Great news for Orange County students. Thursday, the Orange County Board of Education approved two new charter schools. Charters are public schools that generally operate outside the red tape of the California Education Code. Since charters were authorized by the California Legislature two decades ago, 1,184 have sprung up in the state, attended by 547,800 students.
These schools will open classrooms in fall 2016:
• Santa Ana College Prep, a high school that will be run by Ednovate Inc. of Los Angeles, a charter group what works with USC to prepare students for college.
• Unity Middle College High School in Orange, which will be run by Erin McKenzie Craig and Oakland-based Unity Schools. Ms. Craig earned her doctorate in education from USC and master’s in mathematics from Cal State East Bay. She recently was the principal of Nova Academy Early College High School in Santa Ana.
Under her leadership, from 2012-13, Nova posted an outstanding 66-point increase on the old (now, unfortunately, abandoned) API standard test, one of the greatest improvements in the state. The school won a bronze medal from U.S. News & World Report in 2009 as one of the county’s top schools.
Unfortunately, both schools’ charter applications initially were turned down by their school districts, Santa Ana Unified School District and Orange Unified School District, respectively. We believe the reasons for rejection were inadequate. For example, the resolution by the SAUSD board declared that Ednovate’s comprehensive proposal “is not consistent with sound educational practice.”
Fortunately, state charter law allows an appeal to the county board of education, which in both cases approved the petitions on 4-0 votes (with one board member absent).
“These are quality charter schools,” county Fifth District Trustee Linda Lindholm told us. “There were a few small details that we had to work out in memorandums of understanding. And now we’re looking at these excellent charter schools being in place.”
The big winners will be the kids. Both charters will serve areas with numerous low-income families, many of which are recent immigrants. For all of us, it’s crucial in a high-tech economy that all schools produce more students well-schooled in the STEM fields – science, technology, engineering and math.
Finally, competition makes everyone strive harder. These new charters will motivate all Orange County schools to seek excellence.
Date: August 23, 2015