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21st century skills for a changing world

 Making a case for a proposed new charter school




By Juan Flores

On Dec. 15, 2023, a group of island residents submitted a petition to the Guam Academy Charter School Council proposing to open Guam’s sixth publicly funded charter school. The proposal calls for a high school (9th through 12th grades) with a focus on business and technology.


The proposed Business and Technology Academy Charter School is consistent with the mandate for charter schools to improve student learning, increase learning opportunities for students, and use innovative teaching methods.


The proposed school will also create professional opportunities for teachers, including the opportunity to be responsible for the learning program at the school site. A critical objective of charter schools is to provide parents, guardians, and students expanded choices in the educational opportunities available and funded by the local government.


BTACS will ensure that high school graduates will have the knowledge and skills to pursue a post-secondary education or have credentials to be gainfully employed upon earning their high school diplomas. There will be attention to developing critical skills in reading, writing, and mathematics.


The high expectations for achieving at pre-college levels or to be prepared for employment will be backed up by the support of teachers, staff, and programs leading to the development of a productive pathway to a meaningful career.


The teaching and learning opportunities, designed by teachers and administrators, will reflect attention to business and technology concepts. Paying attention to meeting our island’s need for a robust economy will be at the heart of the teaching and learning activities.


Core academic subjects -- math, English, social studies, and the science -- will be taught within the contexts of business and technology concepts.  


Appropriate approaches will include individual, small-group, and large-group instruction based on clearly defined objectives and supported by face-to-face and technological resources. Project-based learning will reflect the occupational work in private companies, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations throughout our island.   


Students will be exposed to subject-matter experts who will be on campus or who will provide opportunities for various forms of work-based learning. Throughout a four-year BTACS experience, students will learn the principles and practices of entrepreneurship and will be expected to demonstrate what they know and can do before graduation.


BTACS will provide students with learning opportunities beyond what is traditionally available at the high school level. When they are eligible, students can earn their pilot’s license if they express interest in aviation.


Students who want to pursue a career in engineering can take courses preparing them for the engineering program at the University of Guam or another four-year institution.


Students who want to take advantage of the growing opportunities in telecommunications can add to their academic program and take courses leading to industry certification. Retail, marketing, and accounting knowledge and skills can be introduced and enhanced when students are exposed to day-to-day activities at a particular job site.


In the BTACS classrooms and throughout the BTACS campus, students will learn pre-employment skills they can bring to higher education programs and employment. Those skills include leadership, effective communication, teamwork, problem-solving, critical thinking, and the effective use of resources. The skills will be taught so students will function individually or as they collaborate with other students, their teachers, and their mentors from various industries.  


Parents, guardians and students will be allowed to choose a publicly funded school that places the responsibility for success equally on the school, the students and their families. Students who choose to attend the school need to be committed to taking advantage of what is presented to them. Where there are deficiencies in students’ backgrounds, the school will develop a plan to address those deficiencies. When there is a need for students to be supported and guided by their families, there will be discussions about addressing those needs.


The proposal calls for identifying and addressing roadblocks to students’ successes. The navigation toward successful completion of the high school program may include communication with government agencies and nonprofit organizations that can lend support to students and their families. Effective and productive communication with students and their families will be at the heart of addressing any roadblocks.


The commitment to support our island’s economy by preparing those who will pursue careers in business and technology, will be backed up by partners in higher education, mentors and advisors in the business and technology industries, and the use of virtual learning tools that may lead to industry certification that is not available on Guam.


BTACS will turn to subject matter experts in the community who will review and provide advice on academic content and teaching and learning practices. They will also participate in clearly defined and monitored internships at various sites. BTACS graduates will be able to enter the workforce or continue their education when they have been exposed to meaningful experiences that will set the stage for career development.


The BTACS petition calls for accountability for the publicly funded opportunity to educate young men and women in high school. Finances and the use of public facilities will be handled effectively, efficiently, and within the expectations of all relevant laws and policies.


At the core of the school’s decision-making and activities will be the commitment to the students’ success and their contribution to our island’s growth and development.


BTACS will complement other opportunities for publicly-funded education for young adults. It will be one solution that will address the challenges of providing a meaningful experience and one solution that will address the needs of the students, their families, and our island’s economy.


Juan Flores is a member of the BTAC board. He previously served as superintendent of the Guam Department of Education and Catholic School System. Send feedback to jflores.btacs@gmail.com 



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