Archive for the ‘PPSEL’ Category

Charter school deserves a fair hearing

August 29, 2006

(Appearing in Daily News, Letters to the Editor 8/28/06)
I know some of the professional educators who have been spending countless hours putting together a charter for a new public school in Moscow (the Palouse Prairie School). When it came time to present their charter to the public Aug. 17, I was disappointed to hear the school district’s response. While it is understandable that they would not welcome a new entry into what was once their exclusive territory, I was hoping for a less biased and more open-minded attitude. Instead, I witnessed a stream of school district employees testifying about completely irrelevant details about day-to-day school management – details not at all relevant to the requirements (clearly set out by the state of Idaho) for approval of the charter.

It got to the point that I would not have been surprised to hear criticism about the school’s Monday lunch menu or where they propose the students hang their hats. One employee brought up some long-refuted data concerning the low ISAT scores of the now defunct Renaissance Charter School (it turns out that the school actually had raised the scores of previously poor performing district students).

Why doesn’t the district just come out and say it didn’t want the competition and be done with it instead of playing silly games. I understand that the state will have the ultimate say in approving the charter anyway.

Harry Moore, Moscow

School is good alternative

August 29, 2006

(Appearing in Daily News, Letters to the Editor 8/27/06)
I think that it would be a good idea to agree to the Palouse Prairie Charter School. It would be going by the same educational model that was used at Renaissance Public Charter School, where I had a great experience. I liked that we had more choice about when we did different subjects and about the amount of time we did the subjects for. Also, we did more projects and more speaking than worksheets and that worked a lot better for me. Please give other kids an opportunity to learn with this model by agreeing to the Palouse Prairie Charter School.

Nikola Stanziano, fifth-grader, Moscow

Board should OK charter school

August 24, 2006

(Appearing in Daily News, Letters to the editor 8/24/06)

I am writing in support of a recent petition by the Palouse Prairie Education Association to the Moscow School Board requesting approval of its charter.

Palouse Prairie Charter School would provide Moscow families with an alternative educational model called Experiential Learning Outward Bound, a project-based model used very successfully at Renaissance Public Charter School where my son attended kindergarten and first grade. As an involved parent, I would like to attest that though the administration failed to provide strong and ethical leadership, the ELOB model and its teachers proved their merit over and beyond my expectations. I also would add that while the Moscow School District has questioned the ability of ELOB to serve gifted and special needs children, it is my experience that ELOB is an expansion of what now happens in my son’s GT program, naturally integrating children at different levels and providing opportunities for them to learn from and support one another in the context of collaborative projects that draw on students’ unique talents and skill sets.

When my son was learning within the ELOB context, he was excited to go to school and full of enthusiasm afterward.

Sadly, this enthusiasm waned when he moved to a mainstream school. These are his foundational years, his prime years. I want those years to be more than OK. I want them to be outstanding. I want his love of learning to thrive and propel him to be the most creative, confident and capable citizen he can be. I see these values at the heart of the ELOB model and at the core of the Palouse Prairie Charter School.

The Moscow School District has great schools already, and expanding its support to include educational opportunities that may work better for some children and their families can only enhance the district.

Katrina Mikiah, Moscow

ELOB school will be good for Moscow

August 23, 2006

(Appearing in Daily News, Letters to the Editor, 8/23/06)

We are writing in support of a group in Moscow that is organizing a new public charter school based on the Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound ( model. We have a daughter who has attended Anser Charter School, an ELOB school in Boise, since its opening in 1999. This model allows students to delve deeply into a concept while relating it to their world.

For example, during one yearlong expedition, “The Roots of Rebellion,” the students did a survey at Boise State University asking college students their views, formulating questions about rebellion to guide them as they studied the Revolutionary and Civil wars, the civil rights movement, and the women’s rights movement. They wrote and illustrated poetry, which was compiled into a calendar, reproduced and sold to the public. Students wrote diary entries for two characters, British and Colonial, while studying the American Revolution. After many other activities, the students were better able to understand opposite perspectives and tolerate differences of opinion.

We can’t talk about Anser without mentioning the caring community it has created there. Classroom community and whole-school community are times set aside to share, connect, and recognize individual and group efforts. Bullying is rare, if not nonexistent. Positive character traits are taught and assessed.

Anser was a K-6 school for several years and later added seventh grade and then eighth grade as it gained stability in staffing, finances and other logistics. The Moscow school is proposing to take a similar approach.

An ELOB school would be good for Moscow because it would give parents more educational choice, the service projects would benefit the community, and the lessons learned would guide the children well through the rest of their lives!

Lee and Kathy Wassmuth, Boise

Charter school will provide alternatives

August 15, 2006

(Appearing in Daily News, Letters to the Editor, 8/15/06)
Our kids will go back to school soon. Every year there seems to be more government regulations, more standardized testing, more of an effort to squeeze our kids out of their childhood and onto the assembly line. In Moscow we’re fortunate to have a good school district, but there are limits to how much they can innovate or modify their program to offer alternatives for families who want them.

A group of local educators, community members, and advisers have come together to design a new public charter school in Moscow based on the Expeditionary Learning model. We are committed to creating a small, public K-eighth-grade charter school based on the love of learning, yet grounded in the basics and built on a solid business foundation. Expeditionary Learning is about returning learning to being about what kids need, not about what adults need, and we believe it can prosper here in Moscow.

A charter school is a public school that can be overseen by the local school district or by a state agency. We’re asking the Moscow School Board to approve our petition to create a new school so that we can maintain local oversight. The school board will hold a public meeting to discuss the merits of this petition at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Moscow Junior High School Music Room. As chairman of the board organizing this new school, I invite area families who are interested in creating an exciting educational alternative in town to show their support at this meeting.

Bill Rivers, Viola

New charter school being proposed for Moscow

August 15, 2006

By Kate Baldwin, Daily News staff writer
Published: 08-15-2006

Bill Rivers is trying to bring a new charter school — the Palouse Prairie School — to Moscow, but he knows that the failed Renaissance Public Charter School is still on people’s minds.If there was a good thing about the Renaissance Public Charter School closing, he said “it allowed us to redefine our charter based upon the things that didn’t work there.”

“We tried to take all those lessons to heart and we tried to put those into our charter in a better way,” said Rivers, chairman of the Palouse Prairie School board.

Rivers and his board members will try to allay concerns when they review their plans during a public meeting Thursday.

“A lot of people still don’t understand charter schools,” Rivers said. “I think there will be some explanation of what is this and how does it work.”

Charter schools are public schools that receive state funding for each pupil like a typical public school. The meeting is part of the required procedure for establishing a new charter school within the state.

The Palouse Prairie School submitted a petition this summer to the Moscow School District asking it to be its charter authorizer. The designation would make the district responsible for overseeing the charter school and making sure it fulfills the terms of its charter. This can be done with annual reports, onsite reviews and visitations, among other things.

The Moscow School Board will have 60 days to review the petition and make a decision. If the board decides not to accept responsibility, the charter school can submit a petition directly to the State Department of Education to be its charter authorizer.

The district already supervises the Moscow Charter School, which has a focus on technology and the performing arts. It also had supervised the Renaissance Public Charter School, which closed due to problems with governance.

“Obviously, the sooner we can (get approval) the better, because next school year we hope to be up and running,” said Olle Pellmyr, a parent and board member.

Pellmyr said he hopes to work with the Moscow School District because it has tremendous experience that can be shared through a collaboration.

“We should be self-sufficient,” he said. “But we want the best relationship possible with the public school district since we’re just another public school.”

The Palouse Prairie School will serve students in kindergarten through sixth grade, with plans to eventually include seventh and eighth grades. It would use the Expeditionary Learning ­Outward Bound model of education, which uses real-world projects to let students participate in research-based learning that has community outcomes.

The failed Renaissance Public Charter School also was an ELOB school, but Rivers said there are more than 140 successful ELOB schools across the country, some of which are located in the state.

Pellmyr, who is a research scientist, said he has confidence in the model because it has been tested. He also likes its flexibility.

“In many ways, it’s less regimental,” he said. “It puts a strong emphasis on collaboration and it works across the grades. It makes teaching realistic and takes it out to the community.”

Charter school benefits can include a different learning model for students and typically smaller classroom sizes.

There are concerns about how the school could impact existing schools. Drawbacks of a charter school may include a potential decline in enrollment for the hosting district and problems that can arise if a charter school is closed.

Moscow School District Superintendent Candis Donicht said enrollment is an important issue.

“It depends on where the kids come from,” she said. “If the kids were all previously homeschooled, then it doesn’t impact the school district. If they were attending here, we would no longer have them on our rolls and they would be transferred to the charter school.”

When a student transfers, state funding for that student transfers with the student. Because this point creates some obstacles in gaining support, Rivers argues in favor of more learning options.

“This school does not pull any children from any school district. Parents do,” Rivers said. “They are doing that of their own free will because they are looking for something different than what is currently being offered.”

As news of the meeting and the school spreads, Rivers said more people are asking for information.

Donicht said people have been stopping by the district office to pick up copies of the charter.

“We’ll open the doors and see who comes out,” she said.


* WHAT: Public Meeting on the proposal for Palouse Prairie School

* WHEN: 7 p.m. Thursday

* WHERE: Moscow Junior High School Music Room

* CONTACT: Moscow School District at (208) 882-1120 for more information.

Kate Baldwin can be reached at (208) 882-5561, ext. 239, or by e-mail at

Attend MSD Meeting to take public input on PPSEL Charter

July 26, 2006

On August 17, the Moscow School District will hold a public meeting (7:30-9:30, Moscow Jr High Music Room) to take public comment on the PPSEL charter. It is unknown at this time the exact format of the meeting, or if PPSEL will be able to make a presentation.

The PPSEL Board encourages members of the public with an interest in the school, Charter schools, or school choice to attend the meeting.

Come see PPSEL at Farmer’s Market

July 24, 2006

Palouse Prairie School, a new Charter school forming in Moscow, is planning on having a table at Farmer’s Market for the next few Saturdays. Come and drop by.

Our charter us under review my Moscow School Board, there will be a public meeting sometime in August. Right now, we are collecting names of families that might be interested in the school, and supporters of school choice, to prepare for the public meeting.

Introducing Palouse Prairie School of Experiential Learning (PPSEL)

July 20, 2006

I’ve joined the School Board for PPSEL, a new school forming in Moscow. The goal is to open the school in the Fall of 2007 as a K-6 public charter school. We are not at the beginning of the process, but there is a long way to go. The original five-person Board has done the work to create a Charter and budget planning, and to take those documents through Idaho state review. As I’m joining the Board, the revised Charter (responding to comments from the state) is before the Moscow School Board who are in their 60-day review period. The review will end in a public hearing on accepting the Charter (or not). Once accepted, the fun really begins.

Aware that this project is public in nature and that some documents and information need to be managed in a confidential way, I am launching a new section of the blog with updates, action you can take, and background information. RSS feeds of these are available, a page about all RSS from this site will help you know how to subscribe.

The topics:

  • Updates: Informational updates on the status of ongoing, or newly launched activities. Reports on milestones.
  • Action: Invitations to specific action you can take to advance the cause of the school. Public Meetings to attend, letters to write, work parties to join.
  • Background: General background information on Charter schools, school choice, resources, Experiential Learning/Outward Bound (ELOB) model, rubrics and assessment.

New charter school on the horizon for Moscow

May 10, 2006

By Kate Baldwin Daily News staff writer
Published: 05-10-2006
Education choices are about to grow by one with a new charter school’s arrival in Moscow. Organizers behind the Palouse Prairie Charter School are inviting the public to find out more at a community meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday in the Great Room of the 1912 Center.The school is set to open in August 2007, eventually expanding through eighth grade. The school first will enroll roughly 75 students and grow to 150. In the beginning, the grades will be combined as first and second, third and fourth, and fifth and sixth.

The school, which will serve students in kindergarten through sixth grade, will use an Expeditionary Learning–Outward Bound model. Bill Rivers, chairman of the school’s board, describes the approach as focused on project-based learning, where students plunge in-depth into single topics they choose.

“It’s very different from the traditional teacher in front of the classroom telling the answers to the kids that they memorize,” he said.

The effort to bring the school to Moscow began about two years ago, Rivers said. There now are about 15 core families involved.

Local parent Olle Pellmyr has a son, Bjorn, who will be entering public school this fall. He hopes to have him transfer to the charter school when it opens. Pellmyr said he found out about the project in the typical Palouse way.

“I was talking to one of my colleagues at (Washington State University) about teaching models, and he said there was a group putting this together in town,” he said.

Pellmyr and his wife began attending meetings a few weeks ago.

“When a school first starts up people are naturally hesitant,” he said. “You, in a sense, have to take a leap of faith that it will actually work.”

He said the organizers have tremendous knowledge of the task at hand. “These are people that are coming from all walks of education.”

The model was developed in 1993 and is used at more than 140 schools across the country, including Spokane and Boise.

Charter schools are public schools that have to hold enrollment lotteries, though there often is a misconception that students are hand-picked.

“The first few years are when you have a very good chance of getting in,” he said. “Why not tailor the schools to the kids, rather than the kids to the schools?” Pellmyr said. “If we can have that without sacrificing the rigorousness of the academic programs, I thinks that’s perfect.”

For more information, visit the Web site at

Kate Baldwin can be reached at (208) 882-5561, ext. 239, or by e-mail at