Parental involvement is one of the core guiding principles of the Rocketship Education charter schools philosophy. The idea of parental involvement in the hiring of teachers is nothing new; the Los Angeles Unified School District tried the idea in the ‘90s. However, this is the first time the parents of these Washington, D.C. children have been encouraged to actively participate in the teacher hiring process.
The Washington, D.C. school opened for its first semester in the autumn of 2016. Parents were allowed to participate in teacher job interviews months before the start of the school’s first semester. Groups of 3-6 families sat in on job interviews, and larger groups of parents were invited to community meetings in which they were welcomed to share feedback with school administrators.
One benefit of this style of teacher hiring is that it allows teachers to get to know the community and some of the parents they will potentially be working with. For some teachers, this intimacy with the families of their potential students is too much. Some leave the interviews deciding the school is not right for them.
Washington D.C. is the site of one of many Rocketship Education charter schools around the U.S. Rocketship Education, a nonprofit charter school network, is based in Redwood City, California. As of 2017, the company operated 16 schools, including schools in Redwood City, Concord, and San Jose, California. Its other member schools are located in Washington D.C., Nashville (TN), and Milwaukee (WI).
Another core guiding principle of the non-profit Rocketship Education model is blended learning. This teaching style incorporates adaptive software into the classroom to help improve individual student performance throughout the school year. It allows teachers to give each student individualized instruction that shores up the student’s academic weaknesses and utilizes the student’s academic strengths.
Rocketship Education (RSED) was founded by Preston Smith and John Danner in 2007. Smith has said about parental involvement in the teacher hiring process, “Their [families’] input matters. I can’t recall a time where the parents and I or the school leaders were in disagreement.”