Guest Post from Teacher Calvin Miller

Post from Calvin Miller, a teacher who attended a conference I spoke at in June.

Are Charter Schools a Good Idea?


Some time ago, I heard and read many disheartening discussions related to charter schools including that they are lower-performing than public schools, that they take resources from public schools while mismanaging them and that they do a disservice to their students. The last one is a really awful accusation that really burns me a bit.

I have taught at Legacy Preparatory Charter Academy in Mesquite, Texas for two years now and have worked extremely hard to show to myself and others that charter schools are indeed not only a good idea, but a wonderful idea.

For those who aren’t familiar with the concept, I’ll provide a short synopsis. It is a public school but is an alternative to the traditional school that sits in your neighborhood. Since charter schools in Texas currently receive absolutely zero state funding for facilities, many charter schools sit inside other buildings. For instance, until very recently, all three of our campuses were housed inside of a church, this year, two will remain but one of our campuses now has their own building as the school purchased an old business building and remodeled it to fit their growing population.

I didn’t realize how much of an impact charter schools made until I attended a coaching conference in June down in Austin, Texas. The speaker who most influenced my mind and made me want to advocate even more in support for charter schools was a lady named Ember Reichgott Junge the author of: Zero Change of Passage, which is a book about her and her colleagues struggle to create and get the law passed in Minnesota that would help pave the way for charter schools. She succeeded in 1991 and here we are today, charter schools are country wide. Charter schools are growing tremendously around the country as an alternative way to educate students.

Our school is part of what is called the New Tech Network and is heavily focused on technology to conduct classes, create projects, assign work and get our students acclimated to the demands of the business environment that they will experience once they graduate college.

I am currently going into my third year as a History teacher but my experience goes much further than just teaching students about the past. I teach students about technology, how to type, how to use and manipulate Google docs, PowerPoint, Prezi as well as using programs similar to I-Movie to help students film what they do. This year I will be introducing typing workshops, excel workshops, as well as workshops on how to record sound and create websites. As a new podcast creator, I am learning myself what to do and will then pass it along to the children of the future.

Charter schools are hard work, we have to compete with schools that have so much more money than what we do and are still held to the same standards. I’ve had to coach soccer, track and girl’s volleyball in an open field that has absolutely no steady ground to it, meaning, there are dips and holes everywhere that we must watch out for, along with struggling just to get the basic needs to play a sport including: jerseys and equipment. This year, I will continue to coach track, run the boy’s mentor-ship program, continue my role as Athletic Director for all 3 campuses as well as start a debate club. Our teachers work very hard and are asked to wear many hats at one time. But we will continue to work hard, teach hard and achieve the results necessary to propel our students into this coming century. I never thought I would ever have been a teacher, I never went to school for it, I never ever considered it an option and without the creation of the charter school that I work for, I would have never had the ability or opportunity to make the impact on the lives of the students that I have been able to make in the past couple of years. To answer my own question, yes, charter schools are a good idea.

What do you think?

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Calvin Miller is a teacher, coach and Athletic Director at Legacy Preparatory Charter Academy in Dallas, Texas. To see his original post, click here.