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A Unique Model: A Charter School for Adult Immigrant Education September 24, 2015

Posted by latinoschoolleaders in Uncategorized.
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By Ryan Monroe, Chief Academic Officer, Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School

We love our amazing and unique school. It’s the kind of place where on a cool spring morning you might see a Nigerian woman in traditional garb dancing to a Mariachi band with the Prince of Wales.

Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School is unique in other ways, too. It’s the nation’s first charter school for adults and has served over 60,000 adult immigrants in its nearly 45 years of service, 18 of which has been as an adult education charter. We currently have 2,200 students on two campuses. Learners come from 80 different countries and speak 30 different languages. 70% come from Latin America. They learn English, gain basic literacy skills, receive job training, earn GEDs, and become United States citizens. Our students access support services to get help to remove whatever obstacles stand in the way of their dreams.

When it converted to a charter school in 1998, after Congress passed the School Reform Act in 1996, the Carlos Rosario School became the first adult education charter in the nation. Since then, eight other adult charter schools have been approved by the Public Charter School Board of the District of Columbia, and funded through local monies by the DC City Council. This vote of confidence in adult charters is a development that should make other localities sit up and take notice.

Why invest in adult basic education through the charter movement?

  • The Survey of Adult Skills known as PIAAC notes the association of low literacy with poor health as well as other negative social and employment outcomes. The report recommends taking action to improve the skills of low-literacy individuals, particularly Black and Hispanic adults.
  • Researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health concluded that programs to boost the academic achievement of children from low-income neighborhoods might be more successful if they also provided adult literacy education to parents. The researchers based this conclusion on their finding that a mother’s reading skill is the greatest determinant of her children’s future academic success.
  • The Brookings Institute highlights the Carlos Rosario School as an innovative model for adult education and recommends consideration of charter schools as a way to fund adult education, stating, “The relative stability of charter funding allows adult education providers to build their programmatic and staff capacity to serve more students with high quality offerings in a way that is difficult to achieve with more uncertain or fluctuating revenue sources, such as grants and contracts.”

Charter schools earn autonomy in exchange for high levels of accountability. At the Carlos Rosario School we strive for excellence, and by learning and growing throughout our 18 charter years we have been able to achieve our targets. We are proud to have been found exemplary in every area: governance, finance, operation, climate, and academics. Our students achieve rigorous academic targets in English, GED, career training, job gains, persistence, and other measures at a level that earns us a Tier 1 ranking.

Beyond the numbers, we are a multilingual, international community of learners with a welcoming and inclusive climate where our students know that they will achieve their American Dream. Watch our short video to see some of our learners’ successes.

Last year Prince Charles stopped by and got to experience our amazing community. As our new school year begins, Carlos Rosario staff and faculty are anticipating more visitors—probably not royalty this year, but educators from around the country who are considering adult charters for their own districts.