GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Opinion

January 5, 2013

Mayor's Desk: Lessons taken from charter school

The Gloucester charter school saga began as a fight over values and money, and ended abruptly as a collapse of expectations, finances and a dream. Many lessons will be taken from the story, but the community should not forget the miraculous experiences that many children encountered during their time at the Gloucester Community Arts Charter School.

Many accounts have been and will be written, but the experience of the students is how we as a community should choose to remember this school. When parents try to explain what happened, I hope they tell a story of advocacy, of taking risks, of principles.

At its core, the story of the Gloucester Community Arts Charter School is the story of fighting for something you believe in — especially through those early days when a group of committed parents labored to open the school.

Families took a chance on a school alternative because they trusted that it was the right decision for their child. Almost at every turn, the families who made this choice had to stand up for their beliefs and weather a constant barrage of negative information from neighbors, from elected officials, and in the media. They did so without knowing that the school would have a positive impact on their child, though in the end it did. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding the school’s beginnings, management, and demise, good things happened. One day, the children who attended the school will be able to look back and say, “Wow, I was part of something important.”

The life lessons go beyond the children and their families. For many in the community, the cause was a stand based on convictions, on new ideas, and the boldness it takes to pursue a different path.

When the Gloucester Community Arts Charter School was just a concept, I opposed the idea. I could look at the spreadsheet and see the financial impact on the city. Once families began choosing the charter school for their children and enrolling them, I gave the school my full support. The families who made this choice did so for the best reason of all — the fit they saw for their children.

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