From dual-language kindergarten, when they are taught a pointer is un puntero, to the day they continue on to Lennard High School, students at the Redlands Christian Migrant Association charter schools get a specialized education.
It conforms to state standards and, judging by the test scores, surpasses them.
But the schools — an elementary and a middle grades “leadership academy” — also offer help with immigration issues. Families have access to a food bank on the Wimauma campus. And the staff keeps track of children who leave, following the migrant farm worker circuit to North Carolina and Tennessee.
“We provide more than just a school,” principal Mark Haggett said. “We are targeting migrant families, and we are the only charter school in Hillsborough County that is doing that.”
Each year in Tampa Bay and across Florida, more families are choosing charters, which use tax dollars but are run independently of school districts. Pasco County saw an impressive 31 percent jump in charter enrollment this year. Hillsborough went up 12 percent and Pinellas 3 percent — in each instance far outpacing growth rates in regular public schools.