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

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

MA Inspector General Determines Gloucester Charter School "Improperly Approved"

Who would have guessed that Inspector General Gregory Sullivan would have the audacity to offer a decision that challenges the will of the Boston Foundation and the corporate charter school philanthrocapitalists who have bought most State education decisions?

Are we about to see the re-emergence of common sense and legal process in the Commonwealth when it comes to public education? Will elected officials actually start to pay attention to the outpouring of rage by citizens that is showing up at public meetings where corporate disruptors and dismantlers of public education seek to channel public education funds into the anti-democratic charter apartheid schools? It could get interesting.

From the Boston Globe, January 3:

Inspector General Gregory Sullivan has determined that the state improperly approved a controversial charter school in Gloucester last year and believes the board should void its vote, according to a letter his office sent to the governor yesterday afternoon.

. . . .

It was not clear yesterday whether the board and its agency’s commissioner will comply with Sullivan’s findings because they have not seen a copy of the letter yet, according to a spokeswoman for the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

“We don’t have any comment,’’ said spokeswoman Heidi Guarino. “We need to review it with our legal counsel.’’

. . . .

The inspector general’s office plans to release a report on its findings to the two legislators who requested it, Senator Bruce Tarr and Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante.

In his letter, Sullivan said that Mitchell Chester, the commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education, recommended approval of the Gloucester Community Arts Charter School last February in violation of the agency’s own rules and regulations, which he says forbids a commissioner from giving a favorable recommendation against the advice of its own experts.

The department’s charter school office determined a few weeks before the board’s vote that the school’s application did not meet the approval criteria.

Chester’s favorable recommendation has been a lightening rod since a politically charged e-mail surfaced in September about the approval of the Gloucester charter school, and comes at a time when the Legislature is considering a sweeping education bill that is the cornerstone of Governor Deval Patrick’s education agenda.

In the e-mail, dated Feb. 5 - one day after the charter school office rejected all three charter school applications for last year - Education Secretary Paul Reville told Chester that the rejections could cause problems for the governor in getting his education agenda approved by the Legislature by alienating charter school supporters.

“Our reality is that we have to show some sympathy in this group of charters or we’ll get permanently labeled as hostile and that will cripple us with a number of key, moderate allies,’’ Reville wrote.

“It’s a tough but necessary pill to swallow,’’ he wrote.

Chester has repeatedly said that politics played no role in his recommendation, while Reville has said his e-mail has been taken out of context from an ongoing conversation with the commissioner and that he did not lobby any board members to vote favorably on the application.

Yesterday’s letter did not mention the e-mail controversy.

. . . .

The Gloucester charter school has been intensely controversial in Gloucester since the proposal was initially unveiled roughly a year and a half ago, primarily because it would cause the city to lose a big chunk of state education aid to the charter school.

Under state law, students who leave a school district for a charter school take with them thousands of dollars in state aid. In the case of Gloucester, that amount could reach $2.4 million annually when the school is in full operation.

Greg Verga, a city councilor who was School Committee chairman last year, called the inspector general’s determination a “vindication’’ of long-held beliefs that the state board did not follow its own procedures in approving the charter school.

1 comment:

  1. I live in Gloucester and was at the hearings. Chester came up to our town, stood in our city hall under the carved names of our ancestors who lost thier lives at sea to create the future we now inhabit and lied to our faces. He actually said, and made a point of making clear, that there was a process following the "Do Not Reccommend" evaluation by the Charter School Office. The IG's report proves that there was none.

    Lied to us and is playing games with our kids' educations. I don't know how he sleeps at night.