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Principal Tatiana Lim from Aspire Richmond California College Preparatory Academy at the school board meeting on October 16th, 2019. Photo by Davíd Rodríguez.

Cal Prep members advocate for charter renewal

on October 18, 2019

Faculty, students, and parents from Aspire Richmond California College Preparatory Academy (Cal Prep) urged the Board of Education to renew the school’s charter at this week’s meeting of the West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) at Lovonya DeJean Middle School.

Cal Prep is a public charter and early college secondary school in Richmond. During a public forum at Wednesday night’s meeting, Cal Prep supporters testified that the charter renewal would allow Cal Prep to continue with its mission statement of preparing their students for college.

As reported, WCCUSD previously voted to pass a board resolution that called for the board to encourage the state to enact a moratorium on new charter schools. At the meeting, board member Mister Phillips expressed general concerns about how charter schools may undermine district schools.

“There is a myth that charter schools … are much better, are greater than district schools,” Phillips said. “You don’t have to be afraid to send your children to district schools,” he added. Concerns have focused on a need for greater oversight, and fear that charter schools could drain students and funding that flows from average daily attendance levels from district schools.

Emphasizing that his concerns were not directed towards Cal Prep, Phillips argued that the district need to do a better job explaining the shortcomings of charter schools. “I think there is a fuller story, and unless the district begins to tell that fuller story, our community is going to continue to be misled about the quality of some of our schools,” he said. Cal Prep’s principal could not be reached for follow-up comment by Richmond Confidential Thursday.

Delia Rojas, a parent of a sophomore at Cal Prep, said that her daughter, Natalia Turincio, attended charter schools since kindergarten. Rojas said that the charter renewal is essential because she wants her daughter to graduate from a charter school. 

“I would like [the board] to grant the charter renewal so she could graduate in the same system that she started in,” Rojas said.

Amid discussion of Cal Prep’s math performance levels compared to district schools, Natalia Turincio stated that Cal Prep is preparing her for college and does not regret attending charter schools.

 “Maybe we are the same [performance level],” said Turincio, “but you can’t really compare how students feel about being in a charter school.”

The charter renewal vote is expected at the next board meeting.

2 Comments

  1. ritchie on October 20, 2019 at 7:28 am

    It is painful for me to see that yet another group of parents being snowed by the charter school association. I know tens of them from having taught in the district for 32 years . Aspire schools with the huge advantage of being able to cherry pick students can only perform on math and language tests on the same level as district schools goes to show the obvious: that teachers with less education, less experience and being less paid get a lower outcome. Charter schools are above all businesses whether for profit or non profit. The owners are financiers with little if any concern for our community

  2. Greg on November 7, 2019 at 3:14 pm

    Corrections to the preceding comment from ritchie:
    * I and others are not “snowed” by “the charter school association,” whatever organization you’re referring to. We’ve made a choice for Aspire based on our own needs and desires, with no such external “snowing.”
    * Aspire does *not* cherry-pick students. Students are drawn from a lottery, even if one refuses to believe this truth. Cal Prep happens to have a higher % of Latinx students than the district as a whole.
    * Non-profits such as Aspire operate very differently from businesses. Like school districts, their metrics for success are based on student outcomes, such as test scores and college readiness, and not based on profit margins for shareholders.
    * Aspire schools have great concern and care for this community, in particular in working to prepare *all* its graduates (from all backgrounds) for college and beyond. If regular schools in this district had the same focus and track record, there wouldn’t be as many families choosing Aspire.

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