Some Time With Becky Stallcop – interview continued
Posted on this blog over the next few weeks will be a question/ answer interview with Becky Stallcop. Becky is currently the principal and superintendent at Liberty Charter School in Nampa. She is the founder of the Harbor School Method which is used in whole or in part, not only by Liberty Charter but also a host of schools in Idaho. These Harbor schools are some of the very highest academic achieving schools in the State.
Prior to her current position at Liberty Charter she served as principal at Nampa’s Lincoln, Iowa, and Central Elementary School where she improved the student’s test scores to be the best in that school district. She has also served as a second, third, fifth grade & Title I teacher.
Becky has tremendous insight as to what it takes to have a successful school. Stallcop stated, “You make kids think they can do anything and they do, It is all about effort and attitude!” The current catch phrase in the education arena today is “Putting Kids First.” Becky has been putting kids first her entire career.
Following is the second segment of that interview:
How about your academic achievement? How do Liberty students “stack up” against students in the typical, traditional public schools?
Becky: Liberty students have made AYP every year and are among the top scorers statewide on the ISATS & ACT. Our charter requires us to move our students into the top quartile of student outcomes on these measurements and we have seen that success every year.
The dropout rate in the typical traditional high school is quite high in Canyon County. How about Liberty?
Becky: Those schools that have stuck to the Harbor model are small overall (but with what has been larger-than-average class sizes). It is difficult to slip through the cracks when in a small school. If we, as taxpayers, would support building more, smaller, more utilitarian schools, rather than massively large schools with grand lobbies and auditoriums, etc., more students could feel a sense of safety and security which, again, I believe is one of the reasons why Liberty students graduate at nearly 100% rates. Also, instead of before- or after-school teacher meetings, committees, recess duties, etc., our teachers are here for our students by spending time beyond the classroom working with students who are struggling. Between having smaller school buildings and reducing activities that take teachers away from students, I believe we would see a lower dropout rate across the state.
I know that your school and most charter schools are criticized for being able to pick and choose their students and that is why charter schools typically out perform their traditional school counterparts. How do you respond to that criticism?
Becky: A random lottery decides who gets in and who does not. It is beyond our control. We would be breaking the law if we picked our own students. By having a free and reduced meal program, busing, required special education services, and letting the community know broadly about your school, everyone has the opportunity to put their child’s name on the waiting list. It’s been interesting over the years to see how many times Liberty’s incoming kindergarteners have actually tested below the nearby school districts’ kindergartners on various tests, so if we were able to pick and choose we wouldn’t have done a very good job if we were trying to select the “cream of the crop.” I don’t know why it’s so hard for people to believe that if when you have high expectations, coupled with a safe school culture, learning soars – no matter where a child is on the learning spectrum.
Your school and others get a lot of criticism about your apparent lack of low-income students and most recently an article appeared in the local newspaper stating that while the Nampa school district has about a 40% Hispanic student population, Liberty is less than 5%. How do you respond?
Becky: Liberty has 8% of its students who are Hispanic. And while the large school districts have higher overall minority demographics, they also have individual schools of similar size to Liberty, as well as Victory & Legacy Charter Schools, that are close in demographics. Ultimately, if those who criticize the lack of low-income or minority students in schools of choice, and they are truly interested in seeing all students have access to educational choice, then we should all work together to create a public school system whereby choice can occur at any level – whether it’s in choosing what traditional public school to attend or charter school to attend.
Let’s move to a larger arena and the reform efforts of the recent Idaho Legislature. Nearly everyday there are letters to the editor, or new articles about these reform measurers. You have been involved with Idaho’s public k-12 education for a number of years. Were these reform measurers even necessary? Specifically, let’s address some of the components:
- The most recent target of the “naysayers” to school reform has been the 2-credit on-line requirement for high school graduation. Do you support that requirement? Yes. Why or Why not?
Becky: We live in a world where online learning is everywhere. By incorporating it into our educational system at what is really a still small requirement, it prepares our students for their future workplaces, and university and trade school courses. At Liberty, we’ve already added hybrid/online courses and our teachers, parents, and students are finding it a great tool in this preparation.
Comments are always welcome.