Charter Schools Can Make A Difference
In addition to being designed around a specific educational vision, charter schools are often different for other reasons. For example, many charter schools want to serve apopulation that is often not well served by the traditional public school. One school gathered recent high school dropouts, gave them individual attention, a real-world curriculum, and lots of support. In three years, 90 percent went on to college. Another school in a large urban district appeals to young parents by offering child care, parenting classes, and social services. Schools may serve students with artistic talents or those with hearing and visual limitations. The diversity offered through charter schools is virtually unlimited and with proper organization, vision and guidance, affords both students and parents a viable alternative to academic success leading to higher educational choices and promising careers.
Areas of the Bronx, NY, particularly the area known as the “South Bronx” are lacking in many key academic areas. First, as of 2006 there are 1, 361,473 persons residing in the Bronx, and 28.8% or 392,104 are under the age of 18 (US Census Bureau). Currently Bronx County maintains approximately 30 High Schools within 8 districts. At the current increase in population of 2.2% and no increase in schools, overcrowding will become the primary detriment to proper educational achievement. Introducing more schools to address to the scholastic needs of students is of paramount concern. Second, Top quality teachers are in short supply nationwide and low income neighborhoods are want with need for such teachers yet encounter far fewer instances of actually attracting, obtaining or retaining such personnel. At present there are approximately 127 schools in the Bronx (7 charter) servicing all age groups from K-12 (Schoolsk-12.com)
The NY Post reported that Mayor Bloomberg made remarks criticizing lawmakers slowing up the process of creating more charter schools in the New York City area. He cited that demand far exceeds supply with 15,000 students attending 58 charter schools with a waiting list of 13,000 (April 3, 2007). On March 30, 2007 then Gov. Spitzer and legislative leaders agreed on a new state budget that officials say includes authorization for 50 new charter schools in the city. With Blacks and Latinos comprising well over 75% of the population (approximately $15,000 per capita), it is an incumbent social responsibility to ensure that residents of these areas are given educational choices reflective of the importance of higher education and better caliber of academics. Clearly there is a need for the creation of such schools in the Bronx community as well as many other areas.
Suggested School Design:
The School design below is based on the highly-effective KIPP middle schools located in various urban areas throughout the country, including the KIPP Academy in the South Bronx, the highest performing public school in the Bronx for six years running (www.KIPP.org).
• Small school setting; incremental student population growth (100 9th grade students in first year; expanding to 400 students in grades 9-12).
• Students adhere to strictly enforced dress code minimizing distractions..
• Extended school day running from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
• Each school day includes 1 ½ hours of instruction for both English Language Arts and Mathematics including mandatory comprehensive instruction in English or Spanish as Second languages (determined by primary language) and College Prep course studies.
• Extended school year that is in session for over 200 days and includes three to four Saturday sessions per semester.
• In addition to weekly tests and quizzes in each class, annual standardized assessments will be administered in English language arts and mathematics, all New York State assessments will be given, and the Stanford 10 Student Achievement Test will be administered to all students annually to measure academic growth.
National Center for Education Statistics http://nces.ed.gov
United States Census Bureau: http://www.census.gov
Schools K-12.com: http://www.schoolsk-12.com
U.S. Census Quickfacts: http://quickfacts.census.gov
The New York City DOE: http://nycboe.net/
The New York Times
The New York Post
For more information please review the links listed above