Parents ask for additional East Palo Alto charter school

February 28, 2011 7:11:59 PM PST
In about three weeks, the Ravenswood City School District will decide whether East Palo Alto is ready for another charter school. Parents say they want more choices and they have one particular charter school in mind.

Rocketship "Los Suenos" Academy in San Jose opened last September. There are now three Rocketship charter schools in San Jose and two more will open next year. Even though they all cater to predominately low-income students, they are expected to surpass the 800-point achievement mark set by the state.

"We're 925 API for our first school, 886 for our second and our third school that just opened this fall is on track to get similar results," said Evan Kohn from Rocketship Education.

Parents in nearby East Palo Alto are impressed. So much so, that some parents decided to persuade Rocketship to open a charter school in East Palo Alto, where according to the school district, less than one-third of students here read at grade level and 42 percent are proficient in math.

Students at Rocketship spend three-fourths of the day in regular classrooms and the rest of time in a learning lab where they are on computers getting what, they say, is individualized instruction. They have a longer school day and offer tutoring for those who need it.

Some East Palo Alto parents say that's not the only thing Rocketship offers.

"The enthusiasm coming from San Jose with caring and dedication to bring East Palo Alto and these children up for education," said parent Seinilupe Matangi-Walters.

But charter schools here haven't always had a good track record. This year one left East Palo Alto and a second closed because of low test scores. The superintendent told ABC 7 News, she is reviewing Rocketship's proposal and will make a recommendation to the board.

"Rocketship is unique. We are a network of schools, we have a proven track record. Our mission is to close the achievement gap," said Kohn.

"What parent wouldn't want the best for their kids? I think we all look forward to trying to raise our kids good and give them the best education they want," said parent Griselda Barragal.

The board is expected to vote in March.

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