Selected readings on US charter schools
Nashiville Prep charter school founder Ravi Gupta handed in not one, but two charter school letters of intent to the state’s new seven-member charter school authorizer board today. Initial plans call for a 2015 opening of Reimagine Prep for grades 5-12, beginning with a first class of fifth-graders, in a building owned by New Horizon Church International in south Jackson.
Charter schools are public schools, but are given leeway by the state to have more academic freedom and creativity. They still must meet state standards for academic performance. Nationally, their students generally perform much higher than their counterparts in neighboring public schools.
“This is a passionate thing,” said Gupta, who has a degree from Yale Law School and opened the doors of Nashville Prep with an initial class of 100 fifth-graders in August 2011.Within a year, the school exceeded state scores in all four core academic subjects and in its first year also ranked tops in Tennessee charter schools in growth. In its second year, it was the highest-performing charter school in the state.
“We love serving kids,” Gupta said of his organization, which is opening a second school in Nashville and also has plans on the drawing board for a second school in Jackson. “We look around the country to see where is the biggest need. We work like crazy.”
At Nashville Prep, 94 percent of its scholars are minority, and 83.5 percent qualify for free or reduced lunch by federal standards.
“Nowhere is the inequality deeper or history of race more complex than Mississippi,” Gupta said.
Legislators passed a law allowing charter schools in Mississippi districts rated “D” or “F” without permission of the local school board. The Jackson district has a “D” rating from the state Department of Education.
Letters of intent from grassroots groups or other organizations wishing to open a charter school in the state are due to the board by Jan. 22. Actual applications must be turned in by March 14, and the charter board is expected to make its selections by June 16.
Reimagine Academy will be open to all children in the Jackson school district.
“We are going to go door to door, and we are going to tell our story,” Gupta said of getting the word out. “It’s all about the kids.
“There’s almost no word left to describe this school. We are going to re-imagine what the public school experience can be for a child in Jackson.”
Source: ClarionLedger.com – by Ruth Gupta