Almost daily, stories emerge related to a war that is raging around school choice. The hit pieces underwritten by labor unions protecting the status quo are polarized by ideology held by adults rather than focused on results for students. Just imagine how much better off our kids would be if school district leadership and their unions stopped waging war against parents and their right to school choice and focused those energies into positive action and collaboration.
Think these battles are not occurring in our local communities? Think again. Among others, there is the threat of ending California’s District of Choice (DOC). Walnut Valley USD has 3,600 students who will lose access to their school of choice at the end of this year if DOC is not renewed by the legislature.
Meanwhile in Chino Valley, the local school district has a conflicted idea that closing the #1 performing public school in the county (according to 2016 statewide testing results) will somehow strengthen academic outcomes for students. Huh? Oxford Preparatory Academy (OPA) is also the ONLY charter school in Chino Valley. It also happens to be WASC accredited, has a 10/10 similar schools ranking, is a CA Distinguished School and currently has a 900 student wait list. By all measures, it is NOT a failing school. It is a program and a community worth fighting for.
OPA has been able to provide a high quality education to its 1,200 students DESPITE receiving less funding than traditional public schools. According to California’s Legislative Analyst’s Office and Rand Research, charter schools receive 7-9% less funds than traditional school districts! DESPITE receiving less per pupil funding than district counterparts, this charter school has operated in a fiscally sound manner for six years and has been solvent month over month, as evidenced in each interim report submitted to CVUSD. DESPITE the additional costs of lawyers’ fees in pursuing renewal appeals to the county and state in its fight for survival, solvency has been maintained. Just imagine if only all this money and time had been directed toward the students! Even better, rather than investing a small war chest into shutting down OPA, those resources could do so much good if only the district was focused on holding their own schools to the same standards.
The editorial board of the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin got it right when it stated, “If increasing students’ academic achievement is not so important a factor that it blows all the lesser factors out of the water, then all our ideas about education are wrong. You have to get the finances right, sure; but that’s a lot easier to do than getting instruction right.”
“Oxford Preparatory Academy is worth saving.”
Natalie Bunn, Oxford Preparatory Academy