MTA thrilled by decision not to advance charters

Commissioner Mitchell Chester announced today that he will not be recommending that the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education approve the New Heights Charter School in Brockton or the regional Academy for the Whole Child Charter School, which was to be based in Fitchburg. This marks the first time in at least 15 years that no proposals for independently run charter schools will go to the BESE for a vote.

Both proposals were strongly opposed by MTA members in the affected communities and fellow educators throughout the state.

Twins at Brockton charter school hearing "Why spend money opening a new school? Why not just give the money to the schools we already have?" asked Brockton students and twin brothers at a Dec. 8 DESE hearing on the proposal to open the charter school in their city. The charter school will not move forward.

“We are thrilled by the commissioner’s decision not to advance the Commonwealth charter school applications in Brockton and Fitchburg,” said MTA President Barbara Madeloni. “This was the right decision for the students and residents in these communities.”

In both Brockton and the region that would have been served by the Academy, teachers, school administrators, parents, local elected leaders and students came out in force against the charter applications.

They argued that the charter schools would offer nothing new and would drain resources from districts that have demonstrated success in serving the needs of their diverse student populations. They testified at public hearings and submitted reams of written testimony against the applications.

In Brockton, more than 200 residents packed a hearing on the application on December 8. Many spoke about the excellent education they received in Brockton and expressed concern that the charter would offer nothing new.

“It’s exciting that Brockton can continue the innovative work that we’ve been doing,” said Kim Gibson, president of the Brockton Education Association. “This community has a huge amount of pride in our district public schools, and that’s where we want the state to put its resources and support.”

Sean Walker, vice president of the Fitchburg Education Association, voiced a similar message.

“I see this as an affirmation of the good work of the Fitchburg Public Schools,” he said.

For background on these charter school proposals, visit massteacher.org/charterschools.