Our proposed new charter school: MATCH Community Day

Kenny Wang emailed me this morning. Ah, Kenny. One of the very first MATCH Corps, in 2004. We told them not to date each other. Kenny not only dated but married Marie Corriveau, also from the very first MATCH Corps. Nobody listens.

In 2007, fresh out of the Kennedy School, he was a huuuge help in writing the business plan for what has become MATCH Teacher Residency. Kenny now works for D.C. Prep Charter School.

So anyway. Kenny wondered: what's the deal with the proposed new charter school I mentioned yesterday on the blog? A few more of you faithful readers have asked the same thing. Here goes:

We have proposed a new charter school, called MATCH Community Day. You can read our full application here.

The idea is a Boston school to serve 700 kids in Grades pre-K to 12. Our focus would be on serving "English Language Learners."

(The photo is from a citizen swearing-in ceremony at Fenway Park earlier this year).

In Massachusetts, ELL refers to a student whose first language is a language other than English and who is unable to perform ordinary classroom work in English. In Boston, where MATCH Community Day will operate, the largest ELL language groups are Spanish, Chinese, Cape Verdean Creole, Haitian Creole, and Vietnamese.

Our experience is a middle school and high school for kids from low-income families. The new school would be elementary, middle, and high.

So we've partnered with another charter school. It's called Community Day, based in Lawrence, Massachusetts -- a hardscrabble city about an hour from Boston. Community Day is great. It serves a large English Language Learner population, and the kids have had great results.

Our proposed school would license the Community Day curriculum and assessment expertise for Grades pre-K to 5.

The application process:

1. Write a 40-ish page application, including all the appendices. That happened this August. As the article explains, 42 schools applied. We and 24 others got the thumbs-up, and advanced to the next round.

2. Write a 150-ish page application. We finished this last month.

3. The Department of Education reads the applications, holds public hearings, then has each charter school founding team attend a two-hour interview. Ours is January 10th.

4. The Department then recommends schools for approval. Ultimately they must be voted by the Board of Education. This happens end of February.

This is the Executive Summary:

MATCH Charter Public School serves 440 Boston students in Grades 6-12. The student body is 78% low-income, 61% black, and 32% Latino. Our high school has entered its 11th year and our middle school its 3rd year. Parent demand is high. In March 2010, 960 students applied to our school for 150 openings.

Over the past two years we have prepared for the possibility of growth. Our teacher licensure program was approved by DESE in 2008 and will be a source of faculty for our new school after year one. We have set aside $200,000 in reserves for start-up costs associated with the launch of a second school. And we have expanded our back office, particularly our controller and general finance functions. We are ready for the challenge of adding a second school.

We write this application with humility. While we believe MATCH School is strong, we also believe our existing school has much room for improvement. As a result, we have chosen to propose only one Boston school, rather than several, because we feel that is “just right” for our capacity.

Also, we have chosen to create a major partnership with another proven charter school (described later), rather than go it alone.

Third, we have carefully studied charter growth in other cities, so that our proposed new school can improve our existing school (via teacher and leader collaboration, and certain economies of scale).

The school’s leadership is stable. Alan Safran has been Executive Director since 2002. Founder Michael Goldstein has led the school in various capacities since 2000, and currently leads its teacher development. Board Chair Stig Leschly created the Newark (NJ) Charter School Fund, and is attuned to growth challenges.

Our mission is to prepare Boston children to succeed in college and beyond, in particular those who would be the first in their families to earn a college degree. We further believe that college success is the most likely way to escape intergenerational poverty....

We seek to replicate our school, with one key difference: we hope to serve large numbers of English language learners (ELLs), also from low-income families. This population has been growing in Boston. It now roughly numbers 16,000 children, or 29% of the Boston Public School population. No Boston charter school currently enrolls more than 4% limited English proficient students.

Meanwhile, the Governor, Secretary of Education, Mayor, and Boston Superintendent all have called on charter schools to serve more ELLs. Letters of support from immigrant, refugee, parent, and community organizations demonstrate the support for a college-preparatory charter like ours to serve this particular component of the Boston community.

As a result, MATCH Community Day will recruit these ELL families with fervor. It will, of course, be open to all students, per the law, but marketing materials and outreach will target Boston's main limited English proficient populations: those speaking Spanish, Haitian Creole, Cape Verdean Creole, Vietnamese, and Chinese.

We believe we’re unusually well-positioned to serve this population. First, the MATCH model provides more tutoring than any other public school in Massachusetts, through an elite group of recent college graduates called MATCH Corps. Second, the proposed school’s preK-12 configuration (rather than the 6-12 configuration of our existing school) was selected to reach students early in their language development. Finally, we have created an unprecedented partnership with another charter school, Community Day Charter Public School (CDCPS) of Lawrence.

CDCPS is the highest performing among public schools in Massachusetts with an ELL population of at least 20%. CDCPS (which is separately applying to DESE to grow two more charter schools in Lawrence) is a proven provider in the elementary grades and with ELLs. A copy of our partnership agreement is included as an Appendix....

The proposed MATCH Community Day Charter Public School will build on the strengths of both institutions -– MATCH’s success with low-income, minority students in grades 6 to 12 and CDCPS’s success with grades preK to 5 and with limited English proficient students.

Finally, looking forward, the proposed MATCH Community Day School has a terrific opportunity to collaborate with Boston Public Schools (BPS)....