Brian Mulvehill: Suggests Chinese charter school hypocritical

Published: 6/8/2017 6:54:28 PM
Suggests Chinese charter school is hypocritical

In response to Jeff Palm’s column (“Questionable reporting on Chinese school,” June 7) that the Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School is being singled out negatively in the Gazette, I must disagree.

Our public schools are regularly under scrutiny from the public, politicians and the press because the schools use public tax dollars. You need to look no further than the recent issues at Easthampton High School to see the level of scrutiny.

My concern is that this accusation of unfair treatment comes across as hypocritical. Charter schools accept public money and like to claim to be fully public schools, so they, too, should expect similar public scrutiny.

The Chinese Immersion Charter School has not been singled out. It has drawn attention to itself over the past few years due to questionable discipline practices, concerns about special education services and the fact its administration chose to bar the press from the school’s first-ever graduation ceremony. Our public schools are often brought into the spotlight when issues like these arise. I can’t imagine the outcry if a local public school told the press it couldn’t cover a graduation ceremony. The Chinese Immersion Charter School brought that attention on itself. Its first graduation could have been treated as a celebration and covered as such by the local media; it could have been a positive story for the school.

If charters are truly public schools, as they claim to be, then they should have to live up to the same standards public schools are measured by. Massachusetts public schools are held to some of the highest standards in the country.

For charters to accept public money and then demand privacy in this way reads as a lack of transparency. Private schools have that flexibility. Public schools do not. This was one of the issues of the charter ballot initiative last fall — a school cannot claim to be a public school and also ignore calls for transparency. It comes across as elitism and creates a perception that the charter school wants to play by different rules.

Brian Mulvehill



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