Recently, NPR covered a story about Rocketship Education. It questioned the use of technology in the charter of schools and raised issues to do with classroom protocols, discipline among others. Preston Smith, CEO and Co-Founder of the charter of schools, came out to defend Rocketship Education against the allegations brought forward by Anya Kamenetz, NPR’s blogger.
According to Preston Smith, indeed, the schools do pose impressive results. The executive said that Anya Kamenetz undermined their success by publishing a story before finding out what underlines their achievement. He sighted hard work as their main pillar of success. He pointed out that 90% of their students returned to Rocketship that years. He goes on to question the rationale behind NPR’s coverage as they got more students enrolling and parents recommending Rocketship to other parents.
According to a survey conducted by Rocketship, 72% recommended the charter schools to friends and relatives. Mr. Smith said that if the situation was as portrayed by NPR’s blogger, they wouldn’t be getting the referrals and more enrolments. He gave clarifications about their test results which were questioned by NPR blog post. He argued that the fact Rocketship alumni are performing well in middle school proves that their testing system is credible.
On the issue of bathroom breaks, the network schools entrusts teachers and leaders with the responsibility to make decisions surrounding bathroom breaks because they understood more about individual needs of each student. Bathroom management is a complicated task not only for Rocketship, but also for elementary schools in every community. Therefore, the charter schools deemed fit not to have any bathroom breaks policies as blanket policies.
As much as there was one or two unfortunate situations where accident occurred as cited by Anya Kamenetz’s piece, it cannot be generalized to a network of schools that has over 7000 students. According to Preston Smith, if the situation was that bad, parents would not stand it.
The use of technology in the schools is designed for learning and it goes beyond “screen time”. This is a mindful approach that missed out in the Anya Kamenetz’s report.
About Rocketship Education
Rocketship is a chain of charter schools based in San Jose, California. In 2012, it had only five schools with about 450 students per school. Currently, most students qualify for free lunch, over three quarter of students are second language English speakers. They believe that the journey to college starts at kindergarten and every child deserves college education.