Public and charter schools prepare to share Silver Lake campus

Earlier this year the staff and parents of students at Micheltorena Elementary launched a campaign to keep a charter school from taking over part of the Silver Lake campus, with many claiming the arrangement would leave Micheltorena without the space for a dual language program and other improvements.  But, under Prop. 39, which requires public schools to share available space with charters, the opponents to sharing the Micheltorena campus with Citizens of the World Charter School have lost their battle.   The principals of both schools have announced that the CWC will begin operating this  fall in six classrooms at Micheltorena.

L.A. Unified had initially offered CWC eight classrooms at Micheltorena as the charter school was looking to expand into the Echo Park and Silver Lake area. In a joint statement on the Citizens of the World Facebook page,  Amy Dresser, principal of the Citizens, and Susanna Furfari, Principal, Micheltorena Elementary School, said:

Moving forward, the space allocated to CWC will be determined annually by the projected enrollment of the host school, Micheltorena … As the current year draws to a close, we would like to express our enthusiasm for the upcoming academic year and our commitment to building a successful learning community that encompasses both of our schools … Micheltorena and CWC share a deep respect for the Silver Lake community, including its committed and energized parents, and share the same mission in our work: to provide students with a first-rate education that gives them the tools they need to thrive in the future.

Despite opposition to sharing Micheltorena with a charter school, the expansion of CWC into Silver Lake attracted a lot of interest.  A lottery held to fill the 96 seats in grades K-3 at CWC’s Silver Lake school  attracted nearly 700 applications, according to the school website.

Citizens of the World currently operates a school on the La Conte Middle School campus in Hollywood.


  1. Your headline is misleading — charter schools are nearly always, also “public” schools as well, chartered through either LAUSD, LA County Education, or Calif. State Education offices. They’re re required to teach pretty much the same curriculum as LAUSD schools, have children attend at least the same number of days, are graded using the same scoring systems (API, etc.) as LAUSD schools, and have their charter reviewed for performance issues by whichever government entity issued their charter. And, they are funded almost entirely by taxpayer funds.

    To consistently keep referring to them as something other than “public” schools, would be like suggesting that the states’ many community colleges are not “colleges” because they don’t report to the Cal State of UC university system.

    • Anonymous, your analogy is faulty in one key respect: Employees of California’s community colleges are members of unions, while many charter-school employees have no union representation at all, or if they do have a union contract, they don’t have the same rights as their public-school colleagues. Charter schools often rely on young, just-out-of-college teachers or Teach for America workers who are putting in their two years before they pursue a career in investment banking. Many charter-school teachers leave within the first five years. Most will say that they’ve decided to return to school for a graduate degree, but in many cases, the charter schools for which they worked had no respect for their personal lives or for their need for some free time, and they simply burned out.

    • Charters are “public schools” only because they are funded with public money… they are publicly funded but privately managed schools (sometimes they are managed by for-profit organizations). Many charter schools adopt a “business-model” of management, treating test scores as the “product” and thereby denying students a rich and full education in the interest of teaching-to-the-test. Working conditions for teachers are worse than in publicly-managed schools… and without grievance rights, turnover rates are horrendous. Young, enthusiastic, and highly qualified teachers are drawn to charter schools, but exploitive working conditions cause them to not just leave the school, but leave the career.

  2. I think most people in reading ‘public schools’ identify them as being operated by a specific government entity, in this case LAUSD.
    Charter schools may be open to the public and operate under the same rules and regulations but I think most people identify the charter schools as ‘private’ and for some that may be the reason they selelct them for their children.
    Do most parents of children who attend charter schools say their children attend a public school? I doubt it.
    And as long as charter schools do not offer the full spectrum of services which a government school does, then they will be considered outsiders, particularly by parents of students at particular schools who have invested their time, efforts and money to improve the situation at their school only to have to share what their work brought to that site.
    Am I a parent at a ‘public’ school? No. Have I ever been? No, no children. But I am capable of understanding and empathizing with those whose children go to public schools.
    However fair the law that allows charter schools to use LAUSD school sites it doesn’t mean those who have worked hard on projects to benefit their specific sites from feeling upset at the influx of the ‘me too’ students whose parents may have cherry-picked the schools for reasons other than living in the area.

  3. Just to add, yes, charter schools are publicly funded. They are also privately run. And, although they are required to take the same mandated tests, it is a separate system within LAUSD. They are not required to follow the same curriculum. In fact, the original vision of charter schools was that they could create specialized curriculums that would be better suited to their student community than the more standardized curriculum- that they could be a bit more experimental and flexible and if they worked, these models would then be incorporated into the regular public schools. THat has not been the outcome for a variety of reasons. I think for the Eastsider to distinguish between charter and public is necessary and perfectly reasonable. To pretend that they are the same thing because they operate under only some of the same mandates is misleading.

  4. sooo bored of this argument. probably because my daughter didn’t win the lottery and we will be taking our chances with LAUSD. wish us luck.

  5. Well-I am sure your daughter will do well at the LAUSD school you send her to, as long as you stay involved. Reach out to other parents, most are more than happy to help. Good luck and have fun.

  6. We could avoid having to make these distinctions by completely privatizing the school system and moving to vouchers. Then they would all just be schools.

    • yes please. I’m laughing about someone using the term “exploitive working conditions” with regards to any teaching position.

      As if the norm should be 3 months off per year and a 6 hr work day?

      Teachers have it really good, I don’t mind their current pay package, but the fact that they all consider themselves overpaid is absolute insanity. How about this, get rid of the bureaucratic bs and unions and let good teachers get paid more and bad ones get fired… whoa… what a concept.

      • Really? You’re going to judge teachers work to be easy because they have summers off and shorter workdays and not by the actual work they do. Teaching, lesson planning and disciplining 30-40 kids everyday is hard work not to mention every jackass will feel entitled to criticize your every move even though they’ve never done the work themselves. Ya they have it way to easy.

      • Fauxican, I don’t see anything wrong with getting rid of “bureaucratic bs,” paying good teachers more, and firing bad teachers – and I don’t mind judging teachers at least partially on state test scores – but I take issue with your assertion that “Teachers have it really good.” If that were the case, then why (as it has been widely reported) do half of all teachers leave the profession within the first five years?

      • “and let good teachers get paid more and bad ones get fired”

        Yeah, it’s really so simple to evaluate good vs. bad, right? More often then not you just end up evaluating how much time and resources the parents have.

  7. FYI – that should have read “underpaid” rather than “overpaid”.

  8. Micheltorena Stats

    Silverlake Demographics:

    Whatever your opinion about charter schools, we should all agree that Micheltorrena needs a great deal of improvement.

    It’s API score is under 700 and their performance compares unfavorably to other schools with the same demographics.

    Micheltorena and the Silverlake Council are so proud of teaching gardening to their students, most of us with kids in the neighborhood wish they would be proud of teaching academics.

    • Maybe the students scored poorly on the Language-Arts portion of their state exams because they confused “it’s” with “its.”

  9. More interesting than any of the bickering (some v valid points & some pure subjective idiocy) will be outcomes in mastery of basic skills on the charter campus. Some charter schools have verifiably excellent results, some don’t have better results than a standard public school with similar SES demographics. Naysayers & supporters alike, it’s a wait an see proposition. Could be a great charter as written, could be dust in the wind. And Well, as an educator, I know you can provide the support at home to augment what your child is getting at schooL so s/he will be successful.

  10. @well LOL me too!

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