Bob Brick: Drop the ‘us vs. them’ mentality on charters
To the editor:
Never let the facts stand in the way of a good argument (guest column by Deborah Keisch Polin and Tim Scott, “The high price of charters,” May 17). Districts can play the blame game all they want, but in reality charter public schools receive the same amount of money that districts spend to educate children who switch schools.
Then, districts are reimbursed by the state for six years — meaning they are getting paid for students they are no longer educating. Over that six-year period, they receive more than double their money back. What bothers me the most about the district arguments against charters is the “us versus them” mentality. Charters are not a replacement for district schools — they are alternative public schools that offer parents a choice.
They are open to all children and admission is by lottery. And if districts would stop trying to fight their existence and foster a collaborative environment, all public school children could benefit.
The demand is clearly there — all the charters in this area have long wait lists. And the high level of academic performance has been verified by several studies of Massachusetts charters. It’s not the high price of charters that Keisch Polin and Scott should be concerned about. It’s the high price of mediocrity: across all grades, more than half of Northampton students are not proficient in math and one-third are not proficient in English.
It may have been more productive for Keisch Polin and Scott to use the space in the paper to outline a plan to improve Northampton’s schools rather than tear down successful ones.
Bob Brick is executive director of the Paulo Freire Social Justice Charter School in Holyoke and founder and former executive director of the Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter Public School.