Public Policy Charter School
Public Policy Charter School (PPCS), due to open in August 2015, will serve students in the 5th to 8th grades, primarily residing in Central Los Angeles. The school will be among the first in the nation to meet a growing interest in the area of Public Policy. Through this innovative and engaging theme, students will be prepared for success beyond high school and college, to serve their own communities as well as the greater society as leaders.
The school will serve similar demographics to those of John Muir Middle School, and Barack Obama Global Preparation Academy. The student population will be representative of the local demographics in the area, and consistent with existing public middle schools in the area. PPCS will meet LAUSD Board policy, serving students in overcrowded, low-performing school areas. Most of the local schools have API scores under 700.
Based on statistics from the California Department of Education on local public schools, (http://dq.cde.ca.gov/dataquest/), PPCS estimates that 93-98% of the students will qualify for free/reduced lunch. In addition, the school will serve a sizable English Language population, likely 34%-38% of the student body, which is again consistent with the demographics of John Muir Middle School and Barack Obama Global Preparation Academy.
The Mission of PPCS is to provide learners with a safe, supportive, and dynamic learning environment that delivers a rigorous and engaging, college-preparatory curriculum. Through the study of public policy, our learners will be equipped with the knowledge, skills, and fortitude to advocate for themselves and their community through leadership and action.
PPCS alumni will earn college degrees in their chosen field of study, and advance to fulfilling careers where they promote economic development, social justice, and cross-border tolerance to impact public policy in a manner that benefits society.
Grades Served and Projected Enrollment
PPCS will be a 5th – 8th-grade charter middle school of approximately 600 students at maximum capacity in year three. It will begin with 150 students in 5th grade and 150 students in 6th grade during the first year of operation and will add a grade level each year until capacity is reached in the 2017-2018 school year. The average class size will be 30 students.
PPCS will be located in Central Los Angeles in the vicinity of John Muir Middle School. PPCS is currently surveying properties in the area. At a minimum, PPCS intends to lease a facility of no less than 10,000 sq. ft. for its first year of operation. PPCS will seek a facility with at least 10 classrooms, a multi-purpose room, a kitchen, administrative space, a room for a Parents Center, a room for a Teachers’ Center, and adequate restrooms for its first year of operation. Ideally, the facility will be located near a public park, which will be used for physical education activities, and near major public transportation terminals. In terms of a long-term site, PPCS plans to identify a site that has at least 45,000 sq. ft. of space, with at least the same features as described above, but with more classrooms (approximately 24) to accommodate the student body at full capacity. PPCS will also submit an application for Proposition 39 facilities to lease space from the Los Angeles Unified School District.
Innovative Educational Elements of PPCS
The PPCS educational model will have many innovative features, including those outlined below.
Science Technology Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM): In alignment with our public policy focus, the STEM curriculum will be embedded in our instructional program, to include Art and Design (from STEM to STEAM). PPCS will develop and implement a rigorous academic program where students apply the components of STEAM in all disciplines. Our students will build connections between their school, home, and community that will enable them to flourish in higher academic settings and eventually become policy leaders in various fields that require a background in Science and technology.
Public Policy: Public Policy Charter School is the only school of its kind within the entire state of California. Furthermore, there are only a handful of schools with Public Policy focus in the nation. Considering the myriad of issues facing students within the South and Central Los Angeles Community, students deserve this groundbreaking approach to education.
The Public Policy theme fulfills the need to develop student leaders with the confidence, experience, and skills, to positively impact their communities through service learning projects. By the time students enter 8th grade, they will have learned about public policy history and leaders through their coursework. Furthermore, students will experience authentic learning tasks through project-based learning. Students will engage in civics education and apply their knowledge of Civics Literacy to a service-learning project that positively impacts their community as an 8th grade culminating event. Students will be required to research issues in their own communities from the perspectives of different individuals and groups. They will then find a realistic approach to helping their community deal with the issue, and present their plan to a public audience. Students will be accountable for implementing their projects from beginning to end. Students will be exposed to the different aspects and areas for public policy, in all fields, and work with community mentors to gain outside-of-the-classroom learning experiences. The school will enter into partnerships with community organizations that impact public policy in Los Angeles including The Constitutional Rights Foundation, Project Citizen, Families in Schools, Fulfillment Fund, and the Community Coalition. Students will also have interactions with various community leaders to present their projects and volunteer in their field offices. Students in grade 8 will be involved in group internships, where they go into the community and assist with projects to assist public policy organizations with ongoing projects.
Project-Based Learning: Research supports that Project-Based Learning (PBL) is an effective and engaging way for students to learn and make meaningful connections across content areas. In order to graduate from high school and be college and career-ready, students are required to apply knowledge in a cognitively demanding way. Through PBL, learners gain deeper comprehension within the content, and learn to collaborate, think critically, communicate effectively both orally and through writing, and find creative solutions to problems. PBL directly aligns to Common Core Standards and the Smarter Balanced Assessment, with a focus on real-world applications and the development of 21st-century competencies that integrate technology and multi-media. The model provided by the Buck Institute for Project Based Learning will be utilized for professional development for teachers.
Critical Literacy: Critical literacy involves learners as active participants in the reading process through the analysis of the author’s purpose. Critical literacy applies to both expository and narrative text. Our students will learn to use their power as readers to question, reflect, and present counter-arguments. Critical literacy challenges readers to use their knowledge to take action. An intensive focus on reading instruction is necessary to increase students’ lexile levels and promote reading proficiency. Since the school will serve a sizable population of English Learners, vocabulary development will be a critical area of reading instruction. Professional development for teaches will emphasize explicit strategies for reading instruction to allow for students to be enthusiastic and competent readers and to engage in critical literacy across disciplines.
Effective Teaching Model: PPCS will strive to be a model for effective teaching and learning. We will promote exemplary teaching through a comprehensive professional development program aimed at providing teachers with various levels of experience with research-based strategies to meet the academic and socio-emotional needs of middle-grade learners. We will partner with local colleges and universities to hire the most qualified teachers. Professional development will be conducted by school leadership based on what the data reveals as areas of need. We commit to implementing and refining instructional approaches that advance achievement for our students. Coaching for teachers will be embedded in our effective teaching model.
Source of Funding
PPCS will be funded primarily by state and federal monies, allocated by an Average Daily Attendance and LCFF formula. For start-up costs, and Year one expenses (until the Advanced Apportionment disbursement is received in October 2015), PPCS will sell revenues to Charter School Capital or a similar organization. PPCS will apply for a $30,000 pre-authorization grant from the Walton Family Foundation. If awarded, an additional $220,000 from the Walton Family Foundation could be expected by spring of 2015. The school will also be applying for the Public Charter Schools Grant (PCSGP) and hopes to be awarded in early 2015.
The PPCS Board of Directors, in accordance with its adopted corporate bylaws, will govern PPCS in a manner consistent with the terms of this charter.
The Board of Directors, which will expand to include representatives from the business community, the education community, and the philanthropic community, will provide external accountability, oversight, and guidance to ensure the school’s ongoing success. It will meet regularly to review PPCS’ achievements and to provide support in achieving short-term and long-term goals set by the board.
Laura Baron is the Chief Financial Officer at Strategic Development Solutions, where she oversees accounting for all of the companies divisions and subsidiaries and helps guide the company’s growth and strategic direction. She utilized her passion for community development as a consultant for Excellent Education, helping develop foundations to build physical strength.
Judy Burton is the President and CEO for Alliance College-Ready Public Schools. She brings expertise in successfully leading and operating public schools. Ms. Burton has successfully impacted at-risk students through best practices in leadership development, teacher professional development, and parent community engagement. Ms. Burton has led the acquisition, renovation, and construction of 15 permanent school sites for Alliance schools.
Ana Campos is the President & Executive Director for After School All-Stars. Throughout her tenure with the organization, she continues to successfully expand the organization’s delivery of high-quality after-school programs throughout the Los Angeles area. Ms. Campos previously served as the Director of Operations for LA’s Best.
Steven Holguin is the Director of School & Business Development for Charter School Management Corporation (CSMC), Mr. Holguin supports new and existing schools with data management, strategic planning, growth strategy, and budget development. Mr. Holguin was the Senior Manager of School Development for Southern California for California Charter School Association, where he was part of a successful team that directly impacted and cultivated new charter schools.
Emilio Pack, Ed.D. is the founder and Executive Director of Math and Science College Prep (MSCP), Dr. Emilio Pack, has an extensive seventeen-year career in education, first as a school counselor and eventually as a school principal. In 2006, Dr. Pack opened what eventually became one of the highest performing high schools in all of Los Angeles, Alliance Dr. Olga Mohan High School.
Mayra Rivas currently serves as the Director of Charter School Operations for the Inyo County Superintendent of schools. Prior to this, she was the school business manager for Charter School Management Corporation, and an audit supervisor for Vavrinek, Trine, Day, and Co. LLP.
Rohit Shukla is the CEO of the Larta Foundation. He is an established thought leader and respected practitioner on innovation, commercialization, and enterprise and technology-led economic development. He has advised governments, multilateral organizations, communities, and enterprises throughout the world, creating initiatives that expand entrepreneurship, promote commercialization, and enhance the competitiveness of regions across many parts of the globe.
Charter Development Team
Dr. Yasodara Sonali Tucker (Lead Petitioner) – School Business Director at Charter School Management Corporation, managing clients across California. Former Vice President of Financial Services at the Alliance for College-Ready Public Schools. Founding Board Member and former Treasurer of Global Education Academy. Dr. Tucker will serve as the Executive Director.
Donna Jacobson (Lead Petitioner) – Founding Principal of Alliance Richard Merkin Middle School. A veteran educator with over 20 years of teaching and administrative experience in K-12, urban schools in both district and charter school settings. Ms. Jacobson will serve as the founding Principal of PPCS and will develop and oversee the academic program, to include professional development for teachers.