Greg Roach's Berkshires Blog
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
  Is All Publicity Good?
Just once I would like to see an article about the charter school that is not premised on the point of view of North Adams' Mayor. I mean no disrespect, but the story of BArT's long scheduled open house and their administration being prepared for questions rising from the likely closure of Conte Middle School does not strike me as terribly controversial. Well, that is, until you start including accusations of poaching students from a "rival" district.

We all know that the equation for funding charter schools hurts traditional school districts. (Anybody who reads the paper *already* knows the Mayor's position on this) Frankly the way the budgeting is mandated by the state sucks. And from what I gather, charter schools aren't exactly thrilled by it either. (There has to be a better way. Dan? Ben?)


Why does the angle on a simple story about a school's open house have to be about "the controversy?" I don't get it.
As I'm sure you are aware, had the story not included the expected comments from the Mayor, it would have appeared as if the paper was supporting BaRT's effort. And we all know what that would mean.

I do agree with the Mayor on one point. The Dept of Ed has created an extremely unlevel playing field with the requirements placed on traditional public schools vs the charter schools.

The key to solving these unending spats is to either loosen restrictions on public schools, or tighten restrictions on charter schools. But the Dept of Ed wants to have it both ways. They need to make sure every kids has a chance at an education, but they love to hold up the charters schools and say what a great alternative they have created.
Funny how high-stakes testing was a bad idea...unreliable...big mistake...forces teachers to teach to the test at the expense of other curricula.

But when the results of that testing (supposedly) support your position on alternative schools ruining your public system, isn't it funny how those results get trumpeted all over every discussion on the topic?
Let's not forget why Charter schools sprang up in the first place. An alternative to sub-par school systems was needed and I think we can agree that applies here. All the yelling about BArT's MCAS scores being lower than NA's and thereby proving the uselessness of the school is self-defeating for the mayor. Close BArT and what school is at the bottom then? Shall we shut down the entire NA school system?
BArT gets many students that are underperforming in other schools and transfer in for the dicsipline and attention that can be had there. BArT has them for 2 months and they get tested, and the scores are low. Is that really a reflection on BArT or on the school they left? The school has not been around long enough for the improved students to outnumber the newer ones and bring up the average scores. and really, it's not about the group average, it's about the individual student performing to the level that is right for them, isn't it, Mr. Mayor?
I will only say that it is refreshing to see an article where Bowen is allowed to rebut for a change - and the Mayor doesn't get the final word. It's a slow evolution . . .

Can you imagine the form a bake sale article would take?
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