Saturday, April 28, 2007

Community Schools

Continuing his comments, Luddy said the average standardized test score at Franklin Academy is 88%. They had 400 applicants for 30 openings in the kindergarten, and no room for new students in higher grades once sibling set-asides are met.

He also started an independent Catholic school, St. Thomas More Academy, in north Raleigh. This is one of the top 50 Catholic high schools in the U.S.

He said the public school monopoly does not want the competition of charter schools, so he is working to establish new "Franklin Academy" schools as private schools, not waiting for the 100-school cap on charters and public funding that comes with them. He envisions that families which can afford it will pay about $5000 tuition, and those which can't would be supported by privately funded scholarships.

Very good, I say. To me, the weak point of the charter concept is exactly this -- it is still under the control of the public school system and those who have a stake in the success of charter schools' competitors. The concept Luddy is working on is for small-size, community-based schools, with private funding. Sounds like the old model, coming back.

He was told that only "misfits and malcontents" would attend Franklin Academy but when the charter finally came through, they had no problem filling the rolls. He said they have succeeded in creating a culture within the school that, among other things, respects community- and other people's property (lockers have no locks, for example, and drywall remains un-vandalized). He said older students already teach the younger or new students "We don't do that at our school."


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