Rocketship looks to blast Contra Costa County with a Mt Diablo Rocketship School

Rocketship Education is at again — pushing into territory where it’s not welcome, trying to open a Mt. Diablo Rocketship school.  The Mt. Diablo school board unanimously denied a Rocketship petition to their district in August of 2010.  Rocketship had first approached board members in Antioch Unified, but that school district was already well organized to fight off the aggressive Rocketship chain.

Rocketship characteristically turned to the Contra Costa County Board of Education for approval, but got denied there in October 2015, also unanimously.

Now Rocketship hopes to turn to the State Board of Education (SBE).  The SBE has recommended approving Rocketship’s appeal at the March 10th meeting.  If approved, this would be the first Rocketship school operated under SBE.  Rocketship has had schools approved by local and county school boards in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties.

It’s not the first time Rockteship has been to the SBE.  Rocketship got approval to open a school in San Francisco on appeal back in 2012.  However, the school was never built, and Rocketship let the petition expire.  Rocketship also tried to go to the state when the Santa Clara County Office of Education denied Rocketship’s petition to build a school in Morgan Hill.  However, in that case, Rocketship attempted to slip in some changes to the charter petition between the county’s denial and the submission to the state.  For technical reasons, those changes invalidated the petition, and the issue was never heard by the SBE.

Mt. Diablo’s staff denial recommendation zeroed in on Rocketship’s financial justification for store-housing kindergartners in front of a computer for hours on end.  Rocketship’s charter petition included a detailed financial analysis of its operations.  In that analysis, Rocketship states the following:

As explained in the “Instructional Minutes Section” of Element A, Rocketship’s unique rotational model and approach to instruction, which includes students spending a portion of their day in the Learning Lab, allows for students to receive instruction in core academic subjects at student/teacher ratios of no more than 29:1. Using our Year 1 Kindergarten class, we can explain how those ratios are achieved. Table A of the Financial Narrative (Appendix BO-1) shows we will enroll 116 Kindergarten students in Year 1. At any given time throughout the day, 29 of those students will be in the Learning Lab receiving additional practice in Math and Literacy at their current level of instruction through online learning, active reading, tutoring, and enrichment. Appendix BO-1, Table I, shows that we will hire  three certificated Kindergarten teachers in Year 1. The remaining 87 students will be split between those three teachers, receiving instruction in core academic subjects. This results in a classroom student/teacher ratio of 29:1.  Rocketship’s Mt. Diablo Official Charter Petition Appendix BO1

Check that out!  116 Kindergarten students and 3 teaches.  Rocketship’s fuzzy elementary math comes out to 116/3 = 29:1 student teacher ratio.  But in the rest of the universe, 116/3 is a stunning 38:1 student teacher ratio.  The difference?  Uncredentialed, non-certified classroom aids!  Rocketship sticks kindergartners in front of a computer screen supervised by aids that have nothing more than a high school diploma.  Why?  According to their own words, it’s all part of their grand “Financial Narrative” to use fewer teachers and make more money!

This is nothing new, it’s Rocketship’s standard model.  We’ve been writing about their astronomic 40:1 student teacher ratio for years, including how a few year ago, they hoped to move up to a 50:1 student teacher ratio in order to rake in $9 million in cold hard cash (We’re sure all those kindergartners think it would be worth it!).


Contra Costa County organizes against Rocketship, as hundreds protest against Rocketship at the Contra Costa County Board of Education meeting in October 2015.


Contra Costa County Protest