Charter schools’ early days in Massachusetts

Two players from 1993 ed reform reflect on charter history – and future

JUST HOURS BEFORE Gov. Charlie Baker joined with Hispanic leaders in East Boston on Tuesday afternoon to rally on behalf of his proposal to raise the cap on charter schools, two people who were there when charter schools were first authorized in the state 23 years ago shared some of that history – and considered the lessons it offers for today’s debate.

State Sen. Michael Barrett and Tripp Jones, who was a chief aide to Rep. Mark Roosevelt, a principal author of the 1993 Education Reform Act, spoke at a policy forum organized by Democrats for Education Reform, a pro-charter organization.

They said Massachusetts charters have lived up to their promise of providing a quality choice for families, but both of them worried that charter proponents have put the issue on a collision course that pits district school supporters against those hoping to raise the cap on charters this year.

Jones said a goal at the outset of the education reform effort was for charter schools, which are publicly funded but run independently of district systems, to innovate and develop new approaches that would “affect the regular traditional school systems.”

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Michael Jonas

Executive Editor, CommonWealth

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