When I went to the Milwaukee Common Council hearing in June to oppose the moratorium on new charter schools, it was not just for my daughter. It was for my community.
I worry for Aleigha, my seven year old daughter and second grader at Rocketship Southside Community Prep. What is she going to do for middle school and high school? I worry because I don’t know where she’ll go when she graduates from Rocketship. I worry families like mine will no longer have access to good school options.
When she was three, I put my daughter in Catholic schools. I liked the structure, the uniforms, and the discipline. Though I was proud she was at the higher end of her class, I was afraid she was being under-stimulated. I thought about putting her in public schools and moving her up a grade level. Thinking back to my own experiences in public schools, and after visiting a local district school, I knew I wanted something better for Aleigha.
On the way to the gym one day, I saw a new school that was close to our house. I stopped by and met Mr. Lynk, one of the school’s amazing educators. He opened my eyes.
We talked about Rocketship, and he showed me the performance of Aleigha’s school on Great Schools Milwaukee. For all that tuition money I was paying for her school, I was shocked to find it wasn’t performing well. Mr. Lynk promised that, at Rocketship, Aleigha would pass at or above grade level every year, she would always be pushed and she would always be learning new things. From that moment on, I knew Rocketship was the kind of school my daughter deserved.
At the end of first grade, Aleigha was reading at the fourth grade level and had achieved up to a fifth grade level in math. I know that in her classes and on her computer programs, there’s no ceiling for how much she can learn. I’m proud of my Aleigha, who is one of the top students in her class.
I quickly realized Rocketship is more like an extended family. Its commitment to parent involvement is so different than other schools. Here, I share open and frequent communication with any of the teachers and administrators, and everyone knows my daughter. It’s very welcoming; the school leaders listen to my problems and, together, we work to solve them.
Although I no longer worry about Aleigha’s current school, I do worry about the future of education in the U.S. One argument I’m tired of hearing, which I heard at the council meeting, is kids shouldn’t be spending all day on the computer. For starters, Rocketship students only spend one portion of their day on a computer, but, more importantly, our kids must be working with the latest technology: it’s not a bad thing.
At my small company, 90 percent of our work is done on computers. When we’re hiring, we know all of our employees need to be able to work on tablets, which is a big transition from earlier generations. At a time when companies need people who can work with technology, and when we’re struggling to compete with other countries in academics and in business, education and technology should go hand in hand. The U.S. is far from #1 in math and reading, and in order to catch up, we need a solid education system.
We do not need a moratorium on charter schools. In fact, I think schools should be working together and learning from each other. Others can learn from some of the structures and curriculum Rocketship has to offer. That way, I can stop worrying and know my daughter – and all kids in Milwaukee – will have a great education all the way to college and beyond.
A single parent, Alexander was born and raised on the south side of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He is raising his only daughter, Aleigha, to become the first in his family to graduate from college. His challenge is changing the mindset of his family members that college is an option, it’s mandatory and it starts at Rocketship.