The Washington Post’s education columnist, Jay Mathews, takes a look here at Oakland, Calif.’s American Indian Public Charter School and its controversial principal, Ben Chavis.
Controversial because of his tough-talking demeanor that one teacher likened, in this Oakland Tribune story, to that of basketball coach Bobby Knight. (That same story about Chavis was headlined, “Madman, Genius, or Both?”)
Here’s the thing about Chavis, who is Lumbee from North Carolina: He gets results. By one measure, the American Indian School’s middle school grades rank fifth among all of California’s middle schools and first in Oakland. That’s tough to ignore.
Chavis credits a method that keeps kids with the same teacher through several grades, as opposed to the standard method of having different teachers for different grades and subjects. There’s a school of thought that the best teachers are ones with expertise in their fields.
But the experience at the American Indian Charter School would seem to belie that. What do you think?
Oh, and if you want to know more, Chavis has a new book, “Crazy Like A Fox: One Principal’s Triumph in the Inner City,” written with Carey Blakely, the teacher who helped him start the school.