Wednesday, November 14, 2007

My Morning at Perspectives Charter School

I spent this morning at Perspectives Charter School. I was one of ten speakers that spoke in groups of five to two classes about my current career and how I got to where I was at. In my group was a personal injury lawyer, a chef, a professor of nursing, and a consultant with Ernst and Young. We spoke in front of a class that Perspectives calls internships.

In this internships class, the kids learn such things as interviewing, job applications, resumes, body language, and even proper behavior in meetings. Among other assignments, the students spend nine separate days with a professional "shadowing" them. This is something that I have volunteered for the last three years.

In my business, mortgages, my students did such tasks as: pricing loans, creating spreadsheets, researching FHA loans on the internet, and grading an interviewee. They also had lunch with several of my friends, my most successful friends: a scientist, a sales executive, another mortgage broker, and a party planner to name a few.

Furthermore, after spending time with the kids (I had three each of the last two years), I learned that they (surprise, surprise) hated school. What was interesting was some of the reasons. First, they hated wearing a uniform. Second, because Perspectives is relatively small, less than 50 students per grade, they couldn't "hang out with their friends". In other words, they hated it for every thing that makes it great.

Besides this internship class, the students also go on college tour. This is a two week tour that they take with their classmates by bus. They see schools in several different states and of varying size and quality.

Since I don't work at Perspectives, my knowledge is only of that which I have had contact with. Perspectives does all sorts of innovative things. I bring this up not merely as a plug for Perspectives but rather as a plug for innovative education and school choice. I know that those that wind up going to a traditional public school in Chicago never have the opportunities the students had at Perspectives.

Even at Glenbrook North, my alma mater, I never did many of the things that the students at Perspectives are exposed to. The person in charge of the internship program mentioned to me that one of the students had never been in an elevator, let alone in downtown Chicago, before they came for their first day of their particular internship which just happened to be located in the Sears Tower.

I know that in Utah school vouchers were recently voted down. I know that any program that allows school choice gives parents a better chance to send their kids to charter schools and other innovative schools. I am not educator and my knowledge of policy related to education is limited to my experience at Perspectives, however, I have enough experience at Perspectives to know that they are revolutionizing education. While I may have personal and emotional attachment to Perspectives, I do know that there are schools all over the country doing similar things to Perspectives. I know that we as a society should do everything we can to give parents the opportunity to send their kids to such schools.

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