Preston Smith Picked Up Valuable Info from Rocketship Education’s Initial Ten Years

Rocketship Education is a chain of public charter schools located across the United States, ranging from the San Francisco Bay Area to Washington DC. Preston Smith, an educator with formal experience in primary schools in his birthplace and hometown of San Jose, and John Danner, a genius and innovator in technology, created Rocketship Education in 2007 in Redwood City, California, located on the northern portion of the Bay Area.

Considering Preston Smith had taught only at low-income schools in San Jose, he had firsthand exposure to the overarching poor quality of education they offered, unable to staff top-notch lineups of teachers and administrators, invest in technology, or otherwise boost the amount of knowledge K-5 kids took in. This combination of factors led Smith to create Rocketship Education; to this very day, RSED’s 18 facilities are located entirely in low-income areas, and actually score higher on standardized tests than most of their nearby private counterparts.

In attaining this remarkable goal, Smith learned these lessons along the way:

As teachers are the ones who create individualized lesson plans, they should visit the homes of students to better understand what their interests are and what they deal with at home.

Parents, educators, and investors should demand top-notch schools more frequently. Without demand, there’s a significantly lower chance of quality schools popping up. Specifically, they should lobby for 6-12 schools, as Rocketship Education has its students thoroughly covered for K-5.

Teachers’ backgrounds and demographics need to match those of students, rather than selecting students who meet the characteristics of existing teachers.

Parents are deeply involved in interviews, with panels between three and six parents in size combined with one administrator. Parents know exactly what kids want, so why not tap their potential?

If parents or sponsors don’t like schools they’re involved with, they should take action in pulling kids out of school or drawing back their donations, rather than simply voicing their concerns.

Students with disabilities should be left in general classrooms for most of their time at school. This is in staunch opposition to leaving those students in segregated, special ed classrooms without exposure to other classmates not sharing their same disabilities.