5 Charter Schools RI Needs Now
Monday, September 20, 2010
In May, the Rhode Island State Legislature voted to significantly increase the cap on the number of charter schools, targeting at least half the spots for at-risk youth. To date, charter schools in Rhode Island have not been a huge success; standardized test scores at many schools lag behind their traditional public school counterparts. Nevertheless, charter schools ARE succeeding in other locations around the country. And the victories aren’t in the wealthy suburbs; they are in tough urban place like
An International Baccalaureate School (IB)
If you don’t know what an IB curriculum is, you should. The concept began in Geneva, Switzerland in 1968 and today hundreds of IB schools exist all over the world. The curriculum is made up of college prep courses which focus on a global perspectives, and a mastery of multiple languages is emphasized. Colleges view an IB course as equivalent to an AP course and often weight it at 1.25 for GPA purposes when reviewing candidates (i.e. an A or 4.0 becomes a 5.0). From Oxford to Harvard, colleges want IB students because of the rigor of the curriculum and the superior, internationally focused education that it provides. Read more online about IBs here.
A SEED Inner City Boarding School
What happens when you take underperforming, at-risk kids out of the projects from Monday-Friday? It’s radical and it’s controversial, but SEED schools have shown that a five-day boarding school model does work for inner city youth who are often surrounded by gangs, crime and poverty. Students sleep in dorms where they start their day at 6am and end it after group study sessions at 10pm. The schools are funded collaboratively by public, private and corporate sources. The result is that nearly 100% of students go on to college. For more on SEED programs, go here.
A Learning Differences (LD) School
If you have a child with an LD, you know how difficult it can be to harness the right resources in your school. Whether a student suffers from dyslexia, dysgraphia, slow processing times, ADD, ADHD or any other learning challenge, they need to be surrounded by experts. Students with LDs are often made to feel less than adequate but they ARE smart, they simply learn differently. Schools like St. Andrew’s and The Hamilton School at Wheeler are masters of this educational sector, but they come with a high price tag and competitive admissions. Rhode Island needs a public school option to address the enormous need for LD education in our state.
A University High School
Providence boasts a top Ivy League college, top art college and top Catholic university. What would a collaborative high school look like that draws visiting professors and grad students from these colleges to teach in the classrooms? The school could offer scintillating courses, cutting-edge teaching methodologies, experiential learning, and the latest educational technologies. A university high school could bring together the best of breed from all the universities to create an amazing college prep experience.
A Visual & Performing Arts School
The Trinity Academy for the Performing Arts recently opened in Providence and will be building its middle and high school over the next few years. I’d like to see this school expand to take advantage of the wealth of visual arts resources associated with the RISD community. Arts charter schools can often fall short of academic expectations, and TAPA will need to put a rigorous core curriculum at the center of its mission in order to succeed. Stellar models for this type of school include the nationally ranked New World School of the Arts in Florida.
Cristiana Quinn, M.Ed. is the founder of College Admission Advisors, LLC, a Providence-based educational consulting firm which provides strategic, individual counseling for college-bound students. www.collegeadvisorsonline.com
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