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Support for Charter School 'Crumbling,' Says Opposition Group

An opinion from Progress Together for Somerville regarding the proposed Somerville Progressive Charter School.

This announcement was sent by , a group that formed to oppose the proposed . Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone made reference to the group in his this week, saying the group has broadened its agenda to address other aspects of public education in Somerville. This announcement expresses the opinion of Progress Together for Somerville, and Somerville Patch has not confirmed the statements made.

Support for Proposed Somerville Charter School Crumbling
Jan. 4, 2012 
Somerville, MA – Support for the proposed Somerville Progressive Charter School (SPCS) has significantly eroded as the Somerville community learns more about the flawed plan. Several of the organizations originally listed in the application as supporting SPCS have now clarified that they are not endorsing the school, and corrected material misstatements made in the proposal.

Lesley University yesterday (Jan. 3) became the latest organization to issue an official letter clarifying inaccurate and misleading statements made in the SPCS application. Regarding an earlier letter from the former interim Dean of the University, Dean Jonathon H. Gillette stated, “Our letter is not, however, an evaluation of the strength of [the SPCS] proposal, nor an endorsement of that proposal.”

Lesley joins Tufts University and the Tufts Center for Engineering Education and Outreach in clarifying previously overstated involvement with the SPCS, as well as the Massachusetts Alliance of Portuguese Speakers, which retracted its previous statement of support, noting, “We now have enough reservations about the proposal that we are no longer comfortable supporting it at this time.” In its statement, Tufts University added, “Several members of the university community who supported the charter school's application believe it would be inappropriate to serve on the school's advisory council and have asked that their names be withdrawn from that council.”

Meanwhile, the immigrant and non-native English speaking communities have lined up in opposition to the proposed school, writing letters to the state board considering the SPCS application. The Immigrant Service Providers Group/Health, an agency in Somerville committed to immigrant community sustainability projects and health services stated, “we are concerned that the structure described in the present application may create a two-tiered educational system that could serve to sideline and potentially discriminate against immigrant students with English language instructional needs.”

Victor Nascimento, a Somerville High School graduate who immigrated from Brazil at age 15 wrote, “after reviewing [the SPCS] proposal, my impression of the bilingual component of this program is that it was an afterthought; further making the point this is meant to be an elite environment for privileged immigrant children who already speak English, rather than a true bilingual program to help ESL students.”

Satish Pai, parent at the Benjamin Brown School, wrote “I believe this charter school is NOT good for the Somerville Public Schools system because it does not propose anything that would make a meaningful difference to the group of students that it is ostensibly designed to serve.

“Somerville already has strong programs for addressing the needs of ELL students. These programs have been shown to be achieving results. In recent Massachusetts English Proficiency Assessment (MEPA) results, Somerville ELL students had high progress rates – 62% compared to 58% state-wide, and 88% for SEIP students compared to 58% state-wide.”

Progress Together for Somerville is an independent, grass-roots organization of parents that advocates for exceptional public education for all students in Somerville.

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