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|Citizens of the World’s Hollywood campus is located at Le Conte Middle School|
By Becky Koppenhaver
Citizens of the World Charter school has submitted an application to the Los Angeles school district to open a new K- 12 charter school in the Echo Park-Silver Lake area.
The new school, which would open by fall of 2012 if the application is approved, would be the second campus to be operated by Citizens of the World Charter (CWC) . The charter opened its first school in Hollywood last year and has also applied to open a CWC in the Mar Vista area. A petition was recently circulated in Silver Lake and Echo Park asking residents for their support of the new charter.
The news is sure to spark both protest and support from residents of Echo Park and Silver Lake. Several L.A. Unified schools in the area have suffered declining enrollment as charters have opened nearby, including the Sandra Cisneros Learning Academy, Gabriella Charter and the Los Felix Charter for the Arts. Some L.A. Unified schools, like Silver Lake’s Mayberry Elementary, have been forced to lay off teachers and combine classrooms into mixed grade classes as enrollment drops further.
Tamir Haliban, a Silver Lake parent who heads the outreach committee for the proposed school, said the progressive-modeled charter is attracted to the area because of the mix of demographics. He says that the charter school, which emphasizes project-based and hands-on learning, values diversity above all else.
If approved, the new CWC school will open as a K-3rd grade school, adding a grade every year until 12th grade while maintaining small class sizes of 22 children.
Speaking as a parent, Haliban, who has a child who will enter kindergarten next year, said he understands the fear that some have over the growing charter movement. But what he doesn’t understand is why parents don’t want more options for their children when it comes to education.
“Ultimately, I’d like to see the local schools thrive, and I’d like to see parents committed to those schools have great choices between curriculums,” Haliban said. “It is possible that the ‘anti-charter’ folks see those two things as mutually exclusive, but that just isn’t the case nor can we afford to think that way.”
Haliban says he would like to see the alternative curriculums offered in some private schools be made available to public school children as well.