When the Pennsylvania Department of Education approved the charter for Solomon World Civilization Cyber Charter School, it also effectively approved a new cyber/brick-and-mortar hybrid educational delivery system, one of the first in the state.
Solomon Charter, which will operate from and hold classes at 1209 Vine St., had its charter approved last month after initially being denied earlier in the year. For it to open, Solomon’s officials first had to complete its curriculum, establish an English as Second Language class, compose a concise purchasing plan, and provide complete professional education and teacher induction plans before winning approval.
The school is currently enrolling students in grades seven through 12, and will hold public information sessions at 6 p.m. every Tuesday and Wednesday in August. The so-called “bricks and clicks” nature of Solomon Charter is designed to maximize the benefits of a dynamic online educational model, coupled with the more traditional model.
Solomon Charter is listed as a tuition-free school, and is open to all grade-eligible Pennsylvania students; according to its charter application, Solomon Charter will enroll up to 400 students this year, expanding to a K-12 operation with 1,200 students by its fifth year.
“The ‘bricks’ provide face-to-face experience with peers and teachers; the ‘clicks’ provide opportunities to learn from mentors around the world, friends and educators in many lands and languages, and at a level targeted to each student’s strengths and needs,” said Solomon Charter Chief Academic Officer Dr. Saundra Sterling Epstein. “The ‘clicks’ allow for individualized learning paces, while holding traditional classroom-based instruction allows us to become a community of diversity.”
While Solomon Charter cleared one hurdle in getting approved by the PDE, it’s next hurdle – convincing parents to enroll their children in a school that has a new way of teaching – may be more daunting.
Solomon will base most of its teaching foundation on ancient Eurasian civilizations – including language, science, reasoning, and a hint of theology – and parents may find Solomon’s offerings too controversial. However, instead of its curriculum being seen as controversial, Solomon’s founder believes its educational paradigm will succeed because it is offering precisely what the bulk of other schools don’t.
“Many of the ideas that inspired who we are today as Americans and citizens of the world come from Asia,” said Stephen Crane, Founder and Chairman of Solomon Charter School. “We will emphasize the study of language, including analyzing original documents in Mandarin and Hebrew and of foundational linguistic, cultural and historical principles of Asia. This area is increasingly becoming more critically important in our globalized economy, and we will add more Asian languages as the school grows.”
One person hoping for Solomon’s success is PDE Secretary Ron Tomalis, who recently extolled the virtues of charter schools and school choice, as he approved not only Solomon, but the charters of ACT Cyber Charter School, Education Plus Academy Charter School and Esperenza Charter School.
“Charter schools, both brick-and-mortar and cyber, provide families with a viable alternative to traditional public schools,” Tomalis said, after the charter approvals were announced. “Parents may choose to enroll their child in a charter school for a variety of reasons. Regardless of socioeconomic status or geographic location, all students deserve an environment that is conducive for their academic growth.
“Charter schools fulfill this role for more than 105,000 students across the state.”