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California

Our Charter School Is Our Neighborhood School

All parents want what’s best for their kids. We do everything in our power to ensure that our children have opportunities and positive experiences whenever possible, and much of this is driven by our own experience as parents. When I attended high school, I was a part of a group of Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) students who were bussed 26 miles every day from South Los Angeles to a school in the Valley. When my classmates and I arrived at our Valley school, there were no welcome signs or open arms. We were greeted with protests. It was not an environment where learning was easy. I did not want that for my sons, but I also wanted to ensure my boys had a quality public education to help them prepare for success in college and life. Luckily, as a resident of Huntington Park, I had the option to enroll my boys at a charter public school—Alliance Collins Family College Ready High School, one of the best performing schools in the community. Having this option allowed me to keep my sons in my community, while ensuring that they get a high-quality public school education. But now the option to choose a quality public school for my boys that I enjoyed as a parent and resident of Huntington Park is being threatened by thinly veiled political attacks that puts adult interest over the those of students. This week, the Huntington Park City Council voted in favor of a year-long moratorium on the establishment and operation of charter public schools within the city. I was surprised and disappointed to hear that the council that represents my city took such a politicized and senseless step to limit quality public school options for families. Leading up to the vote, over 300 Huntington Park charter public school families came together to demonstrate and speak out against the moratorium at a packed City Council meeting. Unfortunately, the City Council has completely disregarded the voices of the families they claim to represent. It is clear that the moratorium is aimed at satisfying the political ambition of outside influences. It has been noticed by local parents that Mayor Ortiz is a prominent player in the United Teachers of Los Angeles’ (UTLA) aggressive anti-charter public school campaign. By choosing to become the public face of UTLA’s anti-charter campaign in her own community, Mayor Ortiz has given up any sense of impartiality on this topic. As a parent, having a choice in how to educate my child is invaluable and one of the reasons I love living in Huntington Park. I am dismayed at the complete disregard that the mayor and the City Council have shown toward the charter school teachers, students and families who have worked so hard to make these local public schools some of the best not only in the district, but in the state of California. Equally important, as a constituent, I am deeply disappointed that our elected officials are standing in the way of our children’s right to be educated by charter public schools that provide the learning environments they need and deserve. Charter schools are public schools, and charter students are public school students. Our schools and our children deserve the same level of support and consideration that this council offers to traditional public schools, and no less. The Council’s vote to extend this moratorium is arbitrary and not in the best interest of our local students, nor the community at large, and should be reversed immediately. I stand with parents throughout the community to urge the council to end the moratorium immediately and let our schools get back to what they are designed to do—provide our students the high-quality public education that will set them on the pathway to success in life.
An original version of this post appeared on LaComadre as Huntington Park City Council Shouldn’t Stand in the Way of Our Kids’ Success.
Maria Pinedo is a parent leader at Alliance Collins Family College Ready High School in Huntington Park, California. The mother of two Alliance Collins students, Maria is deeply involved in the decision-making process at her school. As part of the Alliance Parent Leadership Network, she works closely with the school to ensure decisions are made with the best interest of students, teachers and ...

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