Brockton charter is a first

Yesterday’s vote by the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to approve two new charter schools and allow the expansion of three existing charters included one particularly noteworthy dimension: It marked the first time the state has authorized a charter school in Brockton.

With the approval of new charter schools in Springfield and Brockton, the City of Champions will now also become a city with a charter. This is not, however, something being celebrated there by the powers that be. Indeed, the fact that Brockton has had no charter school approved until yesterday had a lot to do with the dug-in resistance of the city’s political and education establishment there.

Over the years, school leaders in Brockton, including Matthew Malone, a former superintendent who went on to serve as education secretary under Gov. Deval Patrick, have vociferously opposed every charter school proposal in the city. Local elected officials have been no less adamant. Yesterday, the State House News Service reported, state Rep. Claire Cronin told the state education board that her constituents in Brockton “do not want this charter school.” Cronin told the board there was no community support for the proposal.

Omari Walker, the executive director of the newly-approved New Heights Charter School, said the school had already received 600 applications. The school plans to start with 315 students in 6th through 8th grade, but eventually expand to serve 735 students in grades 6-12.

The state education board rejected a charter school proposed in Brockton in 2008 — the only time the board has done so after the state education department staff deemed a proposal to be sound and worthy of approval. The board also rejected a proposed Brockton charter in 2013 and turned back a proposal last year by New Heights Charter School — the same group whose revamped plan got the go-ahead at yesterday’s meeting.

Writing in 2013 about Brockton’s fierce opposition to a charter, Pioneer Institute’s Jim Stergios said a former Brockton school superintendent had made it clear at a forum that the objections overwhelmingly had to do with money, not with the quality of the education the charter school would offer.

Under the state’s charter school funding formula, money follows the student, and district school systems have complained that charters are draining vital funding needed to operate their schools. Proponents point out that Massachusetts has been recognized as having one of the highest-performing charter school sectors in the country. They say charters provide a crucial option for lower-income families, who often live in communities with low-performing schools and don’t have the luxury middle-class families enjoy of moving to another district in search of better schools.

The arguments are only likely to get louder in the coming months. The Legislature is wrestling with trying to reach some compromise over an expansion of the state cap on charter schools. If that effort fails, voters will face a question asking whether the cap should be raised on the November ballot. In that case, the debate that has long raged in Brockton will go statewide.




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Secretary of State William Galvin’s office upholds Foxborough’s decision not to release surveillance video of Patriots lineman Chandler Jones on privacy grounds. (CommonWealth)

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Rep. Lori Ehrlich says millions of dollars in earned income tax credits are flowing to residents of neighboring states who work in Massachusetts. (State House News)

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A Herald editorial urges the Boston City Council to vote down a hefty arbitration award for the city’s police detectives union.

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Worcester may link tax incentives to requirements that workers be paid a minimum wage of $15 an hour. (Telegram & Gazette)


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Senate Republicans say any Supreme Court pick from President Obama will be shunned. (New York Times)


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Billerica Town Meeting votes overwhelmingly in favor of building a new high school, with $72 million from the state and $100 from the town. (The Sun)

Boston Latin School head master Lynne Mooney Teta apologizes for not responding more swiftly to race-related issues at the school and vows to work hard to improve. (Boston Globe) The head of the Boston NAACP calls the apology “a little too late,” renews his call for Teta’s ouster, and says he’ll ask the Justice Department to carry out a civil rights investigation of the school. (Boston Herald)

Let us now praise testing, write psychology professors Yana Weinstein and Megan Smith. (Boston Globe)


Gov. Charlie Baker vows to crack down on excessive overtime payouts at the MBTA. (Boston Herald)

Rhode Island is taking a novel approach to repairing its deficient bridges by imposing tolls only on trucks. (Governing)

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