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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Dec. 15, 2006 / 24 Kislev, 5767

A California idea whose time is here

By Wesley Pruden


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | LOS ANGELES — Everything new starts here, as Californians insist on telling everyone, but purveyors of one important California export have reached to the past for something borrowed and something old as the formula of success.


Charter schools, growing nearly everywhere, sprouted in California first, and thrive here like nowhere else. Most of the hundreds of charter schools across the nation are in California, and most of the California schools are in Los Angeles.


Students in the charter schools comprise only a tiny fraction of the vast Los Angeles Unified School District, with its enrollment of nearly a million kids, but the idea of charter schools — public schools but independent of most of the strictures of the educationist bureaucracy — gives teachers and parents the freedom to try whatever works. The concept harks back to the time when public schools were creatures of the community, not wards of a fearful central administration content to produce mostly mush.


The latest recognition of the success of the movement in California is a gift of cash — $10.5 million — from Eli Broad, a billionaire Los Angeles philanthropist, to the collection of charter schools founded by Steve Barr, 47, a one-time community activist and sometime political organizer. He helped organize New Hampshire in Bill Clinton's first presidential campaign, and later founded Rock the Vote, which succeeded in getting a lot of the young and previously uninterested voters to leave their CDs and PCs long enough to cast a vote. Six years ago, he organized his first charter school. Now he presides over 10 schools, called Green Dot Public Schools. "Green" is meant to convey concern over the environment, loosely defined, and the promise of a "swath of green" across an urban landscape littered with bad schools, illiterate dropouts and broken promises.


He calls his high school "Animo Leadership Charter High School," for the Spanish word meaning "spirit" or "desire." "Animo" also means, he told LA Weekly, " 'get off your [butt]' in Spanish surferspeak, so some of our kids say they go to, for example, Get Off Your [Butt] Inglewood School."


Mr. Barr's salty blunt language doesn't endear him to critics downtown, but it's the results that frighten the educationist establishment. So far Green Dot schools show a graduation rate double that of the regular public schools, compared with a 40 percent dropout rate at the regular schools. Such results naturally attract bitter enemies.


One of them is the president of the teachers union, who scoffs that Mr. Barr is merely "a good salesman" and complains in the familiar lament of the teachers unions that his Green Dot schools take money away from the regular schools with their enormous appetites feeding all that bureaucratic fat.

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"Eli Broad doesn't write a check if we are [only] marginally better," Mr. Barr tells LA Weekly. "People don't write editorials about us because we're not successful. The only reason anybody has to listen to my big mouth is because of our success. And if our success wanes, all the defenders of the status quo will celebrate."


The ability of the charter schools to innovate, to introduce ideas and methods that would never make it through the bureaucracy is what makes them attractive to parents who can't afford private schools and who despair at what public schools often offer. One group of parents, whose children had attended a Waldorf school in Santa Monica, organized the Ocean Charter School and found a church willing to lease unused space for classrooms in Culver City. The parents broke up an asphalt parking lot to make green space, cleaned, painted and redecorated themselves and opened for racially diverse classes two years ago for 200 kids in kindergarten through the sixth grade. Enrollment has grown, and there's a waiting list for the city's first Waldorf charter school.


Alex Metcalf, a successful screenwriter, was a driving force to establish the school and when it opened agreed to become the director. His two children had attended a Waldorf school in Santa Monica. "The recognition that a child is not just a brain and that children don't need information poured into them," he says, "is what appealed to me."


Talk like this gives most public-school administrators severe heartburn, but the kids and their parents love their unusual schools. It's another California idea, like the Terminator, salad bars and hybrid Toyotas, that was assembled here for export.

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JWR contributor Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.

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© 2006 Wesley Pruden

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