Rep. Patrick McHenry represents North Carolina’s 10th Congressional District. Last week, he visited two charter schools back home and blogged about his experience.
As I traveled across North Carolina’s 10th Congressional District the last two weeks, I heard from many parents concerned about our nation’s education system. It is a sad fact, but America’s schools are struggling. Washington’s top-down mandates have done more harm than good, and it is clear change is needed. Parents want to play a greater role in their child’s education by having the option to choose the school that works best for their child. While in Western NC, I visited two such public schools, Pinnacle Classical Academy and Evergreen Community Charter School, both high-performing charter schools in my district.
When you first arrive to Pinnacle, it is clear this is not your typical school. Located in a renovated health foods production facility in Shelby, NC, Pinnacle utilizes a classical learning model focused on teaching their students the skills they need to succeed in the 21st Century. I was led on a tour of the K-12 school by fifth grader Landon and sixth grader Isabella. They introduced me to much of the staff and then I addressed the 5th graders whom I had missed during their recent visit to Washington.
My visit to Evergreen was similar in some respects, but vastly different in others. Located in Asheville, Evergreen employs a holistic education focused on teaching environmental responsibility and service to community. At Evergreen, I was guided on my tour by Student Ambassadors Samantha and Molly who introduced me to fellow students and showed me around, including a visit to the outdoor classroom. Here, students receive a hands-on learning experience that challenges them to take action to resolve environmental challenges of the day instead of simply reading about them in a book.
On the face, these two schools could not seem more different but having visited each, you see many of the same principles exist at both schools. Both utilize innovative teaching methods and curriculum not seen in your average public school. They teach students the importance of community service while also challenging them, and their parents, to become involved. Having visited both it is clear more schools like Pinnacle and Evergreen are needed. Now is the time to expand access to charter schools and provide the innovation and excellence in education needed to prepare future Americans for the changing global economy.
- Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC)