Since California became the second state to approve a public charter school law in 1992, Los Angeles has long been fertile ground for excellent public charter schools. L.A. leads the nation in the number of students attending public charter schools, and in the last decade alone, the city has supported the growth of several high-quality public charter networks that have expanded across the city, statewide and nationally.
Today, more than 22 percent of Los Angeles public school students attend charter schools. And tens of thousands more families want to enroll their children in public charter schools—but there simply are not enough seats. The quality of education public charter schools provide makes clear the reason for this demand. A 2014 Stanford study found that Los Angeles charter schools deliver the equivalent of 50 extra days of learning in reading and nearly 80 extra days of learning in math in one school year.
But the demand for public charter schools is about culture as much as it is about results. By giving principals and teachers more resources and autonomy, public charter schools can quickly and adeptly respond to the needs of their schools and their communities.
At Green Dot Public Schools, which serves more than 10,000 students in Los Angeles alone, it means taking over the most challenged and struggling local district schools and transforming them into safe, successful campuses. And at Alliance College-Ready Public Schools, it means a personalized approach to learning so the network’s 10,000 students receive individualized instruction.
The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation is working to support and expand these public charter networks and others as they improve educational opportunities for Los Angeles students. Our goal over the next eight years is to help give every family access to a high-quality public school, effectively eliminating the wait list for public charter schools in Los Angeles. Every family, and every student, deserves the chance to attend a great public school, and we hope to help make that a reality in our home city.
Alliance College-Ready Middle Academy
A 2015 Teacher of the Year
“There is a beautiful quote by Stephen Sondheim, from ‘Into the Woods.’ The line is ‘Children may not obey, but children will listen.’ That resonates so strongly with me because I know even though my sixth-graders are so young, I know they are listening to the questions we pose as educators. It gives me hope that in developing critical thinking skills, they will come back and serve this community. There is a narrative that if you live in South or East L.A. you have to get out. But I don’t see it that way. I think change comes from within. My kids give me hope. I know they’re listening.”
Greed Dot Ánimo Pat Brown Charter High School
“After five years working for the district, it was clear to me there were limits to the amount of change I could effect in the classroom, even as a teacher leader. We were running into district policies and teachers union issues that were preventing a group of us from really pushing the kids as hard as we needed to, to prioritize instructional minutes, to build a safe and strong culture. So when I got the phone call offering me a position to go to Green Dot, one thing they said was, ‘We will always put the needs of students before the needs of adults.’ That was not in my experience the practice in some of the larger districts. What that has meant is building schedules and teacher assignments not on seniority but on what students need and who the best people are to teach them. It means going out of our way to engage families and communities, making sure they’re welcome at the school site and involving them in addressing some of the barriers to learning that we observe with the students. And finally it was a place where I could work with other people who had chosen and gone out of their way to work in a high-need environment where we were going to hold ourselves accountable. I was very moved by the fact that I was going to work really hard and do whatever it took and so was every other person that I was working with. The strength of the team was really appealing to me.”