Changes to Charters? 

City school board approves new curriculum for Star Academy.

Even though they feared they would be opening Pandora's box, Memphis City Schools commissioners voted to allow a change in curriculum at a local charter school.

"I don't want to see this happen over and over," said board member Hubon "Dutch" Sandridge, "but if [the principal] is satisfied, I'm satisfied. I hope we won't be opening up Pandora's box."

When Star Academy Charter School on James Road was originally approved, the primary curriculum guide was a concept called Core Knowledge. After the charter was approved by MCS, the newly hired principal and her teachers felt the students would be better served with the McGraw-Hill curriculum.

Board member Lora Jobe was concerned that the change was coming too close to the beginning of the school year and without a recommendation from the district's staff. "The executive staff and the committee looked extensively at the charter applications. Many applications were turned down. I almost feel like we're getting into a tenuous spot," she said. "So much work went into getting this charter approved."

Superintendent Carol Johnson also questioned the decision, pointing out that charters are supposed to be providing something traditional public schools cannot. "I think they may have been approved because of [the original curriculum]," she said.

But other members of the board welcomed the chance to see the McGraw Hill curriculum at work. McGraw-Hill also publishes the TCAP.

"I've heard from many educators that [the McGraw-Hill curriculum] is better aligned [to the TCAP] than what we use in many of our schools. I think we should use it as a test," said Deni Hirsh. "Charter schools are tests anyway. If this is what their faculty decided to do, let them."

The vote passed 8-1. Jobe was the lone dissenter.

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