The New York Times published some solutions that are working in Union City, New Jersey. Note that it is not Newark, New Jersey where big money and celebrities tried to impose charter school solutions. Less hoopla and more methodical, careful community planning make a difference in Union City. See how.
What did Union City do?
- Began a state of the art preschool program for 3 and 4 year old children.
- They hired bilingual teachers and taught in Spanish in early grades with gradual transitions to English.
- Meetings with parents were bilingual.
- Books, reading, and writing assignments were important.
- Skill and drill assignments were changed to group project learning.
- A nursery for young high school parents was established.
- Teaching coaches helped new teachers. Evaluations were used to develop skills not punish teachers.
- The city was in for the long haul. Change was within traditional schools. Union City’s graduation rate has risen to 81 percent far eclipsing Newark in spite of the millions of dollars invested there.
Turning local schools over to privately run charters divides communities. Charters want to work with the easier problems and exclude the expensive and difficult ones. Those children with problems do not disappear. They remain in the communities. If we look at our schools as community schools, we can work together to meet children’s needs. If we carve out only part of the community to help, no one has the resources or commitment to ensure that all children have access to a high quality education.