I am a big advocate of school choice and have trouble understanding the critics I read about in the press. Don’t they realize that high-performing charter schools are by far the best public school option for parents like me in cities across the country?
Like all parents, I have always wanted the best I could provide for my children, and believe me, that is not my local district schools in Central Brooklyn.
I sent my daughter to Catholic schools from nursery school to eighth grade. I tried to send her to our neighborhood district school for high school to save money, but there were frequent fights and constant disruptions; every day she’d come home and cry. I tried to talk to the principal, but she didn’t seem to have time for me. After that, I sent my daughter to a Catholic high school, and I’m proud to say that she is now at Delaware State University, a member of the historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) network.
When it came to my son, Anthony, I sent him to Catholic nursery school, where for kindergarten the teacher advised me to send him to Ascend Public Charter Schools, saying that he would get the same or better quality education as a Catholic school but without the cost.
So I sent him to Brooklyn Ascend Charter School, which was Ascend’s first school and had recently opened. There were some growing pains in the first few years as with any new organization, but Anthony was happy and the educators were incredibly dedicated. I could always come in and speak to the leaders about any concerns (as well as text or call them at any hour), and they really knew Anthony. It felt like we were a family, working to help him get the best education possible. Anthony thrived academically, and the test scores were strong, much better than our local schools.
During Anthony’s middle school years, Ascend moved from a more restrictive approach to discipline to a more supportive approach, which has worked very well for Anthony and other students. With the Common Core standards, the network also adopted a new liberal arts curriculum that students love because it brings out their voices and teaches independent thinking. Ascend, like other charter networks, is a learning organization and continues to evolve all the time to better serve our children.
At charter schools like Ascend, educators are so dedicated to making sure kids learn—it’s like nothing I’ve ever seen and certainly not what I hear about from parents sending their kids to the local district schools. When people love what they’re doing, like the educators at Ascend, you get great results. You can see it in the student test scores, but I also see it every day in my son’s excitement about going to school.
I hope that someday very soon everyone will understand that charter schools are public schools and that parents like me need safe, caring, academically rigorous schools for our children today, which is what charter schools like Ascend provide.