The charter industry is stunned by the possibility that Massachusetts may not authorize any new charters this year. This would be the first time in 15 years that no new charters were opened.
“Proponents say the move represents another blow in their quest to open more charter schools across the state. It comes just three months after the state Senate overwhelmingly rejected an increase in the number of charter schools that can operate in low-performing districts.”
Charters were stopped in Brockton and Fitchburg because the law says that they should open only in districts that are in the bottom 10% on state tests. Neither district is in the bottom 10%.
“Created under the 1993 Education Reform Act, charter schools are intended to be laboratories of educational innovation. They operate under looser state regulations than traditional schools and are rarely unionized.
“Seventy operate independently of local school systems, while 10 others operate in partnership with a school district.
“Many charter schools have among the highest MCAS scores, but some struggle academically and more than a dozen have closed, typically because of low test scores or financial problems.
“The move last week delighted charter school opponents, who argue that such institutions drain funding from traditional school systems and cherry pick students, assertions that proponents dispute.”
“While the effort to add more independent charter school proposals appears stymied, the state continues to review three other proposals for charter schools that would operate in partnership with the Boston, Salem, and Springfield school systems.
“Many charter school proponents, however, consider these “in-district charters “ to be less ideal than independent schools because they employ unionized teachers and are often subject to districtwide policies, restricting their autonomy.”
In other words, the charters were offered the chance to open but refused because they would have to have a union staff and some regulation, perhaps limiting their ability to exclude students they don’t want.