Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Renaissance Weekend

Meanwhile, just up the coast I'm attending my first Renaissance Weekend (no, there's no Medieval jousting; see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renaissance_Weekend) in Santa Monica and have already run into two wonderful ed reformers.  The first was Brian Johnson, your typical over-educated TFAer: Princeton then Baton Rouge '99 corps, then Stanford JD/MBA.  After Stanford, Brian ran TFA LA from 2005-2009 before becoming Executive Director of Larchmont Schools (www.larchmontcharter.org), which according to Brian is the only charter school network committed to schools with mixed racial and socio-economic students.  There are now two schools in LA (on three campuses), with a middle school and high school planned.


I visited one of the schools on Oct. 2nd last year and (shame on me) didn't send around my pics and thoughts then, so here goes…  pics from my visit are posted at: http://picasaweb.google.com/WTilson/Larchmont):

Lindsay was parent who was fed up with the low quality of local public schools, yet believed in public education and didn't want to pay the huge cost of private schools, so she and some other parents decided to create their own charter school that would both be very high quality and reflect the diversity of the neighborhood – and that's exactly what they're done.  Larchmont's scores are very high and the students are 35% free/reduced lunch and 50% minority.  It's an important (and, to date, quite rare) experiment that I hope is successful, certainly for educational reasons, but also for political ones.  Let's be honest: we need a lot more well-off, well-educated white folks with a personal stake in both charter schools and education reform in general if we're going to take reform to the next level, both politically and operationally.

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