One more story from National Charter Schools Week
Here’s a great story from Domionique Valenzuela, a graduate of Elevate Academy in Caldwell, Idaho. She celebrated National Charter Schools Week by recalling her struggles through elementary and middle school. But all that came to an end when she enrolled in Elevate when the charter school opened at the start of her sophomore year. The trades-focused, hands-on curriculum engaged her, empowered her, and gave her a chance to sample everything from design to sales to construction. Along with her diploma, she earned certificates in culinary arts and business services. Valenzuela is currently employed, continuing her postsecondary education—including a competitive internship—and is also a 2023 Future Leaders Fellow with the American Federation for Children. Kudos to her for all of her hard-won success.
“K-16 outcomes on K-12 dollars”
Dual enrollment is a hallmark—and a point of immense pride—for Kevin Teasley, leader of GEO Academies, a charter network with schools in Indiana and Louisiana. He published a piece in The 74 this week, explaining how GEO has made earning college credits, certificates, and associate degrees concurrent with high school coursework integral to each student’s educational track. All at no cost to their families, including tuition, textbooks, and even transportation. You can read more about GEO Academies’ amazing educational model here.
Student enrollment changes
The national data on student enrollment changes since the first Covid-era school closures show that charter schools have clearly seen boosts in enrollment during this time. All schools are fully open now, but parents seem to be happy with the changes previously made, citing safety as a reason for sticking with their charter option. New survey data indicates that 37 percent of charter school parents feel their children are reasonably safe while at school, compared to 39 percent of private school parents and just 28 percent of traditional public school parents.
A familiar means of addressing teacher shortages
Speaking of pandemic-era changes that may stick around, a charter school network in California is continuing to embrace remote teaching…while the students are still learning together in their classroom. Alpha Public Schools in San Jose needed a geometry teacher and found a great one who happened to live in Maryland. Teacher and school were connected across the country through the company Coursemojo and soon students were learning via laptop, with a learning coach in the classroom to help. Ten other classes at Alpha’s Cindy Avitia High School are also led by virtual teachers this year. “Great teachers have never been equitably distributed,” said Coursemojo founder Dacia Toll, “especially to the kids who need them most.” When she saw how her most effective teachers stepped up and kept learning going remotely during pandemic school closures, her new venture was born.
Bittersweet end to the school year
The 2022-23 school year is coming to an end; and endings can be both happy and sad. A new crop of Presidential Scholars was named last week, including 10 charter school students from across the country among those honored “for their accomplishments in academics, the arts, and career and technical education fields.” The end of a school year almost inevitably means that some schools will be closing their doors for good as well. This year, that includes iLEAD Spring Meadows charter school in Toledo. Leaders cited a lack of sufficient funding for the impending closure. Hopefully, school families are being given as much help as possible in choosing among great new options for their students in the fall.
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