POSTED: February 27th, 2012
Earlier today while waiting for an event at the California Charter School Association‘s annual conference, I was talking to a group of people who are starting a group called EdHive about charter schools and why they matter. What they said made a lot of sense.
Many parents are looking for alternatives to what their own public or chosen private schools have to offer. They sense that their schools have become test prep factories that only care about a score on a series of tests given each spring. They feel their child’s creativity and love of learning is being replaced with limited options and judgment of their potential via test score.
For these parents, charter schools matter, because at the end of the day, test scores don’t – or at least shouldn’t. That’s right; because charter schools are something parents opt into, they have to consciously make a decision to place their children into them. Before doing that, they also came to the conclusion that the neighborhood school either wasn’t meeting the needs of their child or that something was missing, that there was a better situation to be found elsewhere.
Therefore, parents are placing children in schools that are more philosophically in line with what they want for their children. Some parents feel their children need more discipline, some want to home-school and supplement with rigorous on-line curriculum, some just want to get their kids to graduate from high school and find programs for at-risk students where students can go to a drop-in center and visit with a mentor several times a week. Some want project –based curricular options, or work-experience tied in with basic curriculum. Doesn’t matter what the flavor, people are now looking for schools based on the type of situation that best fits their personality.
In fact, I am starting to hear other professionals refer to kids as far as the type of program the kids seem to fit. For example, ask your high school principal what a “Hi-Tech High kid” is and if they are being honest, they will tell you, “Bright, odd-duck, nice, kind of nerdy”. But, the important thing here is that if you have a bright, nice, nerdy type of student who feels a little out of the loop in a regular school, there is a perfect school for him or her to attend. If your child is happy and likes school and fits in with kids that are like them do you really care about test scores?
The answer is of course, “No”. Because at the end of the day, your child’s success isn’t based on a number assigned to your neighborhood school, it’s based on getting them into a school that excites their curiosity and creates a passion for something positive.
Not every student fits nicely into his or her neighborhood school. Not every student will find success at a ‘good school”. That is why charter schools matter. Because, at the end of the day, it’s the smile on a young face matters most of all.