Alain LeRoy Locke College Preparatory Academy is a public charter high school located in Los Angeles, California, and is part of Green Dot Public Schools. It serves students in the community of Watts. Our charter was approved by the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), and the school currently has students enrolled in grades 9 through 12.
Alain Leroy Locke (September 13, 1885 – June 9, 1954) was an American writer, philosopher, educator and patron of the arts. Known as the "Dean" of the Harlem Renaissance, Locke was a philosophical architect who's achievements earned him a place in the catalogue of influential African Americans. He became the first African American Rhodes Scholar in 1907, and on March 19, 1968, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. honored Locke's influence when he proclaimed: "We're going to let our children know that the only philosophers that lived were not Plato and Aristotle, but W. E. B. Du Bois and Alain Locke came through the universe.".
Opening its doors in 1967, Alain LeRoy Locke High School sought to provide a safe and secure place for learning – an antidote to the conditions that led to the Watts civil unrest of 1965. Locke High School was the first in Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the nation's 2nd largest school district, to be named after an African-American, and the first school to serve the communities of Athens, Florence-Graham, Watts, Westmont, and Willowbrook.
The school quickly became an important landmark for the community. It engaged its members in some of the most promising programs in the city like its All-City Award-Winning Marching Band; championship-winning Athletic Programs (featuring outstanding athletes like Cynthia Cooper, Eddy Murray, and Ozzie Smith); a Parent-Led Support group for supervision; and community-based instruction sessions to raise cultural awareness. The school's success and upward climb lasted from its birth in 1967 until the mid 1980s, when a crippling recession caused steep cuts in domestic spending. Areas like Watts in South Los Angeles were especially impacted, and the recession created a chain of events that led to the academic downfall for the schools in the area.
Four decades later, Locke High School had become emblematic of systemic failure. Locke was described as a “failing school” and had a school culture characterized by violence and chaos. The campus was notorious for student brawls, graffiti, poor attendance rates, and a shockingly low college-ready graduation rate. Of the 1,000 freshmen who entered in 2004, only 250 graduated. About 50 of these students enrolled in college, with a much smaller number actually graduating from college. The original promise of a school that created a safe environment for learning had been broken; the students and community of Locke High School deserved better.
In 2008, Green Dot Public Schools joined with teachers, parents and the community to transform Alain LeRoy Locke High School. To improve the student-teacher ratio, they split the high school into several small, safe, personalized learning academies. Green Dot instilled a college-going culture of safety, accountability, and personalized learning.
By 2012, the first full cohort of 9th graders graduated at rates significantly higher than at comparable schools across Los Angeles Unified School District. According to a study conducted by UCLA's National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST), students at the transformed Locke were 1.5 times more likely to graduate and 3.7 times more likely to complete coursework that prepares them for college. Despite these impressive gains, there Green Dot still strives to improve student achievement and outcomes.
Today Alain LeRoy Locke College Preparatory Academy is divided into three academies.
The 9th Grade Academy provides a focused environment for rapidly improving students' proficiency in core subject areas. Many students enter Locke far behind grade level, and the 9th Grade Academy focuses on bringing them up to grade-level through personalized learning and targeted interventions.
Students in grades 10-12 attend Academy Blue or Gold, which provide a more traditional high school grade structure while preserving the small-school feel that is critical in creating a positive, learning-focused, college-going culture. Locke College Prep Academy also boasts the largest CIF athletics department for Green Dot Public Schools, and prides itself in having top programs in the city.
About Green Dot
Green Dot Public Schools is a non-profit organization whose mission is to help transform public education so ALL students graduate prepared for college, leadership and life.
Unique in the nation for a major non-profit charter management organization, Green Dot is proving it can achieve better student outcomes with the same student population, lower per pupil funding than the district and a unionized workforce. We are the leading charter school operator in Los Angeles and one of the top three largest in the nation.