Congrats to 3 Mass charters and a Big, Open Question

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Excel Academy
Match Charter
Roxbury Prepatory

At a ceremony held at the Capitol Building in DC yesterday, the Center for Education Reform named three of Massachusetts charter schools among the 53 National Charter Schools of the Year.

The day’s events included a press conference, a National Press Club lunch, and meetings with reps and senators. The three award recipients were Excel Academy Charter School (East Boston), MATCH Charter Public High School (Boston), and Roxbury Preparatory Charter School (Roxbury).

These are schools that are inspiring and changing the expectations of minority students. They are also outscoring on achievement tests many of the “W” communities that have so many more advantages. To anyone who has been in these schools, it is clear, however, that the students’ impressive results on achievement tests is just one indication of their success.

These three charters were honored–and rightfully so. But it should be remembered that Massachusetts charters are as a whole doing extremely well and closing the achievement gap. There are many reasons for that success, including the strong and appropriate regulatory process that weeds out poor charter applications, a history of support from Governors and the legislative leadership, and some really great charter entrepreneurs.

We have had several key entrepreneurs “stolen” by other cities and states, after the loss of real leadership in the legislature on education (read Speaker Finneran and Senate President Tom Birmingham).

Do the new top three–Governor Patrick, Speaker DiMasi and Senate President Terry Murray–have that kind of leadership in them? Translation: Can they be both realistic in supporting the teachers union while also standing up and insisting upon change? (Ahem, that is the Big, Open Question.)

As noted in previous postings, Mayor Bloomberg (NYC), Mayor Fenty (DC), and Mayor Kilpatrick (Detroit), Mayor Daley (Chicago) and many, many other mayors are showing similar leadership. If you live in Boston, Lawrence, Brockton, New Bedford, Fall River, and on down the line–you really have to ask yourself, what are your mayor and your councilmen doing to reduce the achievement gap?

There is talk (and that’s always fun), but then there’s the walk.