Charter schools begin to specialize

WASHINGTON, D.C. — An aviation school in Michigan is one example of a new generation of public charter schools designed to serve niche audiences, according to a feature report in The Washington Times.

While the first generation of public charter schools tended to replicate conventional schools in areas like curriculum and scheduling, newer schools do not, the report said.

The West Michigan Aviation Academy, opening in September in Grand Rapids, will train high school students for careers in aviation even as they take traditional academic courses, The Times reported. In New York, students who attend the Democracy Preparatory Charter School in Harlem focus on civic responsibility and leadership, the report said.

"The movement is beginning to expand and grow as parents figure out that public charters are doing a great deal in closing the achievement gap and offering options that public schools don't," Peter Groff, executive director of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, told The Times.

Advocates told The Times that the best approach to growing the charter movement is to let parents, communities and the marketplace determine what's needed in any given region, The Times reported.

"It will be interesting to see if businesses try to grow their own work force to figure out where the next Bill Gates will come from," Groff told The Times.


The Washington Times, "Charter schools finding niches," Aug. 29, 2010


Michigan Education Digest, "Poll: Charter School Support Growing," April 23, 2010