The following letter to the Santa Cruz Sentinel was published December 10th, but never posted online.
Diversity, academic success can thrive
The endless debate over PCS’s record is deadlocked as long as people think they have to take sides on academic excellence or diversity. The fact is, most people want both. PCS’s academic record is exemplary and it needs to increase the bar on diversity in enrollment without sacrificing its high standards.
A recent report showed that among the 15 schools in California serving high poverty, high English learner populations with the highest record of academic achievement, 12 are charter schools. This breakthrough finding tells me that public charters are an important part of the solution to the achievement gap problem.
A leadership team representing all sides of this debate should visit star schools like Preuss in San Diego (top 20 in the US News list, 90 percent first-generation college bound students) and KIPP Heartwood in San Jose (95 percent non native English families, 95 free and reduced lunch, API score over 900). Then the community can learn more about these fantastic charter success stories that meet the twin tests of no-excuses, high academic excellence in a high diversity environment.