Monday, November 15, 2010

Charter Envy in Boston

Boston, long suffering from charter envy, now plans to convert several of its district public schools into charter schools. On November 3, the Boston School Committee unanimously voted to convert a middle school and a high school into charter schools. This is part of their “Redesign and Reinvest” plan to close 5 public schools and merge two others by year’s end. The closings have been presented by Superintendent Carol Johnson as a necessary step in the wake of budget cuts and declining student enrollment because so many are moving to charter schools. Twelve Boston schools have already been designated as failing, with teachers at six of these schools being forced to reapply for their jobs.

In January, Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick signed a law that would raise the cap on new charter schools in the state. The new law is projected to double the number of new charter schools in the poorest performing districts. Patrick is a former Coca Cola executive and Ameriquest board member. A state government report, “The New Promise of Public Education: Ready for 21st Century Success,” argues that the current education system is not adequately training students for “success in life and work,” and doesn’t “meet the needs of employers.” Charter schools managed by for-profit private companies ostensibly would succeed in training kids to be good workers probably because they would bust the union, downsize the staff, cut services, and make the kids work harder with less support so they get used to their future lives as cubicle drones.

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