Selected readings on US charter schools
A California charter school company announced plans this morning to open eight schools in Nashville with permission from the state instead of the school board.
Rocketship Education plans to eventually enroll 4,000 Nashville students, but will start with one school for about 500 students, according to a written announcement released at 9 a.m.
The company said it will open one school each year starting in the fall of 2014. School openings are contingent on success, according to the announcement.
Even as the Tennessee legislature is embroiled in a debate over whether state officials should be allowed to approve charter schools, a state education official contends he has that authority and has already used it for Rocketship.
Charter schools traditionally are approved or denied permission to operate by a local school board.
“We authorized Rocketship as a charter school operator because of its successful track record of academic gains with low-income students and its ability to engage with parents and community members,” said Chris Barbic, superintendent of the Achievement School District.
The ASD was created by a special act of the legislature and is empowered to take over low-performing schools.
Barbic’s comments were included in the statement released this morning.
Barbic spokesman Jeremy Jones said the ASD can use three different models to serve children in the lowest performing 5 percent of schools.
One model is like the one used in Nashville at Brick Church, where one grade each year is taken over by a charter school, he said. A second model, which allows a charter school to take over the whole school at one time, has been used in Memphis.
The third model allows the ASD to approve new charter schools in the areas where the low-performing schools are located.
The charter school gives students in the low-performing schools a choice while steps are being made to improve the traditional public school, Jones said.
The ASD approved Rocketship’s charter in June 2012, according to the statement. The company is approved for eight schools that will serve students in kindergarten through fifth grade.
Rocketship currently serves close to 4,000 students across seven schools in San Jose, and plans to open two new schools there. Rocketship’s first Milwaukee school will open in the fall of 2013.
Rocketship also has a pending charter school application before the Metro Nashville school board.
Source: The Tennessean – by Lisa Fingeroot