The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area and the ACLU of Northern California weigh-in the Novato charter school effort in a letter(Spanish translation) to the Novato Unified School Board.
The letter expresses concerns over the proposal for a new charter school in Novato and the potential effects on racial and socioeconomic makeup of our schools. Today NUSD schools are racially and economically diverse and achieve some of the highest test scores in the State. NUSD should be proud of its challenging and diverse educational environments that benefit all students. “Rather than enhance this diversity, the proposed NBEF charter school is likely to force more Latino/Hispanic, immigrant and economically disadvantaged students into schools that are racially and socioeconomically isolated.”
We are in agreement. NBEF is proposing procedural enrollment requirements identical to other “schools of choice”. In the past, these requirements have consistently produced a skewed and isolated student population from that of the broader Novato community. We do not oppose school choice, we oppose public schools only choosing those students whose families are able to fulfill enrollment prerequisites. School choice in Novato should be made freely, not because parents are able to take a tour or volunteer many hours of service. We do not believe students should “apply” to a taxpayer funded public school unless there are specific student, not family, qualifications (MSA,GATE, etc). Equitable opportunity to attend this public school would mean not requiring a tour or attendance at an orientation. Students should be allowed to register, attend and thrive no matter their socioeconomic, parental immigration or racial status. Finally, All NUSD schools are open to transfers and we support the many parents that have taken advantage of this Board policy to better meet their family’s needs.
Please continue to raise these concerns with friends and neighbors. We continue to collect signatures on the petition opposing this proposal both on our website and hard copy. Currently over 800 signatures have been gathered from Novato parents. Please encourage others to take action and sign our petition against the charter proposal. If you know anyone who signed the charter petition, but now have reservations, please encourage them to request that their names be removed.