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Why Charter Schools Are Essential in Rochester, NY: Fostering Collaboration for Student Success

Sebrone O. Johnson

I lead a Charter Sector Support Organization.  But I do not purport to believe that the charter system is the sole solution to the educational woes of Rochester. In fact, I do not endorse any system.  I endorse the children.  I believe that every child can be educated. Education plays a pivotal role in shaping the future of our society, and it is our responsibility to ensure that every child has access to high-quality educational opportunities. In Rochester, NY, the presence of charter schools has become increasingly important in addressing the diverse needs of our students and fostering collaboration for the betterment of all. 

Charter schools, as publicly funded institutions with increased autonomy, have the unique ability to offer innovative educational approaches that cater to the specific needs and aspirations of students. They provide an alternative to traditional schools, offering parents and students a choice in their educational journey. This freedom allows charter schools to experiment with creative teaching methods, curriculum design, and specialized programs that can better serve the unique challenges faced by students in Rochester.  One of the primary reasons charter schools are necessary in Rochester is the ability to address the achievement gap and provide targeted support to students who have historically been underserved and to teachers who require additional professional development. 

But this need not occur in yet another silo. By working collaboratively with the school district, charter schools can supplement the efforts of traditional public schools and create a comprehensive educational ecosystem that benefits all students. Collaboration between charter schools and the school district is crucial because it allows for the sharing of best practices, resources, and expertise. By working together, we can create a system that prioritizes the needs of students over administrative barriers. Charter schools can offer innovative approaches to education that can be scaled and implemented across the district, benefiting all students and improving educational outcomes. 

Furthermore, collaboration between charter schools and the school district creates healthy inspiration for both sectors to continuously improve and innovate. This mindset drives excellence and encourages the sharing of successful strategies, ultimately raising the bar for education in Rochester. By fostering a collaborative environment, we can create a collective mission focused on student success rather than competing systems. 

Contrary to popular opinion, it is essential to recognize that charter schools are not a threat to the traditional school district. Instead, they should be valuable partners in the pursuit of educational excellence. By embracing collaboration, we can leverage the strengths of both sectors and work towards a common goal: providing every single student in Rochester with an exceptional education. 

In order to foster this collaboration, it is crucial that both charter schools and the school district prioritize open communication, mutual respect, and a shared commitment to student success. By establishing regular forums for dialogue, joint professional development opportunities, and resource sharing, we can bridge the gap between the two sectors and create a unified educational community that benefits all. By working collaboratively with the school district, charter schools can contribute to a comprehensive educational ecosystem that prioritizes student success over competing systems. Let us embrace this opportunity for collaboration, innovation, and student-centered excellence as we shape the future of education in Rochester. 

The children are worth that! 

Sebrone O. Johnson is the CEO of EDceptional, Inc, a Charter Sector Support Organization, that provides core services to Rochester’s 8500 charter school students and 27 charter schools.

He serves as the senior pastor of the Greater Harvest Church and the chair of the African American Health Coalition. He is also a member of the University of Rochester Medical Center Community Advisory Council and partner to Ivolve Me, LLC, a mental health services provider.

For the last decade, Sebrone has worked as a tireless advocate for equity in education.  He has championed efforts for better educational standards, restorative practices, and Social and Emotional Learning strategies for communities.  Among the organizations he has worked with to promote better educational outcomes are the Gates Foundation, Wallace Foundation, National Urban League, Education Trust and the ESSA Leadership Learning Circle.    

Prior to returning to Rochester, Sebrone worked in Manhattan and the surrounding areas specializing in high-tech startups and other entrepreneurial endeavors.  At EDceptional, he drives the vision for true educational equity by students having great school choices.  


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Jan 15
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

I totally agree. It's about the children, which sometimes get lost in the planning and development of programs for our youth.


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