Huge Waiting List for Orange County Classical Academy

In the 2010 documentary Waiting for Superman, there is an unforgettable scene, where parents and children anxiously await the results of a lottery. A lucky few will be able to enroll their children in a charter school. These New York City schools only have capacity to admit one in twenty of the applicants.

Charter schools are public schools and receive public funds, but they have the freedom to design innovative curricula. As documented in Waiting for Superman, as well as in more recent studies, charter schools on average deliver better academic results for less money. And since every charter school attracts students based on parental choice, underperforming charter schools do not last.

Across California, where barely ten percent of K-12 public schools are charters, the Waiting for Superman scenario plays out year after year. A new charter school in Orange County, the Orange County Classical Academy, offers yet another example. The upcoming 2021-2022 academic year will only be this primary school’s second year of operation, but they have over 500 applicants on their waiting list with only 60 slots available.

The Orange County Classical Academy opened last fall with 360 students, comprised of two 30 student classes at each grade level from kindergarten through fifth grade. Their plan is to add a grade level each year in order for the existing students to advance all the way through 12th grade while staying at the school. Hence for 2021-2022 they will add two 6th grade classrooms […] Read More

Orange County Classical Academy Excels Despite COVID

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck hard back in April 2020, California’s teachers’ unions went into overdrive. The United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) released a lengthy document outlining what they believed to be “Safe and Equitable Conditions for Starting LAUSD in 2020-21.”

In a report published by the California Policy Center that same month, Larry Sand explained the deal struck between the school district and the UTLA:

“The deal engineered by UTLA boss Alex Caputo-Pearl requires teachers to provide instruction and student support for just four hours per day and also to ‘host three office hours for students’ every week. So instead of a 40-hour work week, teachers in L.A. only have to be available for 23 hours. Additionally, teachers can create their own work schedules ‘and not be required to teach classes using live video conferencing platforms.’”

The consequences of deals like this on the lives of California’s public school students, especially those in low income communities, has been disastrous. But there is an alternative.

The Orange County Classical Academy (OCCA), a new charter school that was approved to operate in a 4-3 vote by the board of the Orange County Unified School District back in January, opened its doors this fall to 360 elementary school students. As described in a report published by the California Policy Center in July, it was evident that this school was going to be no ordinary charter school. But how have things progressed, now that the […] Read More

The Orange County Classical Academy Will Transform Education in California

In barely one month, 360 elementary school students will begin attending a new charter school that offers a dramatic departure from the failed public education model in California. The Orange County Classical Academy (OCCA) will open its doors to kindergarten through 5th grade students, and apart from the student demographics, nothing about this school fits the conventional mode.

Despite being one of the most encouraging developments in California’s public education in, say, the last 50 years, it is a sad testament to the times we live in that what OCCA is doing is considered revolutionary. Here is a brief summary of how OCCA differs from literally every traditional public elementary school in California:

First of all, they are scrapping the Common Core approach to teaching English and math, and they are making the sex education curriculum “non-pornographic, age appropriate, and medically accurate.” Since Common Core and the recently revised state sex education guidelines have been unpopular with parents and are of dubious value if not actually harmful to students, these are both big changes. Moreover, the sex education curricula being used at OCCA will be made transparent to parents and will facilitate a simple opt out should parents desire that for their children.

Second, OCCA is a licensed operator to use the K-12 curriculum developed by Hillsdale College. Currently there are 20 charter schools in ten U.S. states that already use the Hillsdale model, which is patterned according to their approach to college education. This format […] Read More