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What Struggling Schools Have To Say
With a varied career in K-12 education,as a teacher and as a parent of a child in the school district, I have seen many of the
activities Jorge Lopez (at Oakland Charter Academy) describes in Chapter
9. I have seen administrators care only
about education during testing week (sports are the main concern the other
weeks of the year). I have seen
students manipulated in test taking to achieve artificial results for the
public’s delight. I have read polls in
which public education (in general and outside their local domain) is considered
to be a waste of taxpayer’s money but local education is above average in the
minds of local patrons. Numbers are
massaged until the desired outcomes are achieved.
Jorge Lopez describes a charter school with the same
problems that are in existence in many schools and describes a new order in the
school to get back to the basic educational objectives of any school; teachers
teaching and students learning. Pride
in the educational results (not being 10-0 in football this year), pride in the
culture of learning (teachers teaching and student’s are proud of their
academic success). Lopez set the
climate and hired a staff that would support that culture. The kids bought into it, the parents saw the
real results (not the coasting results of the feeder schools). Students chastised poor performers and encouraged
them to do their homework, pay attention and achieve academically.
It was interesting to read the viewpoints of the struggling charter schools. Their views of why their schools were having difficulties closely tied in with the reasons why the other charter school were successful. Not pushing student achievement and using test results to monitor this achievement are important criteria for any school. Student achievement should be the goal of all teachers and schools and I’m amazed that this isn’t always the case. I’ve heard of many charter schools not using certified teachers to teach. I always wondered about this. It was interesting to note that this is one of the reasons why the schools are struggling. I understand that you want a teacher that knows the material well, but pedagogy is also an important factor and can’t be overlooked. I was curious to know if any of the struggling charter schools besides ACE sent in their surveys after the book was published.