Independent Charter Schools
In August 2000, Green Dot Public Schools opened with one 9th-grade class of 140 students in the community of Lennox, adjacent to Los Angeles International Airport. Today, we operate 18 schools serving over 10,200 students in communities all across Los Angeles. These communities are united by a powerful desire for good schools. Parents, neighborhood councils, and community non-profits throughout the city have discovered that Green Dot is a powerful change agent that will work with them to provide excellent educational opportunities for families in their communities. Green Dot schools are charter schools that are small, safe, free, and open to all. The curriculum is focused on college, leadership and life in a culture of high expectations.
The Founding Five
Between 2000 and 2005, Green Dot opened five start-up charter high schools in some of the toughest neighborhoods in Los Angeles. All five went on to be named in Newsweek’s annual ranking of the best high schools in the country and were medal winners in the annual U.S. News and World Report list, placing them in the top 2.5% nationally.
The Jefferson Cluster
In 2006, Green Dot opened a cluster of new charter high schools to create a parent ‘zone of choice’ around Thomas Jefferson High School, at that time the lowest performing school in LAUSD. Jefferson High School is no longer overcrowded. However, even as a ‘focus’ school in round one of Public School Choice, it has not been able to implement the reform necessary to turn around a failing school. The 2011 API scores of Green Dot’s three area schools are between 150 and 200 points higher than Jefferson.
In 2010, Green Dot launched a strategy to develop high-quality middle schools in the same communities as our high schools in order to offer students pathways to college beginning in the 6th grade. Already, 9th grade students at our Jefferson Middle School are achieving higher test scores than many 9th graders entering our high schools from the district.
Turnaround Charter Schools
Locke High School
The goal of transforming an attendance boundary district school led Green Dot to Alain Leroy Locke High School, a massive comprehensive high school in Watts that had become emblematic of widespread institutional failure. Of the 527 African American students who entered Locke’s 9th grade in 2004, 81 graduated, 14 with college-prep diplomas. Green Dot worked with community leaders and staff to successfully petition LAUSD to cede control of the school. It was the first time that an outside organization had been granted control of a district campus.
When Green Dot took over in 2008, it inherited 2,400students within a dispirited yet explosive culture: graduation rates were below 28%. 90% of students were performing below basic or far below basic on CSTs, and only 2.5% of students were enrolled in college-prep courses. No other high school in the county had consistently lower API scores. Green Dot reorganized the campus into several small, safe, personal learning communities that respect every student and believe passionately in each one's ability to succeed in college, leadership, and life.
Last year, an average of 754 more students were enrolled in college prep courses than under LAUSD and API scores had increased by an average of 81 points across the schools. In CAHSEEs, 61% of 10th grade students passed Math and 58% passed English, a significant improvement just three years after Locke under LAUSD posted pass rates of 44% and 46%.
Ánimo College Prep High School
In 2011, LAUSD leadership, invoked No Child Left Behind, and invited Green Dot to be part of a restart of David Starr Jordan High School. The new Jordan Educational Complex is shared by Green Dot’s Ánimo College-prep Academy and an arts academy operated Mayor Villaraigosa’s Partnership for Los Angeles Schools (PLAS). Athletics, music, and afterschool programs will be shared between the two Jordan schools to maintain the important traditions in which the community is invested. Alliance Public Schools, which was to have been a third partner, will nonetheless continue to work with the Jordan Educational Project from its nearby independent charter school campus.
Middle Schools #3 & #4
Having won control of Henry Clay Middle School through LAUSD’s Public School Choice initiative, and in keeping with our small school model, Green Dot transformed the campus into two separate middle schools, Middle School #3 and #4, each with its own principal and staff. Students from these schools will have the opportunity to continue their education at a number of local high schools, including any one of six Green Dot high schools.