Indiana

Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Two National Charter Operators Will Get Mind Trust Aid To Open Indy Schools

Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

Many workstations sit empty in the learning center at Carpe Diem Meridian. The school currently has less than 100 students but has room for 300 students.

The Mind Trust will award two national charter operators $1 million to open new schools in Indianapolis, writes Scott Elliott for the Indianapolis Star.

KIPP already operates one charter school in the city. The other grant goes to Rocketship Education:

Rocketship, founded in 2006, operates nine schools in San Jose and this fall is expanding outside California — to Milwaukee — for the first time. It’s known for a “blended” learning model that combines lessons taught in person and by computer. Its other priorities are teacher training and forging parent and community connections.

Rocketship has plans for eight charter schools in Indianapolis within five years, opening the first school in 2015, while KIPP will expand to five schools over the next 10 years, starting with a second school in 2014.

Preston Smith, co-founder of Rocketship, said the company has been inundated with requests for it to look at other cities for expansion but the incubator was a major factor in making Indianapolis one of its first expansion sites.

“It’s been a very collaborative process and it’s very clear there is a lot of interest in great schools for every family in Indiana,” he said.

We’ve written before about blended learning — Carpe Diem mixes online curriculum with classroom instruction in its Indianapolis school and plans to open another site in Fort Wayne. But there’s been pushback against that proposal: Some parents and community members say a blended learning charter isn’t needed.

There’s also questions about Rocketship’s model. Having students split time between computer lab and classroom instruction lets the company pay teachers more, but educators in California Rocketship schools told PBS NewsHour the approach isn’t working all that well. That means the company will likely make changes before settling in Indianapolis in 2015.

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