OMG: We Can Learn So Much From Charter Schools!

Public schools are beginning to implement some charter school “best practices”–like unloading kids who are a drag on graduation rates and test scores.

The great thing about charter schools is that there are so many great things about charter schools. But if I had to pick one it would be best practices. These are all of the things that charters do better than traditional union-stifled public schools, like innovation, high expectations and no excuses. Luckily, charter schools are happy to share their best practices unless they are for-profit charters in which case all of their practices are proprietary.

Now you are probably wondering to yourself, ‘how can I implement these best practices at my public school since lack of innovation, low achievement and excuses are written into our iron-clad union contracts?’ Well, there is good news. Many of our public schools are already learning from charters every day—and you can too! Here is just one example of how a high school in Boston learned from the charter best practice of encouraging low-achieving students to attend a different school. Note: this story came from a real live teacher.

I teach at a Boston high school. Thirty nine percent of our kids speak a first language other than English, 47 % are low income. Transiency is a huge issue for us. All year long students had been coming and going. You never knew who was going to show up in your classroom, and brand new students were transferring in all the time. Every week teachers met with administrators to track the progress of our students. At one of these meetings in the spring we were given a color coded list of student names. The names in black were kids who were failing a class but were probably going to graduate. Names in blue were failing more than one class and were in danger of not graduating but could still be saved. The names in red were the students who weren’t going to make it. We were told that those students would be suspended or expelled until the end of the marking period. “We have to get them out of here,” was how one administrator put it. That way we could still meet our AYP and our graduation rate wouldn’t be affected.

From what charter best practice is your school benefiting? Send your story to tips@haveyouheardblog.com. Anonymity assured.