Rocketship Launch

How Franklin-McKinley School District is Paving the Way for Collaborative Excellence

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by David Kuizenga
Vice President, Bay Area

On Tuesday, April 14*, the Franklin-McKinley School Board will vote on Rocketship’s charter petition to open our third school in the district. Our partnership with the district has been an exciting collaboration for the past five years, starting with the opening of Mosaic Elementary in 2011 and continuing with the launch of Spark Academy two years later.

Under the leadership of Superintendent John Porter, the Franklin-McKinley School District has created a climate of innovation, collaboration and parent choice to improve the achievement of all students in the district. With nearly half of the students in Santa Clara County behind in grade level skills like reading and math, this approach is more valuable now than ever before.

What is happening in Franklin-McKinley is working; kids are thriving. Sixty percent of Franklin-McKinley’s district and charter schools recently reached the states ‘high performance’ classification. Three of its charter schools, Cornerstone Elementary Preparatory, Voices College-Bound Academy and our very own Mosaic Elementary, were named among the top thirteen schools beating the odds for high-need students in the Innovate Public Schools 2014 report “Struggling Schools, Promising Solutions.”

Recently, The Franklin-McKinley High Quality Schools Compact has paved the way for even further collaboration. The 2013 compact between 16 district schools, seven district-approved public charter schools and local community partners was formed to provide, “a model for forward-thinking, next- generation school development at the community level.” Our goal is to “take successful innovations from both local and national models and replicate them throughout the District and, in time, throughout the city of San Jose.”

Rocketship parent speaking at Franklin-Mickinly School Board

‘If charter schools can provide parents another public school option to better meet their child’s specific needs, then why shouldn’t they have that choice?” said Spark parent Priscila Diaz to the Franklin-Mickinly School Board at last months charter submission hearing.

The compact calls for mutual commitments to “create an ecosystem where current school redesign and new models can thrive.” This helps ensure that innovation and pockets of excellence spread. Putting student and community needs before competition among schools and districts is vital to establishing a healthy public school system. In a recent San Jose Mercury News editorial, the Gates Foundation’s Don Shalvey wrote that Franklin-McKinley’s groundbreaking partnership with charter schools like Rocketship is making all schools better.

With the upcoming school board vote, our community can come together once again to serve parents and students and achieve the goals of the compact. I am confident that will happen, and in doing so, the powerful movement and momentum of the Franklin-McKinley compact will further prosper as the Franklin-McKinley board and leadership brings even more high performing student seats to the district’s residents.

Last month, Dr. Porter announced his retirement at the end of this school year. It is my hope that his leadership and legacy will continue. With the compact and his leadership, he has set a course for Franklin-McKinley to become a national exemplar of collaborative excellence.

After all, the results speak for themselves. We know that through embracing collaboration, innovation and an ecosystem of choice, the district and all of its kids will continue to grow and thrive.

On Tuesday, April 14*, Franklin-McKinley will have the chance to signal that this collaboration continues even with a change in leaderships and we are hopeful they will stay the course. Join us to show your support for more great options in Franklin-McKinley.

* The hearing was originally scheduled for March 24. Franklin-McKinley requested an extension to have more time to review Rocketship’s petition. Rocketship agreed to delay the meeting until April 14.

Rocketship Franklin-McKinley Meeting flyer


Follow David on Twitter: @DavidKuizenga

David leads Rocketship’s Bay Area’s growth strategy, policy agenda, external relations and community development work. Before transitioning from the east coast back to California where he completed his senior year of high school and studied at University of California Davis, David was the Chief Administrative Officer for New Leaders for New Schools. David is a cyclist, a frustrated photographer, a backpacker and avid reader. He has three kids through college and is happy to be back in the Bay Area.

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