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Free Public Forum Charter Schools

The League of Women Voters Pasadena Area is presenting a free public forum May 2 on the controversial topic of charter schools. It will be from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., at the Women's City Club, 160 N. Oakland Avenue, Pasadena.

Titled "What We Can Learn from Charter Schools," the forum will address issues surrounding the charter school movement, which began 20 years ago and is a growing sector of public education. California alone has about 1,000 charter schools serving 360,000 children. Pasadena has six with approximately 1,400 K-12 students.

Critics claim charters siphon funds from regular public schools because they are publicly funded but operate independently of local school districts. On the other hand, advocates contend that, freed from local restrictions, charter schools can experiment and innovate to develop successful education models for all public schools.

The forum will address these issues from different perspectives and answer commonly asked questions. One is whether charter schools have met the goal of improving student performance and led to better educational practices for all children in public school. Another is whether gains for charters are losses for traditional public schools. Do charters provide better educational opportunities with comparable amounts of money? What about the question of equity?

Erick Premack, founder and director of the Charter Schools Development Center in Sacramento, will lead off the program with a short history of the charter school movement. A panel discussion follows.

Panelists include Lauren O'Neill, the head of Odyssey Charter School in Pasadena; David Tokofsky, a former school board member of the Los Angeles Unified School District, which houses more charter schools than any other in California; and Judy Higelin, a Los Angeles County Office of Education supervisor of charter schools. Premack will also be a part of the panel.

A lively question and answer period will follow.

Lunch is available for $20, including tax, tip and free parking.

The program is free.

For information and lunch reservations, call 626-798-0965.

 

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