for you to visit my classroom to see how kindergarteners are blending in beautifully with the 1st and 2nd graders. 
Kristin
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skierhood
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« Reply #24 on: January 08, 2011, 06:41:07 PM »

Just Me, in regards to the state monies received for the charter students, in a typical charter arrangement, the sponsoring district gets to keep a percentage of the state monies which are provided to the charter school.  If the sponsor district keeps a percentage of the state funding, then the sponsoring district has to give a portion of those funds to the districts where the charter school students came from.  My understanding is that Corbett, as the sponsor district, is not keeping a portion of the state funding.  It all goes to the charter.  Therefore Corbett owes nothing to the source districts. 

Because of how the board elected to forego their cut per the typical charter agreement and collect rent instead, all of the state funding is retained.  This is one of the benefits that corbett enjoys versus a typical charter sponsor arrangement.  Its important that this is understood.  To verify please confirm at the info night this week. 
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MMA
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« Reply #25 on: January 09, 2011, 11:33:23 AM »

I moved back to Corbett so my children could enjoy all of the benefits that come from a small school and tight community. I would like to see that preserved. My hope is that we can come together to solve this problem as it will affect all of our children's future, even if you don't have children in the school yet. Those of us who don't like to speak up, need to start.

One idea I like:
Although I voted for the last levy, I didn't feel right about asking the elderly community members or the community who do not have children in the school to do so. I think I may have felt guilty if it had passed. All Corbett residents are already paying a large sum every year on a School Bond. This is why I really appreciate the schools new idea of a "save our school” type of fund. I need to find out more of the details but as I understand it, the school gets 100% of the funds given. The state government doesn't take its cut (20%?) through compression – which is a huge positive. Those who feel called to give, can do so and those who don't feel called, aren't forced to give through a tax increase.

How much would we each need to give to fill our budget gap? There are roughly 1000 kiddos in the school, if each student could come up with $50 dollars a month that would generate $600,000.  This would be enough to cover our budget shortfall.  All of it stays in Corbett, those who directly benefit the most will be the ones paying. I can remember a community member and teacher stating at a school board meeting a few decades ago “come on people, I spend more than that on pantyhose every month.” (smile) Even half of this a month, $25 dollars would make a huge difference. It is voluntary but all of our children would directly benefit next year.

I guess my point is this; a quality well rounded education for our children will not be free in these hard economic times. We will have to personally sacrifice either 1) financially or 2) with our current community school by cutting many basic programs, adding hundreds of students to the charter school, or both. 

I hope we can generate enough funds to keep music, band and sports while not making the charter school any larger. If we don’t generate enough funds then I would rather cut programming before adding more students to the charter. Cutting programming is a temporary solution for a temporary problem. Adding 100’s more students to the charter is a permanent solution (that I personally think would be negative for our community/school). This is something we all need to think about because whatever happens in the next few months at the school board meeting(s) could forever define our school and its future.

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breezy
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« Reply #26 on: January 15, 2011, 02:38:05 PM »

To "JustMe":  I appreciate that you and a few other posters qualify your comments by stating that you currently don’t have children in the school.  This helps the rest of us understand more clearly the basis for comments.  All of your comments are worthy of discussion, but I am only an expert at one topic:  Blending 3 grade levels at primary.
    

I think my main concern is not how many complaints a teacher is receiving for teaching 3 grade blends. My main concern is WHY did CSD change their methods of teaching and arranging classrooms to pattern after the Charter School? What CSD was previously doing had proven results so why change it?

An analogy of my point:
Let’s say, in an effort to explain my concern, that CSD was a winery. Corbett Winery.  Through much hard work and experimentation they made a wine that topped the charts and rated better than any other winery in the area. Corbett did this consistently for many years and Corbett wine is now famous and has kept its solid status and built a good reputation, making exceptional wine from its proven methods. Yet, the economy went south and Corbett needed to raise funds so they can continue to make great wine.  Corbett decides to rent some land to a small experimental charter winery. The charter’s methods of making wine are unlike anything that has been seen before. Experimental. The charter gets many investors for their wine simply because of association with Corbett and Corbett’s good reputation and for the locale to Corbett’s winery but NOT for the charters proven results. (The charter doesn’t have any proven results) The “expert” charter wine maker is certain that his method of making wine is better than CSD’s methods of making wine.  Would any good businessman think Corbett should INSTANTLY veer from what it has been doing and adopt the Charter’s experimental method of making wine?  NO! Of course not, yet, this is exactly what CSD did 18 months ago.

For some strange reason that I have yet seen a solid answer to, Corbett ditched what was working for us K-8 to pattern after the charter’s experimental methods.  Wouldn’t it make better business sense for Corbett to continue the methods that were getting proven results and then wait and see how the charter wine turns out and then wait some more to see if the charter methods could consistently get better ratings then Corbett?

Since this change occurred 18 months ago, Corbett’s scores have dropped. I could conclude the logical reasons for CSD to adopt the charter methods have nothing to do with what is best for our Children’s education. Corbett SD changed what was proven to work for our children. WHY?

Let the charter school and its method stand on its own. Let it be its own proof. It has already piggy backed on the “Corbett” name to gain customers. Shall we give our children up to the experiment as well?
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kw
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« Reply #27 on: January 15, 2011, 06:26:40 PM »

Actually, the decision to blend 3 grade levels at the grade school pre-dates the opening of the charter school.
Kristin
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breezy
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« Reply #28 on: January 15, 2011, 09:28:12 PM »

Actually, the decision to blend 3 grade levels at the grade school pre-dates the opening of the charter school.
Kristin
This isn't surprising when you consider that Mr. Dunton and Mr.Trani have been working on turning our district into a charter school for more than 6 years now. (See link of Outlook article from a previous post) I would hope the behavior and actions from our administrators who our being paid by us, to work for our District School’s best interest, would have let the residence of this district know of their plans WAY before they happened. I am losing faith and trust in our District leaders.

The simple fact remains, the Corbett School District success wasn't built on 3 or more grade blends. It was built on straight grades and 2 grade blends. It should go back to what worked for us and let the charter school do its own thing.
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thomas.moll
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« Reply #29 on: January 16, 2011, 12:53:42 AM »

Speaking strictly from a teaching philosophy standpoint:

What is the big difference between blending two grades and blending three grades that everyone has a problem with?

If it is okay for kindergarteners to interact with first graders and for first graders to interact with second graders, why is it not okay for kindergarteners to interact with second graders? 

The philosophy behind the two grade blend is the same philosophy behind the three grade blend.  The idea here is that it is only in school that children are unnaturally separated according to the year in which they were born.  In every other facet of life children of all ages interact (and yes, learn) with children of all other ages. 

It is not my intention to get into a long, drawn out argument over the benefits of multi-age education with this posting.  I am almost positive that this post will cause no one to think in a different way than they thought before.  And I have heard the arguments about bullying and differentiation and whatnot.  But take it from someone who has taught in classrooms of all configurations: the multi-age classrooms that I have taught in have invariably been the easiest and the most fun.  The more varied the age spectrum, the more fun I have had.

Think about it this way: a kindergartener born in late September is only 1 month younger than a first grader born in late August.  And the same kindergartener is only one year younger than a second grader born in late August.  And the same kindergartener is one year older than another kindergartener born the following August.  So why make such a big deal about separating these children?
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breezy
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« Reply #30 on: February 04, 2011, 01:50:05 PM »




Think about it this way: a kindergartner born in late September is only 1 month younger than a first grader born in late August.  And the same kindergartner is only one year younger than a second grader born in late August.  And the same kindergartner is one year older than another kindergartner born the following August.  So why make such a big deal about separating these children?


You will also find your August K’s with your September 2nd graders – so in essence you ARE getting a 4 grade blend in a k-2 (minus a few weeks of age) or a 3 grade blend in a K-1 minus a few weeks of age.

I can think of many scenarios where the children are separated by age and there is a good reason for it. Sports, church, dance class, art class, karate class, swimming lessons, Sunday school, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts. In fact, most activities that I pay for my children to participate in, which requires teaching or coaching the children are either grouped by age or by ability. It is much easier to focus on a skill that needs to be taught when there are just 5 skills to teach everyone (such as the case with a U5 year old soccer team) then 30 skills which need to be honed (a U9 year old soccer team) I guess I could choose to put  U5 – U9 year olds on the same soccer team and hope the older kids will teach the younger kids what they know, and I am sure there would be some fun and learning involved , but as a coach I know I am much more effective if I have a team consisting of children closer to the same ability so I can focus more on the skills that need to be taught.

You are right, groups of multi – age children are playing together and learning from each other all the time but in circumstances where focused teaching is involved (reading, writing, math), what is most effective method?

Again, my question hasn't been answered. Why would a school with a proven winning record using proven methods change to something experimental?

I could speculate that Mr. D didn't want his charter parents to know that what he is pitching to them isn't what has been done in the past. I could see where he would profit from that misconception. It would be much easier to make our district an “all charter” or “mostly charter” school if we were all doing large grade blends. I can see why our administration who is profiting from such a model would push for this, but why is our community letting this happen? This is still a community school - at least for now. The purpose of a community school is to meet the needs of the children within the community. I know of many distrct parents who are sending there children to other schools as a direct result of their children's needs not being met in a large grade blended class. This is not acceptable. As a community we need to start standing up for our children and our neighbors children.
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thomas.moll
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« Reply #31 on: February 06, 2011, 08:20:22 AM »

I concede your point about all the other areas of a child's life in which they are separated by the year in which they were born.  It doesn't change my essential point: that it is not a natural way to teach or to learn.  Sports, church, dance class, art class and the other arenas that separate children by the year in which they were born generally do so because that is the status quo.  And it is the status quo because schools choose to make it so.  Notice that I never say that children are separated by their age.  They're not.  They are separated by the year in which they are born.  All classrooms, including single year classrooms, are multi-age and all classrooms have a huge range of ability, regardless of how many grades are blended or not blended.  And whatever the age spread of a multi-age classroom, a single year classroom will separate two students who are literally minutes apart in time of birth. 

A few final points:

Corbett Charter School is based on the theories of Kieran Egan.  They call those theories Imaginative Education.  Here's a link to their website.

http://www.ierg.net/about/briefguide.html

Imaginative Education is not explicitly about multi-age classrooms.  It is about a way of presenting and absorbing knowledge that corresponds to how the Imaginative Education Research Group believes that people learn.  Corbett Charter School uses a multi-age approach to teaching, but that is not the purpose of their charter.  Their charter was created to prove that IE works.  And that is a whole different debate. 

I know that some parents have become very frustrated with what they see as the slow pace of their child's learning.  Everyone wants what is best for their child.  The important thing to keep in mind here is that as a parent, it can sometimes be difficult to ascertain what exactly that is.  People are too emotionally connected to their own child.  They are too concerned.  This can blind them to things.  As an example: I know a woman who has a six year old in a Phoenix area school.  This child is getting Cs in the subjects that he is studying in the first grade.  His mother is very concerned.  Not that he is being graded at all at such a young and impressionable age, but that he is not progressing as quickly as she would expect.  So she is deciding how best to apply the pressure to him to get those grades up.  She wants him to learn faster, and he will.  What he will learn, however, is not the subject matter he is studying.  Instead, he will learn that learning is painful and school is a place that he goes to feel bad.  At Corbett Elementary, the teachers would know that there is nothing wrong with this child and they would provide him the support he needs to progress at his pace.  He would see children that are younger than him moving faster and he would see children that are older than him moving more slowly.  If he was at Corbett from kindergarten, none of this would seem weird or strange to him.  It would seem natural.  Because it is.

Finally, on this forum parents and members of the community have been invited to come in and see how multi-age education works at Corbett Elementary.  I strongly encourage anyone who has questions to call the school and set up a time that they can observe a classroom.  I am hoping that you will like what you see.

 
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Mindy Schmidt
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« Reply #32 on: February 06, 2011, 03:45:39 PM »

Hi Thomas,

I completely agree that a Charter School can use any experimental educational model it wants to, as long as the district school board approves its contract, and parents make the choice to enroll their students there. If you are a Charter parent Thomas, I am glad you have found what works for you and your child/ren. If you are not a parent in Corbett then I invite you to share your background with IERG for us.

I disagree with the “cross pollination” of the Charter’s experimental IERG model into our district school without at least the admission that this is what we are doing. While some people, like yourself, would be glad to see the entire school district align itself to the Imaginative Educational theories of IERG, many do not. Not because there is no value in some of these theories, but because it is also not true that there is nothing of value in the way Corbett was educating before.

The two-grade blend in the grade school is actually the “model” that Corbett’s positive reputation was based on. That and being a small school. The positive experiences from the two year blend is a large part of how the Charter actually was able to open its doors in the first place. ( Enter IERG and large blends.)

As a parent of two grade school students in Corbett school district ( K and 5th ) and as a parent that has been involved in the classroom since 2005, I can say that the 2 grade blend worked better for many of our kids than what is happening now with the IE model. It also worked better for many of our very best teachers.

To be accurate, teachers in these larger ‘blended classes’ today are breaking their kids into smaller groups to work anyway. ( So most kindergartners are in the same group working on the same things as other Kinders etc. ) It just becomes a more complex juggling routine to teach these groups well and there is a lot less opportunity for any one-on-one with teachers for all our students, let alone time to breathe for the teachers. Some teachers are amazing and do the work they love with a joyful spirit regardless of how much they are being tested with at this time but some seem pretty grumpy.

While I see some older students in these classes having no problem filling in mentor roles I also see many older kids that don’t want this extra responsibility, are not up to task or that set the wrong example for the younger kids. Also, many kids who are very good students are easily allowed to be, quite honestly, very lazy in school. There is no real incentive to motivate them and no extra time from their teacher to push them forward to their individual potential.

Working to your own ability sounds great. But just because my boys are capable of picking up their PJ's off the floor in the morning or making their beds, does not mean that I can just allow them to do it ‘when they are ready’. They need guidance. ( Self-directed and self-paced is great for some self-motivated students – but it is simply an invitation to mediocrity for children without that motivation or without parents at home to make sure they are keeping up --- or a teacher with the time to help really guide and encourage them in the classroom. )

There are no benchmarks for kids in our grade school right now, so you can’t ask for or see what your child might know or learn ( or not know and learn ) by any grade level. This is the same in the IE Charter model, yes? I can say for certain that there are a lot of kids that started school with my oldest son who are no longer in CSD, but still live in Corbett. They have CHOSEN to remove their kids from Corbett for many of the reasons I mention. Ultimately, by the time students are in the 4th grade at CSD, it is entirely possible ( and accepted, apparently ) that some kids won’t be reading well or even at all under the imaginative learning model. Some teachers tell kids not to worry, because in a multi-age classroom it won’t ‘show’ if they are behind and that grades don’t matter. But it does matter and it will show. Talk to any child or family that has moved or chosen to transfer to another school, from Corbett Grade, as to what the actual gap in learning is when they enter the new school and many recounts are not flattering. ( Again, this can depend greatly on the individual teacher(s) the student had. )

Also, kids who actually could use additional help or services often don’t get it in the IE model because there is the installed theory that these kids are just ‘not ready’ to get something. But many times these kids become behavior challenges in class because they do actually have learning disabilities. That is why there was recently so much discussion about SPED identification in Corbett. ( The fact that Corbett identified so few kids compared to all other districts. ) The numbers identified have jumped up in the past few months... so obviously there were kids being missed that are now going to receive the help they need.
 
Ultimately, this is a conversation that needs to happen with more than the few parents that read this forum. If you are a district parent and believe strongly in the IERG model Thomas, then enroll your child in the Charter school, by all means. If you don't live here, or have kids in school here, then you are just another extension of the IERG theory. We are living it out and honestly it is not working for a lot of kids.

The reality is most district parents have never even heard of IERG or Kieran Egan or Imaginative Education, still, to this day. Is this oversight? Regardless, I believe it is a huge mistake to tell parents they care too much or they aren’t expert enough or that they aren’t progressive enough to understand these things when they question what and why the IERG model is coming online in our district classrooms in both structure ( like larger blends ) and theory ( like ‘they will just learn it when they are ready’ ). We should have all the facts and a candid discussion.

As a public school district parent I want to see an independent evaluation of what parents really think and how ALL THE KIDS are really doing with this model before it is implemented. For example, how many kids are not enrolling at CSD and the Charter this year that did in the past? How many students that had the choice, moved from the Charter model to the more traditional district classrooms over the past two years? What were their reasons? How many have removed their children because of problems with the IE model or the Principal of the Charter School? How many in district students are not in CSD and why?

Why do we have 40 open seats for this Charter school and advertisements in all the area newspapers inviting more kids to apply to the Charter, when they have only ever bragged of the existing waiting list? What happened to those 40 kids, and why?

I have never once been asked by any form of survey from CSD what we think, or what our experiences have been or what we might want for the future of our public school. Why is that?

Charter schools can choose to use experimental models but our public school should not.
As district parents we should all demand that our school board align itself with making the best decisions for our community school and students and not continue to make decisions that are only in the best interest or desires of individuals or organizations or experimental educational models.



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« Reply #33 on: February 06, 2011, 10:21:45 PM »

"While I see some older students in these classes having no problem filling in mentor roles I also see many older kids that don’t want this extra responsibility, are not up to task or that set the wrong example for the younger kids. Also, many kids who are very good students are easily allowed to be, quite honestly, very lazy in school. There is no real incentive to motivate them and no extra time from their teacher to push them forward to their individual potential" Mindy Schmidt


YES!!!  I DID NOT SEND MY KIDS TO SCHOOL TO BECOME A TEACHERS AIDE WHEN THEY BARELY KNOW HOW TO READ AND WRITE...I SENT THEM TO SCHOOL TO LEARN AND GET AN EDUCATION!!!
One of my children in particular, at this point, wasn't ready to be responsible enough to sit quietly and do their OWN work without being distracted by a fuzzball flying through the air, let alone being made responsible to help another child who can't even read yet!!!  I think it's unfair to push that on ALL children to be "mentors" when only a few may exceed this expectation!!  They are not college students  people....they are GRADE SCHOOL STUDENTS and they are still learning how to even sit still and behave in a classroom setting!!! I do hope that my children would remain courteous and helpful to other children, but not so much to the point they are being asked by younger children how to spell simple words when they can't even spell  correctly themselves!!
Jimmy
"Sally, how do you spell cat?"
Sally
"K-A-T"
Peter
"How do to spell cat?"
Jimmy
"K-A-T"
And so on and so forth....but eventually they will get it....awesome....

I'm really sick of the term "Eventually they will get it"  Well, what happens if they DON'T?? Do they even care about those who don't, or do you hope that "those" people get frustrated enough to leave so that you only have the "cream of the crop" left over??? 
THAT IS SELF SERVING NOT COMMUNITY SERVING!!!
 
Like I have said several times already, I did not send my kids to Corbett Charter for this IE method. I'm was in Charter because was a means to an end to STAY in Corbett...PERIOD!!  Once I got in there...I was like....Ummm...WTH is this??? Glad to be in Corbett and out of Charter!!
If some people are "ok" with it then fine...but there ARE a number of people not saying anything who are NOT happy...even in the "There's no problem here" classrooms.  I wish they would speak up!!

No cross~pollination either! Keep the two schools separate regarding education!!
That is how it's supposed to be anyway... legally? right?
 
Oh and by the way...NO MORE "gifts" from the Charter please...
Let's just take care of business and accepting $$ from Charter!!
Our dist. is crumbling while Charter is "flourishing"Huh And able to be giving US "gifts"Huh?  HOW IS THAT?Huh   

WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE???

Things that make you go....
 "hmmmmm"

 
 
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« Reply #34 on: February 07, 2011, 09:48:48 AM »

Oh and by the way...NO MORE "gifts" from the Charter please...
Let's just take care of business and accepting $$ from Charter!!

That was supposed to say
"Let's start taking care of business and STOP accepting "$$" from the Charter"
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« Reply #35 on: March 10, 2011, 07:17:04 AM »

I would like to clarify a few issues raised in this thread about the Charter School.

I chose to use my real name on this forum because I am not afraid to face people who disagree with me.  I knew going into it that this could lead to personal attacks against me and that was a chance I was willing to take.  It's part of the way I was raised, by two public school teachers, no less.

As I recently learned, I am a substitute teacher who has been married less than two years to a young teacher in the Corbett School District.  We do not live in Corbett; this is primarily because we cannot afford to.  I earnestly believe that teachers should be members of the community they serve.  Yet with the price of buying in Corbett being so high, coupled with the fact that in order for me to find adequate work in the Portland area I must live close to the schools I can sub at regularly, we have little choice but to live in Corbett.  Therefore, my wife must get up every morning and drive twenty miles to work and twenty miles home.  It adds over an hour to her already long day (she carpools; this takes a little longer). 

That about sums up our personal situation, which is of course entirely irrelevant to the discussion at hand and was addressed only because I do not believe that I should allow myself to be personally attacked when I am only on this forum because I care about what happens to the kids my wife teaches and I sometimes teach.

As for the things that people think I believe about Corbett Charter School, I would ask you to consider only the statements I have made to be opinions that I hold.  So far, my only statements have been in regard to the multi-age approach and how that approach is not technically linked to Imaginative Education.  This is why both the charter and the district use it.  Both schools came to the same philosophical decision on their own.  Granted, they probably discussed it together.  But when the district uses the three grade blend they are not copying the charter model.  Regardless, that is the only opinion that I have explained in regards to the charter school.  I have expressed it because I believe in it.  Now that everyone knows so much about me, you can probably guess that I see a lot of different schools and different classrooms.  Artificially separating kids because of the year in which they were born is an inferior approach to education.  Kids in multi-age classrooms look out for each other regardless of age.  And yes, bullying exists, as it exists in any school. 

Recently, I was looking at a website called GreatSchools.  You can access the site at http://www.greatschools.org/oregon/
They use test scores to assess school quality.

Corbett is rated as a 6 out of 10 school.  That's pretty low, right?  But it is only part of the story.  Because if you look more closely, you see that 6 is an average.  In 3rd grade Corbett is rated 3.  In 4th grade they are rated 5.  By 8th grade they are rated 8 and by 10th grade they are rated 10.

What does this mean?  Well, partly it means it is silly to rate schools solely by their standardized test scores.  But it also means that in Corbett, the teachers know what they are doing.  It means that if your child is currently behind where you believe they should be and your teacher tells you not to worry, maybe you should listen to them.  It means that undo pressure in the early years of a child's life can be harmful and that letting a child grow at her own pace can and usually is the best thing for them.  If you wanted your child to be taller you wouldn't put them in a rack and stretch them.  Why would anyone think that such an approach makes sense for a child's brain? 

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Barbara
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« Reply #36 on: April 16, 2011, 04:33:58 PM »

Recently, I was looking at a website called GreatSchools.  You can access the site at http://www.greatschools.org/oregon/  They use test scores to assess school quality. Corbett is rated as a 6 out of 10 school.  That's pretty low, right?  But it is only part of the story.  Because if you look more closely, you see that 6 is an average.  In 3rd grade Corbett is rated 3.  In 4th grade they are rated 5.  By 8th grade they are rated 8 and by 10th grade they are rated 10.
How many of the kids in 8th grade and up, were educated in Corbett? How many kids coming into the Charter School came from places like Open Door, Phonics Phactory, other private schools, or were home schooled? Do you think that might have something to do with how well those test scores improve? The Charter is bringing in MOSTLY bright with VERY INVOLVED parents into the CSD. Of course numbers will go up. But CSD is taking credit for scores and national ranking that they orchestrated. It is not Corbett's multi-age and self-paced program in the grade school that has produced these kids that are doing well TM. It is the other TRADITIONAL schooling methods they got before coming to Corbett. (The large blends you advocated for didn't even start until this year district side.)  CSD is creating itself as the elite finishing school on the hill. Of course if you aren't an "A" student - you will be having a rough time in AP classes kids - but it isn't about how well you do - it is just being around the harder curriculum. Like osmosis? And of course the number of tests taken ( divided by the graduates ) equals top national ranking!

It means that undo pressure in the early years of a child's life can be harmful and that letting a child grow at her own pace can and usually is the best thing for them.  If you wanted your child to be taller you wouldn't put them in a rack and stretch them.  Why would anyone think that such an approach makes sense for a child's brain? 
You compare parents that want taller children with parents that are concerned when they are told not to worry on whether they know how to spell or read by the 4th grade? What? You are welcome to do what you want as a parent. Enroll your own children in this type of Charter model, it is your choice. In the real world, you won't find too many parents willing to gamble with their kids' education when they are obviously not learning or passing assessments. For that matter, how long should parents wait until kids are interested in doing their chores or using manners.... Should we just not expect anything - because it might be harmful from all that pressure?
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« Reply #37 on: January 23, 2012, 08:39:25 AM »


If you are interested in more information....
Check out the Corbett Post web site: http://corbettpost.com/csd/charter-school/
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