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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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The Fairy Tale Continues: The Latest on an Innovative School

Dr. Katie Klinger

STEM & Digital Equity Grantwriter & Education Technology Integration Expert

This is an update on the new charter school in north Sacramento we introduced in my first Edutopia.org blog post, "A Fairy Tale in the Making: One Woman's Quest to Connect Children of the World."

The school visionaries have hired a bilingual (Spanish and English) principal and have met with eighty parents to launch a strong, collaborative community base for this immersion academy. During this brainstorming session, Linda Ventriglia, the designer of the charter, worked with the participants to develop a cluster mind map of needs and possible solutions unique to their community.

In Ventriglia's words, "We have started with a blank sheet of paper and have tried to envision what a school for the 21st century would look like. We have asked parents the question 'What do you want for your child's future?' Parents are expressing the need for education, too. They want to learn so they can help their children. Parents also expressed the need for a healthy school-lunch program that would give their children choices for a healthy lifestyle. The consensus is that schools today are indoctrinating students, not educating them."

Additionally, the fascinating, yet not surprising, response from the parents in the Latino Leadership group for this growing community is their concern over student commitment to learning, because some students are dropping out of school as early as fourth grade.

Integral to the design of this globally connected charter, the vision for this school in the 21st century will include a computer-based network to facilitate collaborative learning in conversational Mandarin at home between parents and their children. Educational partners in Shanghai and Beijing are already active contributors in the planning process of connecting their children to ours in the classroom through weekly teleconferencing.

One of the most significant challenges is identifying a permanent school site for the immersion academy that will reflect the innovativeness of its original design. The site written into the Mandarin-immersion federal grant already hosts another charter school with traditional classroom setups. Parents in this charter school want the physical layout of the classrooms to broadcast that their children are absorbed in a 21st-century curriculum. The confining space of traditional classrooms in portable trailers is not optimal for inspiring the children to engage in new global learning patterns.

As readers of the first blog may remember, school board approval was an integral concern for the visionaries for many months. However, the adversarial interactions there were emotionally draining for individuals involved in both sides of the conflict. Now, school board members hold the pressing position of determining the level and manner of support for this innovative global charter school. Stay tuned -- and share your reactions to this update.

Dr. Katie Klinger

STEM & Digital Equity Grantwriter & Education Technology Integration Expert

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Junker Jörg's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

There seem to be two sides to every update.

In the second paragraph you refer to "The school visionaries" - if the proponents of the charter school are the "visionaries", what are the current district teachers, parents, staff and students? Non-visionaries, moss-backs, ultra-conservatives, stuck in their ways, losers? The message is, "If you are not one of us, you lack vision." For the record, there are plenty of innovative, visionary teachers in the North Sacramento School District.

You indicate you "have hired a bilingual (Spanish and English) principal"... However, Dr. Ventriglia reported to the Sacramento Bee last week on July 23rd that a principal had not been hired. So, how many administrators, (in addition to Dr. Ventriglia and the headmaster who are identified in the budget), will the school of 80-120 students have?

There was a meeting with "eighty parents to launch a strong, collaborative community base"--which communities exactly? How many parents of current North Sacramento students were in attendance?

"Parents also expressed the need for a healthy school-lunch program that would give their children choices for a healthy lifestyle." How many of the parents (or the other so-called visionaries) have eaten in or even ever visited cafeterias in the District--the implication again is "District = Bad, Charter Visionary = Good"

"The consensus is that schools today are indoctrinating students, not educating them." Any facts to back up this assertion? Could not the same thing be said of this "update" to the situation?

"Integral to the design of this globally connected charter, the vision for this school in the twenty-first century will include a computer-based network to facilitate collaborative learning in conversational Mandarin at home between parents and their children." How many of the district's Spanish speaking parents, whose children attend this charter, will be able to hold conversations in Mandarin with their children? Will they then only get two of the three languages?

"Parents in this charter school want the physical layout of the classrooms to broadcast that their children are absorbed in a twenty-first-century curriculum. The confining space of traditional classrooms in portable trailers is not optimal for inspiring the children to engage in new global learning patterns." So the visionaries don't have a problem that many of the district's 5000 children are in portable classrooms? Perhaps in their view children of the non-visionaries don't 'deserve' a physical layout that bespeaks a 21st century curriculum. I thought this was about the children, ALL of them.

"As readers of the first blog may remember, school board approval was an integral concern for the visionaries for many months. And it seems that determining how this was going to succeed was an integral concern for some of the members of the board..." Funny, they just didn't see how 2 + 2 made 5 did they? Just plant those magic beans and the beanstalk will grow...

"However, the adversarial interactions there were emotionally draining for individuals involved in both sides of the conflict." "Conflict"? Here is the good and evil theme again. Questioning the viability of the charter's business plan is anathema.

"Now, school board members hold the pressing position of determining the level and manner of support for this innovative global charter school." No, the Board has spoken. There will be a charter it will be at the identified site and it will go forward if the visionaries really want it to. If only we could stop the rancor...

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