Castelar Elementary Needs Your Help

Castelar ElementaryWritten by Martin Wong

From 1994 to 2010, Martin Wong edited and wrote in all 68 issues of Giant Robot magazine. More recently, the UCLA grad helped start Save Music in Chinatown, channeling the spirit of the old Hong Kong Café to organize all-ages punk matinees to raise money for music education at Castelar Elementary.

I’ve been fortunate to promote underdogs and subcultures throughout my life, and I have accumulated many awesome friends and colleagues along the way. My current efforts aren’t about sharing cool stuff, but about saving something that’s really important. My daughter’s school, Castelar Elementary, has been targeted by Metro Charter School for co-location. This would deprive Chinatown kids of rooms for music, art, drama, and P.E. They will be forced to share the already limited library, computer labs, lunch areas, multi purpose room, and blacktop space.

In the long run, charter schools are known to cherry-pick their host public school’s top students and drain its resources, leading to a slow, painful death for the public school.

There is a good chance there will be a caste system in which the arrival of more affluent kids turn our mostly immigrant population into second-class citizens in their own neighborhood. It is not acceptable to slice up and sacrifice Castelar, which has provided English-learning kids from both Asian and Latino backgrounds alike with outstanding educations for generations. The school also provides a welcoming environment that produces a true sense of community among kids, free of violence, gangs, and the bullying that occurs in many other inner-city schools. In addition, Castelar provides parents with translation, education, and information, serving as the true heart for this historic neighborhood.

This is the neighborhood where my immigrant grandparents found support, and where my in-laws still go almost every day. This is where Wendy Janet Lau and I got married. This is where our daughter is getting an outstanding public education with passionate teachers and amazing kids.

If you haven’t already, please sign this petition, and post this article on your social media. Spread the word. And keep spreading the word.

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4 Responses to Castelar Elementary Needs Your Help

  1. The idea of taking away resources from a public school that is WORKING and where access to more resources is actively being pursued by involved parents is just mind-boggling to me. The charter needs to find a new home somewhere else, where they aren’t hurting the education system in Los Angeles and taking away resources from Los Angeles taxpayers.

  2. geeying says:

    Castelar is a Title 1 inner-city school with a mostly immigrant population that has figured it out. It’s a thriving community with high test scores. Community-building that’s taken generations to build is threatened by this co-location.

  3. Jing says:

    Thank you for this article. Castelar Elementary must be left alone as it is, whole with full resources as everyone agrees it is a stellar school despite its Title 1 designation. Why LAUSD is even considering putting a charter school at Castelar all boils down to money and double dipping. Parents, all of Chinatown LA must put a stop to this possible move and be together in finding a better solution to the main goal of educating our young without thoughtless disruptions such as this.

  4. State50 says:

    Just to clear up any misunderstanding: Metro Charter ES never “targeted” Castelar ES for co-location. The school district (LAUSD) chose to suggest Castelar ES as a potential co-location site to Metro Charter ES, but the Metro Charter board rejected it.

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