As California celebrates National School Choice Week (week of January 20-26), the Pacific Research Institute today released a new mini-documentary called “Welcome to Change,” showing the power of charter schools to get even the most troubled youths on the path to lead healthy, productive lives.
“Charter schools give the flexibility and autonomy to address the needs of individual kids,” said Izumi. “Every day, the students at Life Learning Academy face incredible challenges such as homelessness, violence, and broken families. Whereas traditional public schools failed these kids, Life Learning Academy is meeting the special needs of their students because they have the freedom that only charter schools can offer. Our film shows how charter schools like Life Learning Academy can provide hope for a bright future to students who may otherwise have none.”
“Welcome to Change” profiles Life Learning Academy, which is located on Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay. The school, which is a project of the non-profit Delancey Street Foundation, is a San Francisco Unified public charter school high school.
It serves at-risk students who typically fall through the cracks in traditional public schools – students who are the victims of bullying, violence, and broken homes. The school provides a quality public education designed around project-based learning, which helps students for whom traditional, sitting-in-class, textbook learning is not ideal. Among its core features are an organic garden grown by students, where students grow the crops and later sell them at area farmer markets. The school also has a hands-on culinary program, where students make the school lunch every day while also receiving first-hand training for future careers in the foodservice industry.
Uniquely, Life Learning Academy is poised to become the only public school in California with a student dormitory on campus. The school is presently building a 20-room dormitory on campus to provide a stable and safe place to live for students who are either homeless or living from couch to couch each night.
Lance Izumi is the senior director of PRI’s Center for Education, and a former chairman of the California Community Colleges Board of Governors. He has written extensively on charter schools and school choice, and is the author of the soon-to-be-released book, Choosing Diversity, which profiles 13 unique charter schools nationwide, including Life Learning Academy.