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The City School and the Charter School Movement

What is a charter school?  I get asked that question a lot these days.  This morning, I’ll be speaking at an event to inform elementary school families in Los Angeles about their middle school options.  I’ll be presenting about The City School, http://www.citycharterschool.org.  I am very proud to be one of the Founders of The City School and love sharing my passion for education with parents who are eager to learn more about their charter school options.

Our mission statement:  The City School provides an exceptional education to a diverse student body.   Through individual attention in a supportive and dynamic learning environment, students become creative and critical thinkers who ask questions, debate, and express ideas fearlessly and respectfully.  With a focus on civic responsibility and the written word, City students are prepared for a lifetime of meaningful work and ongoing service to a cause greater than themselves.

Here’s a little history on the charter school movement.  The Charter School Act of 1992 is the legislation that gave origin to charter schools.  The charter school movement began in 1988 when Albert Shanker, American Federation of Teachers President, called for the reform of the public schools by establishing ‘”charter schools.”  The basic charter concept is simple: a group of teachers or other would-be educators apply for permission to open a school. The school operates under a charter, a contract with the local school board or state.  Exempt from most state and local laws and regulations, the school must prove that students have gained the educational skills specified in that initial contract in order to renew the charter.  Nationally, there are more than 5,700 charter schools enrolling over 1.9 million children, according to the Center for Education Reform.

In our specific case at The City School (also known as City Charter School), our charter is granted by the LAUSD Board of Education and approved by the state, for a period of up to five years. Charter schools are open to any child who wishes to attend, from any part of the state. Although certain attendance preferences may be given, enrollment is conducted by lottery.  Charter schools may not be a conversion of a private school, must be non-sectarian, may not discriminate, may not charge tuition, must achieve a racial and ethnic balance reflective of the District population and may not compel students to attend nor teachers to be employed at the charter.

There are two types of charter schools in the district: Conversion and Start-up (or Independent)

» A conversion charter is an existing district school that later becomes a charter.
» A start-up (or independent) is a charter school that is created “from scratch” by any member of the public – educators, parents, foundations and others. These charters can be fully independent, or district-affiliated which have closer ties to the district. Both must have their board approved charter proposal and both are held to a high level of accountability.  (source:  www.lausd.net)

The City School is a fully independent, start-up charter.

Looking for a charter school in California?  Want to enroll your child in a charter school OR possibly even start your own school?

http://www.calcharters.org

Curious about the top ranking charter high schools in the United States?

http://www.usnews.com/education/best-high-schools/national-rankings/charter-school-rankings/spp+100

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