Charters: What's Your Message (& Can You Back It Up)?
There was a very small kerfluffle on Twitter yesterday about how best to read a press release sent out on behalf of an Aspire charter school in Stockton, CA, where a handful of kids who'd gone to the school for all 13 years (K-12) were graduating, along with a bunch of other kids.
They were all going to college. A local paper told the heart-warming story (here), but I took note of the fact that just 8 of the 60 kids who'd started out in kindergarten made it all the way through, and wondered what the four-year grad rate was (not the "100 percent of graduates" number that the school was touting (really, enough with that). Others -- the school, the CA charter association, and NSVF's Benjamin Riley, thought I was off my rocker, or misguided, or perhaps drunk (all reasonable possibilities).
Take a look at the release and give it a thought. I don't have anything against Aspire, or against charters. But I don't think the school is telling its story in an effective, credible way, especially when it comes to explaining attrition and retention issues.
Today, in what is believed to be the first time in the country, Aspire Public Schools will be the first charter organization to graduate students who have attended their schools since kindergarten. As this year marks the 20th anniversary of charter schools, this groundbreaking group of eight Aspire graduates signifies the future of the charter school movement, as more high-quality operators replicate and expand to provide a comprehensive K-12 education.
Aspire Public Schools is California’s highest-performing large public school system serving a majority of low-income students, with 100 percent of graduating seniors accepted to four-year colleges or universities for the third consecutive year. Aspire is one of the five largest charter organizations in the country, with 34 schools in California, and will be expanding to serve students in Memphis, TN next year.
Would you be interested in speaking with one of Aspire’s K-12 graduates, who include a nationally-ranked skeet shooter, a community activist and one student who created a nonprofit to increase literacy for females in Afghanistan and the Middle East?
On behalf of Aspire Public Schools
ONE HUNDRED PERCENT OF GRADS AT HIGH-PERFORMING ASPIRESCHOOL ACCEPTED TO FOUR-YEAR COLLEGE FOR THIRD CONSECUTIVE YEAR
Graduates include first students in the US to attend schools within one charter organization from kindergarten to high school graduation
Stockton, CA – Aspire Benjamin Holt College Preparatory Academy (Ben Holt) will hold a commencement ceremony for its 47 graduates on Friday, June 8, all of whom were accepted to four-year colleges or universities. This graduation is one of five for AspirePublic Schools, California’s highest-performing large public school system serving predominantly low-income students. For the third consecutive year, 100 percent of graduating seniors from Aspire high schools have been accepted to four year colleges or universities.
In what is believed to be the first time in the country for any charter management organization, Aspire Ben Holt will graduate eight students who have attended Aspire schools for the entirety of their K-12 education. These eight students enrolled in Aspire’s first school, Aspire University Public School (now Aspire Vincent Shalvey Academy), located in Stockton, CA, as Kindergartners in 1998, and will graduate from Aspire Ben Holt on June 8, 2012. Each of these graduates will be attending college in the fall.
“Ben Holt’s graduates prove what is possible when students, families and school communities come together to make ‘College for Certain’ a reality,” said James Willcox, CEO of Aspire Public Schools. “Our students have worked incredibly hard to get to this point, with a focus on attending college and earning their college degree. I congratulate all of our graduates, and look forward to seeing all that they will accomplish in communities across California.”
Aspire Ben Holt graduates have been accepted to some of the country’s best colleges and universities, including American University, Brigham Young University, California Polytechnic State University, University of California – Berkeley and University of California – Los Angeles. Graduating seniors at the school, which serves a significant percentage of low-income and minority students, have been awarded more than $170,000 in college scholarships.
Class secretary Erika Cuevas, one of the eight students attending an Aspire school since kindergarten, will attend Kenyon University in Ohio this fall. As the oldest of three with her two younger siblings enrolled in Aspire schools, Cuevas plans on being the first member of her family to graduate from college.
“At Aspire, college always seemed attainable,” said Cuevas. “From kindergarten, we were surrounded by the idea of college, from classroom names to tee-shirt days to chants. Aspire convinced us that no matter where me or my classmates came from, we would and could go to college.”
This year, 168 students will receive high school diplomas from Aspire schools, the largest graduating class in Aspire’s history. All of these graduates have been accepted to college, including prestigious schools such as Boston College, Howard University, Middlebury College, and University of California – Berkeley.
Aspire attributes its success in sending California’s low-income population to college in part to its culture of ‘College for Certain.’ AllAspire classrooms are named after their teacher’s college or university and students participate in weekly college pep rallies. Aspireoffers students the opportunity to earn college credits throughout high school, and supports juniors and seniors throughout the college application process with weekly workshops.
WHO: Aspire Benjamin Holt College Preparatory Academy
WHAT: Graduation Ceremony
WHEN: Friday, June 8, 2012
Senior breakfast and awards ceremony: 9 am
Graduation ceremony: 6:30 pm
WHERE: Senior Awards:
5606 Pacific Avenue
San Joaquin Delta College
5151 Pacific Avenue
Stockton, CA 95207
About Aspire Public Schools
Aspire Public Schools is a nonprofit organization that currently operates 34 high-performing, open-enrollment public charter schools serving 12,000 students in underserved communities across California and will open schools in Memphis, TN in fall, 2013. Aspire is one of the highest-performing public school systems in California, delivering a rigorous ‘College for Certain’ education to students in grades K-12. An unrelenting focus on college preparedness led to 100 percent of graduating Aspire seniors being accepted to four year colleges or universities in 2010, 2011 and 2012. Aspire offers a high-quality education in six cities throughout California: Los Angeles, Oakland, Stockton, Sacramento, Modesto and East Palo Alto. Visit Aspire Public Schools atwww.aspirepublicschools.org.