The New York Twenty: Real Charter Champions profiles the everyday people who are the champions to their children: parents and grandparents who make the critical choice to send their kids to charter schools. Over the next several weeks we will be sharing the real stories of charter parents around New York State. Today get to know Albany charter parent Andre Goodbee.
“They are doing something different and they are holding our kids to higher standards. Charter schools get a bad rap, but we have had a great experience.”
Albany dad Andre Goodbee recognized that the consistently poor performing schools in his city were not going to provide his son Jayden with a great education. He wanted something better for him - a school where he knew his son would thrive and grow. Goodbee has found just that in Henry Johnson Charter School.
Goodbee is no stranger to charters. His son Ty-Jéan graduated from Green Tech Charter High School, also in Albany – an experience he speaks of highly. Goodbee also saw the success of Albany Community Charter School, a nationally recognized Blue Ribbon ribbon school, and that helped him “put faith in charter schools”, as he puts it.
He liked the structure of a charter and the attention teachers provided the students, so he enrolled Jayden in kindergarten at Henry Johnson. Jayden is now in third grade and loving the school. And Goodbee is more than satisfied as well.
“I saw that charters offered a little bit more. Their standards are different than the district schools. There’s such a focus on academics and they give the kids more of a push to succeed,” Goodbee says.
In fact, many charters talk about their students’ future, even at a very young age. The intention is to help kids visualize themselves attending college or university after high school and laying the foundation for a successful life.
Goodbee was drawn to charters because of things like this that differ from many traditional district schools. Everything from healthier food choices, to uniforms, to helping get the kids more involved in their communities – that is the type of environment Goodbee wanted his son to be a part of.
Goodbee says, “Those things are very important for the kids. It is the type of variety they wouldn’t get in another school. There’s this huge change in culture that gives me hope that this is a better school for my son and other kids as well.”
The culture of Henry Johnson has been a positive influence on Jayden. Things like having more African American males working at the school to be role models for kids like Jayden and always referring to the students as “scholars” has helped build a culture Goodbee is happy to be invested in.
Academic performance is also important to Goodbee, and things have been great at Henry Johnson, where their students are outperforming the Albany district by double digits on the state ELA and math exams.
But as much as Goodbee loves the school, Henry Johnson only goes to fourth grade. Goodbee and his wife have time to figure out what they will do for Jayden’s middle school, but with only one charter middle school in Albany options are limited.
“I’m very big on consistency. I wish this school went to higher grades because I’d like him to stay in the same program all the way through, but I’m not sure what we will do.”
But until then, they are loving the community and experience at Henry Johnson.
In a community that badly needs more quality options, Andre Goodbee has found a great school for his son. A school that he knows will prepare him for the future and give him a world class education. That makes Goodbee a real charter school champion.