New charter high school plans to open in Long Beach next year

Long Beach could see a new charter high school open in August if the Los Angeles County Board of Education gives the green light on Tuesday.

Founded by Long Beach resident and educator Anita Ravi, We the People High School would focus on a project-based learning model where students tackle real world problems and issues that impact their communities.

The school for 9-12 graders, which would enroll up to 500 students, is still looking for a location—ideally in North or Central Long Beach, Ravi said.

If approved, We the People would be the city’s third public charter school.

Ravi said the Long Beach Board of Education denied the school’s petition earlier this year, citing historic low enrollment for charter schools, but she’s hopeful the county board will approve her appeal. If the county denies her petition next week, Ravi said she will appeal to the state board.

A history teacher and teacher educator for 27 years, Ravi said Long Beach deserves alternatives to traditional public schools. 

“I’ve seen the power of having students engage in their own community, figuring out different problems and solutions,” she said. “I know what’s possible when you give them the right tools and access to the best curriculum and teachers.”

A major component of We the People would be year-long projects where students focus on one, real world issue incorporating all curriculum. In ninth grade, for example, students could analyze pollution in the Los Angeles River, using math, science and writing skills to propose a solution.

Students would also focus on the history of diverse communities in Long Beach.

“If you look at required social studies in ninth grade, it has nothing to do with where they actually live,” she said. “We’re looking to bridge that disconnect and give them a deep sense of place and history.”

Ravi said she decided to start her own charter school after seeing the low turnout for young people in the November elections. A school focused on community issues and problem-solving would empower kids and engage them to get involved, she said.

“We have a moral and civic duty to think differently in how we position this generation,” she said.

Long Beach has had a history of struggling charter schools. In 2015, for example, the state voted to close New City charter school after years of underperformance on standardized tests.

Ravi said students will be prepared for state tests, but they “won’t be over tested.”

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Kelly Puente is a general assignment and special projects reporter at the Long Beach Post. Her prolific reporting has taken her all over Southern California—even to the small Catalina Island town of Two Harbors. She is a Tiki mug collector and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in public policy and administration at Cal State Long Beach. Reach her at [email protected].