Marin School of Arts and Technology (MSAT) is a charter high school in the Novato School District in Northern California.
My wife and I had examined this school as a possibility for my Daughter in her Freshmen year. This was last year at this time.
However, the rhetoric around the parents and with kids in Terra Linda High school district, which is where most kids in our area would be going, was that the kids that went to MSAT were losers or druggies.
This along with the fact that many of my daughters friends had planned to go to Terra Linda high, convinced my wife and my daughter that she should go to Terra Linda.
So she did. This year has been a very disappointing one for us as parents and for my daughter. Her math teacher was fired half way through the year. My daughter claims it was for sexual harassment of one of the students. But the administration insists it was for ineffectiveness. The replacement has not been much better. She ends up watching movies in class most of the time learning very little.
Her English teacher, who was very good, quit for personal reasons (having nothing to do with the school). The 1st replacement quit because she did not feel safe (student harassment). The 2nd replacement has resorted to showing movies as well.
In summary, teaching has been ineffective due to lack of concern for the students welfare and students themselves who are dispassionate about learning, and care little for each other.
My daughter and a small group of her close friends had all planned on switching to MSAT for their sophomore year.
We had signed her up and were making all the necessary arrangements for transferring her to MSAT.
Last week we learned that after losing their lease on facilities on the campus of the Collage of Marin, and through relentless efforts of the Novato school district to revoke the charter status of MSAT, that they will be closing after the end of this school year.
I, along with my wife, my daughter and 2 of her friends attended a meeting last night where we heard the whole story of how the Novato school board, through shameful, misleading and underhanded actions led to the demise of this wonderful charter school.
What struck us all was the passion that the Administration, the Teachers, the Parents and especially the students had for Learning, and for the school. Also, the respect and admiration they expressed for each other.
The kids, although typical teenagers, all showed kindness and support for one another, in spite of the fact that some were very emotional and at times awkward in expressing themselves over the fact that their school was closing. This is not typical of what we have seen at Terra Linda High.
I urge any of you who read this post to visit the Envision Schools web site and take a look at what they are doing.
An emphasis on small school size, genuine care for the welfare of the students, project based learning and dedicated administration and teachers, has produced some of the most respectful, tolerant, bright and articulate kids I have seen in a long time.
Kids who would be shunned or outcast in other schools have found a haven in which they can thrive at this school. Where success has eluded them in other types of schools they reach unprecedented levels of achievement in tests and grades.
The school itself had had it’s charter renewed based on the achievements of it’s students and quality of education for another 6 years.
In the end, it was competition for students and funding and perhaps jealousy of their success, that led the Novato school board to do what they did.
Of all places in the United States, Marin County should be capable of sustaining a charter school like MSAT. It is shameful that this goal could not be attained.
We plan to send our daughter to a sister school of MSAT called Metro in San Francisco. It will be difficult for us to arrange transportation, but we will make it work. Now it is about the principal of having this kind of education available to students who will benefit from it, and in the best interest of our child. We feel we must pursue this.
This is another example of tributary currents that need to be sustained, in spite of mainstream efforts to pull us back into the mediocrity of what constitutes normalcy these days.
By the way, this story has received all too little press. Even local papers have shown a bias and shunned the truth of how MSAT has changed the lives of parents and students in the district, and how it eventually met it’s demise.
It deserves national exposure. This is part and parcel of what is wrong with our education system (and the media) today.