Seven Years After Their First Visit, the Morning Show Returns to Showcase ICEF as a National Model for Reform
ICEF Press Release
Los Angeles, CA – ICEF Public Schools was featured this morning on Good Morning America, showcasing a charter school organization that has grown from one school in 2002, to a network of 13 high-performing charter schools that is changing South Los Angeles by sending African-American students to some of the nation’s top colleges and universities.
Today’s six-minute Good Morning America segment began with the story of ICEF Founder Michael D. Piscal, “a man who had a new idea for kids struggling to survive in South Central Los Angeles,” and “what happens to a little idea and a very big heart.”
The piece followed some of the students who were in elementary school seven years ago when Good Morning America first visited ICEF’s View Park Prep Elementary. Today, those same students talked about studying economics and biology in college, their goals to become doctors and principals, and how ICEF made receiving a quality higher education a reality for them.
The program also highlighted ICEF’s ambitious reform plan to build an Education Corridor in South Los Angeles. By focusing on a specific, underserved and high-need geographic area where more than 50 percent of students don’t graduate high school and fewer than one in 10 ninth-graders goes on to graduate from college, ICEF has developed a strategy to produce 2,000 college graduates a year in South Los Angeles.
Years after ICEF Founder Michael D. Piscal gave up a teaching job at a privileged school for wealthy children to pursue his dream of opening a school that would get inner-city kids into college, reporter Diane Sawyer said that big universities were lining up for his graduates.
“In South Central L.A., an area hurting from gangs and drugs, less than 10 percent of young people complete four years of college. Michael’s charter school organization, called ICEF, aims to end the crisis,” Sawyer said on the show. “The success has been astonishing. Virtually all of ICEF’s students go on to college. Education experts everywhere are sitting up and taking notice.”
So far, ICEF has sent more than 140 students to college, and 100 percent of their first two graduating classes have applied to and have been accepted to college. Every student also enrolled, except for one who chose to join the military. ICEF’s schools are some of the highest performing schools for African-American students in California.
“It’s an amazing explosion of activity in this community where before there was really nothing. He’s a pioneer,” said Priscilla Wohlstetter, a professor at the University of Southern California and director of its Center on Educational Governance.
Just days after Pres. Barack Obama called for more charter schools, higher standards and greater accountability, Good Morning America’s focus on ICEF Public Schools shows how successful charter schools can serve as models for positive reform throughout the nation.
Piscal said on Good Morning America that ICEF is at the “epicenter of everything that’s gone wrong in America,” and the system is just not working for the children of the community.
“In the past seven years, we’ve sent our kids to the nation’s top colleges. In the next seven years, you’ll see these college graduates return as our future doctors, lawyers and teachers to give back to this community. These same children will come back to this community, college diploma in hand, creating a sustainable and vibrant middle and upper-middle class,” said Michael D. Piscal, President and CEO of ICEF Public Schools. “These were the students few believed would succeed, but we have shown that with high expectations and support, all students can excel. What we’re doing here by focusing on a specific neighborhood can serve as a model for changing public education in all corners of America.”
On Oct. 29, 2002, Lagasse served Piscal, then principal of View Park Prep Elementary, breakfast in bed on Good Morning America because the students had flooded the show with letters calling Piscal their hero.
At the time, ICEF Public Schools was just one school—View Park Prep Elementary—with 240 students in grades K-6. Today, ICEF Public Schools is a network of 13 high-performing K-12 public schools with 3,000 students and more than 6,000 on their waiting lists.
About ICEF Public Schools
ICEF Public Schools (Pronounced “Eye-ceff,” for the Inner City Education Foundation) was co-founded in 1994 by Piscal, Jim O’Brien of Citi, Steve Smith of Seaport Group and Kevin O’Brien of Global Broadcasting, to transform the Los Angeles community by creating first-rate educational opportunities for its minority youth. ICEF currently operates 13 public charter schools, including four new schools which opened this fall, with the goal of preparing its students to attend and compete academically at the top colleges and universities in the nation. ICEF’s flagship school, View Park Preparatory Charter High School, has now graduated two classes, with 100 percent of its graduates accepted to college.