The direction of the U.S. education system has been argued over for decades with the charter schools network being seen as revolutionary as recently as the 1990s. The appointment of charter schools campaigner Betsy DeVos as the Secretary of Education was seen as a watershed moment in 2017, but the previous Secretary had previously worked as the Director of the Uncommon Schools network. Despite the move to legitimize the work of charter schools across the U.S., some sections of the media remain rooted in their antipathy towards the growth of the charter schools movement.
Rocketship Education CEO, Preston Smith took exception to the image portrayed by NPR of his charter schools network in a 2016 blog. Smith has been building the charter schools network since 2006 when he established Rocketship Education with fellow public schools teacher, John Danner. The focus for Rocketship Education is on creating a powerful sense of community on each campus which is transferred to everyday life for both parents and students. Teachers at Rocketship Education are given a difficult task and not all are suited to the role as a close partnership with parents is required throughout the school year.
The backlash against the NPR article has not been limited to the reaction of Preston Smith but also includes a number of articles discussing the problems of the article from seasoned journalists. Preston Smith argues a more important use of resources by NPR would have been to address the issues raised regarding charter schools and frame them against charter schools and the public school system. Despite some support coming from social media users for the NPR article, journalists and media commentators suggested the use of anecdotal evidence as the basis of the article was an incorrect way of sourcing information. Failing to express the failings and successes of both charter schools and public schools left the feeling the article was built to create anger about the growing sector of charter schools networks.