Grant Blue Oak a charter

What’s not to like about this great little school?

The trustees of the Chico Unified School District will decide next Wednesday (March 23) whether to grant Blue Oak School a charter. It should do so.

Frankly, we were surprised when the county Board of Education did not renew the 10-year-old school’s charter earlier this year. The Butte County Office of Education’s Charter Review Committee had recommended approval with conditions, but at the last minute Superintendent Don McNelis recommended against, and the board unanimously turned thumbs down.

Some of McNelis’ concerns were legitimate, particularly those having to do with Blue Oak students’ performance on state tests. But the school had been working to improve those scores, and it had raised its Academic Performance Index by 58 points in 2010, a major improvement. Indeed, its API score had gone up in three of the last four years.

It has also made significant changes in personnel in the past two years, hiring a new executive director, Michael Ramos, and 12 new teachers.

This is not a school that should be judged by test scores alone. Young children aren’t rushed into academics, but instead encouraged to use their creativity and imagination, through dance, music, art and play, as the basis for learning. Waldorf is a proven alternative approach to education, one that will benefit all Chico schools just by its presence here.

It’s obvious from the outpouring of support Blue Oak has received that its parents believe passionately that it’s the right school for their children. We hope the trustees agree.