Plan to revamp school was not the right idea
Re “In Charlestown, the seed for a new kind of school — in a city failing too many of its kids”: Your Jan. 16 editorial highlighting the “innovations” in the recent Charlestown High School takeover plan, like the prospectus itself, shows a disregard for the agency of the school’s community as well as a lack of appreciation of the work already happening there. (A Boston Public Schools committee on Wednesday rejected the proposal to close Charlestown High and turn it into a new “innovation and inclusion” school.)
The Globe celebrates the idea of early-college programming. As it happens, Charlestown High already has three Early College and Career Pathways, in partnership with Bunker Hill Community College. The proposed innovation school would have made early college a requirement for all graduates, but rather than supporting the existing program, the school’s proponents would have started over with new college partners, which, unlike Bunker Hill, are not located in Charlestown.
On the other hand, I am thrilled that the Globe supports a two-teacher model to support students with disabilities. The Boston Teachers Union has advocated for inclusion done right for years. However, properly funded special-education supports should be provided for all students, not just at innovation schools with “autonomies” and the ability to privately fund-raise. I hope the Globe will endorse the BTU’s contract proposal for well-resourced and fully staffed special education programs at every school.
The writer is a social studies and special education teacher at Charlestown High School and a BPS graduate.
Surprised to see a proven program wasn’t mentioned
Kudos to the Globe for endorsing early college as a proven strategy to launch students into college degree programs (“In Charlestown, the seed for a new kind of school — in a city failing too many of its kids”). However, I was surprised by the omission of one such very successful program at Charlestown High School itself.
Since 2001, when the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation first funded Jobs for the Future to establish early-college high schools nationwide, such “college in high school” programs have grown across the United States. Staff at Charlestown High have been providing early-college programming since 2015 with JFF support. Currently, around 200 Charlestown students are enrolled in business, information technology, and health care early-college pathways in which they attain college credits at Bunker Hill Community College.
Today at Charlestown High, thanks to support from public funds as well as from SAP, the Smith Family Foundation, and the Linde Foundation, early-college students, many of them first-generation, are pursuing college degrees and good careers. As the Globe editorial pointed out, in early-college programs across the Commonwealth, thousands of students are on track to postsecondary education with free college credits in hand.
Jobs for the Future