October 13, 2016
By Jennifer Bihm
Despite what they are deeming unnecessary opposition, officials of the Magnolia Charter Schools in Los Angeles said they will fight to keep their doors open and that they want to ensure that the battle doesn’t overshadow what they’ve achieved over the last 15 years. Since 2002 MPS has cultivated a learning environment within their 10 schools in L.A. and Orange counties, that has fostered growth and viable achievements among some of the area’s neediest students. Now, they said, because they have a significant number of staff who are Turkish and Muslim, they have become the victims of strong arm tactics by the current Turkish president who feels the schools have been in cahoots with one of his challengers.
The charter school entity is reported to be among a variety of targets between Turkish President Recep Tayyip and his political nemesis Fetuhullah Gulen, a respected Muslim cleric. Tayyip has set out to prove that at least one hundred U.S. schools have given millions of dollars to Gulen and are supporting him. Reportedly, Magnolia Schools were co-founded by a group of Gulen’s supporters who are from Turkey.
MCS officials said they feel it’s largely the reason they are now being challenged by LAUSD and government officials, with audits and questions about the renewability status of some of their schools. They’re not giving in to any of the pressures they said, because their main focus is continuing to make sure that LAUSD’s kids are getting a quality education, one that is preparing them for university life and subsequently the real world.
Their main focus is improving students’ performance in reading, writing and math, reducing dropout rates and increasing the number of students who pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEAM).
“Almost all of our students are UC (University of California) ready when they graduate,” said Chief Academic Officer, Kenya Jackson.
“Magnolia schools don’t have barriers to education for some students and not others. Like being tested for ‘gifted’ for instance or. These students already face barriers. Why add more by telling them, ‘you’re not ready for robotics,’ or ‘you’re not ready for AP computers in 9th grade…’”
Officials like Jackson and CEO Caprice Young are doing everything they can, they said, to shield their learning communities from the challenges they are facing and to ensure that these students who need it most are getting a quality education comparable to their counterparts in more affluent schools.
“None of these [political] issues are present in our schools,” said Jackson.
“The point is,” said Young, “that these schools are valuable for Black and Brown students and shutting them down would take away that quality education.”
Two Magnolia schools, this year, were named among the top high schools in California and the nation.
“We’re proud to have our schools recognized as among the best in the state,” said Young.
“It’s further validation of Magnolia’s track record of ensuring that all students regardless of their socioeconomic or cultural background are prepared. Our results are a testament not only to our hard working students but also to our committed teachers, committed to seeing every student succeed.”