It’s been a while since I wrote 12s Can’t Get 3s. I live far away (both physically and emotionally) from Exemplary Charter Schools. I’m now a special education teacher in a Title 1 public school. From this vantage point it’s easy to see just how the advantages enjoyed by charter schools like Exemplary make a huge difference.
First, Exemplary’s deep pockets allow them to employ far more staff than a traditional public school. At my Exemplary school, there was an entire department dedicated to operations and day-to-day logistics which took a large load off the plates of our administrators. Another team was devoted to parsing and serving up data so that administrators didn’t have to spend their time on the excruciating spreadsheets that administrators need to pore over. A third team was solely in charge of special education services so that special ed teachers didn’t have to spend time writing IEPs, running IEP meetings, or acting as case managers for their students. I can especially relate to this one as I spend a fair deal of energy doing all of these things every day. The biggest advantage of having lots of money is that Exemplary can have two teachers in every single classroom. This allows teachers far more flexibility in terms of helping kids who need more attention or whose behavior issues are causing a disturbance, which leads to the second advantage.
Charter schools like Exemplary are able to push out whoever they feel is impeding their schools’ success rates. I was in several meetings where parents were pressured to leave Exemplary for a school that was “a better fit”. (I’ve documented this in the book.) I can say that the biggest behavior challenges at my Exemplary school would be in the middle of the pack at my current school. We don’t have the ability to pressure kids to leave as Exemplary does. Thinking about some of the classrooms that I serve today, we could change the temperature in the room drastically if we were able to weed out those who were seen as a deterrent to good test scores.
My current role has provided me with a peek into the challenges of our current public education system. I’ll share those thoughts here on an ongoing basis.