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Top-scoring charter school named for UCLA professor

A four-year-old high school that became a 2009 California Distinguished School was formally named today for a respected expert on education and business management and his civic activist spouse.

The new William and Carol Ouchi High School is in its first school year in its new, $17-million Hyde Park-area campus, which was built in 56 days, officials said. The simple, two-story structure has two computer labs and updated technology hookups, but no cafeteria, no gym and limited recreation space on its 2.5-acre site, which includes an adjacent middle school.

The school’s test scores dipped slightly this year but its Academic Performance Index score of 799 ranks it among the best-scoring high schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District. The school is operated by the Alliance for College-Ready Public Schools, a locally based charter school management organization that also operates other high-scoring schools.

About 100 of the school’s original 189 ninth-graders will be in the school’s first graduating class this year, said Principal Ena LaVan. All graduates must fulfill entrance requirements to apply for the University of California/Cal State system. And the first class had to endure a temporary location and a stint in trailers while awaiting the completion of the campus.

Charters are independently run and free of some restrictions that govern traditional schools, including strict state school-construction rules that drive up construction costs and slow down the building process for schools built by L.A. Unified. Charters instead can erect their schools under city building codes.

As a fundraising tool, the Alliance sells naming rights for its schools, and in this instance, Ouchi was nominated by former Mayor Richard Riordan, an education philanthropist and political power broker who has long relied on Ouchi, a UCLA professor, for expert guidance. Riordan has donated or committed a total of $2.8 million to Alliance schools.

Ouchi has long promoted a form of school decentralization. He says principals — not a school district central office — should make decisions on how to spend a school’s money and then be held accountable for the results. In his most recent book, “The Secret of TSL,” he chronicled how principals, especially in New York City, have used autonomy to reduce the total number of students that each teacher must manage in a year. He says this allows teachers to get to know and to better assist each student. Principals have accordingly reduced support and administrative staff to pursue this strategy — because it yields results, Ouchi wrote.

At his namesake school, Ouchi helped establish a Saturday business academy offering tutoring and enrichment classes to introduce students to potential careers.

Carol Ouchi has served on the boards of philanthropic organizations including the Santa Monica YWCA, Santa Monica College Foundation and Children’s Home Society.

—Howard Blume

Comments () | Archives (10)

How touching, and I will not change my mind about charter schools. Until they start paying for their own buildings.

Let me see if I understand this, 100 of the original 189 students will graduate. That is right around 50%. It seems these numbers are about the same as the other high schools in LAUSD and this charter school can pick who they want to admit.

Forty seven percent of the original freshman class is gone? That might help explain the impressive results.

I wrote the comment below immediately after reading the article and before I read the other comments. Apparently I'm not the only 0ne who was disturbed by this statistic.

"About" 100 of the school's 189 ninth graders are still enrolled as seniors, with five months to go before graduation. Doesn't that mean that the school has a drop-0ut rate of about 50%? That raises serious questions about the "best" charter school in the area.

That's sad that people are criticizing schools that are trying to help students prepare for college. I bet that every school has had a rough path, but how many can say that in their first three years of being a L.A.U.S.D. school, they receive a distinguished honor award. To all the high school students keep up the good and keep moving forward!!!

I am a current student at Ouchi, and yes about 100 of 189 of the seniors that enrolled in ninth grade will be graduating, but it is not due to "drop outs", it is due to other causes. Many of my peers either decided they wanted to attend another school or moved to another city/state/etc. Ouchi High School is one of the best schools in Los Angeles and I can say that because I started off as a student in LAUSD with poor grades and below average grades and ever since I started at Ouchi, I do not receive below average grades. I receive above average. Charter schools put so much dedication in education, that it is amazing. Students at Ouchi enjoy learning, we are college bound! 100% of our class will go to college. Charters school have had an outstanding influence in many student's lives. Without Ouchi I would not be looking forward to attending a four-year university in fall of 2010.

I am a senior in this school and it is a privilege to be a member here. I believe my teachers and the principal do whatever it is in their hands for us to be advance. Many of my classmates have left this school to another one but it is certainly not to drop out. In my years in Ouchi I have never witness any fights like for example what students face daily in schools like Manual Arts or Dorsey. I truly love my school and I believe that Los Angeles deserves more of these schools for minority groups to have an equal oppurtunity to attend a four year university.

I am a junior at Ouchi High School, and yes we do not have a cafeteria or a gym, but we have excellent teachers that work hard to prepare us for college. Many of the students that left Ouchi High School have transferred to other charter schools. Its an honor to attend a high school in where teachers care about me and actually want me to succeed. Ouchi also provides a safe environment and after school programs that enrich the learning of students. Instead of criticizing a school that is trying to help students succeed in life, people should help improve the education students receive in lower income neighborhoods. Charter schools should be thanked for the effort they put to make a change in the life of young students. (thank you Ouchi High School teachers for being role models and for providing me with an education)

I also attend Ouchi High School as a senior. Our new highly appreciated building may not have a cafeteria or a gym, but we have the greatest teachers, staff, and principal that any other school may not have. Being my fourth year attending Ouchi High School, as a senior class we have been through it all, from having to walk through several classes to get to our next class, to eating in a small area. None of the students who have attended Ouchi High School have been drop outs, they simply either transferred to another charter or public high school. I can proudly say that Ouchi High School has taught me a new way of seeing education. I highly appreciate what I have learned from all the members in which are included in our Ouchi family. In conclusion, there may be several people who believe that charter schools do not do anything for the students or that they are not preventing drop outs, but i can honestly say that Ouchi High school has motivated and taught all of its students what it takes to go to a four year university.



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