The founders of Tassajara Prep strongly believe in the positive impact a charter public high school will have on the education of all students throughout Dublin. Tassajara Prep will receive money from the same funding sources as Dublin High School. That money belongs to the students and should, therefore, follow the students to the school that best meets their needs. The competition for enrollment will naturally motivate both the charter public school and traditional public school to focus on the students. Cities like Pleasanton, San Ramon, and Danville have thrived with two public high schools, and Dublin will be no different. In fact, the founders are delighted that Dublin Unified School District (DUSD) is already responding constructively to the competitive pressure exerted by Tassajara Prep, long before the school’s grand opening.
As published in an Around Dublin article on February 18, 2009, the DUSD Board of Trustees voted 3-2 against further exploration of the “Advanced Diploma” concept. DUSD already has a “Diploma with Distinction” to recognize Dublin High School students who receive all Cs or better and high scores on the California state exams. While the “Diploma with Distinction” was viewed by most parents as a move in the right direction, many felt it did not go far enough to motivate students to challenge themselves. Board Trustees Ledahl, Henry, and Cunningham argued that DUSD should focus on cost-cutting measures and developing classes to support the new Dublin High School graduation requirements. On October 13, 2009, just weeks after plans for Tassajara Prep were announced, the Trustees unexpectedly reversed their earlier decision and approved the “Advanced Diploma” program by a stunning 5-0 vote. As covered by Eric Louie of Contra Costa Times, “the new Advanced Scholars Diploma will be given to students meeting requirements they will likely need for admission into the University of California or California State University systems.”
Along with a newfound interest in elevating the academic standards at Dublin High School, DUSD has also actively explored ways to mitigate the commute time for Dublin High students who regularly rely on WHEELS’ Route 202. Dublin High students from Dublin Ranch have contended with bus routes that are at least 30 minutes each way for nearly a decade. After plans for Tassajara Prep were announced, DUSD, with the help of Mayor Tim Sbranti and the Livermore Amador Valley Transit Authority (LAVTA), successfully lobbied for a more direct WHEELS bus route from Dublin Ranch to Dublin High School in record time. The more streamlined Route 202 will be roughly 20 minutes each way.
As Tassajara Prep’s charter petition continues along the grueling process towards final approval, the founders have full confidence in DUSD’s ability to adapt effectively to the growing competitive pressure exerted by Tassajara Prep and implement policies that will benefit all students in Dublin proactively. Objectives such as creating smaller learning environments within Dublin High School, offering the same number of AP classes as other Tri-Valley cities, and elevated graduation standards will all become possible. The misguided notion that a successful charter public school and a successful traditional public school are mutually exclusive and cannot thrive together within Dublin will be replaced by a renewed sense of optimism that friendly competition will continually motivate the two public high schools to meet the needs of the students the best they can. That common goal shared between the two high schools as both “Race to the Top” will be the unifying force that make us all truly One Dublin.