This school is a huge hit because it's free of charge, it's not traditional public, and has a little of a feel of private school.
Pros and Cons:
* No more foreign language!
* High faculty turn-over
* Low paid faculty
* Curriculum Lacks Math strength
* Curriculum not very strong in Language Arts (writing). - I have seen MANY of the kids' writing in 2nd and 3rd grade that I witnessed while helping in Literacy centers and it was SUB PAR - Pre school level. Parents complained about it amongst themselves.
* A lot of the kids here do not fit into traditional schools, therefore there are a lot of gaps in academic level, they mix dyslexic kids or kids with zero academic motivation with very bright kids, and the bright kids end up tutoring them and not learning more advanced work. They should help the kids who need extra help, and place the advanced ones in groups, for example.
* Hygiene has not been very good in the last 2 years - my kid got sicker here more often than in any other school he's ever been at. They said teachers didn't teach common sense hygiene like coughing into your arm, washing hands, germs, etc.
* When I volunteered and I cleaned a desk, the wipes were BLACK first thing in the morning. I hope this changes this year 2016-17, but they cleaned with plain wipes and not anti-bacterial ones. Very dirty to work on that kind of surface.
* Builds positive self-image and self-esteem in kids
* Strong support from teachers when a kid is having trouble.
* Nice staff and faculty
* No academic pressure
* Critical thinking
* Public speaking
Not strong in Math of Language Skills if your child is struggling. If your child is bright they fall behind and end up tutoring others since they are at a lower level class, while the teachers help the ones who struggle.
In Elementary, homework was not very clear to the parents or students. Even teachers didn't know how to handle the "toolkit" initially in the 2015-16 school year, but it got better by the end of the year. In Middle School, homework was a breeze for bright students and a nightmare for the rest of the kids. In Middle School maybe they should have the "advanced" class and the "normal level" class, if you will. It's part of life, because your "bright" student ends up tutoring the other kids and he/she is not challenged enough academically or intellectually. These are the words of my previous middle schooler at CRA: "Not very challenging".
My son has been going to CRA since last year (Kindergarten) and now is in First Grade. Overall, I like the school and most of the parents are involved (which is typical of a charter school which requires action and involvement to get your children put on the lottery for admittance). However, I've noticed some items that are handled more poorly than public schools and similar charters: 1) the attendance recording (tardies and absences) is manual and error-prone (VERY error-prone), 2) not a huge fan of the principal - unprofessional demeanor, his personal views have clouded many of our IEP meetings which is unacceptable, and he is always shaking oddly (not sure if this is a handicap or other?), 3) the communication between teachers and parents is less than desired - when asked, I'm routinely told that teachers can't possibly keep up with emails regarding 30-some students (however, this was never an issue in the public school for our older son).
Hopefully, with some adjustments, and next year's new campus, things will iron out.
Fantastic school and staff! My son absolutely LOVES going to school here! The project based learning environment is amazing and makes sense to fully teach our children and not just teach them to test well.
My 4th and 5th graders just started school here. We switched to CRA because our recent school experiences have been lacking. My oldest used to come home and beg me to stay home. Now both of my kids are eager to get up and go to school! They really like their teachers and have already made friends. I enjoy all of the friendly faces that I have seen on campus.
Community Roots Academy is a charter in CUSD. Charter school are funded like traditional public schools (have to take the same standardized tests too), have giant fundraisers and receive some grants from community resources because of the style of teaching they practice. There is no fee to attend however the education you get at CRA is comparable to a private school. The children experience their education, rather than memorizing or reading from books. CRA incorporates several subjects in one project combining multiple levels of learning, this is know as Project Based Learning (PBL). All of the teachers have been so caring and really focus on how they can best teach each child.
Spanish, PE, Music, Drama, Art as well as cutting edge technology are taught in each class. From Kindergarten the children begin practicing their public speaking and working in groups. They learn how to give and receive hot and cool feedback and be active learners when their peers are presenting. The scholars are given opportunities to show what they have learned in ways that best suit them, some choose to write a song about what they have learned, others do a news story, write an essay or even make up a board game. This just shows examples of how the teachers give the children the freedom to express themselves as well as share what they have learned.
Community Roots Academy has not been given a permanent location. We have been sharing a campus with another elementary school in CUSD. We have needed to share everything, staggering lunchtimes, start times, and even juggling dates more than once for a back to school night due to conflict with the MPR. Since it's first year it has been unknown from year to year where our campus will be. That is half a decade of unknown, unable to plant our roots. Many of our families drive from the farthest edges of CUSD to be at CRA, some over 30 minutes each way. Our faculty, families and students have been extremely resilient with this uncertainty however a place to call our own space is necessary. If you read information about CRA "kicking students out" of their neighborhood school, please understand we are at the mercy of CUSD as much as any of the other school.