Indiana

Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Parents, Community Question Need For Blended Learning Charter In Fort Wayne

Carpe Diem Meridian's two-level building has several classrooms downstairs, and one large "learning center" upstairs. The learning center is filled with hundreds of cubicles and computers where students complete online assignments.

Carpe Diem, a charter operator already running a school in Indianapolis, wants to open a school in Fort Wayne using the same “blended learning” model — mixing online curriculum with classroom instruction.

But the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette‘s Sarah Janssen reports many parents and community members turned out to a public meeting to oppose the move:

A picture in [Carpe Diem founder Rick Ogston's] presentation showed a large room with rows and rows of cubicles, a computer and a uniformed student in each station. Ogston said he founded the organization because he didn’t believe traditional public schools were educating students for the 21st century. He said the school leverages technology to educate students. Students are taught using an “individual online curriculum,” and their time is split between independent learning and collaborative workshops with teachers and classmates. 

The charter’s proposal expects 130 students in its first year of operation and 13 teachers. Estimates have enrollment growing to about 300 students after three years with 15 teachers. The maximum number of students the school could accommodate would be 600. The model calls for a higher student to teacher ratio, but a video shown during Ogston’s presentation indicates the model allows “better teacher student relationships” because students have one teacher per subject area all six years they attend the school.

Susan Stahl, who lives near where the school hopes to locate, said she couldn’t imagine sending her children to a Carpe Diem school, calling the model “bare bones education.”

Janssen writes two of seven Indiana Charter School Board members attended Tuesday’s hearing to review Carpe Diem’s application, which disappointed members of the Fort Wayne School Board who attended to oppose the school.

Carpe Diem isn’t the only blended learning charter with plans to expand in Indiana. The ICSB has also approved Rocketship Education for several schools in the state, starting with one charter in Indianapolis in 2015.

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