The growth of charter schools has been the most promising and liberating development in public education in recent decades, and has been embraced with fervor by urban and minority families for whom charters have offered a pathway out of the sometimes hopeless public schools that have trapped generations.
But public charter schools in Massachusetts continue to be held back from achieving their full potential by lawmakers who are more concerned with placating teachers unions and counting votes than offering children a brighter future.
Each year, tens of thousands of students in Massachusetts — many of them black and Hispanic students from low-income families in urban areas — enter lotteries for hundreds of seats available in existing charter schools. The lucky few weep with joy. The rest simply weep, and resign themselves to another year at their existing school.
Over the years, Massachusetts has loosened the cap on the number of charters that can operate and the number of students they can serve. But demands for additional charter school seats far outpaces supply, even though study after study confirms that students in charter schools outperform their district public school peers.
A bill now before the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Education — House Bill 425 / Senate Bill 235, An Act to Further Narrow the Achievement Gap — would help, but must be reported out of committee favorably by March 19.
We urge parents to contact the chairs of the Joint Committee on Education, state Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, and Rep. Alice Hanlon Peisch, and urge them to support the current legislation.