In the News

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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June 24, 2014 | MCPSA


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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Education board undermining charter school formula

June 23, 2014 | Boston Globe Editorial Staff

A WELL-INTENTIONED effort to measure student achievement in Massachusetts has jeopardized the expansion of charter schools in low-income districts. Education commissioner Mitchell Chester and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education need to recognize this mistake and ensure that charter schools continue to expand in the cities and towns with the greatest need for educational alternatives.

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Phoenix Charter Academy Network to locate charter school at Springfield Technology Park

May 28, 2014 | The Republican Newsroom

SPRINGFIELD – The Phoenix Charter Academy Network on Tuesday announced it has selected a site in the Springfield Technology Park at One Federal Street as the home of a new public charter school, officials announced.

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Calling the bluff on charter schools

May 23, 2014 | Scot Lehigh, Boston Globe

GOOD NEWS on Beacon Hill.

This week, the House passed a charter-cap lift that would give more opportunities to urban students while addressing concerns of charter foes.

The spotlight now shifts to the Senate. Will senators join the House — or scuttle a bill that is anathema to urban teachers’ unions?

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Lawmakers to Weigh Charter School Expansion

May 21, 2014 | Associated Press

The Massachusetts House has approved a bill that would allow for the expansion of charter schools in Boston and several other communities, and require more struggling public schools to adopt turnaround plans.

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Bill to expand charter schools in Massachusetts spurs long recesses in House

May 21, 2014 | Michael Norton, State House News Service

The idea of introducing more charter schools in Massachusetts, believed to be an emotional topic that divides lawmakers and feeds into policy differences, spurred long recesses in the House after legislation facilitating more charters hit the House floor at 2 p.m. on Wednesday.

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