Charter schools started as an experiment, but over the last two decades, the innovative academies, which operate independently of local school committees and teachers’ unions, have become an established source of new strategies. Longer school days, intensive tutoring, and other ways to improve student performance have grown out of charter schools. Not every charter offers a better opportunity for needy urban children than their district schools, but parents clearly deserve the choice.
Now a coalition of education reformers is pushing to eliminate the cap on charters in the lowest-performing districts. Given the deficiencies of schools in those cities, and the frustratingly slow pace of reform in districts such as Boston, more charter schools will provide crucial opportunities for urban families. With a rigorous new study corroborating the significant learning gains Massachusetts charter schools impart, the time has come to remove the cap in those districts, which include New Bedford, Fall River, Brockton, Boston, Chelsea, Everett, Lynn, Lawrence, Lowell, Fitchburg, Haverhill, Worcester, Springfield, Chicopee, and Holyoke.