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Why I Want to Work in Education Reform

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Starting when I was a teenager, I’ve always loved working with kids. I worked at a local summer camp for many years, volunteered at a charter school in DC and last summer, I was an advisor for students at a private school preparatory program called REACH Prep based in Stamford, Connecticut.

Now in my junior year studying Political Science at The George Washington University, I have developed an interest in public policy and have become more educated in the ways that politics works. As I come closer and closer to graduation (something that excites and terrifies me all at the same time), I have begun to think about what direction I want my career to go. I have had some experience working in a non-profit office before; I often volunteer at my mom’s non-profit back home in New York. I am hoping CER with give me more experience and great insight into the realm of education policy.

The issues of education reform are very personal to me. As an elementary school student, I left my local public school for a private school after attending the REACH Prep program (the same program I interned for this past summer).  The dedication of the staff and the resources made available to me at my new school were amazing. Even as young girl, I realized how lucky I was to have been given that opportunity. The transition took a lot of hard work and sacrifice from my family and me and I will always be grateful for those who supported us. I’ve always believed that every student should be able to have the opportunities I did, whether they are able to afford private school or not. This is why I want a career in education reform, whether it’s working hands-on in a school or in

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Introducing Columbia County School for the Arts

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After talking with Michael Berg, a founding board member of the Columbia County School for the Arts (CCSFTA) in Evans, GA, we were excited to learn about the creative mission of this aspiring charter school. Poised to be the first charter in its county, Berg and his colleagues aim to provide an arts-based curriculum for students grades K-12. Many local community members have expressed their support and Berg believes that their grassroots movement is gaining momentum.

The decision to establish the school with a focus on the arts was made based on an expressed need from parents and educators who felt the county would benefit from a school that incorporated arts into its curriculum. The Columbia County School for the Arts will incorporate music, drama, dance, visual arts and foreign languages into a regular core curriculum of math, science, language and social studies to allow students to have a more creative and well-rounded education. Berg believes strongly that “creativity fosters literacy” and effective schools need to consider the diversity of students’ learning styles when developing models of education.

As a special education teacher for the past 22 years, Berg has had firsthand experience with the many ways that the arts can be used to benefit children and increase their academic achievement. His passion for charter schools developed after he had the realization that traditional public schools often don’t cater to different types of learners and can discourage students from being excited about their education.

Like many charter educators across the country, CCSFTA founding members have a unique vision for how best to serve potential students, and the culmination of many sources of inspiration and frustration were what led them to this endeavor. Over the past few years, Berg grew frustrated with the lack of praise that he saw for

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“If Only The Charter School Students Would Come Back”

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There are articles everyday like the one I read today in Pennsylvania’s The Morning Call.  Some district official is interviewed, claiming that traditional public school enrollment has dropped significantly due to students leaving to attend open enrollment charter schools. The official then talks about how rough the district’s financial situation is, and lays the blame on charter schools.

Russ Mayo, Superintendent of Allentown School District, echoed this sentiment on Wednesday.  “If all the charter school students came back…” says Mayo, it would bring the district $17 million more a year.  The charter and cyber schools that have been established in his district are the “biggest drain” on funding.  As the article continues, the superintendent paints a confusing picture of how he has cut staff, he has lowered administrative costs, and he still can’t make ends meet.  The tone then turns into a wishful “If only, if only” while thinking of all of the money charter schools supposedly have in their coffers.

But the superintendent just doesn’t get it.  He doesn’t get the facts about charter school funding, he doesn’t get the fact about choice and demand, and he doesn’t get the logistical flaw of vilifying charter schools. He doesn’t get the fact that 73% of Americans support charter schools.

I will start with charter school funding. Charter schools are public schools, and it follows that they should be funded at the same rate as every other public school…right?  Well, in reality, only 25% of charters schools receive anywhere near the average per pupil funding that the traditional public schools receive according to the Center for Education Reform’s (CER) 2014 Survey of America’s Charter Schools. The Survey also found that overall, charter schools are funded at 64% of their traditional counterparts. The Superintendent may dream of dollars that charter schools

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