Charter school operator seeks to open Echo Park-Silver Lake campus

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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.

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  1. Stop misreporting what happened at Mayberry. No one was LAID OFF! You keep suggesting that. There was only one teacher impacted, and he was transferred to another school where they needed another teacher. Nobody is losing their job, but you keep reporting otherwise. That transfer merely left Mayberry with similar class sizes as all the other schools in the district rather than something less. The school is still there, people who want to send their children to Mayberry may do so — there is no problem here other than that they did it a month into the school year and so it required a disrupting shuffling around for a new class lineup.

  2. Mr. Mark – I asked myself why are you so misinformed about Mayberry’s issues yet sound so passionate about always putting your two cents about it. Do you have children at Mayberry? Do you work for the Charters? Who do you think you are? YES, a teacher was LAID OFF at Mayberry a week ago. Actually it equals to THREE teachers being LAID OFF from Mayberry since June 2011. Two were notified as soon as projections came out in June due to dropping enrollment (BECAUSE IN THE NEW PROJECTION THERE WERE STUDENTS RE-ASSIGEND TO THE NEW CHARTER). DUE TO THE LAY-OFF AT MAYBERRY – YES LAY-OFF, THOSE 2 TEACHERS WERE FORCED TO LOOK FOR ANOTHER TEACHING POSITION AND SUBMITT APPLICATIONS IN ORDER FOR THEM TO BE HIRED AT OTHER SCHOOLS. Then 1 week ago another one of our teacher’s was informed he also had to leave (call it LAY-OFF, DISPLACED or whatever suits you best). He was also forced to submit applications elsewhere and leave Mayberry. This was due to the projections not coming in as planned and our enrollment being even less that what was thought to be. Again let me remind you that we lost enrollment to the new Charters that opened in the area. So please can YOU stop misreporting what happened at Mayberry. Please get the correct facts and do your research. Summary: Mayberry has lost 3 teachers (laid, off, displaced, forced-out) in the last 4 months due to the growing number of charters that are popping out in the area. Yes, there is a problem with kids being shuffled around from class to class 4-5 weeks into the school year. Yes, there is a problem with a teacher who teaches lower grade to be thrown in to all of sudden teach 6th grade in a 1 day notice. Yes, there is a problem with kids being in split classes where a teacher needs to split their time in two grade levels. Mr. Mark, it may not be a problem to you because you are not a student, parent, or a teacher here but to us it is a HUGE PROBLEM.

  3. hey you two: get a room. can you argue about this in the proper thread please?

  4. Mayberry is not the only school to be affected by the charters. Elysian Heights also lost a kindergarten teacher. Not all displaced teachers can find another job. In any case, the above article certainly makes the charter sound wonderful — but charters have absolutely no track record to prove that they know what they are doing. And if they happen to score high on tests — it’s only because they don’t take all students. I truly find the above “interview” of Tamir Haliban disturbing because no one else was quoted to give it any balance. Too bad. I am anti-charter and I know charters are one big reason why we are losing all our libraries in LAUSD.

  5. I’m gutted that our neighborhood schools stand absolutely no chance for improvement in the face of the rise of charters. And I say this as someone who is not anti-charter and thinks that a good many charters are doing great things and have a lot to offer. I just think a community based local elementary school has even MORE to offer when it’s given the chance to thrive.

  6. As a teacher for LAUSD, I would differentiate between a Reduction In Force and a Displacement. They are not the same. Displaced teachers are best off if they take their resume and look for a good placement because otherwise they will be placed at a school by the LAUSD beauracracy. A RIF or lay off means you are out of a job. Both are disruptive for the school.

  7. @well: this is exactly the thread for a discussion about how influx of charters impacts LAUSD. Thanks all for your information!

  8. I am starting to feel like charter= xenophobia. It seems to me that the influx of charters coincides with a change in area demographics. If I send my kid to a charter I’m a bad citizen because it negatively effects the neighborhood school that is a close walk from my home. If I send him to the neighborhood school his education may be short changed due to closing libraries, teacher and class shuffling and other financial issues.

    We are truly screwed 🙁

  9. @atsears: you are wrong. This thread is about a different school in a different neighborhood, effecting different people. By bringing up Mayberry in this thread, you have to rehash all of the arguments on both sides and that limits discussion of the content of this article. For those who do not wish to read about Mayberry, it creates a situation where one has to filter through the Mayberry talk to read about our communities take on the proposed citizens of the world charter. It’s common Internet etiquette: stick to the topic. You already have a thread for your issue.

  10. @Well. New charter schools have a lot to do with local schools because they impact them. Please re-read the third paragraph of the article:

    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.

  11. @mayberry mommy: point taken. not so sure the issue is that black and white though, considering how difficult it can be to get your child into a charter school.

  12. http://www.laweekly.com/2011-10-13/news/charter-schools-getting-your-child-on-the-list/

    Who is this charter school going to serve, exactly? Are people (parents and teachers) in the neighborhood really asking for this school or is the beginning of another Green Dot, KIPP, Camino Nuevo, etc?

    A distinction needs to made between charter schools that a community wants and charter schools that force themselves into communities. Sandra Cisneros Learning Academy (formerly know as CRES #14 and part of the Camino Nuevo group) was imposed on the community by the LAUSD board against the recommendation of the former superintendent and in defiance of the community vote. During the summer, Camino Nuevo employees harassed parents of children who have been attending Echo Park elementary schools, telling them that their child Must Attend Cisneros Learning Academy, most likely because they were not getting the enrollment numbers they needed or expected. As for Gabriela, it is located on the Logan campus and things are very tense between the two schools.

  13. The proposed new charter school offers project-based and hands on leaning and values diversity above all else. That is precisely what the plan written by teachers, administrators and parents from LAUSD for the new cres 14(now Sandra Cisneros) school was. It was to be a PUBLIC school that offered all of this and more. The school board rejected it, in spite of community support, in favor of a private charter operator. And where will the students for yet another charter school come from? I guess they could just close all the public schools in Echo Park and establish a Charter Zone. Publically funded, privately operated. schools

  14. We have great elementary schools in the Echo Park-Silverlake area. The problem is we don’t have good choices when it comes to a middle school or high school. Parents are choosing these new charter schools because they are K-8 or in the case of the new charter k-12.

  15. Please let Micheltorena benefit from the hard work of the principal, teachers, neighbors and the students that has already been done. Please let this school grow and entice more local families instead of enticing expanding charter schools. Sharing a campus in this way would create two competing separate but not equal communities on one campus.

  16. My name is Rebecca Crane, and I write to you expressing my opposition to the idea of Micheltorena Street Elementary sharing its campus with Citizens of the World charter school. I am a physician, a Silver Lake resident and PTA president at Micheltorena. I have been a proud Micheltorena parent since 2008, and currently have both of my children at the school.

    Our principal, teachers, Micheltorena PTA and Friends of Micheltorena oppose the Citizens of the World charter coming to our a campus for many reasons. A crucial reason is that sharing our campus would inhibit further growth and betterment activities on the campus; in particular, sharing our campus would take away extra classrooms and would prevent us from increasing enrollment and expanding to form a bilingual program school for the year 2012 – 2013, which we are preparing for at the present time.

    Micheltorena Elementary is a campus that is the center of a community, comprised of parents, Micheltorena alumni, and Silver Lake residents, that embrace the school and are actively working to elevate the school’s status. Instead of turning our backs and throwing up our hands, driving our cars out of the neighborhood to outside schools, we are pulling up our sleeves and getting to work. With the direction of Principal Furfari, we have installed a new library, built a school and community garden, and partnered with the Silver Lake Conservatory of Music to augment our existing music program. Local arts organization Bluepalm is currently working at our school to install a sustainable, school-wide, sequential, standards-based art program that will serve as a pilot to other LAUSD schools. We have received a grant from the Kaiser Permanente Community Benefits program to support after-school cooking and garden classes that teach healthy eating habits and encourage outdoor physical activity. Our lower API scores reflect the testing results of our significant population of Special Needs population, and we value this population as adding to the richness and diversity of our campus. When recalibrated, our API of 844 reflects the talents of our outstanding teachers and the strong academics at the school.

    Our work at the school has improved the community at large. Murals have been painted, as part of campus beautification efforts, along the campus perimeter and sidewalk of Sunset Boulevard for all to enjoy. Silver Lake Neighborhood Council members serve on the Friends of Micheltorena board, and talk frequently with Principal Furfari to discuss ways of involving the campus with the surrounding community, including plans to make the school a site where the community can gather in the event of an emergency or disaster. We have plans to partner with Hollywood Sunset Free Clinic physicians to provide health education at the school, as well as better coordinate medical services for our families without health insurance. We offer ESL classes on our campus, and host free-of-charge gardening and sustainable-practices workshops at our garden for the school community and general public. We are the recipients of a 2011 California Safe Routes to School grant which will redesign the crosswalk at Micheltorena and Sunset to be safer for pedestrians and bicyclists, as well as provide funds for other sidewalk beautification efforts and planting of trees along Sunset Boulevard.

    Our parents are committed, hard-working and involved in the Micheltorena PTA, Friends of Micheltorena and in the classrooms. Our campus is open and friendly, with teachers and children from many different backgrounds, who are glad to study and play together. Our families enjoy sharing our school and community, and we feel privileged to be able to walk our children to school!

    Please visit our school website at http://www.micheltorena.org to get a sense of the activity and movement at the school. The Micheltorena community is committed to the campus and to Silver Lake, and we will keep working to build our dreams at the school. Sharing our campus with a charter school would only inhibit further improvements and growth. Please help us continue our good work, and direct Citizens of the World charter school elsewhere.

    Yours Sincerely,
    Rebecca Crane, MD, MPH
    President, Micheltorena PTA

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