Several years ago, Matthew Rainey dropped out of high school. In doing so, Matthew became one of the many casualties of Chicago Public Schools, or CPS – a system in which four out of 10 kids never graduate.
But Matthew longed for a second chance. He received that chance after hearing an ad for a free market-based charter school called Youth Connection Charter School Virtual High School, or YCCS, powered by K12.
YCCS is one of Chicago’s oldest charter schools, operating 22 campuses across the city, and is the only charter school authorized by CPS to serve high-risk and at-risk students.
YCCS, one of the 22 campus sites, prides itself on accommodating students’ individual needs by matching their educational level upon matriculation with a uniquely tailored, innovative learning environment.
“[Students are] not just sitting passively in a classroom here,” said Tamara Carpenter, K12 vice president of school development. “They're actively engaged in moving themselves forward in their goals.”
This environment suited Matthew, who said he never quite fit the set curriculum CPS offers.
“Here you have more of a personal connection,” he said. “At CPS I felt like ID number 43618884. Here I feel like Matthew Austin Rainey.”
Matthew recently graduated from YCCS at the top of his class and was accepted to the University of Illinois, where he plans to pursue a degree in business.
And Matthew is just one success story of the free market model.
It’s time to recognize that forcing students with different skill sets, backgrounds and interests through a one-size-fits-all model isn’t working.
Matthew and the hardworking students at Chicago’s other charter schools are evidence that choice can change lives.