Celebrating National Charter Public Schools Week

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Great charter public schools are about great leadership. Charters in Massachusetts are the best in the country at bridging achievement gaps for our neediest students. They were authorized through the 1993 Massachusetts Education Reform Act, authored by Bay State leaders like Governor William Weld, Senate President Tom Birmingham, and Representative Mark Roosevelt. They believe that access to a quality education is a civil right, as education is the steppingstone to a better life. Education reformers often hearken back to the civil rights movement, drawing inspiration from the bold leadership that changed the nation, from the plaintiffs in the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court case, the Little Rock Nine, and MLK’s March on Washington.

Pioneer Institute recently hosted an event highlighting the life and legacy of one of the Civil Rights era’s most courageous leaders, the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, of Birmingham, Alabama. Shuttlesworth was co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, organized the Freedom Rides, and led demonstrations to end segregation in Birmingham. The Pioneer event featured his widow, Sephira Shuttlesworth, and award-winning historians Diane McWhorter and Andrew Manis, all of whom knew him well and shared moving reminiscences of his dynamic personality, and the events that formed his core convictions, including multiple attempts on his life, mob assaults, and bombings by the Ku Klux Klan. Following that conversation, the Rev. Liz Walker moderated a panel of civil rights and school leaders discussing how best to fulfill this nation’s promise of equality through school choice options for underserved families.

In the aftermath of Question 2’s defeat, it’s important to remember that tens of thousands of children remain on waiting lists for their chance to attend a good school and enjoy the American Dream. Their struggle calls for the kind of leadership on display in the life of Rev. Shuttlesworth. Watch the video clips below.

Video Highlights from “A Fire You Can’t Put Out: Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, Civil Rights, and School Choices” (held on March 20, 2017): 

Roundtable Discussion:
Sephira Shuttlesworth, Regional Support Director, SABIS Educational Systems; Andrew Manis, author, A Fire You Can’t Put Out: The Civil Rights Life of Birmingham’s Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth; and Diane McWhorter, author, Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama – The Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution

Policy Panel
Rev. Liz Walker, Pastor, Roxbury Presbyterian Church; Cara Candal, Pioneer Senior Fellow; Ken Campbell, IDEA Public Schools, Louisiana; Jeffrey Riley, Lawrence Public Schools Superintendent/Receiver; and Carlos Rojas Álvarez, Youth on Board

Charter schools are working for Massachusetts students, and through research, opinion pieces, videos and media appearances, Pioneer has been raising awareness about the innovative programs that these schools offer. You can view our website, videos, and research below.

Best Practices in Massachusetts Charter Schools: What We Know Now

Assessing Charter School Funding in 2016

Get Updates on Our Charter Schools Initiative

Study Explores Potential for Medical Voc-Tech Education in Catholic Schools

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Programs could help stem enrollment declines, provide opportunity…

Op-ed: Will district schools embrace charter-like reforms?

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This op-ed appeared in CommonWealth magazine. TOM BIRMINGHAM…

Op-ed: State should expand METCO

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By Cheryl Brown Henderson and Jim Stergios The Boston Globe…

Study Debunks False Claims Against Charter Public School Funding and Demographics

Charter schools in Massachusetts educating more special needs…

Op-ed: Voc-tech schools are a Mass. success story

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Read this entire op-ed online at CommonWealth Magazine, the…

Study: MA Charter Public Schools Have Lower Attrition Rates Than Sending School Districts

Charters also seeing higher special needs enrollment, helping…

Op-ed: Will DeVos avoid the Beltway education trap?

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By Jim Stergios and Charles Chieppo Read this op-ed online…

Op-ed: Challenge and Opportunity for Catholic Education

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Given our desire to do as much as we can, especially to help poor urban kids participate fully in the American Dream, we need to provide them with access to school choice options: charter schools; vocational-technical schools; private and parochial schools; and METCO. Choice is what the privileged have for their children. Why shouldn't everyone have access to high quality academic options?

Be informed, especially today

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Pioneer Institute's core mission is educating the public on policy…

Study Finds Boston Charter Students More Likely to Take and Pass AP Tests

Pass rates for African-American, Latino, and economically disadvantaged…

Cap, Talent Pipeline, And Facilities Funding Among Factors Prohibiting State Charter Sector From Achieving Scale

“Yes” vote on statewide ballot initiative could attract more…

New Video Release: The Time to Act

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Today, Pioneer is pleased to present a powerful video about the bigger picture - why the fight to expand charter public schools matters to all of us.

Op-ed: Vote ‘yes’ on Question 2

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This excerpt is from an op-ed published on Oct. 18, 2016 in The…

Op-ed: Mass. charters fight racial oppression

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By Sephira Shuttlesworth By 1959, my late husband, the Birmingham,…

Study: Massachusetts Charters Enrolling More English Language Learners

Charter ELLs have lower attrition rates, better academic outcomes…

Charter School Special-Needs Students Achieving Excellent Outcomes

Percentage Of Charter School Special-Needs Students Is Rising,…

How Phoenix Academies Transform Potential High School Dropouts into College Grads

Study Explores How Phoenix Academies Transform Potential High…