Aspire Public Schools

www.aspirepublicschools.org
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Aspire Public Schools Reviews

Updated August 26, 2015
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James Willcox
22 Ratings

48 Employee Reviews

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  1. Helpful (3)

    No Work-Life Balance

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Teacher in Los Angeles, CA
    Former Employee - Teacher in Los Angeles, CA
    Doesn't Recommend

    Pros

    -Helpful and collaborative co-coworkers. -Informative professional development (sometimes too much) -Opportunity to improve student academic performance

    Cons

    -Long hours (12 hours + per day) -100% teach to the test -Time after school and weekends mostly devoted to lesson planning -Create all curriculum from scratch (good at times, but unnecessary) -Low pay

    Advice to Management

    Less hours for teachers. Trust teachers more. Increase pay. Allow for more flexibility in teaching style and student assessment.


  2. Absolutely no work-personal life balance!

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Elementary Teacher in Los Angeles, CA
    Current Employee - Elementary Teacher in Los Angeles, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook

    I have been working at Aspire Public Schools full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    They care about helping kids achieve and get to college. They have professional development (although way too much) to help teachers get better.

    Cons

    There is no balance between work and personal life. My nights and weekends are spent lesson planning. Everything (and I mean everything) must be made from scratch. There are no textbooks or resources to use to create lessons, worksheets, or workstations. There is constant testing (a different test every week) that feels like it never ends. The school I am at has lacked an effective principal and school-wide behavioral system, and as a result kids are extremely disrespectful and defiant toward many of the teachers. Aspire offers a "teacher resource portal" online to "help" with lesson plan ideas, however there is almost nothing in it and I don't know any teachers who use it. Low salary.

    Advice to Management

    Give your teachers more practical resources to help planning, stop having so many PDs during the week, and pay teachers what they're worth (70+ hr workweeks)!


  3. Helpful (3)

    Charter charter schools have lost their original intent!

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Spanish Teacher in Oakland, CA
    Former Employee - Spanish Teacher in Oakland, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Aspire Public Schools full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    The Mission statement is amazing! Great culture, lots of staff development. The teachers are committed to their task of educating children!

    Cons

    The more things change, the more they stay the same. Charter schools were started in order to give local students, parents ,teachers, and administrators freedom to implement programs that work. Aspire is run like a corporation at centralized offices. The local freedom is gone. New ideas are welcome as long as the are consistent with Aspire philosophy. APS serves mostly students of color yet it has no English Development program and no language maintenance program like Spanish for Spanish speakers. Does this make sense in a school that has over 60% Latinos and 24% English learners? Language minority students unique academic needs are not met, fluent Spanish speakers are routinely placed in monolingual Spanish classes where they are bored and learn nothing. The education at APS is subtractive: It does nothing to use the resources that Latino students and their parents bring to school, it does not validate their language, history of culture! In the school I worked at we could not get 5 kids in order to field a boys basketball team! It is hard to field any team at some of the schools due to massive failure! Aspire Pubic Schools began with some change, but quickly turned into its own brand of district/corporation which abandoned the principles of local control and independence for students, parents, teachers and administrators- to say nothing about the 60-70 hours teachers at APS are required to put in every week.

    Advice to Management

    Pay teachers more and you will retain more of them. Upgrade facilities. Hire teachers and administers who look like the kids. The entire administration needs to learn cultural proficiency, implement English Learner's Programs and Spanish for Native Speakers programs.You need to buy enough materials. You need to offer culturally relevant courses like history, English and music programs which will validate the history, language and culture of your stakeholders. Contact me if you want real change, innovation and cultural relevance!


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  5. Helpful (1)

    Not So Good

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Teacher in Los Angeles, CA
    Current Employee - Teacher in Los Angeles, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Aspire Public Schools full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    You can teach kids Thats cool

    Cons

    No union. Lousy Pay. More interested in ed reform than protecting teachers.

    Advice to Management

    Get a life.


  6. Helpful (5)

    Over worked, under supported and sad

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - SPED in Oakland, CA
    Current Employee - SPED in Oakland, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Aspire Public Schools full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Aspire's mission" college for certain" does a better job and Oakland Unified. Their mission should be "college for certain or we won't give you a diploma."

    Cons

    Despite all of the PD you must attend there is little to no professional growth. Managers are often unable to provide supervision or guidance. The special education department pushes for full inclusion in general education classrooms but really underserves students with special needs. Aspire refuses to look at alternative more restrictive settings for students even if the parent/student ask for it. The organization talks about solutions but when it comes to an action plan they are unable to organize helpful systems. There is not enough behavioral support for students that need it. As a result the students that try to learn are constantly disrupted and unable to learn effectively. Students are taught to take tests not grow into productive members of society.

    Advice to Management

    STOP TALKING ABOUT CHANGE AND DO SOMETHING!


  7. Helpful (3)

    misleading

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Education Specialist in Stockton, CA
    Current Employee - Education Specialist in Stockton, CA
    Doesn't Recommend

    Pros

    They are interested in determining best practice in general education, general education very defined for those who work for Aspire, great benefits, kids are motivatied to learn, access to adequate materials, teacher training, grade level support for general education

    Cons

    You are part of a system not an individual with strengths and weaknesses to be developed, low tolerance for failure to comply to the way Aspire wants things run. Main focus is high scores on state testing above individual students needs, lack of training and understanding of students with disabilities on the part of the system, not family friendly

    Advice to Management

    consider looking at developing a balance approach to education that includes history science which will be subject areas for the students to apply and master what they have learned in reading, language arts, math. It will show they have generalized what they have learned to all areas of academia, not just a bubble on a worksheet at 80%. Consider that most of your staffs are made up of women who have many responsiblities in their lives besides work and be a team member with them so they can be successful in life. Understand that people are individuals with life experiences, gifts, and talents that when recognized and developed it is a win win for everyone.


  8. Helpful (1)

    Mostly great people. Sink or swim environment.

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Oakland, CA
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Oakland, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Aspire Public Schools full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    All of the people are really nice. Lots of opportunities to volunteer at the schools and see the students, which makes it a lot easier to appreciate the work done at the Home Office.

    Cons

    Most managers are too busy to support and train their staff. No opportunities to learn or grow.

    Advice to Management

    Invest more in Home Office staff to reduce the turnover and make people happier.


  9. Helpful (4)

    Totally unsustainable lifestyle.

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Elementary Teacher in Huntington Park, Los Angeles, CA
    Former Employee - Elementary Teacher in Huntington Park, Los Angeles, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Aspire Public Schools full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    From what I saw, the teachers and administrators at Aspire are truly dedicated to what they do. They are passionate about giving children the best, and success is celebrated across the board. The environment was pretty supportive for the most part. So, at the school level, you have passionate and talented people, young and hungry for that changing-the-world feeling. Keep doing what you do - and teachers, please fight for what you need in order to stay. Remember that you are this organization's greatest asset.

    Cons

    First problem: Curriculum and inability to use the curriculum. I was given curriculum and math books, but a few were missing. My teaching partner let me know that although I had been given this curriculum, it was not recommended that I use it very much. I found out very quickly that since the goal is of course a high score on the end-of-year exams, the status quo is that most teachers are creating their materials from scratch and tying it exactly to the test questions (my opinion on this method of teaching is irrelevant - I will do it if it is asked of me, but I wish there was a better curriculum to follow to accomplish this). Presentations, assessments, worksheets. You name it, I essentially had to create it or find it myself. The resources I could find online did not go well with the content standards. So, essentially I was teaching all day, going home and planning and creating materials, even setting an alarm sometimes for the middle of the night to get up and work. Regardless of how much I care about these students' success (and I care a lot,) do you think I can have my own kids someday and live that lifestyle? I stopped eating. I stopped sleeping enough. My hair was falling out. And worse, I had to go to therapy. I'm a hard worker and willing to put in more than 40 hours a week. But this was just insane. Second problem: Workshops. I was told by a few teachers that I could basically implement any games or activities I wanted into workshop time, which was great because I was able to borrow some games from another grade level - only to be told by my coach that I was NOT allowed to do this. There is a lot of confusion from teachers, to administrators, to coaches - it's like a game of telephone. This needs to be streamlined so that everyone is on the same page. Third problem: Student behavior. I realize I am in an urban area in Southern California, and I am going to experience some behavior issues with students. However, other schools have systems in place to create a good classroom culture from Day 1. I think that one reason Aspire has such a problem with this is the sudden high influx of new students in 4th grade - these kids have been in other problem-behavior type schools and are now coming to Aspire, and they have not been conditioned to behave the way that Aspire expects them to in order to do the types of lessons Aspire has us do. But also - the year that I started at my school was the first year ever that there had been a school-wide behavior plan. In my opinion, this is something that should have been implemented a long time before I got there. I have taught at public schools and was very able to control behavior with my other students under a variety of circumstances and with a variety of difficulties at home.

    Advice to Management

    You need to make things more manageable for teachers in order to decrease the turnover. You are only as strong as your talented teachers and hardworking administrators. You need stronger curriculum that they can use so that they aren't creating their own materials from scratch, and I would highly suggest an Aspire-wide behavior and classroom management plan to get students on the right track from Day 1 and establish an Aspire culture.


  10. Helpful (2)

    More stress than an air traffic controller at 1/10 the pay.

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - High School Language Arts Teacher in San Francisco, CA
    Former Employee - High School Language Arts Teacher in San Francisco, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Aspire Public Schools full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    You work with smart, young people who are committed to improving education and genuinely care about what they do.

    Cons

    Aspire exploits the hell out of this "desire to do good" and works their teachers harder than Foxconn in China. Students are generally unappreciative, verbally abusive of staff members.

    Advice to Management

    Stop talking about how sustainability and improving teacher turnover is a priority and DO something about it. At every staff meeting, sustainability was addressed as being important, although in my time as a teacher with Aspire, there wasn't a single action taken to improve the problem.


  11. Helpful (3)

    Lots of work, little pay

    Former Employee - Teacher
    Former Employee - Teacher

    I worked at Aspire Public Schools full-time

    Pros

    Aspire is doing great things for kids.

    Cons

    The pay is horrible and you are expected you to work longer hours than they will admit. Meetings are called with little notice and often run over. Excessive trainings and observations. If the pay was better this wouldn't be as much of an issue. Not a good place to work if you have a family.



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