- The Washington Times - Monday, October 15, 2001

The school board of Frederick County, Md., will soon consider two applications for charter schools, which would create the state's first publicly funded but independently operated schools outside Baltimore.
A third application is expected from KIPP Academy, which has a school in the District, say sources familiar with the matter in the county.
Meanwhile, the Montgomery County school board is scheduled to vote Oct. 23 on an application for the Jaime Escalante Public Charter School, which has been rejected for the past two years. Schools Superintendent Jerry D. Weast has recommended the board again reject the application.
Montgomery and Frederick counties are the only school districts in the state that have voted to accept charter proposals.
Maryland is one of the 14 states that do not have laws on charter schools. Legislation for charter schools has failed in the state legislature for the past several years. Maryland has only a few experimental charters in Baltimore.
The District and Virginia have charter-school laws.
Charter-school advocates in Frederick County said they aim to open new schools by next year because the school board has been supportive.
The board voted unanimously to adopt a charter-school policy last year, said Leslie Mansfield, a county parent and an applicant for one of the two charter schools. Mrs. Mansfield also heads the Center for Charter Schools in Frederick County, organized by several parents.
The group's proposed school is tentatively named Frederick United Montessori Charter School and initially will cater to students in kindergarten through fourth grade, growing to eighth grade over several years.
The Montessori program's grouping of children in a multi-age setting could benefit younger children, Mrs. Mansfield said.
"It allows older children to be role models," she said, adding that the program also helps children develop self-motivation and independence.
Some parents are supporting the school. "I would rather my children go to a school where the learning environment speaks more to a child," said Julie Tebbeuth, adding that she believes the Montessori program could sharpen her children's social skills.
The other application is for Bronson Alcott Public Charter School, which features a program geared toward individual learning styles.
"The cliche about a public school is, it is like a cookie cutter," said Michael Cain, one of the applicants for the school and a veteran educator in the county. "Each school is designed to instruct the majority of children and works well for 60 percent of the children, but it leaves about 40 percent out."
Through their school, he said, they could demonstrate that alternative techniques of teaching could be used successfully. "We would also like to watch them spread to public schools," Mr. Cain said.
Both schools say they will keep class sizes low about 15 students for each teacher and will develop unique curricula and programs for teacher development.
Proposals for both schools are being written and will go before the school board by the end of this month or the beginning of next month.


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