Tired, cynical – Them is fightin words

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At Tuesday’s hearing on charter schools, the Mass Association of School Superintendents (MASS) trotted out their “tired” and “cynical” attempt to snuff out charters.

“Tired”, “cynical”? Well, don’t ask me, read today’s inspired Globe editorial on charter schools, which opens by calling the supes’ bill “shifty” and not “merit[ing] serious consideration.”

There is a lot of speaking truth to power, or at least to the MASS Protectors of the Status Quo.

EACH YEAR opponents of state-supervised charter schools in Massachusetts perform the same tired dance steps on Beacon Hill in an effort to stamp out these distinctive examples of education reform. It’s a cynical exercise and an insult to the families of roughly 19,000 young people waiting for an opportunity to join the already 25,000 students attending charter schools in the state.

But more important than the passion is the fact that the piece demonstrates that we are intellectually past the point of no return. In the last election the other two Democratic gubernatorial candidates were solidly in the charter camp, as was the Republican candidate. What has gotten us to this level of acceptance is the following thinking noted in the Globe piece:

Relieved from union work rules and the demands of a large central bureaucracy, charter schools can respond quickly to student needs. Methods include longer school days, flexible scheduling, and customized curricula. And educators stay on their toes, knowing that failure can result in revocation of their charter by the state Department of Education.

There is explicit recognition that charters are the mainstay currently in the fight to close the achievement gap:

A recent DOE study found that black and Hispanic students in charter schools performed significantly better than their district counterparts on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System test.

How about this for the punch line?

There is really only one way sure way to defeat charter schools: provide district schools so good that no one would want to leave.

When will the Superintendents respond to the charter challenge by focusing on improving educational outcomes in district schools rather than spending all of their time trying to stymie innovation?