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Sunday, June 8, 2008

Early Light Academy at Daybreak

I do not currently have children in my home and therefore have not been aware of the many education related issues that have surfaced recently. I know about the Jordan School District and its problems and I voted last November on the issue of vouchers, but I did not know of the local concerns of parents in Daybreak. However, my interest in the subject has increased since I saw a post in the discussion forums of the Daybreak Daily about the Early Light Academy. I decided I would try and find out as much as I could about the proposed charter school. I found the school’s website at and found the decisions made about the school in the meeting minutes of the state board of education. I found that charter schools all have an initial charter document that explains almost every detail of the school and its purpose. A friend of mine was able to get an electronic copy of the charter and I scanned through the 140 pages of detailed information.

The Early Light Academy (ELA) is a proposed K through 9 school that will most likely be built here in Daybreak. The founding board of the school is working with Kennecott Land to select a suitable location. Right now there are two proposed locations: one just West of the Row Homes on the Western edge of village 1, the other is in the Northwest corner of what will be village 3. As Kennecott has donated generous portions of land to the two other public schools in Daybreak, I do not see why they would not do the same for this academy. The school will be fairly small compared to Daybreak Elementary as it is being built for a capacity of 750 students. The physical size is also smaller as Daybreak Elementary is 116,700 square feet (including the DCC) and ELA is a mere 57,400 square feet.

Besides physical characteristics and student population, how will this school be different from regular public schools in the Jordan School District? The main difference will be the governance of the school. ELA will be run by a parent board instead of a school district. As the board has more discretion of what is emphasized in their curriculum, the school will be different academically as well. ELA has decided that the emphasis should be in history, “The Early Light Academy offers a high-quality education by combining a linear, content-rich curriculum emphasizing history utilizing effective instructional techniques, taking our students from the Stone Age to the Space Age, the Information Age and beyond. With an emphasis in history, students are better able to tie in the lessons from the past with the present reality of the world around them, and are empowered to see how their actions today will impact the future.” Although ELA may have a different emphasis in their curriculum they are subject to the same standardized tests that our public schools are and thus the same accountability. This guarantees that faculty will still teach those concepts and facts directly related to the standardized tests. ELA will actually be buying their curriculum from a company called K12. This may be good or bad. I am not a curriculum expert so I really cannot criticize this aspect of ELA’s program.

As for logistics, ELA has proposed that they have a maximum of 25 students per class. This fact alone is why I like the idea of this charter school. Having a better student teacher ratio in classes will improve education outcomes. However, this is only 2 students under the currently reported student teacher ratio at Daybreak Elementary. A large amount of research concurs that more parental involvement in their child’s education will deliver better education outcomes. This was the main reason the school is being founded. A group of parents called Daybreak Parents for Academics originally conceived of the idea of ELA. In fact, the school will require the parents of students to volunteer for 35 hours per year. This requirement, in my opinion, will actually weed out some of those parents who are complacent about their child’s education. This will in turn deliver students to the school whose parents are committed to their education making a better environment in which to learn. Another aspect of the school that I personally like is the fact that they will have a strict dress code. Some people feel that this limits expression, but I think it just eliminates distraction and competition. This also makes distinguishing rich kids from poor kids more difficult. As mentioned previously I am not an education expert. These are my thoughts and opinions only. Feedback is welcome.


Elly said...

I think it sounds fantastic. Here are my biggest concerns:
1. Mixing elementary and middle schools? It sounds like an opportunity for kindergarteners to be introduced to the problems of 9th graders: kids making out in the halls, drugs, smoking, etc.
2. Admittance. With only 750 students in 10 grades--and how many homes in Daybreak, 2200 now?--getting in will be a miracle.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for doing the research on this topic! Very informative.

Anonymous said...

Charter schools are not a wise choice. Most of the schools fail after their 3 year start up money. Be sure to check if the teachers have current Utah licenses. Charter schools are not required to hire teachers with college degrees. Do you want your child taught by a person that is not trained correctly? Keep your kids at Daybreak Elementary, they have wonderful teachers.

Anonymous said...

Public schools fail day one with piss poor teachers. Getting a peice of paper means very little. I am sure the liked of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs worry you as well seeing they did not have paper. Until public schools get unions out they will continue to fail America.

Anonymous said...

All teachers must have a current UT teaching license and are "highly qualified" under NCLB. Check out the website and the FAQ and it states the same thing. They already have the teachers posted in the "Faculty" section, with bios. Most have at least 5+ years of diverse classroom experience and either have an MED or are currently working on it.

Anonymous said...

Public schools are not for every child. Charter schools are not for every child. There are great teachers and opportunities in both. Don't listen to anyone who says that one is wrong and the other is right. I have four children, three of whom socially and academically thrive in public school. I have one son who I know will not find that same success in a public school setting so I'm placing him in a charter school. What is most important is to know what your child's needs are and keep an open mind to the options available in education. I'm just thankful there are more options out there. If there is still nothing good enough out there for your child . . . home school.

Camille said...

I got to this school and I LOVE it! I think people are having the wrong idea about charter schools! Elly, the elementary and middle school are in 2 different buildings. Middle schoolers hardly ever see the elementary. There are no drugs or smoking in the halls. There has only been One time were people were making out in the halls. It is hard to get in, but there are other charter schools in the area. charter schools are not for everyone, but I have learned so much more and have more friends than bulleys when I transfered over to a charter school from public.