by Kelly Vance
This week, "The Method of King Jorge": Pretty good headline, but the kids who attended the Oakland Charter Academy when principal Jorge Lopez first took over the job would never have known that it referred to The Madness of King George. Not only was the history of England a mystery to them, but so were basic math and English composition. Lopez, son of Mexican parents and originally a high-school dropout from Richmond, is the classic tough-love public school generalissimo we've come to know and admire in countless Hollywood movies. After screwing up young, he discovered that hard work pays off, and that "cleansing" is sometimes necessary - hardly the approach that would endear him to Oakland school bureaucrats. He's amazingly blunt ("I don't take a lot of shit from parents. I don't take shit from kids. I don't take shit from teachers") but he gets results. And his former students and even some teachers and administrators he's tangled with agree he's made a big difference.