Thursday, January 19, 2012

Brooke Charter School

Travelled down to Brooke Charter School in downtown Boston today. One of my motivations was to reconnect with a great school institution. To see for real that achievement is possible. To dream that it can be replicated in India as well. Laurence Woo, the Director for External Affairs, was courteous enough to do a tour of the school and answer all our questions meticulously. In many ways, it did not surprise me that having 98% kids from minority backgrounds and 78% kids who qualify for free lunches, the school has managed to get an almost near perfect 100% proficiency on the Massachusetts State Exam in English and Maths.

It has all the DNA of well run charter schools I had visited before like KIPP, North star, Leadership Academy. A visionary principal, dedicated and highly driven teachers with autonomy, continuous and collaborative learning structures, core values underpinning the culture of the school and an air of achievement. Having been a teacher, it is almost a trait you pick up. You know within 5 minutes of being in a school, if it exudes a culture of achievement. Take a look on the faces of the kids, the urgency on every school teacher and official and the strength of the words the walls convey. All i needed was less than that. What followed was an exhibition of many people who woke up and did what they loved for a living performed at their work.

The fundamentals are not difficult to recreate in India if we can figure the financial aspect of supporting schools and our methods of enforcing accountability. Autonomy without accountability invariably leads to creative corruption in India. Accountability without freedom leads to stifled creativity. A great note to end is the core values of Brooke.

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