The Goethe International Charter School in Los Angeles will remain open
By Petra Schürmann / English Translation: Sophie Ida Winter
Elke Miller-Schweigert, founder and chairwoman of the Goethe International Charter School, along with her Board colleagues, the school administration and parents of the more than 320 children currently enrolled in this unique dual language immersion school, has survived weeks of uncertainty and anxiety.
After all, it had been unclear up until now whether the school, opened in September of 2009 as the only German-English immersion school in the Los Angeles area, would receive permission from the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) to continue operating for another five years. A request in the 2010-2011 school year to open a bilingual middle school in order to further childrens’ German-English education had already been rejected in 2012. “Lacking diversity reflecting the school district” was the reason given for the disappointing decision because Goethe School students, though representative of over 50 national origins, do not reflect the LAUSD’s typical group. The proposal to continue operation of the elementary school was also not initially supported, though over 320 children attend the school and another 180 are on the waiting list. It’s no wonder that those impacted were afraid for the school’s future. “We did a lot of community outreach”, says Elke Miller, “employed a political consultant and met with the LAUSD Board members. Additionally, we received much support from parents, community members and consulates, who wrote to the LAUSD school board. The strength of the parents and community that support this school was clear. Since we qualify as a ‘high performing school’, our school is being renewed in the ‘Consent Calendar”.
This great accomplishment was sealed with a vote of 6 to 1 on February 12th. “I’m incredibly happy”, says Taina Franke, one of the most involved parent activists, “that for the next five years, at least, the Goethe International Charter School can provide my children with an international and individual education”.
Elke Miller, who has invested nine years of her time as well as many private and financial sacrifices to create and sustain a German-English immersion school in Los Angeles, is especially glad. “The rejection of our school’s proposal”, adds Miller, “would have been a bitter blow for us all. Especially for the kids, who love to come to the school, have forged friendships and have achieved incredible success. They would have had to completely reorient themselves. But we have definitely come together in this time of crisis. It has been wonderful to see how parents, teachers and members of the community supported the work of the board and the school administration. This collective effort is now being rewarded. I’m forever grateful to everyone”.
Now, a new building needs to be found as the school district has decided not to grant permission to allow the school to continue on its current campus and has cut their allowed classrooms from 18 to ten at two different schools. The best option would be a private building where the school can grow and hopefully gain permission to offer a middle school in future. The fight, therefore, is not over yet. The search for sponsors has now been started to find a new home for the little Goethes’ school. Support them!
Why Charter Schools?
Charter schools are tuition-free public schools that operate under contract within a given school district. Charter schools are able to offer alternative teaching methods, curricula, and greater independence than your typical public schools. In charter schools, you create an environment in which parents can be more involved, teachers have the freedom to innovate instruction, and students are provided a benefit from structured learning environment. Source: Taken from the brochure of The Goethe International Charter School.