Meet Our 2014 Summer Intern: Maddie Toll

August 25, 2014

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Maddie Toll is a senior politics major with a minor in urban and environmental policy and education from Occidental College in Los Angeles. She is an alumna of CHAMPS Charter High School in Van Nuys, and is working this summer as the Alumni Advocacy Fellow. This position is designed to engage a younger demographic of advocates - charter alumni and education-minded clubs - in the charter movement.

Describe the project you worked on this summer.

This summer I spent my time working on alumni advocacy. My goal was to engage a younger demographic of advocates for charter education and equality in our work, and find ways to work together to achieve our common objectives. I asked questions of charter alumni about their experiences at their school, outlook on charter education, and their advice regarding how we could further engage charter alumni in our work. I asked clubs and organizations about their goals and interests so we can find ways to work together in achieving quality education for all students.

What are you interested in doing in the future or after graduate school if attending?

I'm not positive as to what my future holds for me. I'm going into my senior year of undergraduate education; so with more time, experience, and eventually grad school will lead me to what I should be doing. I definitely think my work will involve politics that engage in either fixing the education system or prison system.

What drew you to the Summer Internship at CCSA?

I found out about CCSA through my mom, who works at CHAMPS Charter High School in Van Nuys. When a different internship I had set up fell through, my mom suggested that I take a look at CCSA and see if I would want to be involved. I went to CHAMPS and have had an interest in public education since high school, so it ended up being a perfect match!

What has been the most surprising thing you've learned in the course of your work this summer?

I have learned an unbelievable amount of useful information, but the most surprising thing I have learned is how little students and alumni know about charter schools! It seems so simple, but many students were never really told why and how their school was different than a traditional public school. The great part of this unfortunate fact, though, is how easy it will be to fix!

What was your familiarity with charter schools before working at CCSA? How has your view of charter schools changed?

I knew a lot about charter schools before working at CCSA, but this experience opened my eyes to the complexities of the system. Charter schools run into so many issues, many of which you can see first-hand when attending one as a student. However, I never realized these obstacles - campus, funding, teacher accountability - were part of a wider issue that organizations like CCSA are working to solve! It's been great realizing that the issues I saw were not unique and are acknowledged by advocacy organizations like CCSA, because these common experiences shed light on necessities, which allows for widespread work to be done and issues to be resolved.

What changes would you like to see in our public education system?

I would like to see the dropout rate decrease, and I would love to see the push-out rate become nonexistent. I'd also like to see an increase in arts offered to students in all grades, and a decrease in tracking.