First-grade teacher Erin Fergus is tired of defending her choice to teach at a charter school in Chicago.
Most people assume I struggled to get a job in a “traditional” Chicago public school and that I “settled” for working in a charter public school. This assumption could not be further from the truth.
I chose to work in a charter public school over a district-run school because I wanted to teach in a school as dedicated as I am to bridging the achievement gap.
Fergus goes on to list many of Rowe Elementary School’s strengths, such as the ability to choose its own curricula for meeting high academic and social-emotional standards. She particularly values the school’s focus on supporting teachers and preparing kids with a college mindset from day one.
Rowe sounds like a great school, and Fergus is fortunate to be in a supportive and galvanizing teaching environment. But I can’t help but think that the benefits she enumerates—curricular autonomy, educator support, college and career focus—aren’t inherently “charter school” characteristics. In many cases, they’re simply “good school” characteristics.
If Rowe is able to provide a great public education under its own charter, then its example should be celebrated and replicated. As long as we’re holding all public schools to rigorous, high standards and they open their doors to all kids, it shouldn’t matter where their paperwork is processed.