The Intriguing History of the Founder of “Celebrity” Charter School in Compton, CA

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This LA Times article about the fascinating life of Vielka McFarlane, who is the founder of the new “parent trigger” charter school in Compton, CA.  Highlights:

Three decades after leaving her native Panama, Vielka McFarlane hasn’t forgotten how a first-class education can transform a poor kid with a hard-knocks life.

Her eyes mist when she speaks of her hardworking parents, who sacrificed to send her to the best schools in Panama, … and then to Los Angeles in 1982.

“For me, it’s personal,” says McFarlane, 48, whose African roots and fluent Spanish reflect Compton’s racial and ethnic demographics. “I see my parents in those Compton parents.”

In December, parents at McKinley Elementary in Compton submitted petitions to convert their campus to [one of McFarlane’s] Celerity charter operation under the new “parent trigger” law. Those petitions are tied up in court.

But armed with county approval of her separate charter petition, McFarlane is moving forward with plans for her new school for 220 students in kindergarten through fifth grade at Church of the Redeemer in Compton.

At Celerity schools, McFarlane demands a “no-excuses” regimen of discipline and accountability. Children are assessed every week to monitor their progress, with individual test results publicly posted. Teachers are evaluated and paid in part by how successful they are in helping raise student test scores. Most students stay for after-school tutoring sessions, McFarlane says, adding 10 hours or more of weekly study.

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