January 16, 2017

Dear Families Interested in the Ross Valley Charter,

As a MAP founder, I have wanted to write a letter of encouragement to you all for some time and share with you our experience of starting that program and being a parent in it for 15 years.

For our family, MAP has always been about the bigger experience of learning in community. Our 25-year-old daughter Meredith said it well, in a statement to the State Board in Sacramento about MAP, in support of RVC –

“My ability to solve problems creatively and in collaboration with peers is a foundational piece in my learning that I have used in every academic setting since MAP, and came directly from the particular blend of academic, creative, social and emotional skills that the MAP community provided to me. I am forever grateful that I was afforded the opportunity to be in this type of program, and sincerely hope that it will be made available to many others in the years to come.”

The proud mother in me wants you to know Meredith is a kind and respectful kid who has worked hard, graduated from Berkeley in 4 years – and is 3 years into her PhD in Geophysics at Stanford.

All our children thrived in MAP, our older kids have gone on to do well in college, in their chosen fields, to be collaborative problem solvers and strong community members. Our youngest ones are working their way through high school with the benefit of a close community of families that they have learned and grown up with in MAP.

The experience we had in starting the alternative program in the Ross Valley School District over 2 decades ago involved many difficult School Board meetings, information sharing events, and following up on negative conversations, emails and letters to families from District Administration personnel. The District opposition to our parent led effort for an alternative created lots of tension and distress in the community, with large numbers of misinformed, angry folks coming to meetings.

We persevered, became more educated ourselves and eventually succeeded in starting the program. Given the benefit to hundreds of children and families, I will always say the effort we made then was worth it.

Once the program started, the animosity and conflict melted away in the larger community. The majority of disagreements that did occur at Manor were from having two programs on one campus and because wait-listed families could not access the program due to lack of space. This was generally worked through with constructive dialogue, clarifying misunderstandings and also by doubling the number of MAP classrooms.

At Drake High School students have appreciated more than twenty years of programs of choice. They operate on one campus with little acrimony because site leaders have had the desire and the structures to work through disagreements. Some programs have existed for years (ROCK, Comacad) and others are welcomed to better address the needs of students in a different way. There was no public outcry when a group of teachers wanted to try a new approach to learning for students at the beginning of this school year and a new academy was started. There is no perception that one group is better than another, or taking away from how other students may learn, they just do it in a different way.

So, please take heart and keep faith. Try not to be intimidated by the negative rhetoric. Many people in our community are solution oriented and do not want to engage in the divisive behavior that some are encouraging.

From our family to yours we wish you peace and joy in this new year.

Most Sincerely,
Robin Goebel