New Village Charter School

OAKLAND -- After limping along for three years with seesaw enrollment and 100 percent teacher turnover, the New Village charter school in Oakland is calling it quits.

Two weeks ago, all four teachers and the principal resigned, paving the way for the Alameda County Board of Education's vote Tuesday that revoked the school's charter contract…

New Village opened three years ago in an empty Catholic school building in North Oakland with ambitious plans to teach tolerance by bringing issues of race, class and sexual orientation into the K-5 classrooms. Students were encouraged to settle disputes in a "chill room" next door to the principal's office. Nearly 100 youngsters enrolled the first year.

Tolerance was the first thing to crumble, Blackwell said. Parents and teachers began having cultural misunderstandings, and white parents pulled their children out of the school, making it difficult to teach racial tolerance, she said.

"We had another problem with parents who told their children it was OK to fight to protect themselves," she said. "How do you teach tolerance when you get kids like that?"

Last year, enrollment dropped to a precarious 62 students, and state per-pupil funding shrank accordingly. The school fell five months behind in rent and cut its after-school day-care program to save money. Adults began bickering, with the 13- member board and the school administration butting heads over who would make the final decisions on curriculum, class sizes and spending.

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