Lift arbitrary caps on charter schools
To the editor
A recent Pittsfield School Committee discussion included some misinformation about public charter schools that I would like to respectfully correct. ("Pittsfield School Committee endorses moratorium on charter schools," Nov. 13).
Berkshire Arts & Technology Charter Public School (BART) is a tuition-free, public school, open to all students in Grades 6-12 from Pittsfield and Northern Berkshire County. We prepare students for college by promoting mastery of academic skills and content with a strong foundation in arts and technology. The school provides an educational community that regards everyone, including teachers and parents, as lifelong learners.
BART serves a student population that is representative of our three main sending districts for students who have special needs or are "economically disadvantaged." We have a growing population of English-language learners matching the average of the three districts, and we have a higher percentage of African-American children.
BART had the highest 10th Grade MCAS proficiency levels of all of Berkshire County on the 2015 English, math and science tests. Our middle school students scored in the "high growth" category for English and math at every grade level on the PARCC exams, a measurement of academic improvement over time. Our students did well measured against area schools, and outscored local and statewide averages at every grade except 6th, which is our entry grade.
Rather than place a moratorium on charter growth, the Legislature should support replicating educational models that work, and lift arbitrary enrollment caps on charter growth.