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Corps Members Volunteered To Save Their Schools

Three corps members joined hundreds of students, parents and teachers in Sacramento to show their support for independent study sites

Sacramento volunteers

By The TFA Editorial Team

August 2, 2017

With several school sites under threat of closure, three San Diego corps members got a crash course in participatory democracy this summer when they volunteered to travel to the state capital for hearings on two new independent study schools and their satellite resource centers.

Brooke Hatfield, Alisa Armell and Tori Edwards were among hundreds of educators, students, parents and community members who showed their support for The Charter School of San Diego and its sister sites as the State Board of Education reviewed petitions for their charter schools to maintain and expand their services.

Here Brooke, Tori and Alisa explain why they volunteered to save their schools.  

Sacramento volunteers

Alisa Armell, a special education teacher

“I currently work at Audeo Kearny Mesa, which is right across from Kearny High School. Being located across from this high school we consistently have students coming in looking for an alternative high school setting for various reasons – looking to make up credits, get ahead in credits, create a flexible schedule, gain more direct support in their academics, etc. I believe it is important for high school students to have an alternative way to complete the credits they need to graduate with a high school diploma. I thought it was important to show my support so students that could positively benefit from an independent setting environment had that the opportunity to enroll with a program located close to their home.”

Brooke Hatfield in Sacramento

Brooke Hatfield, a special education teacher

“My takeaway is that it is super important to get involved. Decisions are being made for you and your students and your colleagues by people who will never even meet most of the people who their decisions will affect. It’s important to make your position known and to bring issues to the attention of people in power because if you don’t -- if you don’t show up -- who knows, students could be turned away. If these votes would’ve gone the other way, I can safely assume that for a lot of our students, that would’ve been the end of their education. They would have dropped out of school and never come back. That’s just the reality. You have to find some way to get involved with the larger movement when people’s lives are affected.”

Brooke Hatfield poses with a few of the students who testified in Sacramento.

Tori Edwards, a special education teacher

“This was my first time experiencing political action and board meetings, and I was surprised by how interested and engaged I was in the proceedings! I expected this to just be a boring back and forth and easy approval, but the intensity of the debate around school funding, and its ties to student attendance, is so interesting. So far, all of our charters have reached full approval, and we are all so excited that our schools can remain upon under the oversight of the state. Our students in east and southern county can continue to receive a quality education from teachers who genuinely care for them as individuals.”

“It’s a really interesting experience to go to the state level and see who is a part of the State Board of Education team and meet the people who are in charge of making such impactful decisions. You can tell it means a lot to them when students and teachers and parents show up just to say, ‘We came all the way to Sacramento because we love our school and our students, and we don’t know what we’d do if these schools are taken away.’ It’s a really strong and impactful experience.”

Brooke Hatfield

A positive result

Thanks in part to the outpouring of support, the state board approved Sweetwater Secondary and Grossmont Secondary, two new schools in the eastern and southern regions of San Diego, and existing satellite resource centers in those communities. This means The Charter School of San Diego has been proactive in coming into compliance with the Anderson USD versus Shasta court ruling that requires independent study schools and their satellites to be authorized by the districts or counties where they are located or, on appeal, by the state.