Sunday LeftoversFebruary 1, 2015
A High School Teacher and Her Students Reflect on the Common CoreFebruary 2, 2015
Shayvonne Anderson , a Newark mother of ten children who range in age from five to eighteen, explains in the Star-Ledger today why she sends her children to charter schools. Among all the complaints about charter schools from lobbying groups like NJEA, Save Our Schools-NJ, and Education Law Center – they discriminate against children with special needs, they practice a “drill and kill” pedagogy, they drain money from traditional schools — we rarely hear from parents on the ground.
Ms. Anderson skewers those complaints. At least three of her children have “unique learning needs,” yet they are well-served by several Newark Charter schools:
- My 13-year-old son has been a challenge in school behaviorally and academically, but since coming to charter school he, too, has become a star student in his own right. Although he still has his challenges, his teachers work with him and me. The teachers take time to understand his learning process and they work very closely with me to develop plans that support and help him.
- My three older daughters, 16-year-old twins and a 17-year-old, attend Paulo Freire Charter School. Two of my girls have unique learning needs, yet the school and teachers have tailored plans for each of them to help them achieve their personal and academic goals.
By the way, Newark Superintendent Cami Anderson’s much-maligned Newark One plan worked out just fine for Ms. Anderson.
Before moving back to Newark I had heard of charter schools, but did not know exactly what they were. From speaking with others at the time, my understanding was that charter schools were difficult to get into (I thought there were entrance exams), students had to go through a lottery process, and acceptance wasn’t guaranteed. But as I did more research and sought out parents whose children attended charter schools I heard wonderful things and immediately began searching for schools for my children.
I applied to just about every charter school in Newark and was successful. My children were accepted into Newark Collegiate Academy, Paulo Freire Charter School, Great Oaks Charter School and Marion P. Thomas Charter School. After One Newark was introduced in 2014 I prioritized specific schools for my children that I knew, based on my research, would be best for them. Now, my children attend Newark Collegiate Academy, Team Academy, Spark Academy and The Paulo Freire Charter School. My children are learning life skills and receiving the benefit of a great education that every child deserves.
In each school, the teachers care about the students and they are invested in helping them succeed. I love that my children are held accountable for their actions, taught to take responsibility, and taught that hard work hard is the process to get good grades. My children are held to a higher standard in charter schools, where they are taught to push past the thought of being average and work to be excellent. I am grateful that my children have been afforded this opportunity, but I feel strongly that this opportunity should not be something that is afforded, but rather something that is required for and owed to, every student no matter where they live. A ZIP code should not impact whether my child – or any child – has a great educational opportunity. That’s just a fact.
Perhaps legislators in Trenton should listen to parents more than they listen to lobbyists.