The making of our ‘The Cost of Choice’ series
NORTHAMPTON — In “The Cost of Choice,” a two-day series that begins Friday, reporters Kristin Palpini and Barbara Solow go inside one of the most controversial aspects of education reform in Massachusetts: school choice and charter schools.
In the two decades since passage of the 1993 Education Reform Act, public schools across Massachusetts have been forced to adjust to competition designed to improve education and give students and families more choices.
About a year ago, Palpini decided it would be worthwhile for the Gazette to provide an accounting of how school choice — in which students can enroll in other districts — and the emergence of charter schools have affected public systems financially. “This seemed like information that people wanted to know,” she said.
Last fall, in fact, Easthampton school officials cited the expense of seeing students leave for “choice” schools as one reason they sought a tax override that failed.
It was not easy for Palpini and Solow to obtain figures on how school districts are winning and losing. One piece of today’s coverage explains the methodology the reporters created — and notes it was reviewed by state officials. The series looks at a five-year period of education funding.
Our team chose to include the costs of charter school enrollments to sending districts because they too affect their finances.
Coincidentally, a guest column we published May 17 is generating reader comment. A column and two letters ran Thursday and remain available on GazetteNET. Two more columns appear on Page A6 today. We plan to make space available for responses to these pieces as well as to the series itself.
— LARRY PARNASS, Gazette editor