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Charter Schools Offer Quality Public Education — for Free
Julian Covarrubias attended charter public schools from third grade on--Magnolia Science Academy (MSA) 7 - Northridge for elementary, and MSA 2 - Valley for middle and high school. He says the consistency in his relationships were important to him, as well as the flexibility to chart his own academic trajectory. "In my sophomore year, they allowed me to leave campus early and travel to my local community college, Los Angeles Pierce College, to take advantage of free dual-enrollment courses," Covarrubias said.
Not only did he graduate as valedictorian, but he also earned an associate's degree from Pierce in hand. Today he attends UCLA, majoring in physiological science with his eye on a pre-med track so he can work with professional athletes in sports medicine.
Justin Choo appreciated the small student-to-staff ratio, educational rigor, and the mission of his charter public schools, Rise Kohyang Middle School (RKMS) and Rise Kohyang High School in Los Angeles, part of the Bright Star Schools charter network. He says he also found the social support he needed there. His experience "helped me find my niche when I had not a single friend nor acquaintance to confide to, ensuring that I, too, belonged in a community and held a purpose," he said.
Both Covarrubias and Choo benefited greatly from their choice to attend charter schools, which are free to attend and publicly funded. Any student can apply. "Charter public schools are an essential part of the public education ecosystem," said Angelica Solis-Montero, executive director of L.A. Coalition for Excellent Public Schools (LACFEPS).
LACFEPS represents more than 46,000 students in more than 100 schools in Los Angeles County. These schools have a formidable track record in academics, as well as graduation statistics and college readiness.
The Truth About Charter Schools
"Charter schools are a part of the communities in which they are located beyond academics. For example, charter schools employ higher rates of teachers of color, many of whom come from the communities they serve," says Solis-Montero.
A charter public school is authorized by the school district in which it is located. The school is subject to state law and is held accountable to ensure it is in compliance with established agreements, which are also known as charters.
Because of their structure, the schools can provide longer school days that include more enrichment activities, smaller class sizes, individualized curricula and ample professional development for teachers.
Planning for the New School Year
The pandemic upended education as we know it. Classes stopped as schools needed time to pivot and meet the needs of their students. Fortunately, many charter schools were already operating with an online component, allowing for a smoother transition for an all-remote education.
"In the fall, students will be returning to school with needs that will require an individualized approach," says Solis-Montero. "It'll be important for parents to identify what type of school environment and curricula will best meet these needs. This is where charters can make a difference."
If you're interested in learning more or ready to apply for the 2021-2022 school year, visit http://lacfeps.org/about-networks/.