As a child, I never really took into account what my school did for me and my community. As I grew older, I started to realize that there were some things that could be better and started to think about what could have made for a better educational experience.
I attended a local elementary school on the west side of San Bernardino situated right in the middle of two rural neighborhoods, now called Manuel A. Salinas Creative Arts Elementary school. In the fourth grade, I started to realize the difference in services even within my own classroom. Some students would be selected to participate in specific tutoring groups like reading or grammar. During my fourth-grade year, I did not participate in any of the groups, although I felt like I was missing out on something and wanted the extra help too.
It was not until the fifth grade while attending the same school, when my teacher decided to add me to one of the groups focusing on grammar, and it helped me a lot. I am thankful for this extra grammar assistance to this day. I feel this is where charter schools may differ. It seems they have greater flexibility in operations and structure and can gear the curriculum to fit the needs of individual students. Teachers and principals are all on the same page for student success not on separate agendas.
When I reached high school, I saw where charter schools really come into play. I attended Arroyo Valley High School during one of its low performing states. My high school almost lost its accreditation and had some of the worst test scores in the school district, even though it was the newest built school. When one of the newest high schools has a drastic decline in meeting standards, the community should be worried. Where was the hype about making sure students passed their state exams before we were on the line of losing it all? A charter school would have geared its instruction towards making sure students understood the importance of knowing the information on these tests. Instead of racing through lessons with students learning at different paces and having different styles of learning, a charter school would have in its curriculum the guidelines for teaching students who learn differently.
Charter schools are mostly started and run by those who see the inequality in the spread of academic resources and who try to fill the persistent gaps between traditional low performing schools. Charter schools have also brought the fight for prosperity of my community back into the light. More parents and students are standing up for their beliefs in the education system and are refusing to settle for less. The forums and debates that have accompanied the charter schools have given us a voice and have provided us with the hope that we will be heard when expressing our issues.
Charter schools have given their students the power to advocate for equity with local charter schools hosting community events to engage our community and address topics like teaching equality for all. Charter schools help fight discrimination in the disbursement of educational resources, giving low income communities the education to succeed. I believe that there is a place for charter schools in our public education system and that overall they have been a great addition especially in some of the areas where low performing schools have become the norm. We need all schools to give students the opportunity to use their full potential and to be better prepared for higher education and life.
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