Selected readings on US charter schools
I’m writing this because I want to tell the next mayor — whoever that is — that he will have a chance to support more dreams like mine by supporting the growth of high-performing charter schools. My story shows how a great school can make all the difference.
I started running the hallways of my elementary school in first grade. I just didn’t want to sit still, so I took off. I was suspended often, thrown out of an afterschool program and learned very little.
By third grade, I was labeled a special-education student for behavior. I was put in a classroom with other special-ed students. I don’t remember learning much, but I was passed on from grade to grade. When I got bored, I played catch with my classmates or I picked fights with other boys.
The classroom was my playground. When I got really bored, I roamed the hallways.
Everything changed in fifth grade, when I won the lottery to get into Williamsburg Collegiate Charter School, one of 20 New York City charter schools run by Uncommon Schools.
There was no running around at my new school. I learned pretty quickly I wasn’t going to get away with what I used to. I tried, and ended up in detention — often. In detention, students must reflect on their choices and how those choices affect others — and more importantly our own futures.
The teachers kept telling me that my behavior was getting in the way of me going to college. College hadn’t even been a thought in my mind. They never said I “might” go to college; they said I would. After a while, I started to believe, too.
I came into that school feeling inferior because of my special-education classification. But I soon realized that at the end of the day, I’m just the same as everyone else — many of us arrived in fifth grade several grade levels behind.
And, after a year, I was de-classified as a special-education student. I still got in trouble and sometimes needed extra help staying within boundaries, but I always had teachers whose high expectations for me helped me get back on track.
I came to realize, too, that classes were actually more fun than roaming the hallways. They were led by teachers who were passionate about what they were teaching — who helped me to become an ace at math, created fun games like Science Jeopardy and inspired me to delve deeply into history. So inspired that by eighth grade, I got to help organize a school trip across the South where we visited important civil-rights landmarks.
By high school, I had become a true leader, and by the time I graduated from Uncommon Charter HS this past June, I was school president.
I’m now at SUNY Oswego, working hard in the first few weeks of my college career — and future. My hope is that the next mayor — whoever that ends up being — will ensure that schools like the charter school that changed my life continue to exist and grow in neighborhoods where they’re needed the most.
Source: NY Post – by Lamont Sadler