What’s the Point?

Even as the debate over charter schools in Massachusetts heats up, the ultimate goal of the experiment is anyone’s guess…

It’s time for a field trip, reader, and today we’re headed to a little place I like to call *an alternate reality.* Shall I summon forth the scene?

entering_brockton (1)A special meeting of the Board of Education is underway. Members have convened to discuss the single most successful school turnaround in state history: once failing Brockton High School, which 15 years ago under went a remarkable teacher-led transformation. Board chair Paul Sagan has allotted extra time to hear from teachers who helped lead the acclaimed literacy initiative, subject of national accolades (although, weirdly, mostly ignored in Massachusetts). Secretary of Education James Peyser has a question. Is it true that a third of each graduating class or some 300+ kids per year, at a school where 63% of students are considered *high needs* and 20% are still learning English, routinely qualifies for the state’s Adams scholarship, guaranteeing four years of funding to any public university in the state? Peyser does the math on his phone, then checks it on his other phone. He strokes his chin, musing aloud that this number dwarfs the combined total of grads from Boston’s charter schools, and, oddly, seems to include not just girls but boys too. Another question, this one from state Commissioner Mitchell Chester: this teacher-led concept sounds promising. Since every school has teachers is it replicable? At which point the Board members pause to check their calendars to schedule a visit so that they can see for themselves what lasting, teacher-led transformation looks like.

OK—so that’s not exactly how things went down. Instead, the Board voted to gift Brockton with a new regional charter high school that will compete against Brockton High by offering less—Look Ma, no art or music!—all the while draining an estimated 5% of the city’s total education budget per year.  Continue reading →

Epic Charter Fail

Gloucester, MA is home to Massachusetts’ most dysfunctional charter school. So why won’t state officials pull the plug? Because putting the school out of its misery would call new attention to its murky origins.

If you’ve managed to miss out on the long and sorry saga of the Gloucester Community Arts Charter School, consider yourself lucky. Alas, your good fortune is at an end. You’ll need a large Dark and Stormy to get through this one–and don’t skimp on the rum. Continue reading →

Fuzzy Charter Math Always Adds Up***

***After a few drinks…

Dear EduShyster:

I run an emerging chain of charter schools with many innovative best practices™, highly effective teachers™ and students with excellent posture™ who excel at test taking™. Also, we believe that every student is a scholar with outstanding growth potential.™ All of our many innovations and best practices are reflected on our website and in glossy promotional materials, what we call our Prospectus for Excellentus,™ There is just one problem. Our student data is a little, well, meh, and many of our former scholars turned out to have less than excellent posture™ so were forced to leave us before they could recognize their outstanding growth potential™.  Could this jeopardize our ability to open new schools wherever we want and land lucrative state contracts?

Charterus Maximus
ps: Please don’t tell my boss that I sent this as it could very well get me fired
pps: I am the boss Continue reading →