In 1954 The Supreme Court ruled that in segregated systems schools serving black students while separate were not equal. Today, the same narrative applies to schools in impoverished and more affluent districts.
A joint study between Harvard and UC Berkeley concluded that 30 years ago the education received by students in low-income San Jose communities was on par with the education given students in wealthier districts. By the 2000s the loss of jobs and affordable housing negatively impacted the quality of education in poor San Jose neighborhoods.
In 2007 Rocketship Education was created in San Jose to restore to impoverished students the chance for a better education and future. Eleven years and 25 schools later on standardized tests, Rocketship’s students (Rocketeers) consistently outperform other pupils not only in Sana Clara County but across California.
Despite achieving positive results, charter schools like Rocketship have their detractors. Criticisms include a lack of experienced teachers, standards that are too rigid, and excessive use of computers as learning tools.
Parents who have children in charter schools have a different opinion. In April of last year, 374 parents representing students in 18 charter schools including Rocketship Education responded to an Op-Ed piece in the Nashville “Tennessean”.
They composed a letter calling for a cessation of the attacks on alternative schools. The parents pointed out that public schools were not satisfying their children’s’ educational needs. The missive cited the high-quality education that pupils were receiving at charter schools and the support and encouragement that those schools provide.
Apparently, others are impressed by Rocketship Education’s results. In 2013 the Washington DC Charter School Board cleared the way for Rocketship to expand beyond California. The board authorized the opening of a maximum of eight Rocketship charters in one of the districts poorest wards.
The first of these schools opened in 2016. It offers a preschool program run by The Appletree Institute. Enrollment consists of 350 students in grades K-4. The needs of Rocketeers parents who are also called Rocketeers have been provided for. Parents are granted access to the school’s computers in order to apply for work online.