Right on the heels of sending off its entire first graduating class from View Park Preparatory Charter High School to college, the Inner City Education Foundation is confident in replicating that success when it opens four new charter schools in South Los Angeles this fall.
With the help of three grants totaling close to $4.2 million, the foundation will be opening Thurgood Marshall Middle and High Schools and the Lou Dantzler Middle and High Schools under the same curriculum and expectations as it emphasizes at its flagship school, View Park Prep.
“This funding is recognition of the momentum we’re building,” said Michael Piscal, chief executive officer of ICEF, which was founded in 1994 to transform the Los Angeles community by creating first-rate education opportunities for its minority youth. “We are on a role.”
This past June, View Park Prep High graduated 100 percent of its seniors. All 71 students are UC or CSU eligible, with 65 of them heading off to four-year universities in two weeks, most of them on full academic scholarships, and six students going on to junior colleges.
“We have done a rigorous job of preparing our kids to go to college,” explained Piscal. “One of the things we’ve been fanatical about is our writing program because 80 percent of college is writing—essays, essays, essays galore. So, if you don’t know how to write a competent essay, you’re going to fail out of college.
“If you teach the kids how to write and how to explain their position on an issue, they have to think, they have to make sure they’re using the right words and that they’re grammatically correct. If you teach them how to write, you teach them how to think.”
Another key to the school’s success is its small student body.
“Having that 500-size school is absolutely critical,” Piscal added. “It creates a culture of excellence.”
In part, this is why ICEF is opening more schools rather then expand the student body of its existing schools. And, with nearly 5,000 students on View Park Prep’s waiting list, timing couldn’t be better.
Currently, ICEF has five charter schools in operation—View Park Prep Elementary, Middle and High Schools as well as Frederick Douglass Middle and High Schools, which has only 120 students on the waiting list. The problem, admitted Piscal, is that people aren’t getting that these schools are under the same organization.
“The Inner City Education Foundation is the same outfit that is opening these other schools with the same expectations of the students and faculty, and the same curriculum,” he said.
This fall, ICEF will be operating nine schools that include View Park Prep, Frederick Douglass, Thurgood Marshal and Lou Dantzler—all of which are open to South Los Angeles’ students.
Piscal said, “Our overarching goal is to create 2,000 college graduates a year. We’re going to open as many charter middle schools and charter high schools as we can until we get to 2000. We feel it’s going to be the children of this community that transform this community into a great city.”
To get further information about the Inner City Education Foundation or its individual schools, visit www.icefla.org or call 323-290-6900.