Successful Charter School Denied Renewal Petition

Albert Einstein Academy for Letters, Arts and Science, Huntington Beach (AEALAS) opened its doors In August, 2014 to 164 K-5 students. [1] The current enrollment is 264. For reasons of expediency, its founding charter was authorized by the Agua Dulce Unified School District, where several other schools are located.

Since its first days, the small elementary school has proven its mettle. The young scholars have already demonstrated impressive academic excellence. The projected enrollment for the 2015/2016 academic year is 375 students with more than 214 students on the wait list. An Honors Program, already in place, will be expanded to include 3rd-6th grade students in the fall.

The original charter was granted for one year. When the school submitted a new petition with local authorization to the Huntington Beach School District, it was denied. The Board felt the petitioners presented an “unsound educational program” and were “demonstrably unlikely to successfully implement the program”.

The AEALAS network operates 4 elementary and secondary schools and 2 learning centers. A seventh campus in Beverly Hills is scheduled to open in August. Each institution has implemented substantively the same program. Each school has a proven track record of success.

The founding campus, AEALAS Santa Clarita is in its fifth year of operation. The school was recently ranked Number 2 by Newsweek among the top high schools in the nation. [2] The school also garnered a Bronze rating from US News and World Report. It has a 908 API and 665 names on its 2015-2016 waiting list.

The AEALAS elementary school in Santa Clarita reported 2013-2014 CST science test scores for the 5th grade that were the highest in the Santa Clarita Valley, among the top scoring school districts in the state. The school’s math team was awarded a Bronze Medal in statewide math competition in its first year of participation.

95% of the students in the Westlake (Ohio) school passed on statewide testing in social studies, math and reading and 90% in science. The school was the first in Ohio to offer Portuguese as a world language course. [3] Apparently, however, reality never matters in politics, and certainly not to unions. Power and control do.

Union influence was undoubtedly a factor in the denial of the petition by the HBCSD. Four of the five Board members are teachers, professors or school administrators. Such a group would be expected to share a certain bias, one that is unfavorable of a petition to operate a charter school in its bailiwick.

The school attempted to address the concerns that the Board raised. This was dismissed without explanation. A revised petition has been prepared and submitted to the Orange County Board of Education, to be considered at their June meeting. We can only hope this more objective Board will give the petition a vote of approval. Stay tuned for the next installment.

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About the Author: R. Claire Friend, MD, is the Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, UC Irvine Medical Center, and the editor of the UC Irvine Quarterly Journal of Psychiatry. She is a retired psychiatrist and frequent commentator on the psychological dimensions of education and social welfare policies.

 

FOOTNOTES

1.  http://ealas.org/ehb/

2.  https://charterschoolcapital.org/albert-einstein-academy-makes-top-10-high-schools-list/

3.  Other languages offered by AEALAS include Spanish, Hebrew, Arabic, Mandarin, American Sign Language and Latin.

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