This is cross-posted from the Disruption Department blog, and while St. Louis focused, I believe the coop can provide some insight into some problems I’m struggling with.
I’ve often struggled with the most appropriate ways to approach our service to our community’s (communities’) families. I think the difference of our approach is that we listen and provide resources and means, rather than articulating some end we want people to meet.
We ascribe no general “reform” answer, but rather seek to help community members provide more human educational opportunities for our cities students, connecting them with the outside world that befits their talents and intellect (rather than continuing to work in zones of isolation and schools of mediocrity).
Charter schools reflect an attitude that more efficient, or more effective schools can overcome the obstacles our community faces, rather than focusing on individual needs and helping people find the resources they need to thrive. With Imagine Schools (a for-profit charter school “district” in St. Louis) closing at the end of this school year, we see the reverse trend we’ve noticed in St. Louis the past decade. Charter school students searching for St. Louis Public Schools as an answer to meet educational needs.
This is interesting because the charter “districts” have in many ways fragmented the role families have in their own children’s education, being that charter schools are less geographically cohesive as neighborhood schools, and less topically cohesive as magnets.
There has to be a more sustainable approach than students being at the fluctuations of what amounts to a “free market” in education. Students are not customers/consumers, they do not deserve volatility. They do not deserve to bear the brunt of other people’s risks.
They deserve to take their own risks, and reap the rewards of all the learning that comes along the way.
I would love to hear your thoughts on how we might better meet families needs outside the school building context. How can the Disruption Department truly listen and create environments that are authentic to community needs, rather than just reflecting some idea that some well-meaning person dreamt in their head?
How can we execute this environment in a way that it is flexible to meet changing priorities, but not volatile like recently closed charter schools?