1-413-222-7258 Mike.Thorne@askinside.net
By MIKE THORNE..... Follow us
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As the son of a guidance counselor, a father of two public school teachers and a wife who is an administrative assistant in a public school, debates about the “value”/needof charter schools can get very interesting in the Thorne household. That was especially true until I was recently asked to potentially consult for the new revolutionary Sanford public Maine HS and Technical center and be on the board of Snow Pond Arts Academy Charter School in Sydney Maine.

Snow Pond Arts Academy, established in 2016, is Maine’s Premiere School for the Arts & is the first comprehensive college preparatory, performing arts and humanities based Charter School in Maine. Snow Pond Arts Academy is an active and dynamic center for the arts and academic education. School life at Snow Pond is based on our shared culture of success and our belief in creativity, energetic investment in the present and future, respect for individual expression and responsibility, tolerance, acceptance of broad diversity, and striving for academic excellence. The students come from over 50 towns in Maine and many travel over 2 hours to attend!

When asked why the kids love this school and are willing the make the long trip, this is what you will hear:

– “I didn’t fit in at my school at home.  It is a sports school and here I feel like the arts kids understand me and accept me”

– “I love that I get the public education needed and required to graduate but I also am taught by experts in fields I am interested in like dance, theater, and music. I also now have a better understanding of what I want to do for my career”

 

– “The school provides access and resources to colleges around us so I can actually be on a campus of a college and see what life will be and be surrounded by some amazing people”

I have seen first hand what a school led by a dynamic Superintendent and principal, supported by a dedicated teaching staff, and located on a beautiful lake front campus can do.  The first graduation was only 20 seniors but over 500 people showed up for the event!  People described as a musical and concert with a graduation thrown in.  It was that inspirational.

Charter schools are public, tuition-free schools that are open to all students. There are currently 7,000 of them, serving 3M children, and in 43 states.  Often operated independently from the traditional school district, charter schools provide high-quality instruction (generally speaking) from teachers who have the autonomy to design a classroom that fits their students’ needs. They are led by dynamic superintendents and principals who have the flexibility to create a school culture that fosters student performance and parent satisfaction.

This doesn’t mean that charter schools are the only answer.  I grew up in a town that had a wonderful public school system and we raised three daughters ourselves through the public school system despite living in an area that had several highly rated charter schools around us.

There is also a litany of issues that have caused many to push back on charter schools.  In 2015 and 2016 alone, regional and national newspapers ran editorials about the deplorable classroom conditions and corrupt mismanagement of several charter schools.  The Akron Beacon Journal found that Ohio schools misspent public money nearly 4 times more often than any other taxpayer-funded agency.  The Sun Sentinel reported that a Florida school operator received $450,000 in tax dollars to open 2 charter school’s months after his first school collapsed.  And an investigation by the Detroit Free Press found massive corruption in the Michigan Charter System.  Some online charters exist which cut down on costs but also provide a reduced education. Finally, some of them are used to dodge paying taxes as many wealthy people support them due to the tax credit established by President Clinton.

On the public school side, right here in rural Maine is a new revolutionary High school and Technical Center going up in Sanford Maine.  The building itself is 330,000 sq ft and covers 7.6 acres!  They built 4 integrated career pathways designed to prepare students to be career and college ready.  There is a science and technology, human services, business and marketing, and arts and communication.  There is a Performing Arts Center that will hold 860 people!  The goal is to teach the STEM aspects of the education system in a way that better connects students that are focused on fields of these four integrated career pathways versus the “one size” fits all style of many schools today.

No doubt the issues in our public school system are as challenging as ever and create many concerns for educators, and then cause many to gravitate to charter schools as the solution.

But to jump to one or the other as the solution and not invest time understanding the underpinnings of how we got here, is a mistake.  Once again, we tend to run to solve the symptoms and not the disease.  Let’s invest time at the root, and we will likely find a better, more sustainable, and effective plan for the future.

In the end, isn’t the right question to ask; what is best for our children, the educators, and communities that the system is serving? We should go inside the communities themselves and understand what is working, what isn’t and what does the community recommend?  Don’t we want our students prepared and confident to face the challenges of the world ahead of them and be the future leaders for their communities?  Doesn’t the business community, civic leaders, and other service trade organizations, and our military, want the students to have access and resources to make more informed choices for their career?   If so, we need to really invest time in understanding the dynamics of individual towns and cities and study what makes sense.

I would ask that all of you who have a vote in your community to spend time understanding the needs of the stakeholders and believe that investing in your community and its future is an investment in the future leaders of the country.

And finally, we need to address the actual way we prepare our educators, parents, and business leaders. They all must be part of the solution. We can no longer take our “service” community of educators for granted.  There needs to be a reset about what our education expectations for them are, how we will compensate them, support them in the classroom and outside with training and above all, appreciate them!

Please follow me at mikethorne.net & help me find solutions to the challenges of our communities focused on providing access and resources to our young people, especially those in underserved communities.  Send me an e-mail, respond to this blog, or tweet this out to others you know and let’s create a dialog around this.

Let’s all be a part of the solution by listening, learning, and participating.

As the son of a guidance counselor, a father of two public school teachers and a wife who is an administrative assistant in a public school, debates about the “value”/needof charter schools can get very interesting in the Thorne household. That was especially true until I was recently asked to potentially consult for the new revolutionary Sanford public Maine HS and Technical center and be on the board of Snow Pond Arts Academy Charter School in Sydney Maine.

Snow Pond Arts Academy, established in 2016, is Maine’s Premiere School for the Arts & is the first comprehensive college preparatory, performing arts and humanities based Charter School in Maine. Snow Pond Arts Academy is an active and dynamic center for the arts and academic education. School life at Snow Pond is based on our shared culture of success and our belief in creativity, energetic investment in the present and future, respect for individual expression and responsibility, tolerance, acceptance of broad diversity, and striving for academic excellence. The students come from over 50 towns in Maine and many travel over 2 hours to attend!

When asked why the kids love this school and are willing the make the long trip, this is what you will hear:

– “I didn’t fit in at my school at home.  It is a sports school and here I feel like the arts kids understand me and accept me”

– “I love that I get the public education needed and required to graduate but I also am taught by experts in fields I am interested in like dance, theater, and music. I also now have a better understanding of what I want to do for my career”

– “The school provides access and resources to colleges around us so I can actually be on a campus of a college and see what life will be and be surrounded by some amazing people”

I have seen first hand what a school led by a dynamic Superintendent and principal, supported by a dedicated teaching staff, and located on a beautiful lake front campus can do.  The first graduation was only 20 seniors but over 500 people showed up for the event!  People described as a musical and concert with a graduation thrown in.  It was that inspirational.

Charter schools are public, tuition-free schools that are open to all students. There are currently 7,000 of them, serving 3M children, and in 43 states.  Often operated independently from the traditional school district, charter schools provide high-quality instruction (generally speaking) from teachers who have the autonomy to design a classroom that fits their students’ needs. They are led by dynamic superintendents and principals who have the flexibility to create a school culture that fosters student performance and parent satisfaction.

This doesn’t mean that charter schools are the only answer.  I grew up in a town that had a wonderful public school system and we raised three daughters ourselves through the public school system despite living in an area that had several highly rated charter schools around us.

There is also a litany of issues that have caused many to push back on charter schools.  In 2015 and 2016 alone, regional and national newspapers ran editorials about the deplorable classroom conditions and corrupt mismanagement of several charter schools.  The Akron Beacon Journal found that Ohio schools misspent public money nearly 4 times more often than any other taxpayer-funded agency.  The Sun Sentinel reported that a Florida school operator received $450,000 in tax dollars to open 2 charter school’s months after his first school collapsed.  And an investigation by the Detroit Free Press found massive corruption in the Michigan Charter System.  Some online charters exist which cut down on costs but also provide a reduced education. Finally, some of them are used to dodge paying taxes as many wealthy people support them due to the tax credit established by President Clinton.

On the public school side, right here in rural Maine is a new revolutionary High school and Technical Center going up in Sanford Maine.  The building itself is 330,000 sq ft and covers 7.6 acres!  They built 4 integrated career pathways designed to prepare students to be career and college ready.  There is a science and technology, human services, business and marketing, and arts and communication.  There is a Performing Arts Center that will hold 860 people!  The goal is to teach the STEM aspects of the education system in a way that better connects students that are focused on fields of these four integrated career pathways versus the “one size” fits all style of many schools today.

No doubt the issues in our public school system are as challenging as ever and create many concerns for educators, and then cause many to gravitate to charter schools as the solution.

But to jump to one or the other as the solution and not invest time understanding the underpinnings of how we got here, is a mistake.  Once again, we tend to run to solve the symptoms and not the disease.  Let’s invest time at the root, and we will likely find a better, more sustainable, and effective plan for the future.

In the end, isn’t the right question to ask; what is best for our children, the educators, and communities that the system is serving? We should go inside the communities themselves and understand what is working, what isn’t and what does the community recommend?  Don’t we want our students prepared and confident to face the challenges of the world ahead of them and be the future leaders for their communities?  Doesn’t the business community, civic leaders, and other service trade organizations, and our military, want the students to have access and resources to make more informed choices for their career?   If so, we need to really invest time in understanding the dynamics of individual towns and cities and study what makes sense.

I would ask that all of you who have a vote in your community to spend time understanding the needs of the stakeholders and believe that investing in your community and its future is an investment in the future leaders of the country.

And finally, we need to address the actual way we prepare our educators, parents, and business leaders. They all must be part of the solution. We can no longer take our “service” community of educators for granted.  There needs to be a reset about what our education expectations for them are, how we will compensate them, support them in the classroom and outside with training and above all, appreciate them!

Please follow me at mikethorne.net & help me find solutions to the challenges of our communities focused on providing access and resources to our young people, especially those in underserved communities.  Send me an e-mail, respond to this blog, or tweet this out to others you know and let’s create a dialog around this.

Let’s all be a part of the solution by listening, learning, and participating.