Rosendo Garcia believes there are hundreds of Galt-area students that head off to work every day instead of going to school.
Garcia is a supervisor in the bilingual and multicultural education department at California State University, Sacramento and one of the organizers of the proposed Nueva Vision charter school.
Plans call for the school to be located at the south west corner of F and Third Street in downtown Galt. Currently there are several large palm trees and a historical water tower on the lot which the builders will attempt to preserve.
Garcia said the mission of the charter school would be to educate the students who are at the most risk for dropping out of the system. The students who are working rather than studying.
Their plans for a charter school, however, have been criticized as vague by education leaders in Sacramento County. The Galt Joint Union High school board denied the petition to open a charter school four times in five years. The school was only able to proceed after the Sacramento County board of education voted 6-1 to approve the proposal, overturning the Galt school board's decision.
The leaders of the new school are educators and nonprofit managers who have spent years trying to reach the Hispanic population they say is undeserved in Galt and surrounding communities.
"Students have a lot of playground English and they can communicate very well, but when they get into the academic realm they don't understand," Garcia said "We're taking the bull by the horns. We're recruiting the bottom 5 or 10 percent of English language learning students."
Organizers of the school say the want to provide students ages 14-22 with the skills they'll need to pass the state exit exam and earn a diploma. They hope to attract young adults who also don't have the same language skills as those who grew up learning English.
But Sacramento County Office of Education Superintendent Dave Gordon said only time will tell if the charter school will be successful. Gordon said he was concerned with contradictions in the petitioners' plan.
"If you're going to open a school it ought to be clear what the program is," Gordon said.
The next step is for the county board of education and the charter school to draft and agree on a memorandum of understanding. If both sides can't come to an agreement by July 1, 2008, the school can't open.
There are timelines attached to the agreement. At least 100 students must be enrolled, and their names must be submitted to the county office before March 1, 2008. By June 1, 2008, an education program must be submitted. It must include curriculum, instructional materials, testing and assessments, plans for serving special education students. If all these conditions aren't met, the charter is void.
Nueva Vision's curriculum director Alicia Meza holds a doctorate in education from University of the Pacific, specializing in bilingual school administration.
"The emphasis for us is for addressing the needs of youngsters who are having problems with English and those who are proficient in English but are having problems earning their high school diploma," she said.
With a teaching style called "sheltered English," teachers incorporate English into all subject areas. They use visual aids, illustrations, hand gestures and translation.
The goal is to help students create connections to what they already know, while introducing new concepts in English. Most teachers will be bilingual in Spanish and English, but all instruction will be done in English.
Garcia and Meza said teachers they're interested in hiring will be authorized by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing to teach English-learning students. Tutors and student teachers attending Sacramento State will help students who speak languages besides Spanish.
Students will follow the same standards as traditional high school. They will use the same books and take assessments like the Standardized Testing and Reporting and California High School Exit Exam.
Student enrollment hasn't started yet, but organizers say they will start getting the word out at markets, churches and on radio programs. They also expect many of the students whose parents signed the original petition to enroll.
Only a half-dozen teachers are needed in the first year, but Garcia said more than 20 have expressed interest. Teachers will be recruited from a 20-mile radius of the district, Garcia said.
Many are ready to retire but not ready to sit idly at home. Most will work half-time or part-time.
"Those of us who have retired still want to work. Once a teacher, always a teacher," Meza said.