SAN JOSE -- Departing from traditional hostility between school districts and charter operators, the Franklin-McKinley School District will partner with charter schools to share campuses and training.
The southeast San Jose district's partnership on Wednesday was named 1 of 5in the United States awarded a $100,000 startup grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The goal is to vastly improve education for poor and English-learning children.
To receive the grant, Franklin-McKinley pledged to place all the district's roughly 10,000 students in high-performing schools, which it defines as a campus where 70 percent of children score proficient in English and math, by 2020. Every demographic subgroup of students also would meet that threshold, the district promised.
Test scores show just how far the district has to go to reach its objective.
Last spring, 51 percent of Franklin-McKinley students tested proficient in English and 58 percent tested proficient in math. But the scores are much lower for some groups. Proficiency among Latinos was only 36 percent in English and 43 percent in math; among black students the respective percentages were 46 and 27, and among students with disabilities they were 31 and 33.
"This is a very high bar, and we will work relentlessly to meet that goal," said Matt Hammer, executive director of Innovate Public Schools. His Mountain View-based school-reform organization has helped convene the partnership.
Franklin-McKinley covers some of San Jose's poorest neighborhoods, west of Highway 101 and south of downtown. More than two-thirds of its students are or were English-language learners.
The district plans for its 17 regular schools and five charter schools -- plus ACE and KIPP middle schools set to open in August -- to share campuses, student data and teacher training.
Exchanging data would help ensure schools serve an equitable mix of students, Franklin-McKinley Superintendent John Porter said. Critics often accuse charter schools of skimming better-performing students or those with more involved parents, while avoiding special-education students.
But the district's teachers union is not embracing the compact. "I have some serious concerns," said Scott Shulimson, union president. The union fears that lowest-performing schools might be taken over by charters, and that charters might use access to data to lure higher-achieving students. But, he said, "I'm not opposed to collaborating with charters that are here. There are things we can learn from them, and they can learn from us."
The Franklin-McKinley partnership also will create a fellowship for teachers and principals who are launching or re-creating schools, and a peer-coaching program pairing teachers from charters and regular schools,
Franklin-McKinley's other partners include five charter organizations, the parent advocacy group People Acting in Community Together and several other community and education groups.
Of the 16 groups that previously received Gates Foundation seed funds for district-charter collaboration, seven went on to receive grants ranging from about $2 million to $5 million to further their work, according to Gates publicist Deborah Robinson.
"We're hoping this compact could be a model for lots of other school districts," Hammer said, "and help in closing the achievement gap."
Contact Sharon Noguchi at 408-271-3775. Follow her at Twitter.com/NoguchiOnK12.
Partners with the Franklin-McKinley School District include:
ACE Charter Middle
KIPP Bay Area Schools
Rocketship Education (Mosaic and Spark schools)
Voices College-Bound Language Academy
Alpha Public Schools
Franklin-McKinley Children's Initiative
San Jose Charter Consortium
Innovate Public Schools
People Acting in Community Together