GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Letters/My View

January 8, 2013

Letter: Charter's closing a loss for Gloucester education

To the editor:

I’m not 100 percent sure what Gloucester Community Arts School trustee Jay Featherstone meant when he lauded GCA as a good place for kids who are different (the Times, Thursday, Jan. 3).

But I suspect that, by “different,” he’s referring to kids who learn best in the exceptional environment that thrived at GCA.

In truth, the vast majority of kids in any school are “different” in that they all learn differently from each other, something the district schools fail to realize. That’s why you see declining enrollment and lackluster performance — by any measure you choose — at district schools, with some of them on the verge of “failing,” according to the state.

By this definition, most of the children at GCA were, indeed, different. Some of them had been diagnosed as unusually smart, which means they’re bored by standard teaching methods employed by the district because those methods are designed for the average kid. To make matters worse, many excel in some areas and need a help in others. GCA teachers and staff recognized these areas, played to their strengths and helped the children work through their difficulties.

To be sure, GCA was not perfect. Indeed, Commissioner Chester, in his report on Nov. 16, 2012, outlined some issues that needed to be addressed — and were being addressed even as the commissioner was writing his report.

One can only speculate as to his motives, but recommending revocation only 27 months after granting a charter is unprecedented and many of the reasons given in the commissioner’s letter are inconsistent with his own report — a report that claims to be a third-year report, yet was written based on a single-day visit to GCA only 25 months after the school’s 2010 opening.

More importantly, the report fails to recognize that a majority of students showed improved performance and well being — some dramatically — as a direct result of having attended GCA.

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