A sense of urgency

A native of Mississippi, product of the Vicksburg-Warren School District, and former Mississippi public school educator, I am also a five year public charter school educator, administrator, and proponent and am in full support of Senate Bill 2189. Teaching in the traditional public school sector for five years, I was troubled by the constraints of district mandated programs and curricula that did not meet the needs of my students. I remember the routine of my 16 year old, seventh grade student Devon, who would faithfully raise his hand to be excused to the restroom anytime he thought he may be required to read aloud because he read at a third grade level. Then there was Matthew, my seventh grade student on his third go round in the seventh grade. After consistent misbehavior, I pulled Matthew to the side to hear this explanation for his disdain “I didn’t get this stuff last year or the year before. Nobody cared then and I don’t care now. They have to pass me this time because I’m too old to be in the seventh grade.”

A mountain of obstacles in the traditional public school I taught overwhelmed me and pushed me out of the classroom for two years. I left feeling powerless to effect positive change for my students or for the teachers I knew were working hard in a system whose infrastructures placed unfair limits to their creativity and effectiveness in the classroom.

Almost six years ago, I transitioned to the public charter school sector. It was here, that I realized I made the right decision in staying in the profession. Before me were the same kinds of children I once taught in traditional public schools, but now, our school had the flexibility to be inventive in our instructional methods and strategies. In a year’s time, we saw double digit student performance gains on our state mathematics standardized test, with similar results in writing and language arts. That year, our staff banded together to utilize our professional expertise and personal experiences, affording students a chance at genuine academic success.

Charter schools are a viable public education option for students and families in that they provide opportunity to innovatively customize instructional design, behavioral systems, and supplemental programs and resources to meet the individualized needs of students.

In my opinion, Senate Bill 2189 is the best chance that Mississippi’s children have.

MS for Public Charters
1/18/13