I had a hard time keeping quiet as the parents asked questions WE asked ourselves during Peachtree's recent Charter renewal process. (This is our third renewal, and we're on tenterhooks waiting for the DOE to say yay or nay.)
One parent asked a really good question: there are lots of good reasons to become a Charter - but what is the downside? There are two (and I actually don't consider them negatives because they engage everyone in the drive for quality education):
- Accountability: Georgia's Charter law puts enormous pressure on Charter schools, whether conversion or start-up, to "put up or shut up." We're required to step far beyond our local school system in terms of innovation in instruction as well as in delivering powerful results in achievement. At Peachtree, we're focusing on closing the achievement gap among disparate populations of students. We have lots of great ideas and plenty of reasons to want that for our students. We also have set ourselves some very high goals to achieve in the next five years.
- Consensus: What do parents and teachers want for their school? It's a long path from surveying everyone to get ideas and beliefs to arriving at a clear vision for the school's improvement.
Then take it a step up. Convince all the schools in your "cluster" - elementary, middle, and high schools - to convert as a unit to a Charter Cluster school system. Together, you can individualize the curriculum and methodology for your school, work together to obtain grants and other funding, build continuity and excellence from K through 12th grade, take advantage of community resources and experts who are shut out of traditional school system models, and support local schools with a deserved and quantifiable reputation for quality.
Senator Weber says it's doable, it's needed, and it's the future of public education in our community.