Unleashing the Potential of Negative Criticism

Posted on April 04, 2019

We all know the advantages of living in the right zip code. The most significant amenity of affluence is great schools. What if someone made a conscientious decision to take the notion of excellent school to those who are marginalized and disadvantaged. How much of a change could innovative alternatives in education make in the lives of low income students? Preston Smith and John Danner took the challenge to heart and created the paradigm for what was to become Rocketship Education. Rocketship Education is a non-profit network of charter schools dedicated to eliminating the achievement gap and laying the foundation needed to ensure college success.

In its relatively short history, the network of schools that has become Rocketship Education has made outstanding achievements and been recognized nationwide for the changes access to excellent education has made in the lives of many young people in underserved communities. Recently, blogger Anya Kamenetz wrote an interesting 3,800 word treatise about Rocketship Education that applauded the network for being “an innovative model of blended learning, but left many feeling her profile of Rocketship Education was not only unfair, but also deeply unbalanced.

Kamenetz’s blog discussed many of the network’s internal practices that had never been reported on before. Kamenetz’s piece scrutinized problems at Rocketship Education like “long hours, high pressure to perform, tight discipline, and ritualistic protocols,” but many believed that these problems are common to charter as well as public schools. Because her blog focused on the challenges of the network without much context, many felt it did not paint a fair picture of the network suggesting that it, like President Obama’s health care plan, was “deep but narrow.”

Rocketship Education is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that seeks to build a scalable and sustainable school model that propels student achievement. Kamenetz in her blog referred to the Rocketship Education network as a company. Her choice of words was thought to be insensitive and incorrect since the term company references “a private, for profit business.” Her supporters argued that nonprofits often rely on for-profits for services and materials, thereby creating a business. It was that kind of loose reporting that caused many to see her story as biased and unbalanced. Even now, at the end of the day, no light has been shed on why the schools are not only popular but successful in what they do.

See more about Rocketship Education here https://www.christenseninstitute.org/rocketship-education-2/