Mitchell D. Chester, commissioner of the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education recently endorsed 10 new Boston charter schools. Seven other charter schools statewide won his endorsement as well. The State Board of Education voted to approve all 10 Boston proposals on February 28. Six statewide non-Boston applications were also approved; one in Lynn was rejected.
All Boston charters were easily approved, though one, a second Edward Brooke Charter School, gathered some opposition because of the high attrition rate of its parent Edward Brooke school. The current Edward Brooke has a student population that hovers between 60 and 70 students from Grades K to three until student attrition “ forced or otherwise “ sets in. The Brooke student population drops steadily each year from 70 to 18 in grades three through eight. In grade 6, there are 44 students; grade 7, 26 students; and in grade 8, only 18 students remain. Little wonder there is concern about their dropout rate. Too bad the concern wasn’t enough.
(By the way, the current Edward Brooke charter school serves a population virtually devoid of Limited English Proficient students, 0.2% to the city’s 30.3%, and with very few special ed students, 7.3% to the city’s 19.4%.)
Currently charter schools, even though they do not educate all students “ specifically those with special education needs and ELL needs “ drain in excess of $60 million per year from Boston Public Schools. The additional charter schools will drain an expected $40 million on top of the current $60 million. The new state Ed Reform law allows even more charter schools to be created in Boston. The total dollar loss for our schools will exceed an estimated $110 million per year by 2014. Superintendent Carol Johnson and Mayor Menino supported the Ed Reform legislation.