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In New Hampshire, we tend to see charters as locally grown alternative schools for a few students with special needs or special talents. Many of us have children or neighbors who may have benefitted from a charter school.
But if you stand back and look at the charter school movement in the United States, the picture is much different. Although overall charter school performance is essentially the same as that of traditional public schools, the opportunity to create a privately managed school with public funding has, with heavy promotion from the U.S. Department of Education, led to high growth in charter enrollments. There are now almost 3 million charter school students in the U.S., double the number in the 2007/8 school year. One third of the schools, with 44% of the students, are managed by multi-school management organizations. (Just over half of those are for-profit.).
Testimony from all over the country…
When the Common Core State Standards were introduced in Louisiana, they represented an opportunity for me to grow as an instructor and impact student learning in a way that few may have anticipated. As a high school choir director, I have sat through my share of staff development meetings on topics ranging from “how to incorporate math into an English lesson” to “how to write a multiple choice question.” None of these developments have applied to me.
Now, with Common Core, we have, professional development opportunities that are applicable to all classes, not only the core classes (or as I like to refer to them, the “non-elective” classes). In Professional Learning Communities (PLCs), teachers focus on student data and literacy-based instruction for all classes. This allows differentiated professional development to support teachers as they implement the new standards in the most fitting way for their subject matter and individual students.
Implementing the CCSS in my choir room has allowed me to influence my students’ overall academic achievement more than I ever anticipated. You may not recognize the connection between choir and an English essay or a math problem, but I assure you, it’s there.