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Hertz Furniture Reflects on Twentieth Anniversary of US Charter School Movement

School furniture and students’ academic needs both continually evolve.

Twenty years ago the first US charter school opened. The world of education was different then. Parents had public school, private school, religious school or home-school options. For some students and families one of these was the right fit, but not for all. Students who had special talents, special interests or special needs were often struggling to be square pegs in a world of round holes. Enter the charter school option, and we began to see an upsurge in families finding a better fit for their needs.

At Hertz Furniture we’d already been supplying schools across the US with children’s classroom furniture for over twenty-five years when the Bluffview Montessori Charter School opened its doors in 1992. We’d seen trends develop over the year and watched as old standbys became obsolete. Chalkboards mostly gave way to whiteboards; brittle, uncomfortable wooden student chairs were superseded by lightweight and durable plastic and steel. Ergonomics was suddenly a concern. Green became a buzzword, with schools taking environmental issues to heart and applying those to day-to-day operations. We watched as the standard eyes-straight-front classroom transformed into a palette of options, as teaching methods evolved and computers entered and took center stage. So when we became aware of charter schools, we watched with interest to see where and how they’d fit into the larger educational picture.

Charter Schools Transform the Educational Landscape

Much as the innovations in classroom furniture affected the evolution of the average school, the advent of the charter movement transformed the educational landscape. Suddenly there were what amounted to designer schools, customized to suit and to serve niche markets across the country. Have a student with a strong aptitude for science or math? Now there’s an academy like one of Harmony’s STEM Schools of Excellence, Harmony Science Academy, in the next town over, that will let that student explore and soar. At-risk students in the inner city? A charter school, like The Promise Academy in NYC’s Harlem Children’s Zone, will spur an entire community to take back control of their youths’ education, their neighborhood, their future. Students with an interest in the performing arts can now integrate their lessons with their core education courses, rather than tacking them on before or after regular school hours. Regardless of the curriculum, grouping like-minded students with a common interest encourages scholastic and artistic achievement and excellence. The possibilities were and are endless, the impact powerful.

Charters didn’t just cater to the exceptionally gifted or the underserved, extremes at either end of the bell curve. They offered a strong and viable alternative to the larger public school community. Smaller student bodies, smaller class sizes, more individual attention benefit students at any point in the achievement range. Mediocre students flourish and bloom with less competition for their teachers’ attention. Measurable achievement soars and graduation rates do, too. At places like the multi-award-winning Uplift Academies, this translates to class after class of graduates with 100% college acceptance rates. Students who attended private schools, and whose families paid the high prices for that, could now get a version of the smaller, private school experience, and similar educational results, at a local public charter school with a reasonable price tag.

Collaborative Learning

Besides students and their families, the advent of charter school opened. a whole new world of possibilities to educators as well. Teaching styles that allowed teachers to educate to the best of their abilities were supported by trend setting charter school administrators. Collaborative learning, the concept of students working in small groups to encourage and stimulate one another, came to the forefront. Hertz Furniture observed the change and began providing schools with classroom furniture, including school desks and chairs, that were designed to facilitate collaborative group learning. Charters, seeking the best and brightest teachers, are a great proving ground for the next great thing. No matter what trends come to the forefront next, Hertz Furniture will be there with the right products to support innovative education strategies in classrooms across the country.

Educational Technology

Technology has made huge changes in the typical classroom across the board, but in the charter environment, alternate revenue streams and funding sources have given it a green light to expand to its fullest. Computers, once relegated to a table in the back of the room, now run the projector, the board and can work wirelessly while providing access to limitless data and material. This is proving invaluable for charter schools with scientifically-centered curricula,. In fact, students of the arts in a mid-western charter school can now participate remotely in a master-class offered by artists in NYC. Again, the possibilities are limitless.

The Charter school movement in the US has reached maturity. No longer a fledgling finding its way, the movement is strong and growing, adapting to the needs and interests of the American student population. It does its job in the greater community, providing a viable alternative for tens of thousands of families seeking the best for their children. At Hertz Furniture, we commend and celebrate the administrators, educators, board members and visionaries who have made Charter Schools what they are today, and more importantly what they can and will be tomorrow, and the tomorrow after that. We salute you: keep up the great work.

If you have any further questions or you'd like assistance in finding classroom seating and other children’s school furniture that will best suit your needs, feel free to contact a Hertz Furniture expert at 888-793-4999, or by chat between 9am-5pm Eastern.

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