The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
Charter Schools Surging in Big Blue Mass

America’s most successful anti-blue idea is thriving in a deep blue state: Democratic lawmakers in Massachusetts want to lift caps on charter schools and charter-school funding in 29 low-performing school districts. This has charter proponents very excited. The WSJ reports:

“This demonstrates that charter schools are a viable reform,” said Nina Rees, president of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, a nonprofit aimed at advancing the movement. “If it can happen in Massachusetts, it can happen anywhere.” […]

It’s not clear what the Democratic-controlled legislature will do with the bill. It’s a safe bet that teachers’ unions will oppose it.

A few numbers are worth keeping in mind. There are now 31,000 Massachusetts students enrolled in charter schools, and another 45,000 applicants remain on waiting lists. Fifty-nine percent of Massachusetts charter schools achieved the state’s highest ranking in academic achievement and graduation rates, compared with just 31 percent of non-charter schools. The fact that Democratic lawmakers are getting behind charters likely means that low-income parents in Massachusetts like what they see and are demanding more.

We’re not ready to declare charter schools this century’s sole or best answer to the atrocious failure of the current educational system, but they’re off to a very promising start in many places.

[Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com]

Published on March 11, 2013 5:22 pm