The MCPSA issued the following statement after the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education approved three new Commonwealth charter public schools.
BOSTON, MA – February 28, 2012 – The Board’s action will bring high quality educational choices to more than 2,000 families in Lowell, Springfield, Holyoke and other Pioneer Valley communities, but the small number of new charters being approved this year is troubling. There were no new charters approved for Boston or Lawrence, and the state has implemented a “freeze” on new applications in those cities for the foreseeable future.
Congratulations to the founders of the three new schools.
We are disappointed that the Board chose not to approve two additional finalists - Springfield Preparatory Charter School, which would have replicated the highly successful SABIS International Charter School in Springfield, and the Somerville Progressive Charter School, which would have brought expanded choice to families in one of the lowest performing districts in the state.
Last year marked the beginning of a new era of charter expansion in high need communities across Massachusetts with the approval of 13 new Commonwealth charters. The approvals came as a result of the 2010 education reform law, which lifted arbitrary caps on charter public school growth in low-performing districts where there is considerable demand. The legislation doubled the number of charter seats in the lowest performing districts, and restricted these new charters for “proven providers” - charter operators already managing highly successful schools.
But these new spots are quickly being filled in some of the neediest communities in the Commonwealth. It’s becoming clear that the cap lift enacted in 2010 is too narrow.
Charter public schools are meeting the needs of students in communities across the state - particularly in urban communities and Gateway Cities, where charters are outperforming even schools in the most affluent suburban school districts. Across the state there are more children on charter wait lists than in charter classrooms.
The Patrick Administration and the Legislature need to assess whether all caps on charters need to be lifted to ensure that families are able to seek the educational opportunities they deserve.