The following statement was released by the Massachusetts Charter Public School Association; it can be attributed to Marc Kenen, MCPSA Executive Director.
The Massachusetts Charter Public School Association (MCPSA) applauds the groundbreaking partnership between charter public schools and the Lawrence public schools that will allow charter operators to takeover the management of failing district schools and apply approaches that have made the charters so successful.
While this is a great step forward, it will not be sufficient to address the needs of all Lawrence students. The charter-district partnership, once fully phased-in, will involve less than 10 percent of the students in the city’s public schools. In addition, arbitrary caps limit the growth of independent Commonwealth charter public schools, which have already proven to be highly successful in Lawrence and should also be considered part of the solution.
The plight of the Lawrence schools highlights the need for more high quality educational choices of all types for Lawrence families. If the Patrick Administration is turning to charters to partner in this turnaround effort, the Governor and the Legislature should consider unshackling the growth of charter public schools in Lawrence and other Gateway Cities and low-performing school districts across the state.
The collaboration announced today will involve four charter operators who will contribute in a number of specific ways. Community Day Charter Public School, which has run a highly successful program for more than 15 years, and Unlocking Potential, a charter school turnaround organization, will each partner with an underperforming school to provide managerial oversight, revamp programs and infuse successful instructional techniques.
Boston's MATCH Charter Public School will expand its successful MATCH tutor program, providing 50 tutors to two Lawrence schools. Phoenix Charter Academy in Chelsea, a highly successful high school focused on former dropouts, will replicate its model, partnering with the district to launch a new high school designed to help dropouts and troubled youth get back on an academic track.
Charter public schools are looking forward to working closely with Lawrence School Receiver Jeffrey Riley, parents, community and business leaders, and state Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester as the difficult work commences to provide Lawrence families with high quality public school options. But, Lawrence families should not face limited options. All forms of innovative public school options should be allowed to flourish. Reform and innovation should not be tethered by arbitrary limits.