Contrary to New Bedford Education Association President Lou St. John’s assertions (“Our View: DESE should reject City on a Hill charter renewal application”), Massachusetts’ public charter schools are subject to far greater accountability than traditional district schools.
If charter schools did not “get as much scrutiny as poor performing district schools,” there would be no debate as to whether any area charter school should be renewed — the school would simply continue operating, as so many underperforming district schools do for decades on end. There is no clear procedure for closing district schools.
Charter schools, by contrast, must undergo charter renewal every five years — and the state can close them if they do not serve their students. Since charter schools have begun operating, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has declined to renew more than two dozen charters.
A school closing is not, in itself, something to celebrate. But, Massachusetts’ record of closing underperforming charter schools leads to the high quality of its charter school sector as a whole. Studies from MIT, Stanford, and the Brookings Institute show that the Commonwealth’s charter sector outperforms both urban districts in Massachusetts and charter schools in other parts of the country.
City on a Hill will undergo a charter renewal process, and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has the option to close the school or put it on probation if they find that it does not serve its students adequately. In the meantime, New Bedford residents deserve to know the facts about charter school performance and accountability. Massachusetts charter schools are among the best in the nation, and they are subject to high standards and accountability measures reflective of this record.