Guest Post by Ember Reichgott Junge
The National Charter Schools Conference opened this morning with a standing-room-only crowd for the first general session—due to a record-breaking 4,600+ attendees to the conference! True, the conference site in Las Vegas may be attractive to some, but remember, it is 111 degrees outside! In my view, people are here because they are committed to personal growth and growth of a strong charter sector. And we all love lots and lots of networking.
Nina Rees, right, President and CEO of the conference host National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, shared results of a new study I found fascinating. She told us that Mathematica studied charter school students in Chicago and Florida and asked questions that are rarely asked, like “What happens to students after they graduate from high school? And even after they leave college?”
The amazing results? Said Rees, “Not only are public charter school graduates more likely to go to college, and more likely to stay in college and graduate, they also earn more in their first few years out of college—about 12 percent more.“
Wow. I suspect that is because charter schools are often project-based or focus on personalized or blended learning for their students. Those learning methods mean that students are taught problem-solving skills and how to “navigate” for themselves in the real world. In other words, says Rees, “great charter schools help children prepare for life.”
Even “Breaking Bad” actor Steven Quezeda, whose children attend charter schools in New Mexico, said as much as he kicked off the first day of the conference. “I wasn’t one of the people who could learn by reading the chapter, answering the questions at the end and then taking a test. I needed a project-based approach. I found that in theatre.” Read more about Quezada and the conference in this column by Minnesota chartering pioneer Joe Nathan.
Former Minnesota State Senator Ember Reichgott Junge is author of the first charter school law in Minnesota and of the award-winning book Zero Chance of Passage: The Pioneering Charter School Story.