Hope for Sac High

Roy Grimes, Manny Hernandez and Dawn McCoy are members of the Sacramento City Unified School District Board
We voted against closing Sacramento High School and granting a charter to the nonprofit St. Hope Corp. last March. Here are the reasons why.

First, it is against state law for a school district to hand over an existing public school to another entity without a petition signed by a majority of that school’s teachers. Sacramento High School has been an existing public school for more than 140 years. St. Hope Corp. did not submit a petition signed by a majority of the Sacramento High teachers. This is a legal requirement that was upheld by a Sacramento Superior Court judge, Trena Burger-Plavan.

Second, the Sacramento City Unified School District has a proven record of turning schools around. In fact, the district has positively turned around more than 20 schools. Why not Sac High?

Third, there was no significant difference in the St. Hope proposal and the district’s “education in the 21st century,” or e21, high-school-reform plan, which was developed with help from the Carnegie and Gates foundations. Last September, Sacramento High was just beginning to implement the e21 reforms. However, the data used to determine sanctions were based on the school’s performance prior to these reforms.

Fourth, St. Hope does not have a proven track record of operating any public school. We question the wisdom of awarding an existing comprehensive high school to an organization that lacks this experience. (St. Hope, however, is recognized for operating an after-school program.)

Finally, the proposed Sacramento Charter High School would displace hundreds of students and would eliminate successful programs and teachers. What would happen to students who do not want to attend a charter school? What would happen to special-needs students? And what would happen to the successful corrective reading program, the math and science program and the Visual and Performing Arts Centre? We were dismayed that many quality education services would be lost.

Let the record be clear: We do not support the status quo anywhere students are not achieving. That is precisely why we, as members of the school board, have successfully implemented educational reforms such as phonics-based instruction, Saxon Math and e21 high-school reform. Research-based reforms had just begun at district high schools.

The bottom line is this: Sacramentans must stand together to improve public education, in accordance with the law and proven results, for the advancement of all students.