Academic journal article Education Next

Charters Face: Financial Growing Pains

Academic journal article Education Next

Charters Face: Financial Growing Pains

Article excerpt

MALKA BORREGO NOW RUNS A CHARTER SCHOOL in the low-income Pico-Union neighborhood of Los Angeles where she grew up. The daughter of a man who drove a bread delivery truck for a living, she overcame tough odds when she was able to attend a local parochial school. Today she sees an even more uncertain future for the 850 elementary and middle school students in her three Equitas charter schools.

Borrego's schools are some of the most successful in the city. The student body is 95 percent Latino: 92 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, and 80 percent of kindergartners enter as English language learners. Yet 73 percent of Equitas students scored as proficient or advanced in English language arts on California's standardized tests in 2013, with only 6 percent performing below the basic level. That might explain the 658 students on waitlists to attend her schools.

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But what makes Borrego uneasy, not only for her students but for her five-year-old daughter who will soon enter one of her schools, is: where do they go after they graduate from Equitas at the end of middle school?

The neighborhood L.A. Unified high school, Belmont, is where most of her students would end up, but Borrego can't countenance the thought of sending her well-prepared kids to a school where only 39 percent of the students (as of 2014) graduate with strong enough academic credentials to qualify for admittance to the state universities. …

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