In the News

Charles Chieppo and Jamie Gass: Mass. weakens education for minorities

July 5, 2014 | Charles Chieppo

In the waning days of the school year, the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education ensured that fewer urban schoolchildren will have high-quality learning opportunities come September. The board unanimously adopted a proposal from Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Mitchell Chester that manipulates numbers and makes a mockery of the goal of rewarding improved performance.

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Poll finds hunger for more charter schools

July 1, 2014 | Jamie Vaznis, Boston Globe

Charter school advocates, in a last-minute push to raise the state limit on the number of seats in such schools, are releasing a poll Tuesday that they say shows widespread appetite among Boston families for more of them.

The poll, sponsored by the Massachusetts Charter Public School Association, found that 62 percent of adult respondents from households with children support raising the state cap on the number of students that can enroll in charter schools.

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Massachusetts Charter Schools: “A Fire You Can’t Put Out”

June 30, 2014 | Jamie Gass

This past week, at the urging of state K-12 education commissioner Mitch Chester, Deval Patrick’s Massachusetts Board of Education took a vote against Massachusetts’ nation-leading and achievement gap-closing charter schools. The vote reminds us once again how intellectually warped so much of K-12 education policymaking remains.

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Charter backers urge Senate to act on House bill

June 30, 2014 | Matt Murphy, STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

Charter school advocates rallied on Beacon Hill Monday for expansion legislation that has already cleared the House, pressing the importance of tackling the issue by the end of July and reminding lawmakers that the bill does more than simply lift the cap on enrollment.

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An affront to freedom

June 27, 2014 | Worcester Telegram & Gazette Editorial Team

The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education on Tuesday pushed forward with a minor change to how it calculates the progress of school districts. But however small, that vote could have a major impact on which communities are allowed to expand enrollment in public charter schools.

Instead of constant tweaking and politicking, what's needed is the true academic freedom that would come with eliminating the BESE's role as kingmaker in the struggle over public charter schools.

Sadly, state education officials have made it clear they are more interested in protecting the jobs of bureaucrats and teachers than in letting real choice and competition do for education what they do for every other consumer market.

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Panel’s vote reaffirms charter school formula

June 25, 2014 | Jamie Vaznis, Boston Globe

In a move blasted by charter school advocates, the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education refused Tuesday to abandon a new way of determining which districts get more charter schools and even voted to bolster the use of a controversial set of data.

The decision ultimately means that efforts to double charter school enrollment in cities such as Worcester and Somerville will grind to a halt because they no longer rank in the bottom 10 percent in the state. Under state law, only districts in the bottom 10 percent are eligible for a doubling of charter-school enrollment.

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Board of Ed vote will affect development of Charters

June 25, 2014 | Matt Murphy, State House News Service

STATE HOUSE -- State education officials on Tuesday approved a major change to the way the state evaluates the performance of school districts, drawing the ire of charter school advocates who argued the new formula will limit school choices for low-income families in a handful of cities.

As the Legislature grapples over whether to increase the cap in charter school enrollment in certain underperforming school districts, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted unanimously for a new rubric that will determine the opportunity for charter school growth in low-performing school districts during the 2014-2015 application cycle.

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Editorial: How to halt opportunity

June 24, 2014 | Boston Herald Editorial Team

The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is quietly defying the intent of a 2010 school reform law by rewriting the definition of a “low-performing” school district. Children and families who seek a way out of failing urban schools will pay for this bureaucratic overreach. The board needs to put a halt to any further change.

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Dismantling education success

June 24, 2014 | Jim Stergios

As we approach the end of Deval Patrick's time as governor, it's clear that his most important legacy will be the dismantling of Massachusetts' landmark 1993 Education Reform Act.

The latest example comes today, when the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education votes on a proposal by Commissioner Mitchell Chester that would use the regulatory process to deprive more than 12,000 students in low-performing school districts of the opportunity to attend a charter school.

Under state law, more charter seats are allowed in districts that are in the bottom 10 percent in terms of student performance. Until recently, performance was measured by MCAS scores. But without legislative permission, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) changed the measure to incorporate "growth," or how much a district is improving, into the determination of the bottom 10 percent.

Under Mr. Chester's proposal, growth would play an even larger role in measuring district performance, which is problematic on at least two fronts.

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BOARD OF EDUCATION VOTE IMPLEMENTS LOWER CHARTER PUBLIC SCHOOL ENROLLMENT CAPS IN NEEDIEST DISTRICTS

June 24, 2014 | MCPSA

BOARD OF EDUCATION VOTE IMPLEMENTS LOWER CHARTER PUBLIC SCHOOL ENROLLMENT CAPS IN NEEDIEST DISTRICTS

New Policy Limits Choice for Low-Income Families and Children of Color in Brockton, Worcester, Haverhill, Somerville and Lowell

BOSTON – The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) today approved a new policy that lowers the charter school enrollment cap in five chronically under-performing school districts that serve a high percentage of low-income families and children of color.

The Board vote effectively lowers the enrollment cap in Brockton, Worcester, Haverhill, Somerville and Lowell and institutes a higher cap in rural and suburban districts like Hawlemont, Wareham, Dennis-Yarmouth, Spencer-East Brookfield, Palmer and Easthampton where charters are unlikely to locate. The Board is also discussing further changes in the calculation, which would re-impose lower caps in Boston, Lowell, Fitchburg, Everett, Salem and Holyoke. (Existing charter schools in those districts would not be affected.)

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