HYANNIS — Sturgis Public Charter School's distinct education model and ability to draw students from off-Cape has Charles Baker interested.
With a focus on improving education statewide, Baker, who is seeking the 2014 Republican nomination for governor, stopped by the school on Tuesday afternoon for a private chat with Sturgis staff. He then met with members of the Cape Cod Times editorial board to discuss a variety of topics, including public schooling.
It is difficult to get policymakers "to row in the same direction," Baker said. His goal is to commit to two or three big issues, and improving education is one of them, he said.
While a lot of progress has been made, there is still a way to go — whether it's using longer school days or other alternative models, he said.
Sturgis' implementation of the International Baccalaureate system may not be for everybody, but there is something to be learned from the school's success, Baker said. The ability of the school on Main Street, Hyannis, to draw students from Plymouth, Kingston, Scituate and other communities north of the Cape impressed Baker.
"There's something to that."
It's not just charter schools that have potential to improve education statewide, but also vocational technical schools, he said. With a large percentage of technical school graduates either moving on to higher education or staying in the state to work, Baker said these schools could pay dividends for the state. "They're a bigger part of the answer to urban education than we give them credit for."
Baker said he believes in longer school days in urban communities. He pointed to a failing school in Lawrence that, with a longer school day and other "rule-bending" changes, went from the brink of being shut down to thriving. A clear strategy is what schools need to succeed, Baker said.
Baker is not sold on early education, at least not without a way to retain those advantages.
"Too many studies show that evaporates after the second grade," he said about many early education initiatives. "I'm all for it as long as we figure some way to hold the gains."
Regardless of how it is done, education is something the state can — and needs to — improve upon, Baker said. "Instead of being surprised at a flower, we should ask how can we grow more," he said.