NPR Rocketship Education Run Down

Rocketship Education is company that runs charter schools in California, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Washington D.C.. It began in 2006 as an alternative education method for high achieving but low income students – those that couldn’t afford the private schools that can provide better opportunities. Rocketship Education uses a hybrid educational method, with individualised lessons taught online – as well as small group discussions and traditional classroom learning. The overall mission of the Rocketship charter school system is to work with communities and national charities to help diminish or eliminate the achievement gap in lower income communities. Since it’s founding, Rocketship Education became linked with various charity partners, as well as private companies making philanthropic contributions to the school system.

A recent National Public Radio (NPR) show was broadast about Rocketship Education. The show attracted a significant amount of criticism from Rocketship proponents. Main criticisms state that the piece had coverage without context, as in, the piece discusses challenges faced by the Rocketship Education system with context of these challenges. In addition, the surrounding schools are not mentioned at all in the broadcast. Yet, Rocketship is hailed as one of the most successful systems in the areas where there are Charter schools. This is a flawed method of comparison, as only the data for one side is actually presented. This is not the only criticism garnered by the NPR broadcast. See more of the negative report by NPR here

Supporters and members of the Rocketship Education system also express criticism that the parents quoted in the story were a misrepresentation of the charter school as a whole. One two parents were quoted for a story of significant size. It seems as though the parents chosen to provide quotations were chosen specifically to uphold the narrative of the piece. As in, a happy and satisfied parent was chosen and an angry and dissatisfied former parent (of the system) were chosen. This was supposed to illustrate the satisfaction of the parents who had children currently in the Rocketship charter school network. Finally, some supports had issues with the particular words used to describe Rocketship Education, one example of this was when it was referred to as a company. See the network’s response on the criticism in this article.

How Rocketship Education Closed The Education Achievement Gap

One parent of a student that attends a Rocketship Education charter school says that the team there “finds a way” to get rid of the achievement gap that exists between kids that come from low-income households and those that come from wealthy households. It’s been known for a long time that kids from wealthy households score better on state tests. There are a variety of reasons why but one of the biggest is that the public schools are far better funded than those in lower-income areas.

The team at Rocketship Education can “find a way” in other ways as well. For example, when one group of parents and kids were forced out of their homes due to extensive flooding the school came to the rescue by putting together an emergency fund. They’ve also “found a way” helping kids that habitually end up in summer school and after school hours remedial programs turn their lives around and end up graduating from college.

Rocketship Education is based in California and since its first school opening in 2007 it has grown to 20 schools which are located in three states as well as the nation’s capital, Washington D.C. The schools operate as a family so when parents have issues like a flood or other disaster Rocketship Education will help out by providing things like food, clothing, and furniture. They also help parents find temporary housing or come up with the money they need to rent a new place to stay. They have a partnership with Catholic Charities that really helps with a lot of this.

As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, Rocketship Education has been able to help students effectively learn in the communities in which it operates. One of the key ways they educate children is by using a personalized learning style. Each person learns best in a certain way and public schools instead take a cookie cutter approach where everyone is taught exactly the same way, leaving some to thrive and others to fail. Instead, at Rocketship Education the students needs are addressed by letting them learn the way that works best for them.