We are told from a young age that being a team player is important. Why, then, do we sometimes ignore some members of the team?
School systems in the Modesto area are filled with hardworking, caring teachers and students. These exceptional human beings work tirelessly to be at the top of their form. I am the parent of graduates of Modesto City Schools and the Sylvan Union School District.
Although the traditional model is filled with excellent ideas, people and programs, in recent years it has shown a decline in performance that doesn't seem to be improving.
Some public school systems have come to view themselves as the star player. But there are some new players on the court that have not yet been unilaterally recognized as friendly helpers providing needed assistance to an overburdened system. These public school systems need to loosen their death grip on education; their resistance to alternatives is counterproductive.
Unless the existing educational network sees the growing number of private schools and public charter schools as allies, the only real losers will be the children we are trying to educate.
Charter schools are cropping up everywhere and might be one reason Modesto City Schools is projecting a 700-student drop in enrollment. Rather than seeing charters as a threat, educators should clasp hands and work together in the interest of the students. If a particular learning environment is not working for a student, alternatives should be readily available.
An institution that does not welcome healthy alternatives is a sad thing. In most cases a school that loses a student to a charter will not lose funding until the next year; most charter schools also provide a guarantee should the student want to return to the original school.
One such charter school is opening in the fall. The Great Valley Academy is modeled after the successful Grand Traverse Academy in Traverse City, Mich. Parental participation is not only welcome but essential in this format. Smaller enrollments allow for more flexibility in learning and can result in tailor-made education programs.
There are other excellent charters in the area, such as Hickman Charter School -- which hosts home-schoolers and has a school. In its 13 years, Hickman Charter has proved excellent. Just a year younger is Hart Ransom Charter. Other notable charter schools are University Charter in Modesto, Whitmore Charter in Ceres and Oakdale Charter. All provide qualified, credentialed teachers; regular testing and documented accountability in classes through 12th grade. Most offer extracurricular classes such as art, music and physical education. Many have waiting lists.
State funding programs need to be more flexible to accommodate the changing needs of society. We need to cultivate open minds and embrace the changing face of education so that literally no child will be left behind.
Maris is a Modesto resident. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.