I am passionate about the expansion project at Freedom Academy because I feel it has the ability to positively or negatively impact us all. I have had children attending Freedom Academy for the last six years. I want very much for them to have the same choice and opportunity when they reach high-school age as they have had here.
I am absolutely FOR the expansion of Freedom Academy into a K-12 school IF certain criteria are met:
- A suitable location is determined for the school that is right for the students and the community.
- A proven financial plan is in-place to ensure long-term vitality and success for the high school with a broad-range of opportunities and specialty-courses such as language, music, arts and physical education.
- Freedom Academy’s current school, it’s students and faculty, are only positively impacted by the school’s expansion.
- Adequate communication and parental involvement is obtained all along the way so that the launch of the school is clearly done with the support and understanding of all Freedom Academy’s stakeholders.
I don’t think any parent would disagree that we need these things in place before moving forward. I think all of these objectives can be met, but I won’t deny that I see certain areas where some significant ground needs to be covered between where we are and where we need to be.
To the degree that I want an expansion to be successful–if we choose to move forward with it–my wife and I joined the Expansion Committee in September and I completed a detailed analysis of both academic research and personal telephone interviews with four Charter Schools outside of the State of Utah.
Each school was either a K-12 Charter school that had expanded from a smaller school to their present size, or they were a separate Charter High School, grown out of the desire for K-8 Charter Schools to create an independent High School. I sought advice from those administrators and got the raw facts from them about what was successful and what was challenging. All of these details I summarized in an eight page report (download: pdf) that was presented to the School Board on September 29th along with other results collected by other committee members.
One of the areas my research uncovered is the dramatic lag in academic success that can develop for Charter School students who fall behind and stay behind. I think this is an important area to address, as I noted in my summary:
“It is important to note here that in my interviews with the charter school administrators, they recognized the significant academic challenges that students in the upper-level grades had. Importantly, all of these schools had rigorous academic improvement programs that immediately and consistently addressed lagging/failing students through teacher/student and teacher/parent communication/intervention plus consistent/regular testing combined with such programs as temporary-remedial courses determined as-needed by testing, before-after school mentoring or math/reading “labs”, homework labs and teacher office hours.”
I look forward to discussion and feedback. Please tell me your thoughts and comments! Let’s talk!