October 2011 Spotlight on Success

October 27, 2011

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The charter school movement is dependent upon the hard work of visionary founders, leaders, and authorizers, plus dedicated teachers and volunteers and inspired students. The Association is proud to recognize several of them this month.

Hickman Elementary and Middle Charter Schools jointly won the Governor's Fitness Challenge and will be receiving the $100,000 fitness center. 150 of the schools' students attended and were honored at the Spotlight Awards Ceremony on September 14 in Sacramento. The public grand opening of the center with all the dignitaries is planned for early December.

Academia Moderna teacher Carrie Checca was one of 14 teachers to be honored by the Los Angeles Unified School District as a 2011-12 Teacher of the Year. Recognized for their outstanding and creative teaching, Carrie and the others now qualify for the 2011-2012 L.A. County Teacher of the Year competition, which is part of the California and National Teachers of the Year programs.

Camarillo Academy of Progressive Education (CAPE) student Kaylie Chen and 5th-grade teacher Jill McCrory were recently honored by the Camarillo Childrens Dental Group. Kaylie's submittal for the "My Favorite Teacher" essay contest was chosen as one of last month's winners, and both Kaylie and Jill received gift baskets.

U.S News & World Report, which publishes an annual list of "Best High Schools," announced its "Best High Schools for Math and Science" rankings in September. The rankings are compiled by examining the nearly 600 schools that qualified for the Gold, Silver, and Honorable Mention lists of the U.S. News Best High Schools and then evaluating their students' participation rates and performances on AP exams in math and science. Two California charter schools made the list of 208 high schools nationwide that performed the best in those subjects: Pacific Collegiate, a Santa Cruz charter, ranked #7 on the list, and University High in Fresno came in at #107. View the full list.

The U.S. Department of Education announced charter school grants totaling $25 million to replicate and expand high-quality charter schools that have demonstrated success. The grants will serve nearly 45,000 students in 124 new and 3 expanded charter schools over the next five years. Three California Charter Management Organizations were among the recipients:

  • Alliance College-Ready Public Schools in Los Angeles currently operates 20 middle and high schools. With the grant funds, it plans to open 10 new schools.
  • KIPP, which stands for Knowledge Is Power Program, received grants to open schools in multiple states, including three new middle school campuses in Los Angeles.
  • Rocketship Education received grants to open schools in Oakland, Milwaukee, New Orleans, and Chicago.

Former Los Angeles Unified School District Board Member Yolie Flores was among the winners of the Democrats for Education Reform's 2011 Brian Bennett Education Warrior Awards, which honor heroic leaders in education.

As a board member of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), she authored the controversial Public School Choice Resolution, which created an annual process to identify and address the lowest performing schools in LAUSD, as well as the Teacher Effectiveness resolution to ensure that all students have access to an excellent teacher.

The LAUSD Board voted passed the Public School Choice Resolution in 2009 to reform the operation of the new schools and some of the lowest performing schools in the district. In February 2010, five out of the 13 charter applicants were selected in the first round, opening charter school opportunities to an estimated 2,500 students. In round two, the LAUSD board selected six charter operators to run academies at six of the 13 campuses, resulting in an estimated 4,750 new seats available to students.

Congratulations to Brian Johnson, Executive Director of Larchmont Schools, who was named "Reformer of the Month" for September by Democrats for Education Reform.

Brian started in education with Teach For America, teaching first grade in Baton Rouge. He later moved out west and eventually became TFA's executive director in Los Angeles.

Four years ago, Brian joined Larchmont Schools, the only public charter network in L.A. whose mission is to serve a racially, ethnically, and socio-economically diverse student population. On Oct. 4, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) board approved Larchmont's charter amendment, allowing them to expand to high school. Learn more about Larchmont Schools.

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