FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What are Citizens of the World schools?
Citizens of the World (CWC) schools challenge students to realize their full potential and thrive in a diverse society. We are a network of tuition-free public charter schools, open to all, and committed to serving diverse communities in Los Angeles. Our mission is to develop sophisticated thinkers who master content and have a courageous and compassionate sense of responsibility for themselves and all people.
Citizens of the World Los Angeles (CWC Los Angeles) is a non-for-profit organization (for-profit charter schools have been banned in California for many years). CWC Los Angeles is currently comprised of three (soon to be four) K-8 schools and one TK-5 school, all founded collaboratively by parents, educators and community members: CWC Hollywood (TK-5), founded in 2010; CWC Silver Lake (TK-8), founded in 2012; CWC Mar Vista (TK-8), founded in 2013; CWC West Valley (TK-8), founded in 2020; and CWC East Valley (TK-8), which is planned to start in 2021. All of our schools are tuition free, non-religious, public schools committed to socio-economic, cultural, and racial diversity. We are completely open to anyone in the state of California for enrollment.
Charter schools do not have special eligibility or entrance requirement exams. According to federal and state law, charter schools must accept all students, including students with disabilities and English Learners (ELs), regardless of previous academic performance. Per our charter, we do not give any type of academic assessment for enrollment. Charter schools are built on the belief that every single child deserves the opportunity to go to a high-quality public school education that puts their needs first, regardless of their zip code, income or ability, and parents have the right to choose the best public educational option for their children. When parents choose their school, the public dollars that California allocates to educate that child “follows” the child to the school of the parent’s choosing. It’s that simple.
If there are more interested students than available seats, the schools are required to hold blind lotteries, which randomly determine which students will be enrolled. In 2014, the U.S. Department of Education revised its long-standing policy requiring charter schools to use a “blind” lottery when they are oversubscribed. California state law reinforces these requirements.
What is a Charter School?
Charter schools are independent, tuition-free public schools that are able to be more autonomous in exchange for agreeing to be held accountable for student achievement. Like traditional schools, charter schools were created by states to serve the public. Charter schools are supervised, directed by, and held accountable to the public through charter authorizing agencies, according to federal regulations under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and the California Charter Act. CWC West Valley’s authorizer is the Los Angeles Unified School District.
CWC West Valley is located in Local District North West and Board District 3. The role of Los Angeles Unified school board members is to represent the interest of students and families in their area. Board members are responsible for making decisions that are in the best interest of all public school students, including CWC West Valley’s. The current school board member for our district is Scott Schmerelson. It is very important for charter school parents to vote in Board elections to ensure that their interests are represented. The next Board member election for Board District 3 will be in the presidential election in November 2020, where Scott Schmerelson will be in a runoff with Marilyn Koziatek.
Charter schools are free public schools funded using tax dollars based on the number of children enrolled. The per-pupil funding from the state and federal government “follows” the student, which means that public schools, whether charter or traditional, in California receive approximately equal resources per child. The objective of this funding mechanism is to allow parents to choose the best public option for their child.
We are proud that our school model has a demonstrated track record of academic success.
How are Citizens of the World schools funded?
Like other public schools, Citizens of the World schools are funded by the state and federal government according to the number of students attending our schools. We refer to that portion of our budget as “government funding.” As a nonprofit organization, we also fundraise beyond government funding to bring in additional money to fully pay for our educational model. Our educational model costs more than what we receive in government funding, so we host fundraising campaigns throughout the year, secure corporate matching gifts, receive grants, and host community events to make up the difference in costs. We have a team of professionals to support fundraising at each school and rely on parent volunteers to support this important work.
We are proud of the fact that 87.4% of all CWC dollars stay at the school site. The rest of the dollars goes to the central office to support each of the school sites across our region. This is a much higher percentage than virtually any school district in the country. Additionally, 100% of all dollars raised by parents stays at the school site.
What is the minimum age for admittance to kindergarten in California?
In accordance with California Education code, a child needs to be 5 years old on or before September 1st for entry into Kindergarten.
Citizens of the World Charter Schools Los Angeles provides transitional kindergarten to children turning 5 years old between September 2nd and December 2nd only. Our developmental and highly differentiated model ensures children are continually progressing.
Where is the campus located?
During our first year our temporary location will be 19452 Hart Street, Reseda, CA 91335, co-locating with Shirley Elementary School. Our goal is to find a permanent location and are already conducting an aggressive, ongoing search with this end in mind. Given the laws requiring buildings to be safe for students, it can take several years to both identify and construct a building that is approved to be used as a charter school. However, CWC Los Angeles does have a track record of building beautiful spaces for children and just opened a gorgeous new building for our CWC Silver Lake TK-5 campus. CWC Silver Lake Campus Photos
Do you have an afterschool program?
Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. All of our current CWC Schools offer both morning care and an afterschool program; CWC West Valley expects to do the same. We will provide more information about hours and programming as the school year approaches. In general, families can expect that afterschool will run till 6 pm.
Do you provide transportation?
No, we do not provide transportation.
How does the Citizens of the World teaching and learning model work?
Our classrooms have small class sizes – typically 26 students with at least two adults, one Lead Teacher and one Teaching Associate. As a result, the typical adult-to-student ratio is 13 to 1. This is much lower than the typical District school, which has class ratios that dramatically increase in the upper elementary grades.
Our classrooms are academically rigorous and joyful learning environments that engage children through fun projects tailored to their personal experiences, strengths and needs. Our teachers take the time to get to know each child as an individual. We empower children to think critically and learn to engage respectfully and productively with fellow students by developing their capacity to enter into and understand the lives of others.
1. Learn to think critically at high levels, mastering standards in reading, writing, math and science.
2. Learn how to engage respectfully and productively with others. Our students develop life skills such as debate, conflict resolution, personal self-reflection and independence. They learn to constructively collaborate and solve problems creatively with those who have different perspectives and backgrounds. Our children learn social and emotional tools many adults wish they had at a much earlier stage in life.
3. Learn in a personalized, meaningful, fun way. Children learn hands-on by partaking in practical activities that allow them to start thinking and talking about things they already relate to, and then build upon their own emerging theories to learn new skills and content. At CWC, student learning is not only enriched by – but meaningfully partnered with – explorations in music, visual and dramatic arts, physical education, technology, and library skills.
Who are your teachers? How are they recruited/trained?
- Are diverse, talented, caring adults who are given the flexibility to decide how to meet student needs while being expected to help all children learn at high levels.
- Meet all state and district employment, certification and security clearance requirements and have passed through a rigorous screening process.
- Regularly assess student progress and improve their teaching along the way.
- Know students have mastered a skill or ability when they have applied that skill or ability in a novel situation.
- Are afforded the room to create a teaching and learning experience that has meaning to them, within the boundaries of best practices.
- Are trained to guide children to develop within appropriate boundaries and treat them respectfully.
Our students get the benefit of many teachers’ minds, because our teachers work closely together and are accountable to one another for meeting student needs.
Are students with disabilities and English-language learners welcome at CWC West Valley?
Yes! We support children of all needs, including English-language learners and those with special needs. Our teaching and learning model is particularly attractive to families of students with diverse needs because it includes hands-on instruction that is tailored to meet the needs of every child. Students receive focused attention to their needs and strengths, as teachers implement individualized instruction based on data-driven assessments.
In some cases, we have successfully transitioned students who used to attend schools with more restrictive learning settings to CWC’s general education setting; we are proud that many students are thriving because of our model.
How does your model serve communities?
Our students are being prepared to become future collaborative leaders who are able to solve problems, work across lines of difference, tackle challenges of race and class in America and generate peace and prosperity. Our parents and teachers believe that peaceful, prosperous communities start with richly diverse classrooms that value critical thinking, creativity and human connection.
How do you engage and partner with parents?
We greatly value parent and community engagement. We work to create numerous opportunities for parents to be actively involved in our schools, including volunteer opportunities, parent surveys, and community-building events. Each CWC school decides how to best work with their parents. For example, CWC Los Angeles has a parent representative nominated to their regional board. CWC schools engage parents and communities in schools through a variety of channels, including a Principal’s Council, principal’s coffee, academic meets up, email and text messages, letters sent home, parent meetings and phone calls – and invite parents who are able to be active participants in additional school-level committees.