Charter School Expansion Vote Is Not Without Controversy

The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education votes Monday on whether to open 17 new charter schools. But advocates for immigrant education are objecting to the recommendations for the charters by the state education commissioner.

Most of the charter school proposals come from established charters looking to expand.

"This gives us a high level of confidence that the applicants that we're bringing forward in fact will be successful, because looking back they have been successful," said state Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester.

Many of the charter schools in Boston, however, don't mirror the population of mainstream schools. Thirty percent of Boston public school students are considered English language learners. But the charters wanting to clone themselves enroll 2.8 percent of those students, at most.

That's a problem for Roger Rice, executive director of Multicultural Education and Training Advocacy, a nonprofit based in Somerville that monitors immigrant education nationwide. He has urged the board to reject some of the proposals — or grant them provisional charters — and demand that they put together a plan for educating these students, "That they actually find somebody with the expertise in teaching this population and arrange to work with those folks — and not fake it — that they have the expertise, and that they go out and get it," Rice said.

Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester said the schools he's recommended are committed to recruiting and educating English language learners.


This program aired on February 28, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.


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