CHARTER SUCCESS IN LOS ANGELES
October 15, 2008
This month the Inner City Education Foundation (ICEF), a charter school network in Los Angeles, announced plans to expand the number of public charter schools in the city's South Central section, which includes some of the most crime-ridden neighborhoods in the country. Over the next four years, the number of ICEF charters will grow to 35 from 13. Eventually, the schools will enroll one in four students in the community, including more than half of the high school students.
The demand for more educational choice in predominantly minority South Los Angeles is pronounced, says the Wall Street Journal:
- The waitlist for existing ICEF schools has at times exceeded 6,000 kids.
- Like KIPP, Green Dot and other charter school networks that aren't constrained by union rules on staffing and curriculum, ICEF has an excellent track record, particularly with black and Hispanic students.
- In reading and math tests, ICEF charters regularly outperform surrounding traditional public schools as well as other Los Angeles public schools.
- ICEF has been operating since 1994, and its flagship school has now graduated two classes, with 100 percent of the students accepted to college.
- By contrast, a state study released in July reported that one in three students in the L.A. public school system -- including 42 percent of black students -- quits before graduating, a number that has grown by 80 percent in the past five years.
ICEF says that its ultimate goal is to produce 2,000 college graduates each year, in hopes that the graduates eventually will return to these underserved communities and help create a sustainable middle class. Given that fewer than 10 percent of high-school freshmen in South Los Angeles currently go on to receive a college diploma, this is a huge challenge. Resistance from charter school opponents won't make it any easier, says the Journal.
Source: Editorial, "Charter Success in L.A.," Wall Street Journal, October 14, 2008.
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