Students at Brooke Charter Schools are 98% black and Latino. Across Brooke’s three Boston campuses, 80% of students qualify for free or reduced price lunches, indicating their families are close to the federal poverty line.
Skeptics argue that economic disadvantages, like the disadvantages faced by the students at Brooke, account for intractable gaps in academic performance between blacks and Latinos and students from white and Asian backgrounds. Brooke shows that this achievement gap is not insoluble; Indeed, Brooke has shown that the achievement gap can be erased.
Students at the three Brooke schools are leading Massachusetts on standardized tests. Among K-8 schools, Brooke East Boston students rank first in median growth percentile on math and English Language Arts tests and Brooke Mattapan students rank second. These results alone would be enough to make Brooke notable, but Brooke’s original campus is even more high-achieving. Brooke Roslindale K-8 students have the highest overall proficiency rate in math and English Language Arts in Massachusetts.
You read that right – Brooke Roslindale is the highest performing K-8 public school in Massachusetts.
Brooke’s leadership wants to open new schools so they can serve more students. There are more than four thousand families on Brooke’s waiting list. Unfortunately, Massachusetts politicians will not raise the charter cap that limits the expansion of charter school networks, effectively denying thousands of students access to a high quality education.
The best K-8 public school in Massachusetts cannot expand because of political obstructionism. As Kimberly Steadman, Co-Director of Academics at Brooke, says, “There are members of our society who are not as interested in seeing our students succeed as they are in their own political agenda.”
Without legislation to lift the charter cap, students in Boston will continue to be denied the education they deserve. This bitter reality is tempered only by the knowledge that, absent political interference, great schools like Brooke can overcome the achievement gap. Brooke’s amazing results show us what is possible when high-quality teachers and school leaders are given the resources they need to succeed.