Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

Opinion

November 21, 2013

Town must seize benefits of STEAM school

Editor, Townsman:

The proposed science/technology/math/arts charter public high school represents the most creative educational proposal for the children of Andover that my wife and I have heard put forward in the almost 30 years we have lived in Andover.

Not surprisingly, the defenders of special interests and the status quo in town object to this proposal. But the status quo is not serving the children of Andover well. The level of preparedness in mathematics, the sciences and the arts of even Andover’s top students has declined, as it has across the country, over the past generation. I have seen this decline in preparedness firsthand during a recent stint as visiting professor of mathematics at one of our nation’s most select post-secondary education institutions. The proposed STEAM charter public high school presents, by far, the best means to change that for the children of Andover.

To dispense with the myths, misinformation and spin being propagated:

1. A charter school is a public school, not a private school. The only difference between it and the rest of the public schools in a town is that parents control the charter school, not a political body, not the teachers union.

2. The town does not lose any money when it creates a charter public school. For students who choose to attend the charter public school, the tax dollars to cover the cost of educating them is redirected from the traditional public school, as it logically and rightly should. In fact, under Chapter 46 of MA state law, towns that set up charter schools get even more state aid, overall, than they would if they didn’t have a charter school. So with the proposed charter high school, Andover will see an increase in state aid, per student, compared to the status quo.

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