Below are several things that Preston Smith, the contemporary CEO of Rocketship Education, has learned throughout his first decade in the administration of the network of public charter schools he helped found in 2007.
Every parent, family member, educator, and administrator involved in public schooling should be proud of its institutions’ public status. Although it’s far from false that the majority of public schools don’t offer the same quality of educational experiences that their private counterparts do, part of this problem is rooted in people’s distaste of public schools. Rocketship Education is a public school system, teaching students through fifth grade. When students leave Rocketship Education’s facilities, they should always be proud of the public schools they later enter.
Teachers’ backgrounds and demographical characteristics are diversified long before that of students are. Most schools make the mistake of diversifying students’ backgrounds prior to doing so with admins and instructors. However, because most educators are of the majority – white Christians – in America, even in low-income areas, Rocketship Education matches its employees’ demographics with that of its students rather than doing the opposite.
Students with learning disabilities are far too often segregated in special education classrooms. Rocketship Education requires its students with special needs to spend a minimum of 80% of their time at school in general education classrooms.
Rocketship Education’s first location was in a tiny church in San Jose. Since its initial year of operation in 2007, Rocketship’s locations have increased from one to eighteen, now located in Tennessee, Wisconsin, Washington DC, and its founding state of California. Also founded by technological guru John Danner, this system of schools is known around the English-speaking world for being one of the first to integrate technology into everyday operations, effectively facilitating individualized learning plans for its thousands of students. Every single one of Rocketship’s locations are nestled away in areas that are economically disadvantaged, notorious for birthing new generations into poverty traps that are solidified with a lack of quality education. Preston Smith, along with the hundreds of instructors and administrators at Rocketship Education’s 18 schools, is helping change disadvantaged communities’ reputations for having poor schools.