"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Public School Proponents Speak Out Against Charter Plans in Gloucester, MA

The corporate education charter movement has come to Massachusetts, but Gloucester residents are standing strong against the looming decision by the Commonwealth that may impose an unneeded and unwanted charter school there.

The local School Committee last month voted unanimously to reject plans for a new charter school that would drain $2.4 million from the local public school budget. What sense does it make, especially during a Depression, to deny the will of the community in order to impose a "reform" that no one wants or needs--except a handful of supporters of the Business Roundtable agenda for crushing public education?

The final public meeting before the State's decision will be held Thursday, December 11 at Fuller School.

Here is part of a commentary by Jonathan Pope that appears at WickedLocal Essex:

. . . . The proponents of charter schools will argue that they are public schools. If the criteria to qualify as a public school are that the public pays your bills then they qualify. If the criteria are that the oversight of the school is accountable to the public, or if their mandate is to educate all children regardless of the child’s emotional, physical or cognitive disabilities, then charter schools do not qualify as public schools.

Public schools are administered by a superintendent of schools who is hired, contracted and evaluated in public by the elected School Committee. Charter schools are run by a self-appointed board of directors approved by the Commissioner of Education and have no mandate of transparency other than the filing of ethics disclaimers and budget audits with the state. Charter schools must accept all local students who chose to apply with out bias but I would argue that the act of choice is a form of discrimination. Charter schools may expel students for behavior or determine that because of their special needs would be better served in an out-of-district placement, but when this happens the financial responsibility falls back to the real public schools.

The proponents of charter schools argue that their funding will not affect the students in Gloucester Public Schools. There is not a remote possibility that this is true. Because of continuing underfunding of education, Gloucester Public Schools have undergone an agonizing reorganization. The goal was to establish a sustainable neighborhood elementary school system. To accomplish this we had to close Fuller School, redistrict the entire city, increase class size at O’Maley Middle School and make a capital investment of over $3 million, not to mention the emotional stress on many families. The approval of the charter school is like a small group of people undoing all of that work, re-opening the school we had to close and putting Gloucester back at the beginning of that process of developing a financially sustainable educational program, with less choices. . . .
Be at the Fuller School Auditorium December 11, 4-6 PM.

Location & Driving Directions:

Fuller School
4 School House Road
Gloucester, MA. 01930

Click here for driving directions to Fuller School

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