Amid accelerating changes in the landscape of public-education in New Orleans, the board of the International School of Louisiana spent Saturday morning discussing a long-term possibility of expanding into a small network of charter schools united in a focus on “immersion” as an educational concept, though not necessarily only in foreign languages.
In an effort to accommodate the trend toward full, open admissions for charter schools, the board hopes to quickly begin building several pre-kindergarten programs that would encourage children’s language development earlier, preparing them for the school’s current full-immersion foreign-language curriculum. At some point, perhaps through the absorbing some of the city’s currently failing schools, the International School contemplates branching out into immersion programs in other subjects, such as the arts or math and science.
The long-range goal, ISL board members and administrators said, is to create a broad-enough elementary student population to create a new high school that may have both a full language-immersion track and another track that accepts students whose training in foreign language has not been as rigorous.
“We need to have a high school that’s coming into play,” said ISL head of school Sean Wilson. “Otherwise, all we’re doing is making — though a significant impact on students we touch — a small social impact that does not improve the quality of education in New Orleans.”
Saturday’s discussion at ISL may reflect an emerging movement among schools around New Orleans with charters from the state to consolidate into different fully-formed networks essentially in competition with traditional public-school systems. Both Firstline Schools and the KIPP system are also expanding rapidly, for example, and ISL board members suggested that a multi-campus model was likely the most sustainable future for their approach as well. Continue reading »