“A charter is the grant of authority or rights, stating that the granter formally recognizes the prerogative of the recipient to exercise the rights specified.” Web. 25 Feb 2010. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charter>.
I remember wishing I had the other first grade teacher because I felt put down and under appreciated by mine. I got the second grade teacher I wanted and she was awesome. I remember not feeling like there was much of a difference between the third grade teachers and I actually had them both as I left my homeroom to go to the other teacher for math. Either way, I felt like the year would be “ok.” Fourth and fifth grades were awesome. 60% of my homeroom teachers in elementary school were awesome in my opinion. In reflecting on these teachers as I was thinking about charter schools, I realize what made them awesome in my mind was that they chartered the kids in their classroom! That is, they gave me the “perorgative…to exercise the rights specified.” They empowered me.
Albemarle County Public Schools is a pretty amazing school district. We have a supportive School Board, visionary leader, a strong leadership team, hundreds of highly skilled, professional teachers and a support staff that does amazing work. Everything we do is connected tightly back to our Vision, “All learners believe in their power to embrace learning, to excel, and to own their future.” Upon reading this vision statement after my earlier reflections, I think our vision really is a call to charter all students!
Albemarle County Public Schools has two charter schools. The Community Public Charter School is an art-infused middle school program in its second year. Murray High School is an non-traditional school of choice that is also a Glasser Quality School and is in its twenty second year. We also have a “speciality center” that is in its first year this year – MESA, our Math, Engineering, and Science Academy that operates as a “school within a school” at Albemarle High School. If we chartered all of our students individually, would we need these “special” places to meet their needs?
I recently wrote about the SLA kids I encountered at Educon. I have also talked with kids at CPCS, MHS, and MESA in the past few weeks. Across the board, it is clear that it takes a special teacher to successfully teach in a charter school or specialty center. What kind of teacher does it take to charter the kids in a “regular” school?
Until we can guarantee 100% of our students will follow a path through school in which 100% of the teachers they encounter are awesome, I support the concept of charter schools. I like the part of the Virginia law that requires charter schools to be public schools. Public charter schools can and hopefully will push all schools to do a much better job of meeting the needs of every student through meaningful choices, by giving kids the”perorgative…to exercise the rights specified.”