Rocketship Public Schools had a commentary written about them by NPR and had stirred up quite a bit of controversy. The article that was published on 6/24 has been either loved or hated by its readers, but it lacks in balance and breadth. Critics and many of them supporters of Rocketship Public Schools feel that the article did not paint a fair picture of the network of schools and had primarily focused on the challenges rather than what the schools have going for them.
The article failed to compare Rocketship Public Schools with other public schools and the original piece written by blogger Anya Kamenetz applauds the network of schools. Yet she points out the many flaws of the school and suggests that these are practices are quite common to other charter schools. Rocketship Public Schools had a fairly tech-heavy model that the school followed, but they realized that it would have to change as well as lower its expansion goals which have been a subject under scrutiny in the past, but that is to what is a concern at this point in time.
The article does not contain very much information or insight as to why the schools are popular and do not give any context for the few critical anecdotes that were in the piece. Rocketship Public Schools was also referred to as a “company” which is certainly not an accurate word for describing a network of charter schools and especially a nonprofit organization. NPR declined to hold Kamenetz or editors Susan Vavrick and Steve Drummond accountable or to even make them available to discuss the story, so their Twitter responses are only feedback to go on at this point.
Kamenetz feels that the article is fine since it quoted a happy parent as well as an unhappy ex-parent of the school. It is a curious matter how the word “company” got past the editing process, but it did, and no one wants to talk about it. It seems that no one at NPR wants to address any of the questions that people have for them.
See Rocketship Public Schools overview https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/rocketship-education#section-overview
Rocketship Education started out in California in 2002 as a network of public charter schools located in lower-income areas where there is no excellent school available. It is a partnership between teachers, students, parents and the community at large with the purpose to provide a first-class education for students that will prepare them for life as adults.
The traditional classroom method has pretty well run its course as a viable method of really reaching all of the students, yet public schools continue to use it as a primary method of instruction. This model does little for the majority of students who fall behind and only really helps schools in student management and scheduling.
Rocketship Education uses a concept called “Blended Learning” that takes into account the fact that all students learn differently and at different speeds. The pace of learning can vary greatly and sometimes a person who learns at a different pace can have a better grasp of the information than another who seems to pick up everything at a rapid rate.
The traditional classroom setting is used, however sparingly to announce broader-based information such as organizational information and other more far-reaching items. Small groups of 4 or 5 students can then be formed to address specific lessons with teaching aids and a more structured learning experience.
Digitized learning is most useful for individual learning for the teaching and retention of facts, details and working through successive learning modules. The format is very similar to what most students are already familiar with in regard to games and puzzles they are already likely to have experienced.
One-on-One tutoring is used to evaluate a student’s progress and delve into any issues that might be giving the student some difficulty. It is also an opportunity for encouragement and positive feedback to build the student’s confidence.
When all of these steps are put together, the outcome is very positive, especially with the inclusion of parents in the equation who are usually very interested in becoming involved with the process. Parents are invaluable when homework assignments enter in and continued support is provided.