LA charters prosper

Los Angeles’ charter schools are thriving, reports the LA Times. High-performing charters have formed a coalition called ICEF. Philanthropists Eli Broad and Bill Gates have poured in money to start new schools.

Mike Piscal, ICEF’s tough-talking founder, runs 13 schools in South L.A. and has set a goal of effectively taking over the district’s role in that part of the city.

He sees no future for a district that, he says, sends only about 5% of its students in South L.A. schools to college.

“They’re like an airline where only one in 20 passengers arrived at the location where they’re trying to go,” Piscal said. “They’ve lost the moral right to have a monopoly on the public schools.”

Los Angeles Unified is trying to develop schools with “charter-like flexibility” that will compete for students, reports the Times.  The teachers’ union is talking about organizing its own charter schools.

Los Angeles charter students outscore students in nearby schools but below magnet students, reports the Times.

* Charters and magnets do especially well with African American students, who on average are the district’s lowest achievers. African Americans are far more likely to seek out charters or magnets than students of other races and ethnicities, and once there, they achieve higher scores than other black students. For instance, 57% of African Americans in charters — and 76% in magnet programs — score proficient or better in math in elementary school, compared to 40% in traditional schools. In English, across all grades, 40% of African Americans in charter schools scored proficient or better, compared to 56% in magnet programs and 29% in traditional schools. (One consideration: Anecdotal evidence suggests that the black students in charters and magnets are more prosperous overall than those in traditional schools.)

* Charter students performed better on standardized tests than students in traditional schools at every level, with the most striking difference in middle schools. There, 43% of charter students scored proficient or advanced in math and 47% in reading, compared with 25% and 30% in traditional schools. Again, magnets scored better overall than any schools.

One fifth of LA’s magnet schools admit only gifted students, while charters must admit all applicants, using a lottery if too many apply.

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