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At Charter School Network Rocketship, Parents Help Hire Teachers

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By Sarah Tully. This story originally appeared on the K-12 Parents and the Public blog.

Most parents don't know who will teach their children until a few days before the school year starts. At Rocketship Education charter schools, parents get to help choose which teachers will be hired months before classes begin.

The Washington Post, in an article by Perry Stein, recently explained how parents are participating in job interviews for teachers at the charter school chain's first Washington, D.C., school, which is opening this fall.

This is nothing new for Rocketship, which runs 13 schools.

Preston Smith, the chief executive officer and co-founder of Rocketship, told Education Week that parent participation has always been a foundation of the chain, which started in 2007 in San Jose, Calif. Rocketship mostly has received national attention for its personalized and blended-learning style, but the schools also have made parental involvement a core of their program.

At each campus, parents join job interviews in some fashion, Smith said. Sometimes, three to six families will undergo training to do panel interviews. Other times, schools will hold community meetings so parents can meet job finalists.

"Their input matters," Smith said. "I can't recall a time where the parents and I or the school leaders were in disagreement."

Sometimes, the candidates figure out the job is not the right fit for them. At one meeting, one candidate got up during a discussion with parents. When Smith saw her leaving, he asked the candidate where she was going.

"She said, 'I'm not ready for this level of intensity with parents.' I shook her hand and she walked out,'" Smith said. "She made the right decision."

At the District of Columbia school, parents told The Post that they appreciated getting to know the candidates.

"It's a good idea to see and get a feel of who your child is going to be working with and what kind of personality they have," Jermaine Carter, a parent who participated in job interviews, told the Post.

While this kind of parent involvement is rare, it has been done before. For example, the Los Angeles Unified School District had parents and teachers participate in job interviews of principals and staff members in the 1990s.

What do you think about the idea of parents interviewing teachers for jobs? Would this help build relationships with parents? Or is the job best left to school administrators?

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