There are many aspects of the charter school system that have proven difficult for members of the press to work with, but these are often the result of a misunderstanding of how charter schools work. Rocketship Education has experienced a rapid rise in the number of students passing through its doors and its growth across the U.S. to 13 different locations. Established in 2006 by former public school educators Preston Smith and John Danner, the school has become one of the most popular in the U.S. with few problems reported since its first class opened in a San Jose Church Hall more than a decade ago. The changing nature of the U.S. has resulted in San Jose changing from the gateway to the “American Dream” to the location being difficult for migrants from the south to escape.
Rocketship Education has been the subject of many articles on the Web and in print which have resulted in much success for the organization. Parents and members of the school community have often come together to battle what they see as unfair criticism from journalists and lawmakers. One article by NPR blogger Anya Kamenetz prompted a response from Rocketship Education CEO Preston Smith because of the inaccuracies he and his staff members found in the piece. In the view of Preston Smith and a number of education journalists, the 3,800 words blog failed to provide a balanced view of the work being completed by the charter school and other members of the wider education sector. In response, NPR explained the blog was written following a single interview with an unhappy parent and another with a happy Rocketship Education family.
The NPR article caused issues for many because of the use of the word company when referring to the not-for-profit group. The organization has been at the heart of the charter school movement for many years and does not profit as a traditional company would from the work being completed. One of the areas Rocketship Education is most proud of is the number of charter school activists who have been working to continue the programs established by the school to those beyond elementary school level.