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Expanding Charters in Massachusetts: Any Help for High Schools?

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Education Secretary Arne Duncan is in Massachusetts today to help Gov. Deval Patrick unveil new legislation to expand the number of charter school seats in the state. And the proposed expansion is big, according to this story in the Boston Globe.

Compare this news with the way the Ed Department announced the event through a press release this morning. Under a headline saying that Duncan would join Patrick for an "education reform announcement," it said the legislation would "support turning around underperforming schools and pushing for further Education Reform." (capitalization is theirs).

I'm not yet sure to what extent the proposed charterization will affect high schools, but in blogging about this, I'm betting they won't be excluded. So if I cross my eyes and let the Massachusetts proposal meld together with the Ed Department's press release, it starts to look a bit like education reform = charterizing. (Please chime in here with other interpretations.)

Are charter conversions going to be the most potent form of leverage we can apply to make poorly performing high schools work better? I've been thinking a lot lately about whether Duncan's call to turn around the country's 5,000 lowest-performing schools will inject enough life into the work to crack the difficult high school nut once and for all.

Please jump in here.... what will it take to turn around our lowest-performing high schools?

1 Comment

Seems to me that how schools are formed are less important than how the seats are filled in the school. That is to say, a key failing of many schools is that we find unmotivated students, mixed in with motivated students - and the resulting mix can be disruptive in the classroom, and even the motivated students are often distracted.

The ultimate solution, in my mind, is a competitive entry system - into high schools that specialize in college prep, technical areas, trade areas - and to require students and their families to compete to enter those schools. I think you'll find, that the students will gravitate towards those schools that fit their needs, goals - and they'll be motivated to get in, and stay in.

Of course, the implied action includes requiring a certain level of attendance, grades - or there would be a consequence of being asked to leave (after a coaching, disciplinary process). This is the process followed by many of the most successful private schools, and it works!

Thanks for the post, I'll be looking for more of your comments

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