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By Lakeshia Phillips-Marshall
  
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Posted on Tuesday, March 22, 2011  
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Click image to enlarge

Rocketship supporters at Feb. 24 hearing
 Photo courtesy of Rocketship Education
This photo shows some of the Rocketship charter school's supporters who attended the Ravenswood City School District's Board of Trustees meeting on February 24, 2011 in East Palo Alto.

 When you walk into the Ravenswood School District’s main building, there is a poster in the hallway highlighting the district’s API score of 688. While I am glad to see that our schools are beginning to inch closer to the state’s measure of above 800 for a successful school, we cannot sit back and believe this is enough progress for East Palo Alto children.  

I want more for my child.  I want my child to have an excellent education and the chance to go to college. For this reason, I attended a Ravenswood school board meeting last month, along with over a hundred other parents and community leaders, to support the opening of a Rocketship Education elementary charter school in East Palo Alto.

I want more for my child.  I want my child to have an excellent education and the chance to go to college. For this reason, I attended a Ravenswood school board meeting last month, along with over a hundred other parents and community leaders, to support the opening of a Rocketship Education elementary charter school in East Palo Alto.

Rocketship operates three public K-5 charter schools in San Jose, with two more schools opening in San Jose this coming fall.  API scores for these schools are much higher than 800; in fact their scores are among the highest in the state for schools serving underserved communities.    

I wanted to see for myself how Rocketship is so successful with their students and visited one of their schools in San Jose. This is what I learned:  Rocketship offers a longer school day (8 am – 4 pm), and starting in kindergarten, the focus is to prepare all children for college.  Students learn from talented and enthusiastic teachers, spend a portion of each day on computers in Learning Lab focusing on improving specific skills, and have tutors available to make sure they succeed. I could see my child doing really well in this school.

As an East Palo Alto parent, it’s my right to choose the best possible education for my child, so I urge the Ravenswood Board of Education to approve the opening of a Rocketship elementary charter school. If approved, a Rocketship school could serve approximately 500 East Palo Alto children, each of whom can benefit from this high-quality, tuition-free public school.

This winter, nearly 700 parents, representing over 1,000 students, signed a petition to bring a Rocketship school to East Palo Alto– that is more than five times the signatures needed.   How did Rocketship get so many parents and the community involved?  They took the time to meet with us.  They listened to us.  They asked us questions.  For the first time in my life, I had educators come to meet with me, explain their program, and ask if I would be interested in enrolling my child.

Some people say that charter schools “take away” money from the school district, but that argument doesn’t make sense to me.  Public funding for schools is made available based on the number of students in the school district. Public funds should support excellent public schools; Rocketship is an excellent public school that every child in East Palo Alto deserves to benefit from.  

On March 24, the school board will announce its decision on whether to approve a Rocketship school. I ask all parents and community members who feel our students deserve the best education possible, to call the Ravenswood School Board and say YES to a Rocketship elementary school in our community.  

We must say YES for our children’s sake.

Lakeshia Phillips-Marshall is the parent of a child who attends school in the Ravenswood City School District.

To contact Lakeshia Phillips-Marshall, the author of the above article, email epatoday@epatoday.org.

 

Additional East Palo Alto Today articles and videos related to the
above article:

Video excerpt from the Talking with Henrietta show called Coming Changes in Education. Click here to see the excerpt.

Opinion article in EPA Today on Facebook: Why bring a new elementary school to East Palo Alto by Evan S. Kohn


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