Why don’t city’s public schools outperform charter schools?

Why don’t city’s public schools outperform charter schools?

In 1998 Eagle Heights Academy opened as one of the largest charter schools in Ohio. Since then, it has become a benchmark in technology and has implemented research-based inquiry in the school curriculum. Utilizing a variety of teaching strategies, Eagle Heights Academy has offered the students of Youngstown a choice in education.

Before charter schools came on the scene like “gang busters” in the late 1990s, the children of our community had no choice of where they could go to school. Unless, of course, they happened to have a family that could afford to send them to a private or, in the case of the current president of the Youngstown City Schools, a parochial school.

Yes, that’s right. Anthony Catale, the current board president of the Youngstown City School District, who was quoted in an April 20 story advocating the closing of Eagle Heights, is a young adult in his early twenties who has never attended a Youngstown public school. As a youth he spent his days in popular parochial schools such as St. Brendan’s and Ursuline, never truly experiencing a day in the life of a city school student. Furthermore, Mr. Catale does not have a degree in education. He knows nothing of teaching strategies or children’s ability to learn.

Why does this bother me? Well, I’m sick and tired of all of these so-called experts passing judgment on what they think rather than on what they know. Yes, Eagle Heights has had its share of problems getting students to pass these standardized tests. Yes, its run is over come June 2010. However, Eagle Heights Academy has had the heart to go head-to-head with federal, state, and local politics to make a difference in the lives of the children in this community. That’s more than I can say about Youngstown city schools, which are still where they are today as they were when Eagle Heights Academy opened.

Why didn’t the city schools take the challenge to improve the students they had and “win” their students back from all of the charter schools that opened their doors over the past 12 years? Why are they still pointing fingers at everyone but themselves?

John Beitzel, Boardman

The writer is a teacher at Eagle Heights Academy.