Interest in Charter Schools Grows
AMore and more parents want the ability to choose an education for their children, rather than simply accepting the one that comes with their postcode. The growing school choice movement includes people of all races and socioeconomic backgrounds. It is a real desire felt both in urban cities and in rural communities.
Over the past 18 months, the demand for increased choice in education has become overwhelming. The pandemic has shown parents what is happening – or not happening – in classrooms. Parents who were at home with their children were considering homeschooling, and other alternatives to traditional schooling suddenly seemed more appealing. Like the school choice movement, the mainstream school movement continues to gain momentum with parents and teachers.
At its core, classical education recognizes the value of each student. It is about learning to understand human nature, helping young people to be the best versions of themselves through an in-depth exploration of the liberal arts and sciences and the enduring virtues of courage, moderation, justice, responsibility, friendship, prudence and wisdom. It’s not easy to start a school and even harder to start a really great school. a. But a proven, content-rich education should be an option for as many families as possible.
When you walk into a well-run mainstream school, you will see well-educated and inspiring faculty members using teacher-led teaching methods. You’ll hear lively class discussions led by a teacher who knows the material well and asks challenging questions. You will see classrooms that use technology appropriately without diminishing student effort, which is essential to all academic success.
Classical education guides students to intellectual and moral virtue through a content-rich curriculum. During the formative years between kindergarten and grade 12, students get to know themselves and the whole world. Through instruction in civics, history, fine arts, Latin, literature, mathematics, physical education and science, students develop a foundation of skills, knowledge and virtue from which they can pursue specialized training, higher education or military service. In other words, classical students are complete students.
The demand for this type of classical education has never been higher. Each of our affiliated charter schools has a waiting list, and this year Hillsdale College’s Office of K-12 Education received a record number of new applications from local group schools consisting of parents, community members and educators across the country. The classical education that Hillsdale helps schools provide doesn’t end with high school graduation. By helping to build character, we set students on the path to freedom, responsibility and self-government.
Parents, teachers, and communities are looking for an approach to K-12 education that delivers results they can count on. It is high time that the expansion of charter schools became a key goal for state legislators across the country so that parents have the freedom to choose what they desire.
Kathleen O’Toole is assistant provost of K-12 education at Hillsdale College and founding principal of a classic K-12 charter school.