The founders and educators at Rocketship Education have spent the last decade or more seeking to develop their educational system as one of the beacons in the U.S. sector. An apparent attack from the NPR Website sent shockwaves through the Rocketship Education community and led to the school fighting back against what it sees as an unfair article about its everyday practices. Since opening its doors in 2006 with a single class in a Church Hall, Rocketship Education has expanded out of its home city of San Jose to have a presence in 12 other locations. The focus for Rocketship Education has always been on providing an excellent educational opportunity for children from low-income families, a fact often ignored by journalists looking for the latest sensational charter schools story.
Rocketship Education CEO, Preston Smith took the unusual step of responding to the NPR article in person and was joined by many journalists and education experts in criticizing the content of the NPR article. One of the main complaints of the Rocketship Education community revolved around the terminology used by blogger Anya Kamenetz who consistently referred to the educational non-profit as a company. For Preston Smith, the term refers to profit-making enterprises who are looking out for their own interests and are not working for the good of the community. A number of options were offered by Smith which could have been used by the writer instead of “company”, including terms organization, non-profit, and education institution.
The question Preston Smith has for both his critics and supporters is why NPR would print an article focusing on the negative aspects of charter schools. Smith believes a simple look at the financial backers of Public Radio and TV could hold a clue to the answer. One of the major funding sources for NPR is The Gates Foundation, which also supports its own K-12 charter school system and is often seen as driving the educational conversation for the NPR audience.