A first for the Board of Education

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Yes, it is truly an — ahem — independent Board of Education. Yes, we will continue to hope that it will continue to be objective. Cough, cough.

The SABIS proposal for a regional school to be located in Brockton was recommended by the Commissioner of Education and Department of Education staff.  Unlike many other states, Massachusetts has a strong application process that weeds out weak applications. This protects public dollars and has given the Commonwealth the best charters in the country.

The proposed SABIS school was to serve 500 students to start and grow by a grade a year until it served 1300 students.  SABIS is a known entity in Massachusetts. It runs a successful charter school in Springfield.  Just ask the hundreds and hundreds of parents who have their kids on the waiting list to get in.

But a funny thing happened at the Board of Education meeting. For the first time ever, a school recommended by the Commissioner and staff of the Department was rejected by the Board.

Why? Is it because there is no real need in Brockton? While Brockton School Superintendent Basan Nembirkow is pretty accomplished, the district only has 49 percent of its 10th graders performing on the MCAS math test in the advanced or proficient categories (as opposed to a statewide average of 67 percent).

You would think that parents and kids should be given a choice, especially the choice of a proven charter school operator. But Superintendent Nembirkow, the Patriot Ledger reported, was “ecstatic.” Of course, the core concern was that funding for charters follows the child. If Brockton parents chose SABIS over the Brockton schools, then Superintendent Nembirkow would lose funding.

Hmm. Competition, it seems, is a difficult concept to accept.

The Boston Herald tried to put on a game face, noting that 3 out of 4 is not bad. It noted “a reasonable fear among supporters that the board would find an excuse to put off a decision…”

It will be interesting to watch the new Patrick Board of Education in action.  And, in fact, for your viewing pleasure, we will be posting parts of the Board of Education meeting. There were some real nuggets, such as Patrick appointment Ruth Kaplan’s complaint that SABIS was too focused on testing and getting kids into college.

Keep an eye out in the coming days.