In schools, can separate be equal? asks Farah Stockman in the Boston Globe.
Brooke Mattapan Charter School is one of the highest scoring schools in the city: 67 percent of eighth-graders scored “proficient” or better in science and technology on state exams. That’s better than Boston Latin.
Out of 508 students at the charter school, three are white, including the codirectors’ daughter, notes Stockman.
“There’s nothing about a school that makes it better by having more white kids,” says Kimberly Steadman, codirector of Brooke, who is white.
“Her students routinely outperform those in predominantly white schools across the state,” writes Stockman. It’s separate but superior.
Hartford has spent $2 billion over the last decade building magnet schools — including one with a planetarium! — to attract white families. It’s an impressive effort. And yet, only about half of Hartford’s kids get into a magnet school.
To Steadman, that money might be better spent building excellent schools for black and Latino kids.
Brooke doesn’t try to attract white, middle-class families. “The dance studio with the ballet bar, the music room full of xylophones, and the computer room aren’t featured on the school’s website,” writes Stockman. That might draw parents whose children have other good options, taking space from the kids who really need it.
In Boston’s district-run public schools, the achievement gap is huge. Nearly 40 percent of African-American boys in middle school are classified as “special education” students. School officials involved with the “Boston Compact” came asked Steadman about Brooke’s special programs for black boys.
“We told them we didn’t have any special programs. We just treat them like everybody else. We teach them to read. To think. To stand up for their thoughts.”
“Brooke has one of the lowest attrition rates in the city,” writes Stockman.
So, how do they do it? The school day runs from 7:45 am to 4:30 pm every day, except Wednesday afternoon, about two hours a day more than most district-run schools. Brooke’s school year is 12 days longer too. “That adds up to more than 350 hours of additional instruction.”