Rare District -Charter Collaboration for Innovation
Focuses on Kids Instead of Politics
An earnest Chelsea Clinton (showing flashes of Momma) reports at NBC about charter school as it was originally conceived. Rhode Island public and charter school teachers are meeting weekly to share and even adopt each others' techniques and challenges. The Gates Foundation says that nationally, out of ~16,000 districts with charter schools, they only know of 16 where collaboration for innovation takes place.
This is much better than the pipe dream that competition among schools is a prescription for improvement. It shows just how far wrong a pretty good idea can go, when politics intervene.
CLINTON:Public school teachers Nancy Chenard, Diane Jasper and Cheryl Thurber are working with Learning Community charter school teachers Christine Alves and Jill Cote. This picture of seeing charter school teachers and District Republic schoolteachers is a rare one here in Rhode Island and across the country. Why do you think it is so rare?
Ms. CHENARD:Sometimes public school teachers can perceive charters as a threat, a threat of resources, of taking resources, of taking personnel, taking jobs. And that is not the kind of relationship that we have.
Ms. CHERYL THURBER:It wasn't we're a brand-new charter school, we're just going to come in and give you this program because we know it's going to work. They have a similar student population as us.
Ms. DIANE JASPER:All our fears were put to rest quickly because we all share the same goal, that it's the student achievement, it's getting them to be readers.
Ms. CHENARD:When we looked at nonfiction books yesterday...
CLINTON:Gone are the textbooks. Kids choose what they want to read. Class is now twice as long. There's daily independent reading and one-on-one time with the teacher for every student every week.
LACY:Communicate with others.
CLINTON:With one another.
LACY:With one another.
CLINTON:That's great. Teachers from both systems meet regularly to share ideas and the lesson they're learning in their own classrooms.
Ms. CHRISTINE ALVES:We just keep it dynamic. We make decisions right there on the spot about how to meet the needs of every single student in the class.
Ms. THURBER:You have that freedom and that -- your ability to use your professional judgment what's best for those 20 kids in front of you. It goes to the kids who are in the middle, it goes to the kids who are ready to thrive and it goes to the kids who may need a little remediation.
CLINTON:When the program began three years ago, only 37 percent of kids in kindergarten through second grade were reading at or above the national benchmark. By the end of the first school year, 66 percent were. That's a 29 point jump in just eight months.
Ms. SARAH FRIEDMAN:That is just an unbelievable accomplishment and something that should be celebrated in this field of education.
CLINTON:Sarah Friedman and Meg O'Leary are co-founders of the Learning Community charter school where the reading program began. They hope partnerships theirs will become the rule, rather than the exception.
Ms. MEG O'LEARY:In many ways we've kind of been set up to point the finger at one another or to compete with one another, and there's not time or resources to do that.