December 19, 2011

Deck stacked against SABIS?

By Charles Chieppo and Jamie Gass

(Boston Herald, December 19, 2011) 
February will be decision time for another round of Massachusetts charter school applications. In 2012, the focus will be on “Gateway Cities” — middle-sized cities outside the Boston area.

As part of a successful bid to win federal grants, state leaders last year doubled the number of charter seats in low-performing school districts. But the additional seats are only available to “proven providers” that already operate successful charter schools. No entity fits the bill better than SABIS, an educational management company operating schools in Springfield and Holyoke.

In Springfield, 30 percent more SABIS International Charter School students scored advanced or proficient on 2011 English MCAS tests than did students in the surrounding district. The difference was 31 percent in math. SABIS International has been recognized by Newsweek and U.S. News and World Report as one of the nation’s best high schools.

Another SABIS school, the Holyoke Community Charter School, outscored all that city’s district schools in English and math for grades five through eight.

Given this track record, you’d think the state would welcome pending applications for SABIS-managed schools in the Gateway Cities of Springfield and Lowell. But Massachusetts Secretary of Education Paul Reville’s views about charter schools remain ambivalent at best, and he appears to nurse a particular grudge against SABIS.

(Read the complete OpEd in the Boston Herald

Charles Chieppo is a senior fellow and Jamie Gass directs the Center for School Reform at Pioneer Institute.


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