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.




State Sen. Brian Joyce, whose private law office was raided last week by the FBI and IRS in “court-authorized activity in connection with an ongoing investigation,” will not seek reelection this fall. (Boston Globe)

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)

Gov. Charlie Baker’s bid to move the Republican State Committee in a more moderate direction is being carried out by many members of his administration, who by law would be barred from doing fundraising work on the committee. (Masslive)

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)

Rep. Antonio Cabral details how the Globe’s Spotlight team reports on priest sexual abuse impacted the legislative process on Beacon Hill. (CommonWealth)


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

Video evidence suggests the 22-year-old man from Harvard who went missing in downtown Boston in the early morning hours of February 13 may have ended up in the Charles River, police say. (Boston Herald)

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


Somerville’s pugilistic mayor, Joe Curtatone, is the last man standing in the fight by area officials over Steve Wynn’s Everett casino. (Boston Globe)


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


Donald Trump wins the Nevada caucuses, followed by Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, and John Kasich. (New York Times)

State Sen. Dan Wolf, who is also the founder of Cape Air, makes the businessman’s case for Bernie Sanders. (Boston Globe)


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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)

The state Department of Transportation’s new design for exit signs along Route 6 on Cape Cod doesn’t sit well with some locals. Instead of being numbered 2 through 12, the new signs are numbered 58 through 88, reflecting the distance from the Rhode Island border. (Cape Cod Times)

Vivian Ortiz of Mattapan and Charlie Ticotsky of Transportation for Massachusetts say the time is not right for a large T fare hike and approving one would show how tone-deaf the authority is. (CommonWealth)

The Worcester Regional Transit Authority says it needs another $3 million from the state to clean up hazardous waste at a maintenance and operations facility under construction. (Telegram & Gazette)


Boston police are not releasing details of their use of cellphone tracking technology that can pinpoint the location and movement of someone, prompting criticism from civil liberties advocates and defense attorneys. (Boston Globe)

A jury in Springfield awarded $32 million to the family of Kimmy Dubuque, a MassMutual executive who was killed in a Cumberland Farms store when an elderly driver suffered a stroke and drove his car at 70 mph into the building. The jury held that the store was dangerous and Cumberland Farms should have built barriers around it even though they weren’t required by any regulations or law. (Masslive)

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  • Mhmjjj2012

    The news brief on “Brockton charter is a first” should have been accompanied with a note mentioning “The following charter school proponents sponsor CommonWealth: The Boston Foundation, Massachusetts Public Charter School Association and NAIOP Massachusetts. That’s why this “news” story characterizes “Massachusetts has been recognized as having one of the highest-performing charter school sectors in the country” without acknowledging Massachusetts public schools are consistently among the highest-performing in the country.”

  • Mhmjjj2012

    How is it possible for CommonWealth to write about newly-approved New Heights Charter School for Brockton without examining why the grades are 6-12 or why grades 9-12 will take years before those seats are filled? Does that mean the Massachusetts DESE is satisfied with Brockton’s public schools academic performance for K-5 and there’s no problem with allowing the charter school to open with only three grades 6,7,8 then advance those students to grades 9, 10, 11 and 12 taking five years for grade 12 to finally have students? If the whole point of charter schools is to give parents a choice then why doesn’t that opportunity for choice start from Day One?

  • Mhmjjj2012

    And what’s with the link in the article to a 3 year old Pioneer Institute article? CommonWealth couldn’t come up with any current quotes? That’s just bizarre. When did the Pioneer Institute become the go to place for quotes from charter school opponents?

  • Mhmjjj2012

    The newly-approved New Heights Charter School for Brockton isn’t the only charter school that doesn’t backfill its empty seats.

  • Mhmjjj2012

    So how many other Massachusetts charter schools don’t backfill their empty seats? Isn’t that something CommonWealth reporters should be investigating?

  • Mhmjjj2012

    The Brooke Roslindale, Brooke Mattapan, and Brooke East Boston Charter Schools requested and received approval to consolidate our existing charters, expand the grades served to include high school, and expand maximum enrollment. How do these charter schools handle empty seats? This is directly from the expansion application: “Currently, all three Brooke campuses “backfill” students through 4th grade. If this amendment were to be approved, Brooke would be required under the existing statute to backfill through 6th grade. We are proposing under this request to backfill students through 8th grade in order to expand access to Boston and Chelsea families in higher grades. Doing so requires that we ask for nearly the maximum number of seats currently available for distribution in Boston. Were the seats available, we would propose backfilling through 10th grade.” What if public schools didn’t take new students after the 4th grade or the 6th grade or the 8th grade or the 10th grade? Why was this fact totally ignored by reporters while Brooke Charter Schools expansion plans were being considered?

  • jeanabeana

    “Massachusetts jumped on the charter bus with real enthusiasm back in 2010 when they saw it as a way to grab some Race To The Trough federal money, but of course that money is no longer available, and local districts and taxpayers are noticing what charter school “hosts” everywhere notice– that funding a new entoitlement for students to attend private school at public expense is costly.” Feb 29, 2016