Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Board of Ed wrap-up

Yesterday the Massachusetts Board of Education, after an interesting conversationvoted to grant charters to 16 new charter schools across the state. According to the Herald, "Ten of the 16 schools are in Boston. Two are in Lawrence and the others are in New Bedford, Chelsea, Salem and Springfield." Two of those in Boston and the one in Salem are Horace Mann charters, subject to their local school boards.
The one charter that was denied, despite the endorsement of the Commissioner, was Lynn Prepartory Charter, which was also denied a charter last year, and for similar reasons:
The school was proposed by the founders of the Hathaway School, a small, private elementary school in Swampscott, and some concerns had been raised about the distinction between the private and public schools.
Chester originally recommended against a charter for the Lynn school because it might violate a prohibition against converting a private school into a charter school. He reversed course and recommended approval after assurances that the private Hathaway school would not close if the charter for the public school was granted
Last year, as you may recall, Chester pulled his endorsement of Lynn Prep at the last minute, leaving only Spirit of Knowledge in Worcester on the table for the Board's consideration.
Tellingly, all of this is not good enough for the Mass Charter School Association who are now, according to the same report, considering calling for an end to all charter school caps. This despite the repeated assurance (I remember being in several meetings in which this argument was made by Stand for Children staff) that this would be "off the table" if the new ed law passed. I didn't buy it then, either.

Worcester's Seven Hills Charter was put on probation pending improved MCAS scores. Principal Krista Piazza is quoted in today's Telegram and Gazette as saying that the report on Seven Hills doesn't consider many of the school's successes. I couldn't agree more. That's been true, however, of all schools put on probation, labeled as "failing" or "Level 4," and otherwise considered lacking by the state.
But if all one looks at are MCAS scores, then that's the answer you're going to get.


momraths said...

Interestingly, during all the coverage of the charters being approved both, charter opposition is characterized by the objections to lack of diversity in charter school student populations (SPED, ELL, etc.) but I have not heard ANYTHING about the costs to public school districts or even a question about whether the current funding formula is fair to traditional public schools. Since that is the crux of the objections - why is this issue not talked about?

Tracy Novick said...

I think the quick answer is that it doesn't make for snappy news coverage. You're right that it doesn't get talked about nearly as much.
The explanation would have to include that a child moving to a charter school does not save the district that amount of money. A charter school class of of thirty may come from schools all over the city, so the public schools don't save, for example, an entire teacher.