Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Board of Ed considers new charters for Brockton and Springfield

memo is here
Sagan: strong work by the staff, and those who put forward the proposals
list of those who review and analyze and critique
thanks Board who went to hearings for schools that were forwarded and those who were not
"at least one member of the Board attend"
Chester: comments on the front end that apply for both of these proposals
"set a very high bar" for charters
received 10 prospectuses; invited 7 to apply; 2 declined; 5 applied; 1 was withdrawn; 4 final considered; 2 being recommended
"when I bring a charter school recommendation forward, it isn't because of a calculus of what a district has not done"
'though that's actually part by reg of what is considered
both districts doing strong work
"in no way reflects that I don't think that Brockton isn't paying attention to what it should be paying attention to"
New Heights has applied twice in the past; in both cases "we felt they were not ready for prime time"
some back and forth about what is being taken up when

Sagan: no comment from Springfield superintendent? Anything to conclude on that?
Chester: I would not try to speculate on why
Stewart: did have comparison of current charters in Springfield and the Springfield Public Schools
Chuang: judging this application on its merits
Stewart: head of teachers' union, teacher in system
support from charter board
Collins'  "comments were really profound, I thought"
"does have an impact when another school comes in, in terms of drawing away resources in that regard"
Moriarty: general tenor was very supportive, particularly in the Brightwood neighborhood
"already a known quantity in the city of Springfield"
objections "were broader objections to any charter school"
Sagan: "constituents don't exist yet" for charter school
McKenna; would like to understand what kind of support the leadership will get from "Building Excellent Schools"
leader "has been out of college five years...no formal training in education"
is "participating in fellowship program right now"
will have mentor who founded Excel-Chelsea
professional development and coaching for the board as well
McKenna; "handing the lives of a lot of at risk kids basically to the unknown"
Sagan relates another charter that worked...
 McKenna: need more assurance that the supports that are needed are "going to be there, because it's asking a lot"
relating choice of family to be sent here from Dominican Republic
"drill sergeant with a heart"
worked at Upward Bound, came face to face with the achievement gap
went to Teach for America
"my students accomplished so much in my classroom"
"have worked tirelessly to get where I am...I understand the challenges that come with opening a school"
McKenna: "I don't doubt any of that. But that was not my question."
Fryer: is somehow involved in this program?
"It looked more like a cult than a program" when he went to talk to them (enthusiasm)
(McKenna comments that this doesn't make her feel any better)
"everyone was working on plans..."
"it's not like the cup of superstar principals in western Mass runneth over"
Chester: very deliberate ramp up
Doherty: I don't think it will be a surprise to anyone that I will be speaking against this motion and the others to expand others
had good fortune to be on AFT Board when Al Shanker began to talk about charter schools
experiment with new ways of teaching and especially those kids who were disadvantaged
"we've gone way, way beyond that"
creating " a separate track that is separate and unequal"
"all of the research and all of the studies show that charter schools in the Commonwealth" serve a disparate population
amount of money being drained from traditional schools to charter schools: $400M across the state
all of these school districts are being left behind with more difficult children to educate, limited resources
thinks attrition rate has been misrepresented
think that when the figures come out on the waitlist "will be very much exaggerated"
"nobody is talking about the waitlist of children to get into quality preschools and kindergarten"
would rather see money going to early childhood education
policies that may be good for a small number of students
"we have a responsibility to provide the best possible education for all the children in the Commonwealth, not just some of them"
Stewart: feel like we're at a tipping point with regard to schools in urban areas
reimbursements have not kept up
assumes districts can absorb 75%
Springfield is not in a position for this
"need to think about how this is impacting our cities"
Noyce: very common for people from the district to come and say that this will hurt others
struggle with role of Board
see role as carrying out laws that Commonwealth has passed
"don't think it's up to us to say that we shouldn't have more charter schools if the law says"
law doesn't say to consider financial impact
strong charter application faced with concern "that something like $200 per student" is being lost
"if the money didn't go to charter schools, it wouldn't be spent on preschool; it's being spent on other things in the district"
Doherty: my view on the role of this Board to do what is best for all of the children in this Commonwealth
"just because the law allows...doesn't mean we have to go up to the limit"
Peyser: "charter critics believe that giving parents choices a zero sum game"
think that it inherently makes district schools weaker
funding increases and academic gains across the state over this time
"think that they're confusing the demand among elected officials with the demand among parents"
"we need to encourage improvement and further success in those schools"
complains that comments are the same that he's heard for twenty years
charters are a little over 4%
"a modest increase"
"I do think we ought to look at the proposals on their merits"
Willyard: parents who choose to enroll their students in charters
"we're not a judicial body...not up to use if we should lower to cap"
McKenna: as a former member of the Boston School Committee? There are a lot of reasons that the Boston schools improved (aka, it wasn't the charter schools, Mr. Secretary)
Stewart: charter schools do not exist in isolation; they're individual fiefdoms within a district
"we need to be looking at a holistic approach"
Springfield charter granted 8-2, Stewart and Doherty opposed

Brockton: Chester "confident" that they've brought a stronger proposal
got a partner for early college "that's done this work across the country"
grade 13 proposal no longer part of it
"innovative components including summer bridge program"
three towns that are not contiguous geographically
proposing that school be required to provide transportation plan
"entering and exiting students....not planning to push any students out...there was some lack of clarity about that in the application...feel confident about that at this time"
recommending adoption
Chuang notes early college discussion with higher ed board last month
Sagan: model to cover costs?
Chuang: detailed and intricate model
size of model is very deliberate, something to look at in terms of deployment of resources
based on kinds of rates that Massasoit already charges high schools who do dual enrollment
Noyce: EdWorks: non-profit? Yes
regional school:is there a balance of how many students from each? application speaks to what the balance be
anticipate majority would be Brockton
Wulfson: but it's a lottery enrollment...
Noyce: large numbers testifying both for and against
certainly elected officials and school administrators testified against it
Brockton a high performing urban school district that offers many opportunities
parents who testified that as good as Brockton might be, they wanted something different
all students being offered options
Chuang: 6-12 with this program of this size isn't an option currently
Stewart: what really impressed me was the innovation being offered in Brockton Public Schools
elected from Brockton, many from Taunton at hearing
a lot of what I heard from many families who were supporting said their kids were afraid to go to a big school
"efforts by Brockton to make a big school feel small"
many more coming against the school
Doherty "I won't repeat what I said before; obviously it wasn't persuasive"
when we have a situation when the mayor, the school committee, and the delegation
"I think it's inappropriate to force down the throat of a community" a school that they don't want
Sagan argues that this would have kept board from receivership in Holyoke
constituency doesn't exist yet for charter
Fryer: how does this work in terms of charter cap
Chuang: cap is district-specific: not near 9% in Brockton
Moriarty: Rep Cronin suggestion that there isn't evidence of sufficient support
asks for clarification
Chuang: have vetted demand; don't do own assessment
"parent choice is a dynamic thing"
will look to see if they have the enrollment that they have projected
"rubber will meet the road by the next Board meeting"
they'll either have the students or not
McKenna will vote against
"there's a question about desire as opposed to need"
set up a shiny new thing "there are always people who are going to say yes"
is there unmet need? "I'm not so sure of that"
"hard to see"
"I'm not so sure it's so new and shiny"
and this time it's more complicated
have concerns about their ability to pull it off
"every child goes to college...I don't think every child goes to college or should go to college"
"I don't think that's the need in Brockton"
not easy to do
"I don't have confidence that the group of people bringing it forward can do it; I don't have confidence that there is need for it"
Chester: "I hadn't thought of need being a criteria"
McKenna points out that it is...and it is...
Chester: number of kids who need remediation in public colleges and universities
"I'm very intrigued by a proposal here that ensures that kids leave high school ready for college level work"
McKenna: early college is best used as retention in high school
data on whether it lowers remediation is a very different kind of issue
Just going to point out here that McKenna is past president of Lesley and current president of Suffolk; she doesn't really need to have college retention explained to her. 
Peyser: proposal does talk about two paths
may be others who aren't ready to do college courses, intend to have path for them
"I don't think it's success lies on all of those students going to college"
Sagan: haven't been here when there were recommendations that were not approved
"enthusiastic about trying it and see"
Brockton approved 7-3

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