Beacon Academy's success glossed over

If you were looking for mention of the Beacon Academy charter school of Plymouth, Minnesota on a recent KSTP-TV "5 Eyewitness News Investigates" segment about charter schools, and if you blinked, you may have missed it.

That's because the story focused on various charter schools that are violating Minnesota law, and on calls to overhaul those laws, so the story mentions Beacon Academy by contrast as a success story. According to the Minnesota Department of Education, their teachers are 100% licensed and 100% Highly Qualified per federal standards. They're playing by the rules, and must be doing something right, if the portable classrooms and waiting list are any indication.

Beacon Academy is a fast-growing, K-8 charter school, opened in 2004, with a current enrollment of about 400, with two sections per grade. Beacon Academy is based on the Core Knowledge Sequence and Saxon Math. Beacon's sponsor is Friends of Ascension, which sponsors over a dozen charter schools in the Twin Cities area.

Beacon provides a traditional math alternative to the integrated math delivered by local public school districts (Wayzata Central Middle School was a field test site for Connected Mathematics 2). Its Core Knowledge Sequence is a knowledge-based alternative to public school curricula that still contain remnants of the process-based, "fuzzy" Profile of Learning state standards that were repealed in 2003.

In short, Beacon strives to provide the kind of private school, classical education promoted on this blog, but at public school prices (that is, no tuition — charter schools are public schools).

Beacon Preparatory School, the grades 9-12 charter school I reported on a couple of years ago that was related to Beacon Academy, is now connected with Seven Hills Classical Academy charter school in Bloomington.

Beacon Academy's director, Jordan Ford, is a friend of mine. He has extensive experience as a public school teacher and curriculum director, and as a private school principal. Ford has the heart for kids and learning that you would want in your child's or grandchild's principal. Beacon's detailed 2007 state report card is available on the Minnesota Department of Education web site.