Date of Award

Summer July 2011

Access Restriction


Degree Name

Doctorate in Education



School or College

School of Education

First Advisor

Mary K. McCullough

Second Advisor

Marta Baltodano

Third Advisor

Jill P. Bickett


In Los Angeles, the charter movement has gained incredible momentum as Charter Management Organizations take over troubled public schools in working class neighborhoods and communities of color. In Watts, a Latino and African American working class neighborhood, Locke High School had long stood as a troubled school in the Los Angeles Unified School District. After decades of low test scores, violence, and astronomical dropout rates, Green Dot Public Schools took over the campus and, in 2008, opened Locke as a public charter school under its management. This study examined the perceptions, experiences, and stories of five 12th-grade students at Locke whose high school was taken over. These students described the impact this charter takeover had on their social, academic, and personal lives. Using qualitative research methodology, this study utilized student-created photo essays, in-depth semistructured interviews, and a focus group. Though the media prematurely labeled the takeover a success, the students‘ views differed. They described how the takeover helped them academically, but failed to give them a rigorous college preparatory curriculum. The takeover also failed to meet their social needs. These students discussed how the takeover improved the Locke campus, but failed to make ongoing improvements throughout the school. Students offered their stories and counterstories to the mainstream media, which applauded the changed atmosphere. They reminisced about the past, mourned social loss, complained of uniforms and strict compliance to rules, and hoped for additional changes. These students added personal voices to the takeover of their high school.