Is PAVE the way? That’s a question that will be increasingly asked about a relatively new charter school in Southeast Raleigh. Its student body is overwhelmingly minority students, most of them lower-income. And it provides bus service and meals, two requirements from which charters are exempted.
Charter schools have been, understandably, a touchstone for heated debate over public education. They’re publicly funded but often created by groups of parents or community leaders or even private advocates who want a school to form that will not have to follow rules of curricula and other conventional guidelines.
Debate is ongoing, with concerns about racial balance and achievement levels. But PAVE, with the support of New York-based PAVE schools, which focuses on students in need of academic help, seems to be working and in fact has successfully applied for expansion. Interestingly, the chairman of the local PAVE’s board is J.B. Buxton, a former deputy state superintendent and education adviser to former Gov. Mike Easley.
The school has promise, with positive reinforcement for students a key priority. Students salute each other in different ways when one succeeds, and university names are applied to classrooms, which have two teachers. The name stands for perseverance, achievement, vibrance and excellent character.
This school seems to return to the original objective of charters: experimentation and imagination without borders in teaching. If it succeeds in the long term, perhaps its ideas can be applied to mainstream schools. For now, though, this is a positive step.