Academic journal article Education Next

Field Notes-02/12/03: A Day in the Life of an Education Professor Who Came Down from the Ivory Tower to Start a Charter School

Academic journal article Education Next

Field Notes-02/12/03: A Day in the Life of an Education Professor Who Came Down from the Ivory Tower to Start a Charter School

Article excerpt

8:00 a.m. I got my son Thomas to school on time, but had to return an hour later for an Admission, Review, and Dismissal (ARD). Thomas is autistic--and was about to flunk physics. He had been entering middle school when I started a charter school several years ago, thinking I could create a more user-friendly instructional environment for him. He's now a junior--at the local public high school.

He often reminds me that only one of the three years he spent in the school I founded was good; the other two positively "sucked."

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Luckily, my reasons for starting a charter did not all revolve around my disabled son. What tenured education professor doesn't harbor a secret desire to start a school? We got the doors of the Brazos School for Inquiry & Creativity open in August of 1999, in a church in Bryan, Texas' only Hispanic barrio. Something they don't teach you in education schools: We had advertised for middle school students, but discovered that to get them we had to take their brothers and sisters too. That first year we had about 40 kids scattered across grades K-10.

10:00 a.m. After the ARD meeting, I checked my cell-phone message box. It was full. It must be the school's new program. We've just rejiggered it, adding more computers. It's generating a lot of interest. We've already got a waiting list. Discipline problems have dropped almost to zero, and this is with kids that came to us mainly because of discipline issues....

10:15 a.m. Carolyn from the bank called. My main problem today, as it has been all week, is the usual one: money. The automatic deposits that Region IV said were coming in haven't hit the account yet. Carolyn said she'll cover any overdrafts, but we'll have to pay the overdraft fees.

I also called the Telecommunication Infrastructure Board people again. Once more they routed the request for funds to the wrong person. Come on! We started this process last November.... Board meetings are also becoming somewhat of a drag. …

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