FAQ: How is a charter school different from a regular school district?
Answer: Charter schools are independent public schools that are tuition-free and open to all students (including Special Education and ELL). Charter schools are funded primarily through a combination of federal, state and local tax dollars. While closely regulated by the local school district, charter schools are able to exercise increased autonomy, but are held strictly accountable for both academic growth and fiscal practices.
Q: What is a Green Dot start-up school?
A: Start-up schools are independent public charter schools that, essentially, Green Dot started from the ground-one grade at a time. It takes four years to have a full 9-12 high school in place, and three years for a full 6-8 middle school.
Q: What is a Green Dot turnaround/transformation school?
A: Turnaround/transformation schools are public charter schools over which Green Dot has assumed control. These schools were persistently low-performing district schools, and Green Dot has chartered them in order to dramatically improve student experiences and outcomes.
Q: Does Green Dot serve all students?
A: Green Dot schools are committed to serving all students, including those with special needs and ELL. Our educational programs are tailored to a student's individual needs, and we partner with the district to provide any additional services that may be required under a student's individualized education plan (IEP).
Q: How do you select students?
A: Green Dot schools are open to all students, space permitting. Green Dot admits students entering the sixth or ninth grades through a public random drawing. All other grade levels are accepted from each school's respective waitlist. Depending on the campus, priority in the sixth and ninth grade lotteries may be given to siblings, founding families and/or to families living within the attendance area. Turnaround schools do not have a lottery, as they are neighborhood schools and allow all students to enroll.
Q: Who decides the curriculum?
A: Green Dot teachers must teach the content developed by our Curriculum Specialists in conjunction with teacher leaders, but there is some freedom in how that content is taught. Green Dot's academic model is designed to meet individual student needs, combining a rigorous curriculum with the academic counseling and support students need to succeed.
Q: What makes teaching at Green Dot unique?
A: If your mission is to ensure that every student, regardless of race, income, neighborhood or special needs, receives a great education, then Green Dot is the place to achieve it. We believe in finding educators who are fiercely dedicated to this mission. We also believe in building a system of support, collaboration and professional growth opportunities, which school leaders you can respect, so you can see your efforts pay off.
Q: Does Green Dot directly hire Special Education teachers?
A: Green Dot directly hires all of our special education teachers.
Q: Does Green Dot hire teachers with Intern Credentials?
A: Yes, we do.
Q: What supports exist for first-year teachers?
A: First-year teachers receive:
- A research-based teaching framework
- New teacher training (one full week of professional development and quarterly follow up sessions)
- Twice-weekly, on-site Professional Development and collaboration time
- Core content-area coaches ("Curriculum Specialists") for first year teachers and for those teaching intervention classes
- Mentor and Buddy teachers
- Frequent observations leading up to the formal evaluation
- Goal setting and regular follow up with school-site administrative team during observation debriefs
- Green Dot offers its own Induction Program available to all first and second year teachers (with a Preliminary Credential) needing to work on their Clear Credential
Q: What professional development is available to all Green Dot teachers?
A: Green Dot believes in coaching, collaboration and career ladder opportunities. We are one of only a few charter management organizations nationwide, funded by the Gates Foundation, to build a data-driven, job-embedded, individualized system to accelerate teacher growth. This system includes:
- School leaders who spend the majority of their time on instruction, observation and coaching
- Content-area coaches ("Curriculum Specialists")
- Demonstration classroom teachers and Mentor teachers
- Individual qualitative and quantitative online data for each teacher to customize their professional learning
- A research-based framework for effective teaching
Collaboration opportunities include:
- Twice-weekly time at the school site (for on-site PD, department time, grade level time)
- Off-site PD hosted by members of Green Dot's Educational Team
- All Green Dot Days (content-area collaboration across all school sites)
Growth and Leadership opportunities include:
- Teacher Leaders: department heads, grade level leads, instructional leadership teams, testing coordinator, mentor teachers, demo classroom teachers, teacher effectiveness liaisons, professional development facilitators, focus group participants, etc.
- Outside of the classroom: Administrators-in-Residence, Dean/Assistant Principal/Principal positions, Curriculum Specialist (content coaches) positions, Teacher Effectiveness positions
Q: What type of classroom management is encouraged?
A. Green Dot generally uses both the CHAMPS classroom management system, as well as techniques from Doug Lemov's "Teach Like a Champion."
Q: Does Green Dot offer Art, PE, Drama, and/or Music classes?
A: All GreenDot schools require students to take one year of PE class. Green Dot California high schools offer art classes as this is an A-G requirement. All our Tennessee schools and select sites in California offer drama and music classes as electives. In addition, art, drama and music (among others) are also usually offered as part of our After-School programs.
Q: Do Green Dot's teachers have a union?
A: Yes, Green Dot is one of few non-district public school operators in California that has unionized teachers and counselors, and a (separately) unionized classified staff. Green Dot's California teachers and counselors have organized as the Asociacón de Maestros Unidos (AMU), a CTA/NEA affiliate. Key reforms embodied in the AMU contract include:
- Teachers have explicit say in school policy and curriculum
- No tenure or seniority preference
- A professional work day rather than defined minutes
- Flexibility to adjust the contract in critical areas over time
Q: What AP classes are available at the high school level?
A: These choices are specific to our individual school sites, but can include ELA, Physics, Chemistry, Spanish, Biology, History and/or Government.
Q: How many different preps do teachers have on average-overall and each day?
A: On average teachers have 2 preps in addition to an advisory class.
Q: What types of technology are available in Green Dot classrooms?
A: All teachers are assigned a laptop and a projector. School sites have computer labs and/or computer carts for student use. Additionally, some classrooms are equipped with a document camera and smart boards.
Q: Does Green Dot utilize Instructional Aides?
A: Yes, primarily Special Education Aides (or Paraprofessionals as they are also called). We also have a few Bilingual (Spanish/English) Aides.
Q: What is your parent involvement like?
A: Upon enrolling a child in a Green Dot school, Green Dot encourages all parents to dedicate 35 hours of service to their child's school per year, support Green Dot in achieving a 95% or greater student attendance rate, and stay actively involved in their children's education at home-including creating a quiet study environment and participating in school meetings and events.
Q: The names of your California Schools begin with Ánimo - what does that mean?
A: 'Ánimo' is a Spanish word that means "vigor, mind, spirit, valor and the courage to overcome odds." In a broken education system where outcomes are most unequal for low-income and minority youth, Green Dot is founded on the premise that tomorrow's youth must possess 'Ánimo,' and we are willing to do what it takes to ensure all students are prepared for college, leadership and life.