In response to Chris Davis, firstresponses, and Jeff
Chris, I think you may have mischaracterized my statement. The purpose of the school is to educate the children. The purpose of a boat is to float. Heading in the "right" direction (in either case) is subjective and a function of leadership.
I think leadership is a key issue in this case. But if Omni's students are learning, like Ms. Eskew suggested, then the greater goal is being accomplished (to a certain degree).
For those who have never actually tried to teach a student, try it first. MCS and SCS are working to hire the best teachers, principals, and administrators they can. Becoming an excellent educator takes time. There is no simulation for teaching full time, just like there's no guidebook on how to run a charter school flawlessly.
Every first-year teacher/administrator is working to figure out the best way to "do their job." If they are truly committed, they will work continually to figure out the best way to do their job. Teaching is not easy, school administration is not easy, and running a charter school is not easy. If it were easy, like posting comments on an article over the internet, more people would do it.
At the beginning of the article, the teacher says that the students were receiving an excellent education. If this is true, then the school, despite its apparent major faults and challenges, is doing what is was designed to do. If the teacher left because she did not like the school's direction, then that is admirable. It's just hard for me to buy the "we cared about the kids, but not enough to stay" argument. To me, leaving your students two weeks before the TCAP doesn't say "I care."
Schools are places of business. Charter schools are most like a small business. Like a small business, a charter school usually has a good idea, plan, or concept. They present this "charter" to a school board in the same way a small business owner would present a business proposal to a bank of group of investors. They fundraise, recruit, hire, and operate in an attempt to execute their plan. But things rarely go as planned. When problems come up, changes have to be made. Invariably these changes will affect a person or group of people, but without this change, progress is limited. Some schools and small businesses are able to make these changes and flourish. Others are not, and close. This, in part, is why charter schools fail about as much as small businesses. So why are we so surprised to see a first-year school with problems?
In the worst case, Omni closes and the kids go back to their underperforming public schools. They will take with them, the information and skills that they have learned, and ideally they would be better students because of their charter school experience. In the best case, the school leaders adapt, reform, develop, and execute a plan for pushing their student beyond traditional expectations. Either way, if the students are learning, the school is working.
By Richard Alley
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