SUPPORTING HIGH PERFORMING CHARTER SCHOOLS
California leads the nation in offering high performing charter schools as a public school option for families seeking a quality education for their children. Charter schools, unencumbered by numerous bureaucratic regulations, provide local education providers with flexibility when designing curriculums which allows them to more easily focus on STEM, special education, music and art and other activities essential to children’s success.
The Schwarzenegger Institute believes that charter schools are an important element of the education reform movement and remains committed to the effort to expand their availability in California and throughout the country. Bonnie Reiss, Global Director of the Institute, recently visited the Math and Science College Preparatory in Central Los Angeles. The school serves over 500 low income high school students. Math and Science College Prep focuses on providing its students with a lifelong love of learning and the tools needed to get into college. The charter school is run by Emilio Pack, a highly motived education reformer, who is concerned that too many students in Los Angeles are let down by low preforming schools. The results of Mr. Pack’s work have been amazing. The students that Director Reiss spoke with told stories of projects they mastered and proudly boasted the colleges they recently received acceptance offers from.
CHIME INSTITUTE’S SCHWARZENEGGER COMMUNITY SCHOOL
The Institute team recently had the privilege of attending the dedication of two new buildings at the Chime Institute’s Schwarzenegger Community School. The new buildings more than double the amount of class room space at the school and allow the Chime Institute to serve more students than ever before. The buildings offer students at the school state of the art facilities and also include observation rooms from which national education leaders can observe the remarkable classes being taught at the school. The high performing Kindergarten through 8th Grade charter school was started in 1990 and in its short tenure has already won a number of prestigious awards and recognition including the California Charter School of the Year award. The Chime Institute is also a national leader in the development and implementation of a unique model of inclusive education where children of all learning abilities, including those with special needs, study side by side with one another.
Erin Studer is Executive Director of the Chime Institute. He is a lifelong educator and education advocate. He embodies Chime’s vision of inclusive education and works closely with school leaders throughout the state and country to share the best practices and teaching techniques. Erin is currently focused on a campaign to raise funds to establish a Chime high school so that middle school graduates can continue to learn within an inclusive education model.
IN VERGARA VS CALIFORNIA STUDENTS TURN TO THE CALIFORNIA SUPREME COURT FOR RULING
With the support of Students Matter, nine California public school students filed a lawsuit against the state of California in May 2012. In Vergara v California the students argued that a handful of statutes governing teacher placement and layoffs violate their right under the California Constitution to equal protection in education. Their lawsuit argues that these statutes prevent school districts from acting the best interest of their students and that they disproportionately hurt low income schools and minority students.
With detailed research and overwhelming evidence showing a clear link between effective teachers and student success the suit explains how the statutes create an environment where highly effective teachers are predominately placed in higher income schools, and the more ineffective teachers typically end up teaching in lower income schools and less politically powerful communities. Evidence was also introduced that showed, due to California laws that make tenure available after only two years, that it is nearly impossible to remove grossly ineffective teachers from the class room.
A lower court ruled in favor of the students, but the appellate court overturned that ruling. The case is now on its way to the California Supreme Court, and powerful leaders and longstanding education advocates, including Governors Schwarzenegger and Wilson, have filed friend of the court briefs in support of the students demanding access to equal educations.
Governor Schwarzenegger and the Institute believe every child regardless of the color of their skin or their zip code they live in is entitled to an effective teacher, and that it is a basic civil right of all children to receive a quality education.