Monday, October 03, 2005

The Pittsburgh Paradox?

In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the city's three oldest public charter schools are at capacity, with long waiting lists, and yet two of them are not in compliance with federal mandates:
While Pittsburgh Public Schools struggles with too many empty seats, the city's first three charter schools are at or near capacity, with waiting lists of hundreds of students.

Officials at the three schools -- Manchester Academic Charter School on the North Side, Northside Urban Pathways Charter School in Downtown's Cultural District and Urban League of Pittsburgh Charter School in East Liberty -- say that some parents and mainstream public school officials remain skeptical of charter schools, which first opened in Pittsburgh in 1998.

But so many parents are looking for an alternative to regular public schools that the area's first charter schools don't need to do much advertising. Word of mouth spreads quickly enough.

Combined, the three schools have 600 students.

"It gets better and better, and our waiting list gets larger and larger," said Vasilios Scoumis, chief executive officer of Manchester Academic Charter, which has a waiting list of about 200. "The more we keep performing and the more we offer opportunities, the more parents find out about us and consider us."
There is much more to read in the whole article.

Manchester Academic is the only one of the three that performed well enough on state math and reading tests given in the spring to meet the adequate progress standards under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. About two weeks ago, Urban League was given a warning, the first step, and Northside Urban Pathways was placed in School Improvement I, the next step, which provides for school choice.

It would seem to me that if the parents are satisfied with what's going on in the school, and the district is also satisfied, as is the state of Pennsylvania, then why can't the government in far-off Washington relent in mandating its one-size-fits-all-cookie-cutter-formula for measuring student progress?

Food for thought.
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