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Respecting School Choice: No Need for Villians

The denial of space to Collegiate Charter High School at Roosevelt High School in Boyle Heights may have been for reasons other than a strong opposition to charters schools as far as the Los Angeles Unified School District is concerned.

But there is no denying there are those who see every issue involving a charter school as a call to fight the “devil in our midst.”

We find that view discouraging and disrespectful to parents who feel a charter school would better serve their child’s needs.

The recent decision by the Los Angeles Unified School District to back away from its plans to give space on the Roosevelt High School campus is a case in point.

While we understand the objections to the site placement by students and local activists who believe a Wellness Center would better serve the needs of current and future Roosevelt students and their family, we disagree that the villain in this case is Collegiate Charter.

LAUSD is required by law to share facilities with charter school operators, but the District and local school board member were fully aware of the community’s desire for a Wellness Center at Roosevelt when it agreed to give space to Collegiate on the campus. The problem is LAUSD.

Roosevelt has struggled for more than a generation with poor academic outcomes, forced to endure years of overcrowding and shortages of textbooks, desks, college prep classes, year-round, multi-track schedules and even long lines to eat lunch.

This newspaper has published many articles over the years about the unacceptable conditions at Roosevelt and the desperate need to reduce overcrowding and for real education reform.

Our goal here is not to judge the effectiveness of public or charter schools, but to remind our readers that there is no simple, single right answer along the path to educational equality and closing the academic achievement gap for Latino students.

We should not forget that the popularity of the charter school movement, and for that matter, the pilot schools and small learning academies on many local campuses today, exist because the status quo public schools were failing too many students.

Students, parents, and yes, many teachers lobbied hard to bring change and greater school choice to LA Unified. EGP believes that no student or parent should be denied an education in the school of their choice, nor should they be intimidated in the process.

We have always been supportive of efforts to provide the best facilities the District has to offer to all students. It disappoints us that instead of greater collaboration between all school systems to better serve all students, some people prefer an adversarial and winner take all scenario.

A parent’s decision for their child’s education should be respected, no matter if it’s for a traditional public, charter or parochial school.

EGP wants all students to find the school that best fits his or her educational needs. All students are entitled to comfortable and safe campuses with good instructional materials, books and counseling.

And we want all the students’ parents to be respected and supported in the system of schools they have chosen.