Charter Schools are Lighting the Way
Saturday, December 28, 2002
On the day
before Christmas, the following editorial appeared in the Minneapolis
Star Tribune. Please share it with your friends and family.
The first Charter School Hearing of the 2003 Legislative Session
will take place at the state capitol in Olympia one month from
today, on Tuesday, January 28, 2002, between 1:30 PM and 3:30
PM. Please join us if you can and testify or just "show the
flag" in support of charter schools!
Best Wishes for 2003!
Jim & Fawn Spady, CO-directors,
Education Excellence Coalition
4426 - 2nd Avenue NE
Seattle, WA 98105-6191
Jim's office phone: 206/634-0589
Jim's cell phone: 206/949-8484
Jim's e-mail address: JimSpady@WAcharterschools.org
Jim & Fawn's home phone: 206/275-2089
Editorial: Teaching, Learning -- Charter Schools Share Success.
Star Tribune, Dec. 24, 2002
became the first state to offer charter schools a decade ago,
the idea was to encourage innovative alternatives to traditional
public schools. Educators, parents and others were given the flexibility
to use different teaching approaches -- especially to help children
failing in so-called "regular" schools.
important goal was to treat the programs as laboratories; to take
the lessons learned and apply them in other schools. Now comes
welcome evidence that at least two Minnesota charter models are
fulfilling that promise.
of models developed at New Visions school in Minneapolis and New
Country School in Henderson have shown that they do indeed significantly
improve academic achievement. And their methods are being used
in a growing number of other schools.
The New Visions,
Chance to Grow K-8 program uses a combination of neurofeedback,
auditory stimulation and dyslexia treatment to help enhance brain
performance, focus and hand-eye coordination, which in turn improves
reading. Its approach is being replicated in 39 sites throughout
Minnesota and at several schools across the country.
In a recent
three-year, control-group study, youngsters in New Visions programs
advanced far more rapidly than those not enrolled. Some hyperactive
students, for example, were able to stop taking medication, and
kindergarten and first-grade students were recognizing more words
and beginning to read at faster rates.
With the help
of a state grant, New Visions staff created the Minnesota Learning
Resource Center to help train teachers at other schools and follow
up with regular site visits. Now nearly 2,300 Minnesota children
participate in the programs.
successful charter that is also exporting its model to other public
school districts is the New Country School in Henderson. Serving
secondary students in grades 7-12, the program was created in
1993 by a group of teachers and parents who believe in individualized,
project-based learning. There are no step-by-step curriculums
or traditional classes; under the direction of a teacher/adviser,
each student has a computer and is on a personalized educational
plan, often working on a project based on his or her interests.
to a different learning model, New Country also has a nontraditional
staff organization. Teachers are member/owners of the EdVisions
Cooperative (rather than a large teacher union), which provides
instructional services through contracts with New Country and
six other schools.
students who have been in the program at least three years improved
their Stanford 9 test scores by an average of 18.5 percent in
reading and 15.3 percent in math. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
was so impressed with the early results that it recently awarded
EdVisions a $4.5 million grant to serve 20 new schools.
past several years, a handful of Minnesota's 70-plus charter programs
have gone out of business, largely due to mismanagement. But these
two programs demonstrate the research and development potential
of charter schools.
Not only are
they improving learning at one school, they are spreading the
to Washington State Update Index