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

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Gloucester Parents Stage Protest Against Crooked Charter School Approval

(Photo from Boston Globe's Jonathan Wiggs). Parents were out in force Saturday as State officials reluctantly met in Gloucester to once more air the corrupt process that rammed through the approval of an unwanted and unneeded charter school in Gloucester. From the Gloucester Daily Times:
. . . .Prior to the more than two-hour hearing, dozens of Gloucester parents and others decrying the granting of the charter marched in front of City Hall. The protest, organized in large part by parent and charter school foe Jane Cunningham, drew the attention of state Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester, who spoke briefly to the crowd from the City Hall steps, then chatted with and answered questions from some of the demonstrators individually.

Demonstrators chanted "CSO said no go," — a reference to the fact that the state's Charter School Office had recommended against approval of the Gloucester charter — and "We won't take your bitter pill." That was a reference to the now-infamous e-mail from Paul Reville, Gov. Deval Patrick's education secretary, to Chester that acknowledged approving the Gloucester charter school would be a "bitter pill," but that one of the three charter applications had to be approved to advance the governor's education "agenda," and avoid alienating traditional supporters such as The Boston Globe and The Boston Foundation.. . . .
Not only did the State approve the unwanted charter to curry political favor with corporate ed reformers, but the approval process did not follow the requirements of State Law, in that a State Board member was not present for the approval. The State subsequently eliminated that requirement, as if the illegal action could be erased in retrospect. From the Globe:
Yesterday’s meeting was held to address other issues swirling around the decision to approve the charter as well, including an allegation that the state education board did not have a member present at a public hearing held last year in Gloucester on the charter proposal, as required by state law. The board later waived the requirement.
Meanwhile, the Gloucester Public Schools are starving, just like the rest of the public schools across America. How long will the voices of the citizenry and their elected school boards be ignored in order to satisfy corrupt ideologies and corporate welfare schemes?:
Some Gloucester residents have criticized the charter school as duplicating services already offered in Gloucester schools. “What they’re proposing is imitation, not innovation,’’ said Sarah Grow, a parent of school-age children, after the hearing. “This board should do the right thing, look at the evidence, and revoke this charter.’’

City officials also fear a loss of state education funding if the school opens. On average, about $10,000 is deducted for every student who attends the charter school rather than a local public school district.

“In a way, this is a fight about money,’’ said Gloucester Mayor Carolyn Kirk, who sits on the school committee, at the meeting. “We can’t ignore that reality.’’ . . .

The state board is next expected to take up the Gloucester charter proposal at its Nov. 17 meeting but it’s unclear what, if any, action will be taken.

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