LAUSD Will Consider 3 New Charter Petitions Next Week

Next week, the LAUSD board will take action on three proposed charter schools that would open in the 2018-2019 school year.

One of the three charters is an alternative high school, a topic on which I have absolutely no expertise.

The other two are supported by a program called Building Excellent Schools. BES says it “trains high-capacity individuals to take on the demanding and urgent work of leading high-achieving, college preparatory urban charter schools.” This program has brought Los Angeles several other charters including Equitas Academy, Endeavor College Prep and Valor Collegiate.

What do their petitions say? Who are the founders? Is their data relevant?

Vox Collegiate Charter Academy

This school would be located in the Watts area and is founded by TyAnthony Davis. Davis was a TFA corps member in Las Vegas for two years and a Corps Member Advisor for a year. Vox Collegiate Charter will eventually house 725 6th-12th grades, but will slowly roll enrollment up from 6th grade year-by-year.

The data presented in their charter petition is solid. They have one error, calling one of the Alliance Schools a traditional public school, but otherwise their data is correct. And boy it is detailed. They break the data down by grade level, by graduation rate, by ethnicity. One of their five core values is “Data Drives Decisions”.

I think the only question that remains to be seen is where exactly in that area they locate. They lay out a pretty large area where they may locate (which they lovingly call “greater Watts”) shown below.

This map is pretty broad, and if they were to locate in the northern or eastern portions (specifically east of Alameda) they would be in a community that is strikingly different from Watts. And they would be in some of the most dense charter school territory of Los Angeles.

Excelencia Charter Academy

Excelencia would be founded by Ruben Alonzo. He was a 2012 Teach For America corps member in the Rio Grande Valley. He taught for two years, then became an assistant principal for two years. He will lead Excelencia charter which is proposed for East Los Angeles. Excelencia would serve 540 TK-8th grade students, also rolling up from Kindergarten and Grade 1.

Their data analysis is not as strong as Vox. While Vox listed CAASPP data for its nearest traditional and charter schools, Excelencia only compares itself with traditional schools. It doesn’t mention the CAASPP data for local charter schools, which is pretty strong. They don’t break it out by grade level like Vox does.

A lot of the petition also relies on anecdotal or incomplete evidence. They include a random quote from an unverified parent to validate the need for transitional kindergarten. They talk a lot about their mission to support English Language learners, but they have no data on the English Learner Reclassification rates of the neighborhood schools.

Overall, the Excelencia charter petition’s data is lacking. They have not demonstrated a firm grasp on the nature of the neighborhood’s educational data.

This perplexes me. How can two petitions, supported by the same organization, be so different?How can one so clearly delineate with data the need for the charter, while the other is stuck quoting randos from a meeting they had at the YMCA?

It just highlights the importance of reading the charter petition – an act I hope every board member will find the time to do.