The recent editorial “Making up a lost year of school” by Aisha Sultan points out that the recently released student assessment scores confirm our worst fears; the pandemic dealt a devasting blow to the education of our children. However, all hope is not lost. A historic amount of Federal funding will be reaching schools providing new opportunities to make great strides academically and improve the overall public education system.
Sultan is correct, “the way schools respond to the educational setbacks of the pandemic will determine the life trajectory for millions of students.” Now more than ever, schools must be agile and able to respond quickly to student needs. Fortunately, charter public schools provide a blueprint for this type of education. Charter schools are free, public, open to all, and live by a central tenet that essential decisions should be made as close to the students as possible. This means the uniqueness of each school and the individual needs of the students being served are the first and foremost consideration for every decision.
To qualify for the Federal funds, all public schools met with their stakeholders including parents, teachers, and community members to receive input. Extending the learning day, offering after-school tutoring programs, hiring interventionists, and employing more educators are just a few examples of ways students will be served. What sets charter schools apart is that these decisions are being made at the school level ensuring teachers, parents, and students are part of the decision making process. For example, Lift for Life Academy, a charter public school in the Soulard neighborhood, plans to re-engage students and their families through a series of community outreach activities, even providing support to graduates and alumni. KIPP St. Louis plans to use assessment data to develop individual student learning plans for both English and Math to address learning losses in those areas.
As we begin a new school year, charter public schools are prepared to “(Make) up a lost year of school” by ensuring that students are at the center of the equation.