Prince William and his wife, Kate, are heading to Skid Row on Sunday to visit Inner-City Arts school, which is all fine and dandy. But we suggest the royal couple also hang out at Las Familias del Pueblo, the Skid Row childcare center with a charter school.

Las Familias is no ordinary place. Former Catholic nun Alice Callaghan has been looking after immigrant children and educating them for many years now — and she sends huge numbers of her students to a top-notch magnet school in Brentwood. Callaghan has even planned out her students' education through their high school years.

“Every time I look at these kids,” Callaghan told L.A. Weekly last year, “if they went to a bad school, they would not have a future. But they can do anything.”

Back in the late 1990s, Callaghan and a group of immigrant parents battled the Los Angeles Unified School District to provide a better education for their kids at the Ninth Street Elementary School in Skid Row.

The skirmish, which was fought over the fact that Latino parents wanted their children to be taught in English, garnered national headlines — the parents took their kids out of the school as a kind of strike tactic.

L.A. Unified gave in somewhat, but the students were still receiving a lousy education at Ninth Street Elementary. Callaghan, as a result, opened a charter school — Jardin de la Infancia, or Garden of the Infant — for kindergarten and first grade in 2004.

Always thinking about the big picture, Callaghan then realized she couldn't send her students to Ninth Street Elementary after first grade, so she and her staff researched the best magnet elementary schools and charter high schools in Los Angeles that would best serve her mostly Latino students.

Now many of Callaghan's students, whose parents usually work in the downtown area, attend Brentwood Science Magnet School.

“We're using the system to work for us,” Callaghan told us.

Callaghan and her staff continue to keep an eye on her former students — many of them return to Las Familias after school is over in Brentwood because their parents are still working. At that time, Callaghan and her teachers help the students with their homework.

That's just some of the background on Las Familias del Pueblo. Read the L.A. Weekly cover story “Educating Maria” for more information about this top-notch school.

We know the royals have their days scheduled with security concerns and all that, but William and Kate should really do a little improvising and say hello to Callaghan and her crew.

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at

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