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Jeb Bush Lends Name to Embattled Local Charter School

After two rejections at SoCal school districts, Oxford gets a lift from the former Florida governor.

On the heels of unfounded cheating accusations and bids to expand throughout Southern California, the controversial Oxford Preparatory Academy has a new ally in former Florida governor Jeb Bush.

Since getting approved to start a charter school in the Capistrano Unified School District in March 2011, Oxford has petitioned to launch similar schools in four other districts. Two of the proposals – in Oceanside and Carlsbad – were shot down, and two others – in Pomona and Rowland – are pending.

Meanwhile, the Capo branch came under fire in October just before performance scores were released to the public for possibly cheating on state standardized testing. Both CUSD and OPA launched separate, third-party investigations, and both concluded the accusations were unfounded.

In light of all that, the former Florida governor has added his name to OPA’s petition for a school in Pomona. In a letter to the school board there, he said:

"During my tenure as Governor of Florida, I saw firsthand the important role charter schools play in comprehensive education reform by helping to raise the bar for all public schools. Charter schools have a long history of providing parents with a choice and offering unique learning experiences for students of diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds."

The petition in Carlsbad was rejected, according to the North County Times, because "trustees said they had concerns after hearing that projections for enrollment and for teacher interest in the school had been exaggerated." The paper added, "Staff members also said they could confirm only 53 parents who said they would enroll in the school, while Oxford claimed 681 local parents had signed the petition."

A spokeswoman for the charter school said its board hasn’t decided whether to appeal the decision to the San Diego County Board of Education.

Back in Capo Unified, the school district issued a press release – after getting criticized by OPA parents at the last school board meeting – congratulating the charter on achieving the second high score for a public school in Orange County and the highest for an elementary school.

“An investigation did not support allegations of testing irregularities at the school. The students, teachers, and parents at OPA have been, and deserve to be, congratulated for their success on the California STAR tests,” said Superintendent Joseph Farley in a prepared statement.

OC Parent January 09, 2013 at 06:36 AM
It is unfortunate so many people are misinformed about charter schools. Charters are public schools. There are many families who have students with an IEP who attend OPA SOC. And as Robert said students are selected via a public lottery. School choice should be available to all students. Thank you Governor Bush for supporting school choice. He is not alone in his support, as many public officials have seen the positive impact high quality charters provide students.
OC Parent January 09, 2013 at 06:50 AM
More information is available here: http://www.calcharters.org/understanding/faqs/myths.html
Lorii Malafronte January 09, 2013 at 08:27 PM
Thank you Governor Bush for supporting Oxford Preparatory Academy!! Also, thank you for recognizing that parents should have a CHOICE in their children's education, and that Charter Schools play an important role in education. My child does not attend Oxford, however many of my friends do have children at this school. Like my daughter, they have IEP's and are doing great. Oxford Preparatory Academy's ability to teach children based on their individual learning style is very exciting and has proven to be very successful. All I have to do is look at their tests scores to validate this opinion!
T Johnson January 10, 2013 at 12:25 AM
Thank you Governor Bush for seeing a value in charter schools, more specifically Oxford Preparatory Academy.
JH January 10, 2013 at 10:23 PM
It is so exciting to witness such a proponent of educational reform step up to the plate for our school. Charter schools like Oxford Prep are doing great things for kids, and they deserve to be celebrated for that. Instead they have come under fire from people who are fearful of changing the status quo. All of us as parents want what is best for all children (our own, our neighbors', and our nations'). However, what is best for one child may not be what is best for another, and yet in education especially we see alternative institutions come under fire purely because they are not "traditional"or "the norm." We should have the power to choose. All parents should be allowed a choice in their child's education, and whether they choose public, private, charter, or homeschool, it is just that -- a choice. We should not judge others for their choice, but celebrate the fact that we live in a country that gives us choice and allows us to choose. I chose Oxford Prep for my kids because I knew that they would be engaged and challenged there. It was not a choice based on "tradition" or "the norm" or "status quo." It was not a choice that I made because it was popular or what everyone else was doing. I made my choice because I want what is best for MY children, and no one can fault anyone else for choosing that. I have never once regretted my decision. The administration and staff at Oxford Prep have been a blessing to my family. We are so thankful to have our school.

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