Nation’s best high school may be closed

Apr 15, 2013 by

Jay_MathewsBy Jay Mathews –

I have been ranking the most challenging schools in the country and this region for 15 years. Rarely have I encountered anything like the American Indian Public Charter High School of Oakland, Calif., the No. 1 school on my 2013 list. It has risen to the top just as its city school board is trying to shut it down.

I visited the high school and its two American Indian charter middle schools two months ago. They hold classes in offices downtown and in a run-down residential part of the city, where they set an extraordinary standard of achievement.

The students enroll in Advanced Placement courses in the ninth grade and eventually take more of those college-level classes and exams per student than any high school in the Washington area. In their white shirts and dark slacks and skirts, the 243 students bustle around their little campus. Eighty-one percent of them are from low-income families, but their AP test-passing rate of 41 percent is higher than any D.C. school except Wilson and the School Without Walls, which have mostly middle-class students.

The three Oakland charter schools are in trouble because Ben Chavis, the unorthodox educator responsible for their success, has been charged by the school district with misappropriating public funds. Chavis denies doing anything wrong. He left the school in late 2011 to tend his cattle farm in North Carolina, leaving parents and new school leaders — with their own internal disputes — to fight for survival. The city school board voted last month to withdraw the schools’ charter by a narrow 4 to 3 margin, but the county or state school board could overrule that decision.

via Nation’s best high school may be closed – Class Struggle – The Washington Post.

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