By Charles H. Winfrey
I’m perplexed. As a board member at Northridge Charter Academy, I am confused as to why every parent in the city of Flint isn’t knocking down our doors to enroll their children. So I feel compelled to offer this.
More often than not, parents of African American children base their decision on the school in which to enroll their children on reasons other than academic. A few of the more prominent are: “my child didn’t like that school,” or “I don’t like that location,” or “that school looked better,” or “my son wants to play sports, and they don’t have any,” or “I don’t like their uniform.” They resort to these reasons because information on academic achievement is not readily apparent and requires more in-depth research than most parents are willing to undertake.
So I would argue the primary reason is that we fall for the hype, much like we do in choosing where to spend our hard earned dollars. The brand with the most creative or eye-catching commercial gets the prize. With competition for students so fierce in this area, every public school academy and every public school district are painting glowing pictures of their individual schools.
This is where our parents need to be exceedingly careful. DON’T FALL FOR THE HYPE. Most of these schools will brag about everything but academic achievement. They will sell how pretty their campus is, how loving and caring their staff might be, how exotic their curriculum is, how far away from the inner city they may be located, and even that they give “individualized” instruction, but they will NEVER brag about their academic standing. True, there are other variables to consider, but academic achievement should be the single most important thing parents look at in deciding where to send their children.
Truth is, most schools in Genesee County, charter and traditional alike, with the exception of a few suburban school districts, are failing academically. Within the city limits of Flint, that statement is especially true. Truth is, there is one public school academy within the City of Flint that outshines every other school, according to 2014 published reports of the Michigan Department of Education (MDE), Northridge Academy.
The State Department of Education produces an accountability scorecard on every school in the State of Michigan, referred to as its “Top-to-Bottom Rankings”. In compiling this report, the State takes into consideration such factors as scores on achievement, improvement, and achievement gaps between the highest and lowest scoring 30 percent of students in each school.
Northridge Charter Academy, located in the heart of Flint’s inner city at 530 W. Pierson Road, is ranked number 53 on the State’s “Top-to-Bottom Rankings”. The second highest ranking among schools within the city of Flint is International Academy at number 44.
Northridge Academy also received a “Yellow” ranking on the State’s color-coded system of school ratings, with “Green” and “Lime” as the only two colors higher on the scale. Northridge was also honored as a “Rewards” School by the MDE for the second year in a row for being among the highest achieving and highest progressing schools in the state.
According to school leader, Mrs. Latricia Brown-Coates, “our motto is: ‘Committed to Excellence, No Excuses;’ we work hard on a daily basis to live up to that motto.” With its method of data-driven instruction, staff is able to pinpoint academic deficiencies in each student. They can then, in turn, focus on alleviating those deficiencies through extra work and extra tutoring. The academy also encourages each student to take ownership of his or her own learning experience which creates increased attention and retention.
In addition, stated Mrs. Brown-Coates, Northridge Academy is committed to developing world class, well-rounded citizens. In that regard, the school offers enriching after-school programs, athletics, character education and in-school performing arts classes that lead to on-stage performances. Other features include all-day kindergarten, Spanish, a state-of-the-art computer lab, and free transportation, nestled in on an aesthetically appealing, safe, and secure environment.
My colleagues on the Northridge Academy board of directors include Dr. James O. Shelley, President; Dr. Cecilia Miller-Sims, Treasurer; Diona McLaughlin, Secretary; Authur Evans, Rose Murphy, and yours truly, Vice President. (There is currently a vacancy on the board, those interested in serving may submit a resume’ to Dr. James O. Shelley, Northridge Charter Academy, 530 W. Pierson Road, Flint, MI 48505.) Northridge is operated by The Leona Group and chartered by Ferris State University.
Northridge Academy continues to accept registrations for enrollment. Call (810) 785-8811.