Where are all the up-and-coming, innovative charter schools?
March 3, 2010 4:34 PM   Subscribe

I can work in any US city and am committed to doing so for two years. Where can I teach that will be stimulating and engaging, in a community I will love?

I currently work at a charter middle school in Boston, MA. I'm looking for a change of scenery.

After this school year, I will have the ability to teach in literally ANY US city with a school.

So how can I go where I am most needed? I'm open to urban or rural, any geographic location. Where are some great start-up charters, or established, innovative charters? Also important: what are great cities for a 20-something female?
posted by brynna to Work & Money (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If Michelle Rhee gets her way, DC will be a very interesting (perhaps lucrative, perhaps experimental, perhaps who knows) place to be a teacher.
posted by sallybrown at 4:39 PM on March 3, 2010

I'm a 21 year old female in Albuquerque, NM and I LOVE it here. There are a lot of schools here that need good teachers, and we have quite a few charters, as well as one small magnet school that teaches all the HS classes that there isn't enough demand for at individual high schools (Computer Science, Japanese, Forensics, etc.)

If you happen to speak Spanish, then we could use you here even more.

Here's the website for our humongous school district.
posted by NoraReed at 4:52 PM on March 3, 2010

Memphis, TN just won a big Gates Foundation grant based on our immense need for funding and the quality (or lack thereof) of our school system. So we are a place that needs it, but hopefully also a place where things will start to improve soon, and where innovation is desperately needed. I don't work in the school system so I don't have a whole lot of knowledge about the inner workings, but I would definitely look into it if I were you.

I am a 20-something female, and I LOVE Memphis. It's a really diverse and interesting place, with tons of character and culture. I think a lot of people confuse Memphis with Nasville and assume we're all about country music, but it isn't like that at all. We've got a relatively low cost of living, a thriving music scene, great weather, great food, and lots of really amazing people. We could sure use some more, though! :)
posted by a.steele at 5:01 PM on March 3, 2010

Oh, and how cool would it be to work at The Soulsville Charter School? It's operated by Soulsville USA which also runs the Stax Museum of American Soul Music and the Stax Music Academy.
posted by a.steele at 5:12 PM on March 3, 2010

So how can I go where I am most needed? I'm open to urban or rural, any geographic location.

So I'm sure there will be a lot of answers for specific urban environments, and that's definitely useful, but I'd like to put a plug in for teaching at low-budget rural schools. The sad part is that there are way too many of them all over the place to recommend one (and by in large they don't have cool programs or cutting edge techniques), but rural education as a whole isn't in great shape. So I'd pick a nice part of the country and go do that, try to get a few more kids from those schools into college.

Unfortunately on top of that, a big problem is retaining good teachers, and it's partly because of situations like this.. lots of people want to help and make a difference for a bit, but it sucks when those people leave... its something to think about.
posted by devilsbrigade at 5:16 PM on March 3, 2010

These answers are exactly what I was looking for - keep 'em coming!

devilsbrigade, retaining good teachers is definitely an issue, for many reasons. One of which is that being a GREAT teacher is not a sustainable lifestyle, especially at a charter (which usually requires much longer hours).

I'm interested in rural environments, I've looked into Hawaii and NM. I'm looking for some off-the-chart charters, bonus points for start-ups.
posted by brynna at 5:26 PM on March 3, 2010

New Orleans
posted by govtdrone at 6:06 PM on March 3, 2010

If you haven't thought about the KIPP network, you should. KIPP is the largest charter school network in the country, and was established by two TFA grads. It's been the home in the past of some really solid education reforms, including closer student-teacher attention and extended time (something I really like). Unlike a lot of charter management organizations or networks, you really don't have to worry about KIPP schools running out of capital or reformist zeal anytime soon. When you're ready (if you want to make a career out of this), you can go to KIPP's leadership academies on fellowship and start one of your own. Most importantly, the studies coming out now are proving KIPP works.

One individual charter school I really like is EL Haynes in DC. Haynes has also focused on extended time - both day and year - and works really hard to attract a diverse student body, if that matters to you.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 6:33 PM on March 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

Mountain Discovery Charter School is in rural (and lovely) western North Carolina, in the southern Appalachians, within reach of lots of of great outdoor recreation, and also not to far from fun Asheville, NC.

I can't tell you much about the school itself except I know there are some good people there.
posted by bluedaisy at 8:08 PM on March 3, 2010

What are you even talking about? Don't you read the newspaper? Teachers are being laid off left and right in real public schools, let alone charter schools.

You cannot teach anywhere. You're a kid with (let's assume) great recommendations. How do you expect to compete for work in, for example, Los Angeles? You couldn't even schedule an interview there.

I think it's fantastic that you're committed to teaching in the United States for the next two years, but the where question is currently the where possibly question. If you have a teaching job in Boston, hang onto it with your fucking life.
posted by gum at 9:33 PM on March 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

Have you thought about teaching in rural Alaska? The villages always need teachers and they are definitely going to be a challenge and a great experience. The Gates foundation recently awarded a large grant to some of the rural school districts too.
posted by fshgrl at 10:35 PM on March 3, 2010

As a special education teacher also qualified to teach high school and secondary school English and Elementary School, I second gum, unfortunately. I urge a little caution; just because you can legally teach anywhere doesn't mean you can get a job anywhere.

Don't pack your bags until you have a solid job offer. There's a LOT of cronyism in hiring and if you truly want to teach anywhere, I'd start making contacts asap.
posted by dzaz at 2:42 AM on March 4, 2010

@gum, thanks for your concern, but I'm pretty confident in my abilities. There are teacher shortages everywhere, especially in low-income areas, which is where I'm best qualified.
posted by brynna at 2:50 AM on March 4, 2010

Also, the school that I work at is very well-connected. I'm looking to work at a start-up charter, which is not something that many other teachers are interested in because of the sheer amount of work involved, unfortunately.

I'm not saying that I will DEFINITELY get a job wherever I apply, just that I'm looking for ideas about where I COULD apply. Hope that clears that up.
posted by brynna at 2:53 AM on March 4, 2010

If Michelle Rhee gets her way, DC will be a very interesting (perhaps lucrative, perhaps experimental, perhaps who knows) place to be a teacher.

Even if Michelle Rhee doesn't get her way (looking more and more likely) DC is full of excellent charter and private schools. I would give parts of my body to win the lottery and get my kids into E L Haynes, as linked above, but there are tons of others, for example: Stokes, Two Rivers, Hyde, Bridges...
posted by Pollomacho at 5:51 AM on March 4, 2010

I found this article in the NY Times very interesting. I think that teaching at one of the Uncommon Schools would be an awesome way to spend a couple of years.
posted by elmay at 4:01 PM on March 4, 2010

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