State schools chief visits NC |

State schools chief visits NC

John HartState Superintendent of Schools Delaine Eastin visits a Nevada City School of the Arts art class on Bitney Springs Road Tuesday morning.
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Delaine Eastin, California’s outgoing superintendent of public instruction, Tuesday praised Nevada City School of the Arts’ innovative teaching methods and reassured teachers and parents the school’s charter status benefits the community.

Eastin visited music education, dance and grade-level classes in a morning walk-through before meeting with parents, teachers and county Superintendent of Schools Terry McAteer in a wide-ranging discussion about the future of charter schools, some of which have come under fire for their accounting practices in Nevada and Fresno counties.

“We’ve been working on creating better rules for charters, better ways so they can continue to deliver quality education to students,” said Eastin, whose second term as the state’s top educator ends in January.

Eastin made her comments in front of a receptive crowd, many of whom pulled their students out of traditional schools in favor of the charter school’s arts-based curriculum, smaller class sizes and individualized instruction.

“We have expectations of education that are very high, and I don’t think we can meet those goals through traditional education,” said Jeff Kirishian, a member of the school’s 11-person governance council, which includes teachers and administrators.

Kirishian has two children, 12 and 10, in the 210-student K-8 school.

“The vast majority of charters are doing the right things, but there are charters that don’t use credentialed teachers, charging tuition and bringing religious-based education into schools,” Eastin said. “The more performance-based schools we have, the better.”

Eastin, who has made school visits a hallmark of her administration, visited the Twin Ridges School District site in part because of its recent National Blue Ribbon School designation.

“We have to figure out how we enforce rigorous standards, and make sure our teachers are credentialed and that we keep attendance records straight. I want charter schools to grow and prosper, and there has to be enough teeth in charter school law that ensures we are meeting state standards,” she said.

Eastin said she is pleased with the school’s progress since it opened less than five years ago.

“I do think that when you see positive results like I’ve seen here, it shows that this is clearly a successful enterprise,” she said.

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