Silver Lake school holds meeting over sharing campus with charter

A proposal to open a charter school on the grounds of Micheltorena Elementary will be the focus of a community meeting on Wednesday.  The school  district earlier this month officially offered Citizens of the World Charter eight empty or underused classrooms to establish a Silver Lake school at Micheltorena Elementary. Citizens of the World, which already operates a school in Hollywood, has begun accepting student applications to attend the Silver Lake school. Charter school officials have not replied to several emails from The Eastsider seeking more details about the new school.

The school district’s offer to Citizens of the World, which are made under the provisions of under Prop. 39, has generated concern and opposition among the staff and parents of Micheltorena, with many people saying the arrangement will leave the public school without the necessary rooms for a planned dual language program and other improvements.

The Wednesday community meeting, which is scheduled for 5 p.m. in the Micheltorena Elementary auditorium, is expected to review the process that required the school district to offer available space to charter operators and allow parents to voice their comments on the subject.

L.A. Unified was expected to offer space on about 80 campuses to charter schools this year. But not all the charter schools have or are expected to take the district up on the offer. For example, Los Feliz Charter School for the Arts, which was to be offered three classrooms at Elysian Heights Elementary, will not be expanding after all, said Principal Staci Block.


  1. so sad….

  2. In addition to fighting these colocations at individual school sites, we really need a social justice campaign to overturn Proposition 39 once and for all. Public school resources are already drained by the opportunistic and lucrative charter corporations, we shouldn’t also have to surrender portions of our public school campuses to these privatizers. Prop 39 is nothing more than a cynical real estate grab by well heeled charter operators at the expense of public school families.

    Making a stand now, and giving the CCSA a clear message that our communities will not stand for more of their publicly funded, but privately operated institutions is important if we are to defend the remaining public schools we have. Please share your ideas with me as to how we could begin a dynamic campaign to eliminate Prop 39.

  3. prop 39 wasn’t imposed on anyone. we voted it in. you people act as if this is completely out of the blue.

    • Are you using the “royal we” when you say “we voted it in?” I for one was vehemently opposed to what was a naked market share grab by the deep pocketed charter-voucher industry. It’s safe to say I oppose anything the Steve Poizner founded California Charter Schools Association reactionaries support, Prop 39 included.

      We need to overturn the public property giveaways to private charter corporations portion of the proposition, and given the corporate interests involved, it will take a ballot prop to overturn it.

  4. New ways of teaching are an opportunity, can we keep an open mind and give Citizens of The World a chance!

    • We’d like to have “new ways of teaching” at our chronically underfunded public schools, but their already strained budgets are now under attack by privately run charter schools who also get donations from wealthy donors, ideologically charged billionaires, and right wing foundations.

      Rather than promoting exclusivity and elitism, we should be united making sure out public schools have all the resources they need to offer a wider range of curriculums. I know that isn’t profitable, but it’s equitable, and I stand for the latter.

      • Citizens is an excellent school.

        The real enemy here is lack of funding for education. The losers in Micheltorena’s struggle are the kids. In fact, the schools ought to be pooling resources and using co-location as an asset, not a reason to bicker. How great to have rooms shared with other kids of the same age, as opposed to letting them lay waste.

    • Project-based learning and Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences are not new theories. I’ve been teaching in a public high school for 16 years and have used these pedagogies in my classroom for most of that time. The teachers at Micheltorena are also trained in these practices and use them on a daily basis. I think the bigger question is whether CWC will give Micheltorena their fair chance. The school is thriving right now, ready to become another great Silver Lake public school, but could unfortunately be derailed in their upward momentum by this co-location. If CWC is truly concerned about quality education for all, they will back off and let Micheltorena grow.

  5. @Silvia – CWC parents and founders have the choice and the right to educate their children in whatever way they feel is best. However, this “opportunity” for CWC comes at a price, and I don’t feel that students of Micheltorena should have to pay that price.

    @well – I did not happen to vote prop 39 in to law, so no, I do not feel that whatever group you define as “you people” should have to blindly accept any law or circumstance that they do not agree with. Micheltorena and our community supporters have a right to our position and our voice, and we are exercising that right for the sake of our children. I don’t know a single parent out there who would not stand up for what they believe is right for their child.

  6. @Silvia. There is nothing new about the teaching going on at this “faux-gressive” charter school. Every single thing they are doing in Citizens of the World, is happening in public schools, except of course the “counseling out” of English Language Learners (ELLs) and Special Ed kids. Dig through their curriculum. It’s not special.

    Charter schools were initially designed to be incubators for experimental pedagogy and programming that would share their best practices with their neighboring public schools. But that is not what’s happening anymore. Not here, nor anywhere else. Now charter schools are part of a “free market” competition for public funds. Any best practices they may have (VERY dubious) are considered proprietary and used AGAINST the public schools.

    Also, did you know that in order to keep their promise to provide small class sizes and art, that they ask their families to contribute $1300 a year?!?!?!?

  7. @well
    Hello, again, Well. This is not the first time you’ve mentioned that “we” voted this law in, and it offers a good civics lesson on how the citizenry can be hoodwinked be legal jargon. Look at how the proposition was put to voters: “Authorizes bonds for repair, construction or replacement of school facilities, classrooms, if approved by 55% local vote. Fiscal Impact: Increased bond debt for many school districts. Long-term costs statewide could total in the hundreds of millions of dollars annually. Potential longer-term state savings to the extent school districts assume greater responsibility for funding school facilities.” A well-intentioned person reads this description and thinks, “Hey, I’m helping my local school. Maybe now they can build that auditorium they’ve always needed.” Given the outcry of the community over this colocation debacle and the pages and pages of signatures gathered to show this opposition, I know a better-informed electorate would not vote the same way again. Also, the people of our state also voted not to let gay people marry one and other. Just because it passed doesn’t mean I’m not outraged by it. Are you arguing that anything that’s voted in is somehow to be blindly accepted?

    • maybe people should try reading ballot measures before they vote on them. it won by a majority vote (for better or worse). if you don’t like it you are free to try and change it. what I object to is the constant martyr tone “our schools are being hijacked by corporate entities.” a blanket statement that does not apply to all situations and/or charters. and again I feel the need to mention that obviously most people felt that Prop. 39 was something they wanted to happen (or they wouldn’t have voted it in). the whole anti-charter movement is far too emotional and doesn’t look at the whole picture.

      as I said before: there are good schools and bad schools. I don’t understand the need to lump them all together as some sort of evil that is forced on you.

  8. concerned neighbor

    This is a case of a community being disenfranchised by a hidden sentence in a proposition passed in 2000. They are asking to have a voice in the proceedings, which at the moment are conducted between LAUSD and the Charters. Did you know that the host school community does not have to be notified until 10 days before the move into their campus happens? Regardless of the fact that parents have the right to educate their children as they see fit, the whole process if flawed, and Micheltorena is asking for a fair chance to make their point and have it count in the final outcome. Because Micheltorena was not invited to the negotiating table and the final say is with the Charter, whether they accept the space or not, the community is left with tactics like picketing, protesting, and making as much noise as possible for the Charter to hear that they are not wanted there (the fact that the Charter failed to appear at the forums and to respond to emails giving the appearance of covert action, does not help either). Some people find this distasteful, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

    • agreed. Micheltorena should have a say as all schools should have a say in what their school is being asked to give up. Unfortunately, if we are successful in getting the charter school to find another location, LAUSD will only give the space to the next charter in line.

  9. Unfortunately, these boards are filled with a lot of misinformation and seems to be not only alarming people but causing undo fear and anxiety. The truth is: LAUSD gives away these classrooms that don’t fit their definition of usable space. Micheltorena is not the only local school this is happening to – ELysian, King Middle (I believe 12 rooms)… But it’s posted in a long long list of schools. The point is, that if we are successful in convincing Citizens of the World to turn down the classrooms – they will only be given away to the next charter school in line. Someone is going to get those classes – let’s help make it OUR choice by working with the prospective charter. It’s going to happen people, lets make it as painless as possible

    • Nonsense. LAUSD doesn’t give away space, it was sued by the deep pocketed CCSA (the chamber of commerce for charter-voucher schools). These charter corporations will not be lining up to steal space if they know they will meet serious resistance. We need to resists all Prop 39 colocations and then work on a ballot prop to overturn these awful giveaways of public property. The day way can vote for CWC Corporation’s board of directors is the day we cans say they give one iota of concern for the communities they run roughshod over.

      We must resist the neoliberal agenda of the 1% at every turn, or they will continue to privatize our schools, and commoditize our communities.

      • Unfortunately, you are one of the misinformed. The lawsuit was due to the fact that LAUSD was not in compliance with the law.

        • What in my post led you to think that I though otherwise?

          Let’s be clear, CCSA wrote and then snuck the charter giveaway provisions into the ballot prop, and then sued our public school district when they didn’t feel they were in compliance. Do you corporate types have a different account?

          • wrong again Skeels. But way to push your right wing type style of misinformation. Silicone Valley was the brains behind this one because they wanted to help our schools knowing that a good education will turn out good future employees. This was not funded or lobbied by CCSA.

  10. Citizens of the World did not show up to this neighborhood town hall to present or defend their position. Hmm.. wonder why that is? I can’t believe they would not have heard about it.

    • Not sure what Citizens of the World has to “defend.” They were GIVEN the space by LAUSD. The night was about prop 39 and it was up to LAUSD to defend it’s position on prop 39 and possible explain why they didn’t tell anyone in the community that this was happening. The moderator did nothing to defend it or clarify anything that night. Bennett Kayser was there but also was MIA at the end of the night after hearing his constituents explain that Micheltorena needs the some of the classes being given away. As principal Furfari will tell you, this is not about the charter school – its about our classes being given away.

  11. Some of us are thrilled that our kids may have the chance to attend Citizens. If you’ve seen their Hollywood school, you’d liekly agree that it is an awesome option for many in the community for whom LAUSD doesn’t exactly fit their bill of requirements. (Also, they seem to share a great co-location relationship in that school.)
    Just one more parent’s perspective.

    • What exactly is your “bill of requirements”?

      • Also, the co-location at Le Conte doesn’t have the conflict of interest that it does with Micheltorena. Le Conte is a middle school; they don’t want or need those students who chose to go the the charter. Micheltorena, on the other hand, is working its tale off to be a strong public school for the entire community, and it really wants to see local kids return to the local school. The decision to have two elementary schools with virtually the same mission statement on the same campus creates an unhealthy division. Reminds me of those velvet ropes outside of nightclubs: one group gets in, the other sits there and watches. This just screams of exclusivity and elitism, and while that might be fine for a 20-something year-old for their night on the town, it doesn’t seem appropriate for elementary school children.

        • After touring many schools in the area I have seen the difference between Micheltorena and Citizens of the World. Many people here have not put in the time to see the difference in education around town. Although, you say that the “mission” statements are the same – which they are not, the style of education is much different. And that is one of the biggest facts that everyone is failing to see. They have a constructivist approach to learning. This is project based, small group learning. It’s very different than what Micheltorena has to offer. Micheltorena, from what I saw on my tour, was much more traditional – Teacher in the front of the class and the class sitting and listening or doing workbooks. Also, I’m not sure why you scream exclusivity. Everyone is able to apply to Citizens of the World. Everyone has the same chance of getting in. You should check out the school and decide whether it’s good for your child. It’s about what’s best for each individual child. It’s great to have choices, I think that’s something almost everyone can agree on. If Micheltorena needs those classes than we should take that up with LAUSD. They shouldn’t take the classes away if they are being used but lets not make it personal

          • My child is thrilled to be at Micheltorena. She is in kindergarten, loves her teacher and classmates, calls Micheltorena a “make something” school, leaves Dr. Seuss Night yelling, “Best night ever!” and returns home to read chapter books before falling asleep. Are constructivism and project-based learning valuable learning tools? Yes, and our teachers are trained in them. In fact, if parents with knowledge of educational models returned to their local public school, they could see how much power they have in shaping the school’s curriculum. Our principal and teachers have the benefit of experience, but also the flexibility of an open mind. If you support your local public school, with your time, with your input, with your child, you will see the benefits for the community of Silver Lake. And this lasts for generations. If CWC is as good as you say it is, this charter will become another Larchmont, a strong educational opportunity for the small percentage of those who can actually get in. Good for your kid, but not for those born in five years, ten years. And if the local public school is no more because of dropping enrollment, where will we be then? Micheltorena has a good foundation and great potential, and it needs the community’s support to flourish accordingly.

          • ” Everyone is able to apply to Citizens of the World. Everyone has the same chance of getting in.” is not the same as Everyone in the community WILL be in the school. I’ve been watching Micheltorena for a while, and have been extremely impressed with how the principal responds to my questions. I’ve tried to contact CWC, and am just left with an auto-reply: “Sorry, our tours are booked. We’ll call you” They have not bothered to reach out to the community (unless I’m not part of the community they want). Both the Eastsider and EP Patch have also been snubbed by them when they ask for comments. Seems like they can’t be bothered to even develop good PR with the neighborhood, as opposed to Micheltorena, which as been amazing at reaching out to its community.

          • You said, “It’s great to have choices, I think that’s something almost everyone can agree on.”

            Regarding choice being necessarily good: I suggest Diane Ravitch’s fascinating book The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education. She too once valued choice as fundamental to improving schools; however, when the results of choice didn’t prove effective and in turn hurt public schools, she changed her mind. Even Albert Shanker, the gentleman widely acknowledged as having invented charter schools, now claims that they cause more harm than good.

  12. Micheltorena is fighting the wrong fight. It’s not Citizens or charters they should be battling, but lack of money for education. The reasons charters are and will remain to be popular is because they are doing more with less. Why? Because charters require more parent involvement to make up for their lack of funding.

    Anybody who thinks charters are some sort of corporate megabucks machine is out of their mind. All schools these days suffer from lack of funding and a need to fundraise. All of them visit the same neighborhood stores and knock on the same doors.
    Nobody is getting rich in the world of elementary education.

    In the end, this is about kids. Micheltorena could benefit from working with a school that shares needs rather than facing the effects of undeniable future cuts on their own.
    Yes, sometimes it’s nicer to share a sandwich than have to eat dry hard bread by themselves.

    • IF the charter shares. IF the charter is a good neighbor. Nothing against the parents who favor the school, but the CWC establishment has so far made little, if any, attempts to attend the forums, discuss the issues, or reach out to the community. There seems to be an air of entitlement. Most of the time, Tamir Talaban, who says he’s just a parent and does not truly represent the school, is left to speak to a frustrated crowd of Micheltorena supporters. It does not bode well for the co-location situation.

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