Silver Lining to Deep Education Cuts in NC:
Raising Growth Cap on Charter Schools
The Carter G. Woodson School plays critical role in solving local education crisis
Winston-Salem, NC, July 11, 2011—After two months of deliberations, the North Carolina General Assembly passed a bill on June 9 that removed the limit of 100 charter schools in the state, giving 1.5 million NC students and their families more choice for K-12 education. The new legislation is expected to reduce charter schools’ typically long waiting lists to better meet the needs of students across the state.
The Carter G. Woodson School (CGWS), a K-12 charter school that builds bridges across culture, race and socio-economic barriers, has been a popular option since 1997 for parents who are eager for their children to have a better life. CGWS students and staff represent 14 countries and cultures. Fifty-nine percent of its pupils are African American, 39% are Hispanic/Latino and 2% are multi-racial. Over 87% participate in the National Free and Reduced Lunch Program.
Although charter schools face even greater financial challenges than traditional public schools, they have fewer restrictions than traditional public schools, more freedom for innovation, and can independently raise a portion of their own funding.
Like many parents unhappy with the quality of education offered at neighborhood public schools but unable to afford private education, Hazel Mack founded the Carter G. Woodson School in 1997, refusing to allow the dreams she dreamed for her daughter to go unrealized.
“You can’t work your way out of poverty by plugging away at low-paying jobs, day after day. That’s a myth. You have to leap out. Education is the force to propel you into a better life,” says Hazel Mack who serves as chair of the school’s board of directors.
One of five charter schools in Winston-Salem, CGWS has consistently produced strong graduation and college acceptance rates: 100% of the school’s high school students graduate; 90-100% of those graduates are accepted into college (2009-2010). Children who are at risk of failing when they come to CGWS perform at grade level or higher if they remain at CGWS for at least two to three years.
At the Carter G. Woodson School, each student is expected to graduate high school graduation and be accepted into a two- or four-year college. To reach these goals, students receive one-on-one coaching on graduation plans and college applications. Teachers and staff follow up individually with each student and the colleges to which he/she has applied.
The Carter G. Woodson School is committed to making sure that all students have an equal chance to succeed, regardless of their circumstances or track record at other schools. CGWS staff and teachers have learned that partnering with parents and earning their trust is essential to the success of the program.
“Many of our public schools are failing to adequately educate kids at a time when a good education has never been more important,” says Ruth Hopkins, School Director. “We recognize that it takes a different kind of teacher and school environment to be successful when the majority of your students face social and economic challenges,” says Hopkins.
In addition to the daily challenges of running a charter school, Hopkins and her team are concerned with the larger questions as well: What will the job prospects and quality of life be for students who do not even complete high school? How will our students fair in the world if they do not first know and understand themselves and also other peoples and cultures? How will our students contribute to the advancement of harmony and prosperity on earth? Carter G. Woodson School faculty and staff address these questions on a daily basis.
“We are making a positive difference. Effective charter schools like Carter G. Woodson School are an important piece of the solution to our current educational crisis,” says Hopkins.
About Carter G. Woodson School (CGWS)
The Carter G. Woodson School is a public charter school in Winston-Salem, NC that has been serving students in grades K-12 since 1997. CGWS offers free tuition and bus transportation to and from many neighborhoods in greater Winston-Salem.
Students and staff represent 14 countries and cultures. Fifty-nine percent of its pupils are African American, 39% are Hispanic/Latino and 2% are multi-racial. Over 87% participate in the National Free and Reduced Lunch Program.
Teachers at the Carter G. Woodson School work with each student to identify their unique learning style and challenges and focus on each student’s abilities. After-school tutorial services focus on students’ special needs. All students receive one-on-one coaching on graduation plans and college applications as well as individual follow-up with students and the colleges to which they have applied.
Carter G. Woodson School’s academic program emphasizes science, mathematics, music, technology and communications to prepare students for practical, productive, real-life situations they will encounter in their adult lives.
Key features of Carter G. Woodson School:
- Significantly smaller class sizes than traditional public schools
- A comprehensive academic core program
- Two complete computer labs
- Each high school student is provided with a laptop computer
- AP courses for high school students
- Hands-on science lab
- On-site counseling
- Home-school coordination
- A progressive studies/enrichment center
- Saturday Academy
- A music-arts program that includes band, art, and string orchestra
- English Language Learner (ELL) classes for Spanish-speaking students
- A full-time Chinese language teacher (beginning with the 2011-2012 school year)
- A high school Debate Team (beginning with the 2011-2012 school year)
- A high school Mock Trial Team that competes annually in the NC Advocates for Justice Mock Trial Competition
About Public Charter Schools
Charter schools began appearing in the United States in the early 1990s. They are an autonomous, “alternative” public school with their own board of directors that makes decisions only for their school. Charter schools receive tax dollars but must also come up with private funding to meet all the needs of the school. Charter schools adhere to the basic curricular requirements of the state but are free from many of the regulations that apply to conventional schools and the day-to-day scrutiny of school boards and government authorities. Considered cutting edge, charter schools usually challenge and greatly improve on standard education practices.