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Boston Kids Need Another Brooke Charter School

Posted by Jim Stergios  February 13, 2013 04:47 PM

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The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education’s vote later this month on a new set of charter school proposals is an opportunity to give thousands of Massachusetts kids access to a great school. The list of proposed charters includes new proposals for Boston, such as City on a Hill Charter Public School, which is proposing to open a second 280-student high school in Boston to open in 2013. (City on a Hill has also applied for a separate, new high school in New Bedford to serve 280 students.)

In addition, a number of Boston charters have looked at expanding their existing enrollment caps, including Academy of the Pacific Rim Charter School, a 5-12 charter that would like to serve 545 students rather than 500; Codman Academy Charter Public School, a charter high school which would like to serve 345 students rather than 145; among others.

As part of an effort to share a look at what the charter proponents are seeking to do, I am giving some basic background on the schools and including a video allowing the proponents to speak in their own words. Today we’re focusing on the application filed by the Edward W. Brooke Charter Schools, seeking a fourth 540-student K-8 school, to open in Boston in 2014. We will be talking with Kimberly Steadman, the Network Co-Director of Academics.

The original Brooke elementary school opened in 2002. For some time now the school’s K-8 student body has shown stellar academic performance, outperforming most every school in the Commonwealth notwithstanding predominance of disadvantaged students. Consider this graphic of the school’s performance in 2010 on the English/Reading MCAS exam:

Brooke - 2010-MCAS-English-ALL-grades-600x357.png

In addition to the Brooke Roslindale school, in 2011 Brooke gained a Mattapan affiliate and a year later an East Boston affiliate. Today, the three schools in the Brooke network serve about 1,500 Boston-area students—primarily poor minority students (78% of students are eligible for free/reduced lunch).

This year’s (2012) MCAS data puts an exclamation point on the progress seen in the original school, where Brooke administrators tout the following achievements

  • In all tested elementary grades (3-5), Brooke Roslindale students scored #1 in the state in Mathematics;
  • In 4th and 8th grade, Brooke Roslindale students scored #1 in the state in English;
  • On all English and Mathematics tests in all grades, Brooke Roslindale ranked either #1, #2 or #3 among all Boston schools

Brooke - 2012-MCAS-Math-scores.jpg

Moreover, the Brooke Mattapan school “demonstrated the highest growth [in student performance] in the state in both English and Mathematics.”

Today, the Brooke network has 4,000 Boston Public School students on its waiting list. These are parents who want a choice and a chance for their kids. They are parents who, like the architects of the Massachusetts Education Reform Act of 1993 do not want “the accident of place and station of birth.. to be the most dispositive factor in determining a child’s potential for educational success.”

In the video below, we hear from Kim, who prior to helping to joining Brooke taught in the Chelsea and Washington DC district schools. She’s been with Brooke for almost a decade, serving as a lead teacher, math teacher, professional development coordinator, and elementary principal before taking on her new position. Kim and Brooke’s work to support its teachers is phenomenal, with 35 administrative and peer observations per year, and 10 video self-analyses per year. In addition, there are daily co-planning sessions, 3 hours of weekly professional development, and data review meetings to support teachers’ work.

Edward Brooke Charter Schools have done an incredible job, leading the state in tested content areas and disproving the status quo mantra that poor minority kids cannot achieve great things. They deserve another 500-student school. And those 4,000 Boston kids on the Brooke waiting lists deserve a chance.

Crossposted at Pioneer's blog. Follow me on twitter at @jimstergios, or visit Pioneer's website.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Jim Stergios is executive director of the Pioneer Institute. Before joining Pioneer, he was Chief of Staff and Undersecretary for Policy in the Commonwealth's Executive Office of Environmental Affairs, where More »

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