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Charter recruiting riles parents

Submitted by on 1, December 22, 2008 – 7:45 amNo Comment

Sounds like some parents were upset when folks supporting the Nea Community Learning Center charter came to their schools a few weeks ago to hand out flyers advertising their upcoming open houses.

Nea, whose charter was approved by the school board a few weeks ago, dropped by Paden, Washington and Ruby Bridges elementary schools in early December to hand out flyers to families. But some parents felt the flyers sent a negative message about their own schools.

Jim Westrick, president of the Washington School PTA, said some parents at his school felt it wasn’t appropriate for the Nea folks to be handing out flyers for that school in front of Washington.

“The implication is, okay, so you don’t think that the school is up to snuff,” Westrick said, adding that parents at Washington are proud of their school and that some of its innovations are models for the charter.

Paden PTA chief Gwen Meyer said several parents at her school were put off by the content of the flyer handed out there, which asks: “Isn’t it time for your child to attend a Public School
Designed for the 21st Century?”

“Several Paden parents were put off by the insinuation that Paden was not preparing kids for the 21st century,” Meyer said, adding that the school put up a banner saying just the opposite (pictured).

(I talked to Ruby Bridges’ principal and PTA president, and neither reported any problems with the flyering.)

Nea’s Paul Bentz said he wasn’t looking to offend anyone and that the flyering is part of a bigger campaign to reach every school-age student on the West End, in response to the school board’s demand that Nea be more diverse than the Alameda Community Learning Center, which Bentz heads.

He said the Alameda Community Learning Center, which preceded Nea, used the “21st century” slogan for years.

“I’m not intimating that anything is wrong with any of these schools,” Bentz said.

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