This letter concerns the STEAM Studio charter school now being proposed for the Town of Andover. I recommend that the approval or disapproval of this application by DESE be delayed for a full cycle based on the rationale I outline below.
I am a longtime resident of Andover, had three children utilize the public schools in town and am a strong supporter of the school system itself, its rigorous academic programs and its undisputed long-term success. I am also the chairman of Andover’s Economic Development Council whose mission is to make Andover the best place to work and live in America (this, of course, includes the schools). I am a public school product myself, have a Bachelor of Science in math and hold two master’s degrees. My wife, who also holds a master’s degree, was a longtime school teacher in Lexington. So we are not innocent bystanders in this important discussion.
I am a strong supporter of the charter school concept itself, and have been pleased to see the charter school successes in Boston, other communities in Massachusetts as well as in deserving (primarily) urban areas throughout America. I empathize with the proponents of the proposed STEAM Studio charter school in Andover as we all wish to better prepare the next generation of participants in our economic society. We are all familiar with the “gap” that currently exists here in Massachusetts between applicants and job openings — which is particularly acute in the technology sector. Clearly we, as citizens and key arbiters of precious resources, must address this issue urgently.
However, in my judgment, the Andover citizenry has not yet had enough time to thoroughly evaluate this important choice now before us. There are three reasons why I believe this application should be delayed for a cycle to allow adequate examination: