After reading today's Washington Post story on Rocketship Charter Schools success in California, my thoughts naturally turned to Prince George's County. One could easily imagine inviting the charter school here, but I wonder why the public school system itself could not find a way to think creatively and, in consultation with community and parents, try out a similar program at a few existing public schools in the county.
Erin Richards of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that "Rocketship has been noted for producing high scores on standardized tests with pupils who are predominantly Latino and poor. The schools combine tutor-led computer instruction with face-to-face teaching and get many teachers from Teach for America." Wouldn't it be exciting to report the same for the Prince George's County School System?
The novel model combines “face-to-face” education in a specific place (what used to be called “school”) with online instruction in “hybrid” educational product. This novel system differs from "blended learning" because the computers are not actually “blended” with face-to-face instruction in the same classroom.
In the autumn of 2013, Milwaukee is planning to establish K-5 charter schools would serve up to 500 students each for a total enrollment of 4,000 students by 2017. This of course will bring added pressure on its existing school system. An unintended outcome would be to funnel motivated parents to spend the time to find the charter schools, leaving the struggling unsupported behind in the compromised public school system.
Prince George's County needs to explore creative changes for the future good of the public school system while at the same time supporting its mission of excellence.
 Lyndsey Layton. 2012. Is a charter school chain called Rocketship ready to soar across America? © 1996-2012 The Washington Post. [accessed July 30, 2012] http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/is-a-charter-school-chain-called-rocketship-ready-to-soar-across-america/2012/07/29/gJQASrShIX_story.html