As a new public charter school authorized for 8-12th grades opening in August of this year, St. George Academy will help benefit all of the students in Southern Utah. Michael Dee Martineau titled his 2013 Department of Economics PhD dissertation at the University of Utah “The Competitive Effects of Charter Schools in Utah.” In his paper, he concluded “districts that have seen a greater degree of charter competition tend to see increases in traditional public school achievement”.
St. George Academy is designed to be an educational experience with the goal of better preparing students for college and the rest of their life. The Salt Lake Tribune published an article on March 5, 2017 titled “Struggling Students Forced to Wait as Utah’s Public Colleges Don’t Have Enough Therapists”. Therapists for what, you might ask? Anxiety, stress, higher expectations, or unsettling news according to the article. Our students need to be better prepared for life after high school graduation.
Students also need to be better prepared academically. Universities and colleges work with a large number of students who are not ready for their freshman classes. This problem manifests itself in two ways, students who start college but do not finish, and students who are required to pay for and take developmental courses before continuing with their education. The time and expense to students, colleges, and universities on individuals who are not graduating is concerning.
In public education, some have pitted local districts against charters. This is the wrong focus. There should be one focus. Students. I currently have children enrolled at both charter schools and district schools. Our children attend their respective schools not because of the kind of school they are, but rather for the educational experience they offer.
As much as anything the public sector does, education is the most impactful in our community. Every other aspect of well-functioning societies are positively impacted by a better educated population. Some argue our educational institutions are failing. I say let’s improve. Some say they are underfunded. I say let’s work with what we have. Others argue the best educators are leaving the industry. I say let’s prove them wrong.
We don’t offer education to a community, a school, a grade, or even a class. Education is a personal experience. It is offered to each individual. While students may sit in a class together, each student has the opportunity to choose to learn. Let’s improve by trying to create an environment where more students want to learn. Let’s rise above the funding constraints by demonstrating creativity and problem solving skills. Let’s demonstrate that education is more than bricks and mortar, programs and features. Education is a resourceful teacher inspiring students to learn.
St. George Academy will benefit the students walking through the doors, but it will do more. Our students, parents, faculty, and community members desire to be part of the solution in their own lives, and hopefully realize the conclusion asserted in Mr. Martineau’s paper, “a greater degree of school choice in Utah can indeed be a rising tide that lifts all boats.”
You can read the full dissertation here: https://collections.lib.utah.edu/details?id=195861