Nea is like a start-up school: underfunded, greatly understaffed leading to burnt out,inexperienced teachers, under-resourced (there are no drinking fountains or playground structure on campus for the elementary kids to play on daily), underachieving (academics are not strong) and likely to go under with the lack of proper implementation of policies and procedures.The leadership is lacking and the communication is indescribably inadequate causing nightmares for many families.Parent volunteers are not allowed in the classroom to help with academics like reading, writing, math.They are allowed to volunteer for recess duty and free time supervision or special projects sometimes.School dance got rescheduled 3 times this year because of poor events management and double bookings.How hard is it not to double book a date for an event?Why do people announce they are going to attend and supervise and then pull out the day of the event and flake out?Where is the dedication to the students?The kids were devastated to have gotten dance dresses and then not being able to wear them until months later.Why do so many kids have two free periods back to back?Too much free time, not enough learning!
The wait list is used as a marketing tool to make people think Nea is in high demand and a great school.You'll buy into the hype because all the info is propaganda. The truth-in 2008 AUSD/Board of Education unanimously denied Nea's charter petition because of insufficient details about how they'd implement K-5 (they have no experience). 3 years later,Nea can't hide the fact that they don't know how to run a k-5 school &our kids are being left behind.Kids are not academically on pace w/ AUSD peers.Project based learning translates into unstructured, chaotic,loud classrooms.Kids babysat in the chaotic Nest so often instead of being taught academics. FYI,3rd grade kids to switch classes for different subjects not developmentally appropriate(6th graders have a hard time w/this).K-5 kids shouldn't be in a middle school environment with no playground or water fountain.Ironically, Nea moved k-5, from Longfellow that has a playground,h2o fountains &kept upper grades there instead.Principal yells at kids/parents & has a hostile if you don't like it leave approach.It's true, parents are 2nd class citizens here. Info is tightly controlled by principal so communication is beyond bad.
I do not recommend this school. AUSD schools have stronger academics and superior leadership. The jr. high and high school programs at Nea are really questionable. I am not convinced that my child will be ready for college after attending Nea.
I really love working at Nea. it's got the feel of a small start-up tech firm: we're a super-committed, high-energy staff with tons of ideas and a mission to grow the school into a smashing success. Our model is based on the idea that students can learn how to guide their own education and succeed in a world that requires people to think for themselves, be self-starters, and pursue their talents. Sure, we don't always get it right, but we're constantly asking ourselves how to do it better. My principal is happy as long as I'm figuring out creative new ways to tackle the content standards and engage all sorts of brains in the material. This year we conceived and executed a major end-of-semester school-wide exhibition of student projects that was pretty awesome. Next year will be even better.
Nea is in its third year of operation. It currently has 465 learners in grades K-11 and will expand to grade 12 next year. Nea has received 341 applications for approximately 73 openings next year. Nea still has opening for grades 9-12. Apply online at neaclc.net
Leadership has minimal administrative training and it shows. When I pulled my daughter out of the Up. Village for good in April, the administration at Nea simply allowed her to leave the school unmonitored,and didn't even check to make sure that she was OK afterward. All I received was an email later that week asking for one of her books back. The "tree" is useless,as it is not managed appropriately. I later found out that she had been bullied all year in the "tree" by a classmate, and did not feel able to tell me until after she had been out for a few months. The facilitators in charge knew about this, apparently, and did nothing to alert me. This was after having homework consistently lost by one of her facilitators. Their entire assessment system needs work. I was definitely one of their biggest supporters when they began, as I helped get their Gov. Board going, but now I am going to petition AUSD on a yearly basis to get the taxpayers' funds back. Give the taxpayers' money to AUSD, and let the competent professionals do the work. ...And now a rebuttal will be written by a friend of the Lead facilitato or a bullied facilitator I'm sure because that seems to be what they do...
I just wish I could take back the 2 years of my kids' life that we wasted at Nea. And thank god that they're now in a school where they are led, and not just pushed from behind. Nea's administration was complete chaos and also hypocritical because they demanded a high level of organization from everyone around them. The whole thing felt very amateurish. What a horror it was to discover just how much of the basics my kids hadn't been getting at Nea. We're full of regret. I give the teachers 3 stars because some of them were great and others were just awful.
To the previous "reviewer", yes, my kids love Nea, but that is because of their facilitators. And yes, both my wife and I have but in many hours towards helping build Nea, to have he principal encourage us to push farther and put in more hours, and then to have her suddenly change her mind and throw away all our work. But, putting our work aside, take a look at the facilitators. They look worn out, and over he years I have witnessed several of them coming from the principal's office red eyed and upset.
NEA TEACHER ARE AMAZING, but so many other things need some work. There's a huge disconnect between the administration and the families. Communication is a huge issue. Any info or questions gets sucked into an information black hole. We seem to get info at the very last minute. The administrators don't seem to care much for parents input/ideas. The focus is more on growing the school and less on providing what is stated in the charter. The head facilitator publicly scolded and banned a parent on the message board recently for inviting parents to plan academic afterschool activities for kids. You can be banned for that? Makes parents feel like we can't post or suggest anything we think may be helpful especially with the current budget crisis. The PTA can use some transparency- there's no minutes on their website, no info stating how funds are being spent (some AUSD schools have this info on their websites). Parents want to know how their kids are benefiting from PTA contributions. On the plus side, NEA has STELLAR teachers and committed families that are really trying to do a lot to make the school thrive.
Teachers are very nice and seem to care. In theory "learner led" education and a more project based approach. What should have been experiments in how to implement the "model" became rigid structures that are foisted on children even when it is not developmentally appropriate. The "model" is ill defined, parents are not welcome and their input about their own children ignored. Communication with home is dreadful. The lead facilitator (pricnciple) says community, but walks a very different walk. Parents' input about what their kids need is largely ignored. The school has had a wait list and that makes the leadership feel that no family is all that important. Take it or leave it. On the up side, I think the kids are getting a good education, they do some nice work on helping kids become more independent. My child is in the lower school and all the teachers I know care alot about the kids and run thoughtful carriculums. The school as a whole though can be erratic, with a lot of last minute decisions and changes. Yes its new, but the problems stem more from an attitude problem and basic disrespect for families on the one hand, and disorganized work flow on the other hand.
How did I miss this great site where you can post things about our school! Ok, so, I am a parent of a new 4th grader and I have to say that I am excited about the possibilities at NEA! I have been to recent meetings for the new community and I hear the questions and criticisms about the school that people pose to the facilitators and leaders. I see the defensiveness in the answers, too. Though the leadership may need to polish up a little, I can understand the defensiveness because they are trying a model that most of us know nothing about. We can't look to the sister school about the elementary part...this is one great experiment! I think that they should keep defending their ideas so that people can't come in and try to change what they don't understand. I see NEA as a hopeful place of choice. If people don't like it, they should make other choices, not try to change what are clearly the things that make NEA different from every other school in Alameda. Exercise your right to choose. For only two years in existence, this school is great! I can't wait to help it improve. More parents should help, too. See you there!
An excellent model placing great emphasis on the progressive idea of self-guided learning, which has been very successfully applied at its sister charter school, ACLC. However, although Nea's leadership is strong and inspired it is also often too defensive for its own good, so suggestions for improvement are too often perceived as a negative response to the philosophy itself and dismissed with the notion that "this is model is not for everybody but this is how it is, take it or leave it," instead of giving it some thought and tweaking it where needed. I also agree with a previous reviewer about the PTA being too exclusive and not at all representative of the school's diversity. If these issues are addressed it has the potential to become another charter success story, but it's not quite there yet.
The school and CLCS leadership is primarily focused on promoting "their model", so they can market it nationwide.I went from being one of this school's biggest proponents to one of its biggest naysayers. I gave them so much of my time and there was never any gratitude expressed. The Lead Facilitator is very much about "self promotion", and not so much about "listening". The staff seems totally intimidated since she has hired her son to "supervise" the "playground", an asphalt patch that's good for basketball and street hockey. Once I informed the leadership that my child was not coming back next year, we immediately "didn't exist" any more.
I go to this school currently and I have to say that it's pretty good, but at times in the tree it can use some help
Nea operates under a great project based curriculum, good teachers, and has a lot of potential, but it also has some serious flaws. Namely, the communication between the school and the parents. There really isn't any. As a parent I feel like a second class citizen. I also think they are very punitive and don't really promote community.
excellent school, very fortunate to have found this option. I appreciate the alternative curriculum. The project based approach is inspiring for my child and allows her to excel and push herself. She always did well, but wasn't inspired. Teachers are very good and very engaged in what they do. very active parental community in K-5 that does a lot for the school, but definitely a core group that runs things...a little hard to figure out what's going on as a new parent and to 'break in' but I think attributable to it being a new school too (only in it's 2nd year).
1. Good, inspired, strong leadership - not yet refined, but most of the important ingredients to set this school apart from most others in the area are there... a good start for a new school (K-12!) ...in trying times 2. Overall some excellent teachers, with a progressive approach to the learning process towards self-guided development 3. Small clique of very controlling parents run the PTA...- so not exactly welcoming of newcomers or inclusive of the wider parent community
We feel very fortunate to have found Nea. My son started at Washington and complained about school (in kindergarten!). Now in second grade at Nea, he loves school. The first and second grade teachers are fantastic.
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