News

Bullis Charter dominated headlines in 2018

Stadium lights, land deals and teacher housing stirred up debate

In what is turning into the new normal, 2018 was a tumultuous year for Mountain View's local schools, with big developments on everything from school boundaries and teacher housing ideas to new schools and new leadership.

A beloved local park could have become workforce housing for teachers and staff; residents living near high schools faced having to contend with bright stadium lights; and half of Mountain View Whisman School District's principals headed for the door, either by choice or by force.

But perhaps the biggest news generator throughout the year was Bullis Charter School, which weighed heavily on plans for a future school that would transform the city's San Antonio neighborhood. And in just four months, officials at the charter school went from revealing its expansion plans to the public for the first time -- creating a second charter school in Mountain View Whisman -- to winning a grudging vote of approval from the district's board of trustees.

That critical board vote came on Dec. 20 -- Bullis Mountain View declined to push the date until after the holiday break -- but nobody in the room seemed particularly happy. The district's leadership thoroughly criticized the charter school organization and cast doubt on its stated goals to serve low-income children, launching what could prove to be a tense relationship.

LASD inches toward the finish line

In what seems to be the most expensive, complicated and prolonged strategy to build a new school in the county's history, the Los Altos School District made significant progress in 2018 on plans to build a campus along the edge of the San Antonio shopping center.

Los Altos School District officials have long acknowledged that enrollment growth in the district is coming from one specific area where the district's sprawling boundaries cross over the Los Altos border into Mountain View's San Antonio neighborhood. The area is rapidly evolving to include dense new residential developments and is expected to bring hundreds of new kids to the district.

The plan looked very different at the start of the year compared to today. District officials were prepared to use eminent domain to force the sale of land occupied by the former Safeway and Old Mill offices across the street from the shopping center, despite warnings from the property owners' legal team. At that time, there was an open question about whether the new school would even serve students in the area, or if the school board was planning to use the site to relocate Bullis Charter School out of Los Altos.

Since then, the district's leadership has sought to resolve both issues. In June, district officials announced they were switching gears and pursuing what has been dubbed "friendly condemnation" of 11.5 acres of land at the corner of Showers Drive and California Street, home to several businesses including the Kohl's department store. And after prolonged pressure, school board members declared it would be home to "an elementary or junior high school open to neighborhood students, or a choice or charter school with a preference for neighborhood students."

The decision was hardly predetermined. School board members were reluctant to say what kind of school would be placed in Mountain View, stressing a need for flexibility, and a majority of task force members convened by the district concluded in August that Bullis Charter School would be the best fit for the new site.

Largely absent from the debate over site usage -- or excluded, depending on who you talk to -- was Bullis Charter School itself. In October, the charter school's board of directors bristled at the idea of jamming a school that's expected to grow to 1,200 students into a fairly small campus in Mountain View, and questioned why the district was planning to buy expensive real estate in the first place when enrollment in the Los Altos district schools is on the decline.

Going into 2019, the expectation is that Los Altos School District will wrap up real estate negotiations and purchase the land for a new school from the property owner, Federal Realty, using money from the November 2014 Measure N bond. The time lapse between passing the bond and using the money now exceeds 1,500 days.

A new charter school

To core members of Bullis Charter School, plans to create a second campus in the mold of Bullis' flagship school in Los Altos have been in the works for several years. The idea was to shift gears, taking a model that works well in an affluent area and expanding it primarily to students who qualify for free and reduced-price lunch.

To everyone else, it was a complete surprise when the news broke in September. The process moved at such breakneck speeds that the charter school won approval to open a campus in Mountain View Whisman before the year even drew to a close. The approval left district officials and some community members feeling steamrolled by the abbreviated public process, drawing ire and frustration that will likely color the relationship between Bullis and the district going forward.

On Aug. 30, word spread that Bullis was hosting an "information session" on plans to open a new school in Mountain View Whisman. Up until that point, the charter school had not formally announced plans to submit the school's founding document -- a charter petition -- to any specific district. The next day, promotional materials for the event posted on the Bullis Mountain View Facebook page had been taken down.

Mountain View Whisman School District's superintendent, Ayinde Rudolph, maintains that he was in the dark just like everyone else, finding out about the proposal in September. He encouraged charter school officials to slow down their plans to open a new charter school serving district students in fall 2019, but was unsuccessful.

School districts have few valid reasons to deny a charter petition under state law, meaning the grievances put forth by Rudolph and others in the community had little bearing over the school board's action last month. In a speech shortly before the vote, Rudolph made clear that his recommendation to approve the charter petition was anything but implicit support for the school, and that the district should hold the charter school's feet to the fire on all of its promises.

The first half of 2019 is sure to be full of difficult decisions and a back-and-forth on where to best house the charter school. Bullis Mountain View has requested classroom space and other facilities somewhere in the neighborhoods around Castro, Theuerkauf or Monta Loma elementary schools. The school district is legally obligated to provide "reasonably equivalent" facilities, language that is hotly debated and the subject of many lawsuits, both past and pending.

Recurring controversies

The Mountain View Whisman School District's leaders frequently found themselves the subject of criticism during hot-button issues in 2018 beginning just days after the start of the year. A district-commissioned report on workforce housing ideas concluded that the best shot for building rental homes for teachers was on "excess" land at Cooper Park.

From the outset, school board members appeared amenable to the idea. After all, it could have for-sale single family homes along the edges of the property to insulate the existing Waverly Park neighborhood, which could be sold as a means for financing three-story townhouses while appeasing the local residents.

But the residents were not appeased, and green signs saying "Save Cooper Park" can still be seen around town. Neighbors in the area sharply disputed that the district's property amounted to vacant, excess land, saying it had been used and enjoyed for decades as a neighborhood park. The other major complaint was about traffic and how a dense housing project could worsen the already congested Grant Road.

After dumping the idea, district administrators began negotiating a potential compromise and, nine months later, finally found it in a massive new residential development along West Middlefield Road. Under the proposal, which Mountain View City Council members backed in late October, the school district would pay $56 million for a long-term lease on 144 units of a 716-unit project already in the pipeline. Of those 144, almost all would be made available to district employees at subsidized rents.

With that deal came an agreement, in writing, that the school district would not use its Cooper Park land for housing, and that it would only be used for some "district purpose."

Another district decision that drew sharp criticism and huge crowds to school board meetings was the 5-0 vote by trustees in March to remove and reassign four principals, effectively booting the top leadership at nearly half of the district's schools. Shortly after, Crittenden Principal Angie Dillman announced her resignation, adding to the administrative churn.

While school board members unanimously stuck by their decision, they declined to give their reasons, citing the confidentiality of personnel matters. But with so little public information available to understand the school board's sudden and unexpected round of firings, a large group of parents rallied in support of some of the principals -- notably Graham Middle School Principal Kim Thompson and Landels Elementary School Principal Steve Chesley -- and demanded to know what criteria was used to say they were performing below expectations.

District officials claim it was based on metrics including personal performance, survey results and student academic performance, as well as a recommendation from a range of top administrators at the district office. But parents contend, based on the information available to the public, that the data and survey results don't show a clear reason for the board's decision.

One contentious issue that did get put to bed in 2018, at least for now, was completely redrawing attendance boundaries for Mountain View Whisman schools, the product of years of planning launched in 2015. School boundaries set to take effect in fall 2019 seek to fix overcrowding at the popular Bubb and Huff elementary schools -- albeit the newly drawn lines now threaten to pack Landels to the brim -- and create a zone for the Whisman neighborhood's new Jose Antonio Vargas Elementary School.

The big question facing board members in 2018 was whether to allow so-called grandfathering, or allowing students to remain in schools where they're currently enrolled despite the changed attendance boundaries. Board members ultimately voted to allow fifth-grade students to finish at their school, while everyone else will be forced to move for the 2019-20 school year.

The new boundaries come with a completely revamped list of enrollment priorities that largely bar the free flow of students from one school to another. Up until now, children could attend school at any campus so long as there was space available, but that policy was largely voted away by trustees in June in favor of a "neighborhood school" model. Big questions still remain as to how many students will end up at each site and whether Bullis Mountain View will throw a wrench in the plans, leading to chronic under-enrollment at some district schools.

The Mountain View-Los Altos High School District also got a share of the controversy this year, despite keeping a low profile and steering clear of divisiveness. The school board considered and ultimately decided to move forward with plans that would bring stadium lights to the fields at both Mountain View and Los Altos high schools.

District officials took up the issue at a school board meeting in August, which drew a sharply divided group of hundreds of parents, students and community members debating over installing the lights. Student athletes argued that sports events and practices were unfairly limited by short daylight hours and forced them to leave class for games too early and too often, while residents of the neighboring single-family homes worried late-night games would bring unwanted light, noise, traffic and general hooliganism to the area.

School board members took up the issue again in November -- also drawing a large crowd -- and unanimously agreed to start planning for field lights as well as create written rules for light and public address system usage that nearby residents would be willing to accept. Trustees went to great lengths to assuage the fears of residents by saying there was a long road ahead before stadium lights are installed, and that school board members could reverse course at any point and scuttle the project entirely.

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Comments

11 people like this
Posted by Parent and former MV resident
a resident of another community
on Jan 5, 2019 at 8:19 am

The embarrassing MVWSD Achievement Gap (nearly complete lack of performance improvement for low income and Hispanic students) is the primary reason we need the choice of another public school in MV. BCS has proven it can substantially close the achievement gap, admittedly with low numbers thus far, however, they’ve earned national respect for their programs which provide each student an individual learning plan. Our wider community has a moral obligation to take what works and offer it where it’s needed most.


22 people like this
Posted by Teacher
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jan 5, 2019 at 11:43 am

I have seen no proof that BCS can close the gap with SED students. Even if they open with 30% SED, which will be a hard target to reach, BMV will be an experiment. They cannot replicate the BCS project based learning program with SED students. It will have to be modified greatly to provide support. Also, they will not have the generous donations from parents that help make their current program so successful.


9 people like this
Posted by Perception and Deflection
a resident of another community
on Jan 6, 2019 at 4:40 pm

The story accurately captures the spin that the local school boards and PTA bigwigs put on the various situations. However, it's still spin. In the San Antonio area,
the spin doesn't admit that the are has had over 600 kids living there for 20 years now. The construction starting the growth spurt was The Crossings, and not anything more recent. The new apartment buildings going in will add some kids, yes, but not so many as the spin suggests. What's overlooked is that there is older more affordable housing stock in the area that is bound to be demolished within the next 10-20 years. The feared and anticipated growth is all project in that timeframe as well, so they may cancel out. But we are left still with the current 800 kids who LASD splits between 5 different schools (counting 100 at the charter and another 100 at Egan Junior High).

So the spin is misleading because the students are there now and have been for sometime, and there is not likely to be too much of an increase.

But the spin meisters don't let this truth seep out. Even the media buys the idea that there is sudden and sharp growth in the near term. Of course, the media also misses the fact the the population everywhere else in LASD is in decline, even counting the total between the 1200 student charter school and the 9 480 student traditional schools. The total in LASD is going DOWN, even with growth around San Antonio.


15 people like this
Posted by Diane L Andrews
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 7, 2019 at 1:58 am

Diane L Andrews is a registered user.

The conservative billionaires who are pushing for the privatization of our public schools are thrilled that their new method of pretending to care about low income kids in order to expand charter schools is working. Bullis is a business that is only looking to expand their market share and have pretty much ignored low income families in Los Altos,but all of a sudden they care about them here in Mountain View? Please.

We need to make sure we keep their in-district enrollment down and educate our community on how divisive and litigious they have been in Los Altos and what their true motivations are for trying to open in Mountain View. We don't need private companies taking over our public schools with limited public oversight and non-publicly elected board members meanwhile using our tax dollars to weaken our public school districts. Do we really want Walmart or Netflix making money off the backs of our kids?


25 people like this
Posted by Foxes in the Hen House
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 7, 2019 at 7:56 am

@Diane L. Andrews

You are correct about conservative billionaires attempting to take over the direction of public schools. But you don't mention what's been happening in Mountain View Whisman under Ayinde Rudolph and the much larger corporate racket and take over of our schools based on a highly sophisticated network. I'm talking about The Broad Center, Mott MacDonald and Cambridge Education. Unfortunately our school board has been far too naive and poorly qualified to see this coming, particularly under Board President Gutierrez in 2017, who is woefully unqualified to lead, and followed by Board President Blakley in 2018.

They both allowed corporate education interests to slip by under your noses into our school communities. It's clear neither
saw it coming. They both fell hook, line and sinker for the Broad Center agenda, a slick and incestuous group of self-proclaimed leaders selling corporate education reform and completely against community partnerships. Think not? Check out the links. They paint a very dark picture. We are all being played.

Web Link

The problem is they target districts like ours and it's a racket designed purely to build on the nation-wide careers of the people who sign up for their residency course. Superintendent Rudolph's coach (and former boss) and current district consultant is one of them. The scam funnels hundreds of thousands of dollars into other corporate groups and think tanks that support them. For this district it began with the "search firm" hired that "found" Rudolph and Rudolph's former superintendent boss, Peter Gorman, who continues three year later on the pay-roll of our district as a consultant. No big surprise there.

Web Link
Web Link

How long do we ignore the Gorman-Rudolph conflict of interest? What about Big Data corporate agendas being pursued in the district using Cambridge Education corporate methods? Can you explain Cambridge Education's link to the Broad political agenda and how Cambridge surveys are being used to convince us all to move in the direction of the corporate puppeteers?

Web Link
Web Link

Don't you both find it odd that Cambridge Education, according to the MV Voice, had "nothing but good things to say about Superintendent Ayinde Rudolph. Wow! Again no big surprise there because it was Rudolph who proposed the audit by Cambridge Education, a company he's worked with previously." That's right. He's worked with them previously. There's another potential conflict of interest. A $275,000 conflict of interest!

Add them up and your hire Rudolph has been costing us a lot of money for the chaos we have received in return. But what's really going on is that we are victims of one-size-fits-all Eli Broad corporate agenda and initiatives.

$250,000-$500,000 TTO disaster
$275,000 Cambridge Education Study
$57,000 1st year Gorman get
$57,000 2nd year Gorman gets
$57,000 3rd year Gorman gets another +/- contract, time to train district office staff and the remaining principals.

Why didn't our board just hire Gorman outright? Why don't you admit our schools are now pawns to the Broad agenda? How difficult would it have been to have hired a consultant not associated with Rudolph? And what about all the other studies and surveys undertaken by Rudolph? Has ANYONE on the board PAST OR PRESENT ever bothered to look out for signs of potential conflict of interest links? From where I'm sitting I would have to agree with the saying now circulating in OUR community and made famous by a public comment at the 15 March Board meeting: "Something doesn't pass the sniff test"

Looking ahead, do either of you honestly believe there is no form of patronage or an organized racket or quid pro quo at work here based on all the links that point back to Gorman and the Eli Broad Center? Rudolph will be gone in a few years, if he lasts that long, because that's what superintendents do. Gorman will reward him with his next job through his network. That's how it works if you look at the article links. That's how this racket works.

Or follow the Ghysels 5-year model (5 at Mountain View, 5 at Menlo Park) or the Gorman model of bouncing around from 5-year superintendency stint to superintendency. Let's not forget that by comparison ours is a small school district. We should be getting boutique services from the superintendent and board similar to what Los Altos has had for years with a home-grown local boy and career educator. Instead we have gotten the never-ending mess we are in.

So yeah, I'll take the Bullis garden variety charter school operating within the framework of California Education Code any day.


18 people like this
Posted by Please cut the demagogeury
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 7, 2019 at 11:01 am

This utterly irrelevant "conservative billionaires" language is cut and pasted right from the teachers'-union PAC phrasing used in recent elections, and it has become a favorite invocation of the poster above, who apparently can't even think of so much as a paraphrase.

Cut it out. Now. This constant background flurry of propaganda posts againt anything "Bullis" from either parents who perceive a vested interest or cynical, non-local teachers'-union representatives who have no legitimate business posting on the Voice website is just discrediting the people who put it here.

I am not a Bullis parent or otherwise connected but as a local resident I'm appalled at this game.


10 people like this
Posted by Diane L Andrews
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 7, 2019 at 11:45 am

Diane L Andrews is a registered user.

That's all you got? Utterly irrelevant? Just google, Conservative Billionaires and Charter Schools. You think Bullis isn't connected to this movement to privatize our public schools? CCSA the machine that is backed by this movement is deeply connected to Bullis and so are the Bullis founders. I'm not a teacher or part of a teacher union, but a parent in this community. I don't want to see our public schools divided, segregated , eroded and privatized. Educating our community on who and what is behind the charter school movement and Bullis is important to me. What are you afraid of? The truth.


11 people like this
Posted by Comment
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jan 7, 2019 at 6:44 pm

Comment is a registered user.

The scariest scenario about BMV that anyone can come up with is that the school will take away district resources: teachers, money, students, actively involved parents. Wait, the scariest thing we can say about BMV is that it might become what we already have: another Stevenson. Gasp (!). If the superintendent and board are so opposed to a school that drains and concentrates human capital and district resources and teaches according to an alternative model, why haven't they cracked down on Stevenson?

BMV comes out morally ahead of Stevenson for me because it put it's enrollment priorities where it's mouth is: at least it's trying on some level to enroll SED and ELL students, whereas Stevenson merely sits on its hands and shrugs helplessly behind gross racial stereotypes that SED and ELL students and families are intractably remedial and uninterested in their children's education.


5 people like this
Posted by A resident
a resident of Gemello
on Jan 8, 2019 at 9:37 am

I don't have kids so as they say "I don't have a dog in this fight". However I would agree with the comments that charter schools are a way from private schools to take public money which I don't think is good.


3 people like this
Posted by ST parent
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jan 8, 2019 at 10:52 am

ST parent is a registered user.

@Comment

You really have NO CLUE how school enrollment works or what the laws are about ELL or Free/Reduced lunch status families either.
And you certainly have NOT been paying attention to what has really been going on with BMV and MVWSD.

You also fail to mention that in 2019-2020 Huff will have LOWER percentage of Free/Reduced lunch kids than Stevenson and Bubb will be almost exactly the same as Stevenson. I wonder why the oversight?
Huff has been nearly the same as Stevenson for many years now.
Why does that not bother anyone?

READ the BMV charter petition that BMV submitted.
BMV made vague claims about their goals, but their petition provided no accountability, no explanations of how they would achieve them and no way to monitor their progress and no way for the MVWSD to do anything about it when BMV fails to meet any of their supposed goals.
The BMV enrollment priorities actually place low-income kids near the BOTTOM of their priority list and with the higher priorities virtually assuring that very few low-income kids will be able to get in after the opening year.

Which is probably the real reason why BMV is rushing and why BMV has totally FAILED to engage with the low-income communities, to make sure that very few low-income families will apply the first year.
BMV is putting on the big rush so that low-income families wont have any time to figure out if BMV might be good for their kids and thus only the most educated and progressive and involved families will apply.

After that first year, the BMV enrollment priorities will make it virtually impossible for low-income families to gain any significant percentage of the enrollment.

"The scariest scenario about BMV that anyone can come up with is that the school will take away district resources: teachers, money, students, actively involved parents."

So, the students BELONG to the district?
What about the vastly larger group of K-8 kids who go to private schools?
Don't they also take away district resources: teachers, money, students, actively involved parents? Or when families leave the district? Or home school? Remember, the money is attached to educating the kids.

The real difference between BMV and any of the current MVWSD schools is that all the other MVWSD schools are 100% owned and 100% operated by the MVWSD in every aspect.

BMV will have virtually no operation oversight or control from the MVWSD. Worse yet, the BMV written charter petition had ZERO accountability to accomplish ANY of their stated goals and provided the MVWSD ZERO methods to track BMV performance and ZERO ability to do anything about BMV except that every 5 years the MVWSD would have to either shut down BMV or to re-authorize it for another 5 years.

"If the superintendent and board are so opposed to a school that drains and concentrates human capital and district resources and teaches according to an alternative model,"

Again, the MVWSD and Rudolph have NEVER said they are against charter schools, they have said that their problem is with the MANNER in which BMV has forced their way in at this specific time at break-neck speed and forcing an opening in the worst possible school year of 2019-2020.
Had BMV been willing to get approved now with a delayed opening of 2020-2021 school year and they spent that extra time engaging with the district and community, they would have NOT found such push back and objections from the public.

BMV did this to themselves and they were advised many times how to do this and be welcomed with open arms, they ignored the advice and ignored public opinion and they instead chose to do this with a sledgehammer at maximum speed in the WORST POSSIBLE school year in MVWSD history!

Remember, UNLIKE Stevenson, BMV operates very much independently from school district oversight and does pretty much anything they want and the MVWSD can do little or nothing about it.

"why haven't they cracked down on Stevenson?"

For what exactly?
Remember, Huff has historically had almost exactly the SAME percentage of low-income families as Stevenson. In the 2019-2020 school year, Huff will be BELOW Stevenson in low-income enrollment percentage AND Bubb is probably going to be pretty much the same as Stevenson in the low-income percentage.

Stevenson PACT did NOT force it's way into the MVWSD and did NOT rush into existence and did NOT use some state sledgehammer. AND Stevenson PACT is 100% owned and operated by the MVWSD which has total control over EVERYTHING that goes on at Stevenson including the MVWSD has total control over which kids get into Stevenson and which kids do NOT.
MVWSD is also the direct employer of EVERYONE who works for Stevenson.

The MVWSD has 100% control over how many kids are enrolled into Stevenson.
The MVWSD decides what the enrollment rules are and runs the lottery to select from those on the waiting list.

PACT was begun 21 years ago (at old Slater) with the full PERMISSION and under the total CONTROL of the MVWSD and has been moved twice to suit the MVWSD operational and budget needs.

"BMV comes out morally ahead of Stevenson for me because it put it's enrollment priorities where it's mouth is: at least it's trying on some level to enroll SED and ELL students,"

NO, the MVWSD approval was contingent on BMV changing their charter petition to alter their official enrollment priorities to meet what BMV had CLAIMED was their goals, but had not put those goals into their official enrollment priorities.

The MVWSD, NOT BMV, insisted on holding BMV to their advertised, but not documented claims about their intentions.

BMV has made many verbal CLAIMS and presentations CLAIMING that they will have 35-40% free and reduced lunch kids enrolled.
HOWEVER, it is ILLEGAL to ASK a family if they meet this status until AFTER they are accepted and enrolled in the school. The MVWSD ALSO cannot know who or how many or which kids are FRLP kids or ELL kids until AFTER they are enrolled in the district and assigned to a school.

"whereas Stevenson merely sits on its hands and shrugs helplessly behind gross racial stereotypes that SED and ELL students and families are intractably remedial and uninterested in their children's education."

Again, Stevenson has ZERO control over enrollment, that is 100% done by the MVWSD. Stevenson has tried for many years to "recruit" low-income families, but NEVER ONCE has the district provided any assistance of any kind.

Stevenson has ZERO authority to go force the Castro or Monta Loma or Theuerkauf schools to open their doors and allow Stevenson to hold a meeting over there to tell the locals about the opportunities available for their kids by applying to Stevenson. Stevenson cannot even put up flyers at those schools to invite families to come visit Stevenson for our information nights.

Stevenson has even held a Spanish Speaking nights where all the presenters spoke Spanish and translators were available as well. Stevenson used every method they had to spread the word into the Spanish-speaking neighborhoods, but we never got more than 3 families to show up. We even offered transportation.

ONLY the MVWSD has the authority and connections to assist Stevenson to recruit in the low-income neighborhoods, but NEVER have they done so.

And again, Huff is the same and next year Huff will have a LOWER percentage of SED and ELL kids than Stevenson.


4 people like this
Posted by ST parent
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jan 8, 2019 at 11:39 am

ST parent is a registered user.

@Parent and former MV resident

"The embarrassing MVWSD Achievement Gap"

This "gap" is and always has been the natural result of the "parental educational gap" that is so extreme in our city because of our jobs market.

We have a shrinking group of families with no college or no diploma and an increasing group of families with serious college or university educations.

Mountain View has the highest "parental educational gap" and thus we have the highest student "Achievement Gap". The parental cause statistically assures the child results statistics. Individual results may vary, but on a statistical basis, this is always the way it goes.

ALL other factors combined don't matter as much as this one factor.
Schools can do some things to partially compensate, but not eliminate this cause and effect.

The "Achievement Gap" that gets so much attention is ONLY calculated based on the kids that enroll in the MVWSD public schools and excludes everyone else. Including the private school kids. If all kids were included, our "Achievement Gap" would be far bigger than it is already, because the "parental educational gap" for private school kids compared to public school kids is much higher.

The "Achievement Gap" and the "parental educational gap" always track pretty much exactly across virtually all public school districts across the nation.

Parents with higher education are in a better position to provide better and consistent educational support to their kids. This holds true even for well educated parents who are not making much more money than the lower-educated parents. Simply having parents with higher educations (regardless of subject matter of that education) is a huge benefit to the educational performance of their kids.

"(nearly complete lack of performance improvement for low income and Hispanic students)"

I suggest you go read up on this claim. If you do the research you will find the MVWSD has been making gains year over year for the SED & ELL kids.

"is the primary reason we need the choice of another public school in MV."

If I grant that a Bullis Mountain View can use the methods developed by BCS to somehow substantially improve educational performance among low-income students (that would be great by the way), the issue is that even BMV is only hoping to get 40% SED/ELL kids at best and no actual plan on how to get those families to voluntarily enroll in BMV. Based on the history we only see one single example of any significant percentage of SED or ELL families being willing to apply to any of the alternative choices the school district has to offer.

Even that one case only lasted until the MVWSD decided it needed to move one group out of the horribly over-crowded school site.

Even the Dual-Immersion school located at the Castro site has an extremely difficult time recruiting enough Spanish speaking kids to apply in order to reach their enrollment goals.

How is Bullis Mountain View going to convince SED/ELL families to apply is any significant numbers?

Worse yet, the BMV charter petition placed the SED/ELL kids near the BOTTOM of their official enrollment priorities list!


"BCS has proven it can substantially close the achievement gap,"

BCS NEVER HAD a "gap". BCS parents are virtually all highly educated parents, thus BCS did NOT "close" their "achievement gap", BCS NEVER had a significant "achievement gap" to begin with!

" admittedly with low numbers thus far,"

BCS will always have a near zero "achievement gap" because their parents have a near zero "parental educational gap".

"however, they’ve earned national respect for their programs which provide each student an individual learning plan."

Sure, but other public schools already do that, especially Stevenson which has done that for 21 years. Nothing new in BCS on their educational methods.


"Our wider community has a moral obligation to take what works and offer it where it’s needed most."

Sure, but that does not mean you need to bully your way into a community which does not want you and certainly you don't need to rush the process. And how "moral" is it to claim you are going to have 40% SED/ELL kids when you have not even engaged with the low-income communities and let them get to know you and work on getting them excited about the opportunity that BMV is offering so they will apply to BMV?

The way BMV has bullied it's way into the MVWSD has almost assured that BMV CANNOT reach the low-income community in any meaningful numbers. Not to mention their enrollment priorities made it almost certain that only those low-income families that apply toe first year have any chance of getting in. Each year after that the percentage of SED/ELL kids will drop.

How moral is that?


4 people like this
Posted by ST parent
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jan 8, 2019 at 12:03 pm

ST parent is a registered user.

BMV is planning well for the results they really want...

I have been confused by the actions of the BMV leadership, they had plenty of people advising them to get approved now for an opening date delayed to 2020-2021 and yet they have pushed ahead at maximum possible speed and ignored all our various communities opinions and totally failed to engage with any of our neighborhoods or schools or the district or even the general public.

The BMV charter petition, all 645 pages of it, was dropped on us at the last possible date and we only had less than 60 days to digest it. Inside this charter petition there was plenty of vague nice sounding lofty goals, but no actual way to achieve those goals and no documented requirements that any of those goals actually get met and no oversight from the MVWSD to hold BMV accountable for anything BMV does.

BMV leadership has displayed tone-deaf replies to all questions asked of them, no compromise, no efforts to speak to anyone outside their own group and every time they have spoken at Board meetings they seemed to only be speaking to their supporters not to the Board or anyone in the community.

If it was the actual goal of BMV to alienate low-income families and make SURE BMV simply wont get significant numbers of low-income or ELL families to even apply to BMV, then BMV has done that job exceedingly well!

If the goal of BMV is to cherry-pick families that have the highest educational backgrounds and thus naturally have little or no "achievement gap" and higher overall achievement for their students, then BMV has chosen their tactics perfectly designed to assure that outcome.

BMV has done this so well, I would predict that BMV will get more kids transferring in from PRIVATE SCHOOLS than they will get from the low-income community.

The pity is that BMV still has the opportunity to turn this bad situation they created around and make actual efforts to attain their advertised goals by simply delaying the opening date until 2020-2021 and spend that time fully engaging with our low-income communities.

But, based on what I've seen from BMV, I doubt they are even capable of re-thinking their tactics.

I could be wrong now, but I don't think so.

(...It's a jungle out there...)


8 people like this
Posted by Charter This
a resident of another community
on Jan 9, 2019 at 12:42 pm

The comments most recently made here represent negativity and pessimism. "You can't get there from here." No one could possibly help the victims of the achievement gap. It's hopeless. They'll never even really get started. Well, sure, if you let mindless comments like these guide your beliefs. I think the charter type of program ought to be implemented for at least two entire MVWSD schools. Obviously that's the only way to find out. ST Parent doesn't even know what that program entails. Yet there's all this certainty that the result will be failure. With 1000 kids doing so poorly in school, even if it's because their parents aren't educated themselves, isn't it worth doing something? Why should there be a special program for Stevenson, which has hardly any low income kids from less educated parents? Wouldn't it make more sense to convert Stevenson to a special program for the kids of parents witha more limited educational background? IS that what ST Parent is truly worried about, not about BMV's failure, but rather about success at BMV will make Stevenson look bad?


7 people like this
Posted by Taking Money
a resident of another community
on Jan 9, 2019 at 12:53 pm

In what sense does the charter school take money? Each student gets so many dollars. Move those dollars to a charter school. The old school has one fewer child to educate. Why can't they get by with less money? Are people saying that the charter school gets don't deserve to get their fair share? The money for them is really going to provide programs which only benefit the other kids? So in that sense the kids interested in the charter school are likely to be those who feel in some way neglected or disrespected by the old school. They're not moving to a private school with this change. A new public school is being created that is governed by the ed code of the State of California unlike a private school. A lot of testing and monitoring goes on to gauge the performance of the charter school. This testing is what shows that the MVWSD schools are neglecting certain kids. They are focusing on the kids of well educated parents at MVWSD. The well educated PTA mukety mucks are yelling bloody murder that their well-off kids are being victimized. It stinks.

If you look at the dollars, you see that the money per student in MVWSD is in fact way more than the money per student that moves to the charter. Factor that into al the angst. The charter school has to get by with LESS money per student. Still they as professional educators think they can actually do better by the students at their school than MVMWSD does with 25% more money per student.

There again, what's the problem? So long as the school is open to ANY resident of MVWSD, it's not a private school. This isn't some boutique school like Stevenson catering to parents who want to personally manage the school day of their kids, and have a chance to come to school and work in the classrooms. This school has a goal of working on the achievement gap problem, providing something better for the kids from disadvantaged backgrounds. I think it should be the reverse. The charter should get 25% more money per student by having such a program and offering such services.


8 people like this
Posted by MV Parent
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 9, 2019 at 1:27 pm

I am a parent and I see the opposition to Bullis as political. There is nothing wrong with having more choices for a children's education.

Public education is largely funded by LCFF per pupil funding. Logically, if enrollment drops due to a charter school your expenses should correlate. So "revenue loss" is not really a talking point.

School choice is one of the most powerful ways parents can control their children's education.


9 people like this
Posted by ST parent
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jan 9, 2019 at 4:44 pm

ST parent is a registered user.

@Charter This

You know what would be really nice?
If people didn't LIE about what other people have said or written.
Is honestly is just too much to hope for?
The post I am addressing is a prime example of dishonesty about what others have written.

NOBODY claimed the "achievement gap" could not be reduced.
NOBODY said the schools should do nothing to help reduce the gap.
NOBODY claimed the educational methods Bullis says they will use are bad methods, after all, Stevenson PACT uses those methods and has for 21 years.
NOBODY at Stevenson has said other schools should NOT copy what PACT does. In FACT, PACT has ALWAYS wanted other schools to copy any of our methods they think will be of benefit.
NOBODY from Stevenson has said Stevenson has ANYTHING to fear from BMV.

Stevenson families would be very happy to help any of the other schools set up a full-on PACT-style program or a customized PACT-similar program at any of the other schools.

WHY don't you mention Huff?
Huff has almost the same percentage of low-income kids as Stevenson and next year Huff will have an even lower percentage than Stevenson.

"The comments most recently made here represent negativity and pessimism."

NO, they represent actual experience and knowledge of the MVWSD and our city and reasonable observation of the available facts.

NONE of the posters I have read have claimed there is anything faulty in the educational methods BMV says they will use.

People are objecting to the BMV leadership behavior AND pointing out the fact that attracting enough lower-income families will be extremely hard, if not impossible to meet the BMV stated goals.

I do NOT claim that will make BMV a "failed" school, in fact, I fully expect BMV will be very much like Stevenson, but we have plenty of kids on our waiting list to fill up BMV, so that's a good thing for Stevenson!

Too bad you did not factually address what I actually said.

""You can't get there from here.""

If by "there" you mean totally eliminating the "achievement gap" by something the school district can legally and financially do, then that's correct. The combination of laws and how much people pay in taxes make it impossible to erase the achievement gap.

I mean, the most effective way to help would be to provide ADULT education for the low-income PARENTS of the kids enrolled in the MVWSD, I'm pretty sure it would be legal, but how would we pay for it?

We should do a great deal more to help by extra and early ELL programs for the Free/Reduced Lunch kids so they can get up to speed in English sooner. We are working to add pre-school to address that very problem and should do more there.

NOBODY said "do nothing", just do what is legal and possible with the laws and money we have.

"No one could possibly help the victims of the achievement gap."

"victims"???????
Now you're implying someone is intentionally INFLICTING harm on selected kids to create the "achievement gap". That sort of inflammatory language does nothing for your credibility, nor does it help the discussion.

Also, NOBODY has written that nothing could "help" reduce the gap, just that it can't be made ZERO. Some improvement can be done within the laws and money.

" It's hopeless. They'll never even really get started."

Again, NOBODY said anything like that.
Improvement is possible, but not elimination.

It's people like YOU who claim that it's not worth doing anything unless you can achieve perfection.

" Well, sure, if you let mindless comments like these guide your beliefs."

Nothing to do with "beliefs", but the nation-wide FACTS that have remained true forever. Parental educational background is the primary factor determining child educational performance. Schools can help, but not totally compensate.
NOBODY said schools should do nothing to help.

"I think the charter type of program ought to be implemented for at least two entire MVWSD schools."

The "program" that Bullis says they want to use is already well proven by the past 21 years of Stevenson PACT.

There is nothing "new" in the style of education that Bullis says they will use.
NOBODY is complaining about that!

"Obviously that's the only way to find out."

We already know those methods work just fine, PACT has proven them.
NOBODY is objecting to the methods of education Bullis says they will use.

"ST Parent doesn't even know what that program entails."

I know what Bullis has stated publicly, what Bullis has put in writing, and what the Bullis leadership people have said to me personally.

I also know that most of the methods Bullis says they will use are already well proven by Stevenson for the past 21 years!

NOBODY is objecting to the METHODS of education Bullis says they will use!

"Yet there's all this certainty that the result will be failure."

NOBODY said that.
WHERE did I or ANYONE claim BMV would FAIL to educate kids with their advertised methods?

NOBODY has objected to the Bullis educational methods.
Stevenson uses pretty much the exact same methods (plus additional progressive methods BMV wont.).

What people have said is that BMV is not likely to be able to get any significant percentage of low-income families to even apply for enrollment to BMV.

"With 1000 kids doing so poorly in school, even if it's because their parents aren't educated themselves, isn't it worth doing something?"

There are several ideas, from all across the USA, that have shown to be helpful in improving the results for kids of lower-educated parents, and the methods our tax base and the laws allow us to do should be used.

NOBODY is saying to do nothing, just use our taxes wisely by using proven methods.

"Why should there be a special program for Stevenson,"

PACT has been asking that for 21 years!
PACT has ALWAYS wanted the MVWSD to transplant our methods to the other MVWSD schools, you will have to ask the MVWSD leadership and the principals of the other schools WHY many of the methods PACT uses have not been copied at other schools.

" which has hardly any low income kids from less educated parents?"

Which is pretty much EXACTLY the case for Huff and Bubb is not much different.

Next year, Huff will have a LOWER percentage of SED kids and Bubb is likely to be really close to the same as Stevenson.

"Wouldn't it make more sense to convert Stevenson to a special program for the kids of parents witha more limited educational background?"

Hey, if the Castro school would like to change into another PACT school, GREAT! I know the entire Stevenson community would be only too happy to provide any assistance to the Castro area families to help them boot-up a new PACT program for that area. Or Monta Loma or Theuerkauf or any of the other schools in the MVWSD!

" IS that what ST Parent is truly worried about,"

NO, Stevenson families would be happy to see other schools enact their own version of PACT educational methods! That has ALWAYS been one of the goals of PACT.

"not about BMV's failure,"

AGAIN, NOBODY is claiming that the educational methods BMV says they will use are a problem of any sort.
What we have said is that, based on historical trends, the low-income low-parental education families do NOT CHOOSE alternative programs in any significant numbers.

We know the history of the district and that low-income families trust the traditional schools model and are highly resistant to efforts to convince them to risk sending their kids to any style of alternative educational styles.

"but rather about success at BMV will make Stevenson look bad?"

Not at all, Stevenson PACT has NOTHING to fear from Bullis Mountain View.

Again, I do NOT object to the Bullis educational methods, I object to BMV's rush to open and the behavior of the BMV leadership.

I also object to lying.


9 people like this
Posted by ST parent
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jan 9, 2019 at 5:47 pm

ST parent is a registered user.

@Taking Money

First, let me be clear that I am not objecting to adding BMV to our district, just objecting their rush and behavior in the process.
Nor do I object to their educational methods, which are pretty much the same as Stevenson has done for 21 years.
Nor do I object to the BMV stated goal of enrolling 40% Free/Reduced Lunch kids. Getting such families to agree to sign up for BMV is the real problem.

"In what sense does the charter school take money?...The old school has one fewer child to educate."

As with most things done with public money, it's not as simple as that.

Yes, the "per-child" money moves with the child (in a complex formula that is very difficult to figure out in advance), but there are more than just teachers and classrooms involved here. There is also the other support staff and facilities and extra administration costs involved.

For example, lets say we took all the K-5 kids enrolled in the MVWSD and put them all on one campus with one principal and one set of support staff. That would cost the district much less administration money and much less facilities money. Now if we instead decide to have more separate schools so that each school only has 150 kids (one classroom per grade), then the admin and facilities costs would greatly increase. Get it?
It's NOT a simple math problem.

We just spent 3 years working out a plan to balance out all 9 K-5 schools to 450 kids max capacity for several reasons, one of which was saving operational money. By adding BMV to the 9 schools we will have next year we will add another set of admin and facilities costs and reduce the number of kids at other schools.

Meaning that at the other 9 schools we will have just as many support staff
serving fewer kids AND we will need to add another set of staff and facilities to pay for.

"So in that sense the kids interested in the charter school are likely to be those who feel in some way neglected or disrespected by the old school."

NO, first, the kids themselves have no voice in the decision, the parents make the decision of which "choice" school to apply to.

BMV has claimed they are all about getting a large percentage of low-income families to enroll in BMV, the problem is that we have already seen for decades how hard it is to convince those very parents to enroll their kids into any alternative style schools.

Even the Dual-Language-Immersion school (Mistral), which is located in the very heart of the low-income community in Mountain View, has an extremely difficult time recruiting enough low-income families to apply. PACT did pretty good getting low-income families when we were located on that same campus, but even then PACT never came close to the BMV goal of 40% low-income kids.

HOw is BMV going to do anything significant about the "achievement gap" if you can't attract a large percentage of low-income families?

"They're not moving to a private school with this change."

Of course not, people who can afford private schools already go there.

"A new public school is being created that is governed by the ed code of the State of California unlike a private school."

Sure, but it's not governed like other public schools.
Stevenson is 100% owned and operated and accountable to the leadership of MVWSD, BMV will be mostly independent by comparison to any other MVWSD schools.

"This testing is what shows that the MVWSD schools are neglecting certain kids."

NO, the testing simply proves that we have 2 highly divergent types of PARENTS in our district. One set with college degrees and the other set with none (or even no diploma). The results are always an achievement gap. Schools can help in some ways, but not overcome the "parental educational gap".

"They are focusing on the kids of well educated parents at MVWSD."

Who do you think will be the first in line and the bulk of families which will sign up for BMV????
BMV, no matter what they may intend, will end up full of "the kids of well educated parents at MVWSD."

"The well educated PTA mukety mucks are yelling bloody murder that their well-off kids are being victimized."

NO, the well-off kids go to private schools.
BMV wont get enough low-income kids to make much impact, but BMV will get plenty of the better-educated parents to apply to BMV.
I have predicted that most of the families who apply to BMV will be from the Stevenson waiting list, which is a good thing for Stevenson by the way.

"If you look at the dollars, you see that the money per student in MVWSD is in fact way more than the money per student that moves to the charter. "

Correct, in a simplistic way, but the overall costs of the district will go up and the costs per student will go up because we will have to support 10 K-5 schools rather than 9.


"So long as the school is open to ANY resident of MVWSD, it's not a private school."

Actually, UNLIKE other MVWSD schools, BMV will be OPEN to kids NOT residing in the MVWSD as well.

"This isn't some boutique school like Stevenson catering to parents who want to personally manage the school day of their kids, and have a chance to come to school and work in the classrooms."

We believe that parental involvement is very valuable to our kids and our school and our teachers. We don't "manage" the school, we do whatever the teachers ask us to do to serve their needs and provide more individual attention to the kids in smaller groups.

It's like having additional teachers in each classroom all under the control of each teacher.

"This school has a goal of working on the achievement gap problem,"

MVWSD and every school in the MVWSD has the "goal of working on the achievement gap problem" and we have made progress, but as every school district in the USA has shown, it's a very difficult problem because it's main causes are in the home, not in the schools.

"providing something better for the kids from disadvantaged backgrounds."

Great, so now let's see how many low-income families you can convince to sign up?

How many of the people who already signed the interest document are in fact low-income families? I would guess very few if any.

"The charter should get 25% more money per student by having such a program and offering such services."

OK, when BMV reaches 25% kids registered as Free/Reduced Lunch kids get enrolled in BMV, I will be happy to lobby the MVWSD for a special grant of money form the district.

And remember, BMV claimed it was going to get 40% Free/Reduced lunch kids.


5 people like this
Posted by @ Stevenson parent
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jan 9, 2019 at 6:27 pm

As I said on the other Bullis thread, give it a rest!


3 people like this
Posted by ST Triggered
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jan 9, 2019 at 8:52 pm

ST Parent’s posts (TLDR) just wreak of all those ‘triggered’ memes. Too funny. Almost as fun trolling them as it is the Business Man. But I suspect The Business Man is actually an AI bot. The captchka used is pretty bot friendly.


4 people like this
Posted by Teacher
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jan 10, 2019 at 7:29 pm

ST parent, thank you for your astute comments. They are right on track.


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