It’s 2020 and Santa Clarita Needs Eagle Collegiate Academy More than Ever Before

A Guest post from Dr. Ogo Okoye-Johnson and the Eagle Collegiate community advocating for the community’s charter school petition which is before the CA State Board of Education

A year ago, Eagle Collegiate Academy’s team and families took a long and arduous road for its charter petition appeal to the State Board of Education (SBE) because despite recognizing the value, soundness and demand of the educational program that Eagle Collegiate Academy will provide, the Acton-Agua Dulce Unified School District’s Board members denied ECA’s Charter petition and the Los Angeles County Board of Education chose not to act on ECA’s petition. The State Board of Education recommended changes to be made to ECA’s petition. If after making the recommended changes to ECA petition, ECA is not approved at the District and County levels, then ECA should come back to the State Board of Education.

Despite making all the changes recommended by the SBE, and by District and County Boards, the Eagle Collegiate Academy team and families have taken yet another long and arduous road to arrive at its charter appeal to the State Board of Education in July 2020 because both the Acton-Agua Dulce Unified School District’s Board and the Los Angeles County Board of Education denied ECA’s petition again.

However, Santa Clarita needs Eagle Collegiate Academy more than ever before. As can be seen in the table below from the 2018-19 California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) scores in the Santa Clarita Valley (Acton-Agua Dulce USD, Newhall SD, Saugus USD, Sulphur Springs USD, William S. Hart UHSD); the Antelope Valley (Antelope Valley UHSD, Eastside SD, Lancaster SD, Palmdale SD, Westside SD) school districts, and the Castaic Union School District in the adjacent community of Castaic, education equity for all students is far from being achieved because socio-economically disadvantaged and ethnic minority sub groups are not thriving academically. The scores of the economically disadvantaged students (EDS) are significantly lower than the scores of the not economically disadvantaged students.  The not economically disadvantaged students significantly outperformed the economically disadvantaged students who met or exceeded the standards (levels 3 and 4) by a 10.07% gap to a 35.03% gap.

2018-19 CAASPP EDS and Not EDS Results Comparison

District /County/StateEDS ELA   Not EDS ELAGap ELAEDS  MATH  Not EDS MATHGap Math     
Acton-Agua Dulce USD45.69%62.01%16.32%26.82%46.79%19.97%
Antelope Valley UHSD33.67%49.82%16.15%8.93%20.14%11.21%
Castaic Union SD43.43%69.20%25.77%27.21%54.76%27.55%
Eastside SD26.14%36.21%10.07%14.14%24.89%10.75%
Lancaster SD29.73%51.19%21.46%16.24%33.12%16.88%
Newhall SD48.39%83.42%35.03%48.91%82.42%33.51%
Palmdale SD28.93%49.61%20.68%18.26%36.04%17.78%
Saugus USD47.65%71.77%24.12%35.81%61.93%26.13%
Sulphur Springs USD50.19%71.03%20.84%39.44%61.77%22.33%
Westside SD39.14%59.36%20.22%23.26%44.74%21.48%
William S. Hart UHSD57.29%81.02%23.73%34.70%61.93%27.23%
Los Angeles County41.56%70.04%28.48%30.22%59.44%29.22%

                                                Source: CDE CAASPP website                           @ogo’s graphics

Santa Clarita families are desperate for public school choice options. Families who cannot afford private schools or to home school their children have no public school choice option of a rigorous college preparatory seat-based charter school in Santa Clarita, the 3rd largest city in Los Angeles. As a result, families and community members continue to passionately support the establishment of Eagle Collegiate Academy, a proposed Pre-Kindergarten to 8th grade college preparatory International Baccalaureate World School.  Eagle Collegiate Academy will be the only PreK to 8th grade seat-based charter school serving the Santa Clarita Valley.

Diverse families are drawn to Eagle Collegiate Academy’s unique proposed offerings of not only a renowned college preparatory program, but also to its plans to offer “a series of intensive interventions that are focused on quickly accelerating the learning of scholars who are performing far below grade level”, its vertical articulation of one site for children in different grade bands, its offer of Korean and Spanish languages, its before and after school program, and its student population that reflects the communities that we serve in a learning environment that intentionally starts in early years to teach children to be compassionate and to appreciate diversity.

The COVID-19 pandemic’s disproportionate impact on communities of color, has highlighted the pervasive inequalities that especially black communities have been grappling with in every sector of the society. The recent murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020 at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer and the resultant worldwide protests against the on-going rampant police use of deadly force on black people also exposed the persistent injustice that African Americans face in this country.

In the field of education, the unrelenting inequity is evident from the disparity in the academic achievement of students from different socio-economic, racial and ethnic backgrounds based on the scores of various standardized test results of students. These persistent gaps in achievement based on race and income level are not a result of a lack of ability, but primarily due to lack of access to appropriate interventions and rigorous college preparatory education. Ensuring that all our children are provided the necessary competences to be successful should be our priority. It is imperative that families, especially the most vulnerable families, have opportunities to choose the school that works best for their children to ensure that all students thrive.

The number of families waiting for Eagle Collegiate Academy to open its doors have exceeded the number that ECA proposes to open with because ECA meets their needs and One size does not fit all! 

Dr. Ogo Okoye-Johnson is a results oriented instructional leader, curriculum developer, education consultant, entrepreneur, author, social justice advocate and blogger who is very passionate about eliminating the achievement and opportunity gaps that impede the academic progress of students; and about providing access to rigorous cutting-edge 21st century education that would ensure that K-12 students graduate college and career ready irrespective of zip code or socio-economic status. Ogo has experience as a teacher, principal, educational administrator and a college professor. Dr. Ogo Okoye-Johnson is the founder and CEO for Eagle Collegiate Academy and a long-time resident of Santa Clarita.

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