A new Echo Park charter school that had originally planned to teach K-3rd grade students primarily in Spanish now says it is developing a separate English-language curriculum for incoming English-speaking students.
Hoa Truong, Chief Operating Officer of Camino Nuevo Charter Academy, says the school has revised their instructional model in response to the needs of the community. “Camino Nuevo now plans to offer English-only instruction to those students who desire or require it,” he said.
The original petition submitted to the Los Angeles Unified School District by Camino Nuevo outlined an instructional program that was taught primarily in Spanish beginning in kindergarten but included progressively more English – and less Spanish instruction – each year until the 5th grade. Camino Nuevo claims the program has been a proven success at two other of its campuses in the MacArthur Park area. The school’s initial plans were based on the assumption that the student population of the Echo Park Camino Nuevo Charter Academy mirrored that of the MacArthur park area.
But many parents in the community, including some from the group Echo Park Moms and Dads for Education, felt that, among other criticisms, Camino Nuevo was not taking into account the diversity of the Echo Park community, where many Latino, Filipino, and Anglo children speak primarily English.
The charter elementary and middle school is meant to relieve overcrowding by drawing students from Rosemont, Union Avenue, Lake Street Primary, and Virgil and King middle schools. It will also serve as a resident school for the 454 children who live in the charter’s boundaries. A random lottery will take place this summer to fill any of the 184 seats not filled by resident students.
Ana Ponce, director of the school, says that based on community interest so far there will not be a problem filling primarily English instruction classes. She says the school is also looking forward to recruiting new students from the area and hopes parents in and out of the boundaries will consider what Camino Nuevo has to offer.
“Camino Nuevo is very excited to roll out our community engagement and recruitment plans. We look forward to meeting with incoming students and families over the next few months.”
Becky Koppenhaver is a freelance writer covering schools. You can send Becky story tips and ideas at becky@theEastsiderLA.com