Founded in 2006, Rocketship Education is an organization that operates several free, public K-5 charter schools. They mainly teach children from lower-income households. 90% of the children qualify for free lunch, for example. Many are also learning English for the first time at these schools. The goal is to provide a great education that will put each student on the path to one day attending college.
NPR ran an article about Rocketship Education that has been critiqued for leaving out the full story. The article was critical, bringing up issues such as long hours, tight discipline, too much pressure to do well academically, and rigid classroom protocols. The parents of students pushed back on these critiques, though, and wrote about how great the schools are and how well their children are doing in a blended learning environment.
As it turns out, the writer of the article chose to “balance” her story by talking to one set of happy parents and another set of unhappy parents who had pulled their child out of the school. She also referred to Rocketship Education as a company, implying it is a business, when it is actually a nonprofit. Another news publication, Washington Monthly, tried to interview the author of this article as well as the editor in order to get clarification but NPR refused to make them available.
Rocketship Education employs traditional teaching methods as well as the use of technology to educate students. Early on they relied upon technology too much but have since struck a better balance after figuring out the best way to teach children. The way they teach has led to high test scores. The way they manage classrooms is by having specific bathroom break times and “silent time” at different parts of the day so that the students can concentrate on their work. As they point out, if there isn’t strong classroom management in place a school will quickly become chaotic in nature.
At the end of the day, Rocketship Education uses a model that is quite similar to what other charter and district schools use to educate students.