Your recent editorial on Cesar Ch¡vez Charter School got it wrong [“The Case for Cesar Ch¡vez School,” 11/19/09]. I did not recommend closing the school. I did report that the school does not qualify for charter renewal under the state’s minimum academic performance requirement. But I also proposed a plan to continue the school through the end of this school year with district oversight to boost student achievement and to reconstitute the school for the future. The Board of Education approved the plan and invited the school community to bring a new proposal forward this spring.
Cesar Ch¡vez School has a motivated staff, high levels of parent involvement, an enthusiastic “Si, se puede” spirit among students, a governance council willing to work on improvement, and healthy connections to our community. It is a dual-language immersion school. We believe in the school’s mission for all students to be literate in two languages.
But the school’s mission also includes a strong academic foundation. We looked at student performance using multiple measures of academic achievement including data provided by the school: Contrary to the model for dual-language immersion programs, English learners at the school generally perform at low levels by fifth and sixth grade and generally underperform junior high and high school students as they go on to higher grade levels. The school is one of the lowest performing dual-language immersion programs in the state.
Other schools in our district that have been unsuccessful with English learners have undergone major restructuring and are now seeing major gains.
I expect Cesar Ch¡vez Charter School to be successful. We are charged with the responsibility to move all students to higher levels and we should not be content with low performance. It is part of what la lucha, the historic struggle of Cesar Estrada Ch¡vez’s life, was about. – J. Brian Sarvis, Santa Barbara School Districts superintendent