Monday, July 29, 2002

Charter School Diversity

I love the charter school movement most for the variety of schools it produces and the alternatives it offers students over standard classroom education.

YouthBuild St. Louis Charter High School offers kids a chance to earn a high school diploma and learn the construction trade.

With at least one-third of St. Louis's 80,000 construction workers expected to retire in the next five years, YouthBuild St. Louis Charter High School is venturing to bridge the gap.

The school was approved in March by the Missouri Board of Education and will be sponsored by the St. Louis Public Schools.

The school, at 1919 South Broadway in the Soulard area, will be an extension of the YouthBuild St. Louis program that has operated here since 1992. Unlike in the past, when the program has offered only a high school equivalency certificate, the new students will earn a high school diploma if they meet the standards.

The St. Louis school is one of two similar charter schools opening in the area this fall. In East St. Louis, the Tomorrow's Builders Charter School will open by mid-September.

Nationwide, the YouthBuild USA organization has helped dropouts and high school students at risk of dropping out in 42 states to earn their high school credentials and move on to construction careers.

The 21st Century Charter School in Indianapolis has defied convention by hiring veteran teachers with more than 20 years experience and has partnered with the Irvington Music Academy:

The Irvington Academy will conduct its classes almost exclusively at 21st Century, which is building music studios as part of the renovation necessary to prepare the former train depot and retail center for use as a school. The fine arts academy also will have a satellite office in the school and plans to offer evening classes open to the public.

A rotating cast of instructors will be at 21st Century every day from 12:45 p.m. to 3:45 p.m. Topics covered will include basic music and art, in addition to enrichment classes focusing on dance, music, drama and visual arts.

IAFA also plans to offer individual music lessons to students. Hayden said the school is trying to raise $15,000 so every student can take advantage of the lessons at no cost.

The strength of many charter schools is the ability to contract with other community groups for very specific services like music or art--rather than reinventing every enrichment program at the school level.

No comments: