Taking Back America By Taking Back Our Schools
By Bill Korach www.thereportcard.org
Dr. Daniel Scoggin, CEO of Great Hearts Charter Academies in Phoenix told The Report Card last week that the State School Board’s rejection of their application “Took us completely by surprise.” Great Hearts, a highly successful Charter Management Organization operates 16 schools in the Phoenix area. Their SAT average is 1833 surpassing all public and most elite private schools. 95% of their graduates go on to four-year colleges. Great Hearts, a non-profit, wants to positively impact public education in America. For this reason Great Hearts has started an expansion outside of Arizona. They applied for charters in San Antonio and Dallas, Texas. The superintendent approved both locations, but last week we reported that the full state board of education rejected Great Hearts Dallas application. San Antonio is scheduled to open in August of 2014.
School Board member Mavis Knight, led the opposition to Great Hearts in Dallas saying Great Hearts did not demonstrate sufficient “diversity” among their student population. This was the same argument that was made in Tennessee two years earlier when Great Hearts was rejected in that state. The Tennessean reported:
“Great Hearts, which relies on a liberal arts and Western civilization-based curriculum, would have been the first charter school in Tennessee to explicitly take advantage of the state’s open enrollment law by targeting middle- and upper-class students in addition to those with lower incomes. To date, Nashville’s charter school students have been almost entirely low-income.
A group of parents, primarily from Green Hills and Belle Meade — frustrated by waiting lists at the district’s high-achieving academic magnet schools but not wanting to turn to private schooling — pushed for its arrival. Great Hearts also had the backing of Mayor Karl Dean. But the school was never able to overcome concerns about its commitment to diversity.
“The Texas decision validates many of our concerns about this particular school,” said Metro school board member and Great Hearts critic Amy Frogge, pointing to questions over whether it would serve a socioeconomically diverse student population.”
Robert Gutierrez, Great Hearts Public Relations Director, and San Antonio native, took issue with the rationale for the rejection:
“Our focus is about our offering available to ALL families. While diversity is an indispensable measure of our reach to the community, our model is fully measureable by the success of our students.”
Gutierrez stated that there was tremendous demand from the families in Dallas and San Antonio citing hundred of families in each city appearing at meetings in support of Great Hearts. Gutierrez points out that Great Hearts K-5 Maryvale School in almost 100% Hispanic, and earns some of the highest test score in the Phoenix area. “Maryvale even outscores some of the other Great Hearts schools in the area.
Gutierrez says that Great Hearts will continue to look for ways to expand in Dallas and looks forward to the opening of San Antonio in 2014.
Some experts have speculated that the “diversity” rationale for denying Great Hearts in Dallas and Tennessee is really connected to opposition to charters by monopolistic government bureaucrats and their allies in the teacher’s unions. The real victims here are the children in Dallas who will miss out on an opportunity for an excellent and effective education