ROMNEY CELEBRATES DECADE OF CHARTER SCHOOL SUCCESS
To mark National Charter School Week, Governor awards two new charters
To mark 10 years of charter school excellence in the Commonwealth, Governor Mitt Romney today awarded charters to two new schools, renewed the charters of 16 existing schools and congratulated the teachers and students of these innovative places of learning for enhancing choice in public education.
"Charter schools embrace innovative educational practices that encourage competition and hold teachers and administrators accountable for the academic achievement of their students," said Romney. "Choice within the Massachusetts public school system should be available to all parents, particularly those with children in our low-performing districts."
In celebration of National Charter School week, Romney announced the following additions to the Commonwealth's 56 public charter schools:
* The Martin Luther King, Jr. Charter School of Excellence, which will be located in Springfield, will serve 360 students in grades K-5. The school is scheduled to open this fall.
* The Phoenix Charter Academy will serve as a regional charter school for students from Chelsea, Revere and Lynn and is proposed to be an "ungraded" high school. Scheduled to open in the fall of 2006, the school plans to enroll up to 225 students ranging from 15 to 21 years of age.
"Charter schools have had great success in Massachusetts and offer parents the important right to make public school choices for their children," said Education Commissioner David P. Driscoll. "I applaud the success our 56 existing schools have had and look forward to the coming accomplishments of the two new charters we are granting today."
Of the renewed charter schools, two schools were granted their first renewed charter and 14 schools were granted their second renewed charter, including:
Year 5 Renewals
* Lowell Community Charter Public High School, Lowell
* Media and Technology Charter High School, Boston
Year 10 Renewals
* Atlantis Charter School, Fall River
* Benjamin Franklin Classical Charter Public School, Franklin
* Boston Renaissance Charter School, Boston
* Cape Cod Lighthouse Charter School, Orleans
* City on a Hill Charter Public School, Boston
* Community Day Charter Public School, Lawrence
* Francis W. Parker Charter Essential School, Devens
* Hilltown Cooperative Charter Public School, Haydenville
* Lawrence Family Development Charter School, Lawrence
* Lowell Middlesex Academy Charter School, Lowell
* Marblehead Community Charter School, Marblehead
* Neighborhood House Charter School, Boston
* SABIS International Charter School, Springfield
* South Shore Charter School, Norwell
During a ceremony at the Neighborhood House Charter School, Romney touted the success of the state's existing charter schools. A dozen of those schools were among the first group of charters to open since Massachusetts established the schools a decade ago.
Neighborhood House opened its doors in the fall of 1995 in limited space, restricting the school to enrolling less than half of the children that were eligible to attend. Committed to providing the best educational opportunities for their children, parents in the Dorchester community helped raise $3.7 million for a new facility so that more students could attend the school. There are now 242 students currently enrolled at Neighborhood House and the new building will allow the school to enroll 400 students next September. The school has one of the longest waiting lists in the state with more than 2,000 students seeking to enroll.
"We believe that parents deserve to choose the best educational opportunity for their children and they should have the same access to quality education as their suburban counterparts," said Neighborhood House Headmaster Kevin Andrews. "When a family has chosen Neighborhood House Charter School, we have made it our responsibility to provide a high quality education. Our mission is to give our students the necessary tools to pursue and fulfill their educational dreams."
From the original 14 charter public schools, Neighborhood House Charter School, Marblehead Community Charter School, Hilltown Cooperative Charter Public School in Haydenville, Francis W. Parker Charter Essential School in Devens and Benjamin Franklin Charter Public School in Franklin, ranked among the Top 25 schools on various tests of the 2004 MCAS exam. The test results place those charter schools higher than many suburban schools in Massachusetts.
Charter schools were created in 1995 to increase academic achievement for students, give parents more educational choices and develop best practices to hold teachers and administrators accountable for their academic results. Every five years, charter schools are required to demonstrate positive results to the Board of Education in order to have their charter renewed.
During the past decade in Massachusetts, enrollment at charter schools has soared from 2,613 to 20,259 students and only four charter schools have closed due to poor performance. Currently, almost 16,000 students are on waiting lists to attend one of the state's charter schools.
The Massachusetts charter school statute allows up to 120 charter schools, including 48 Horace Mann charters and 72 Commonwealth charters. There are currently 48 Commonwealth charter schools in operation with three more scheduled to open this fall and two more slated to open in fall 2006. Eight Horace Mann charter schools are currently in operation. For more information on charter schools, look online at www.doe.mass.edu/charter.