WAMC Northeast Public Radio – “Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, who is a strong advocate for more charter schools, recently visited a charter school-like program operated by a public-private partnership in Springfield.

The middle schools in Springfield began a dramatic transformation just about a year ago in a bid to lift the schools out of the bottom academic rung and avert a likely state takeover. The schools were placed under the control of a board with representatives appointed by the city, the state education department, and Empower Schools, a private education company.

The middle schools were reorganized into academies, each with no more than 300 students to allow for smaller class sizes. The Springfield teachers union agreed to a new contract that would allow for longer school days, and principals were given autonomy to experiment.

Springfield Superintendent of Schools Dan Warwick said the approach mirrors turnaround plans that have worked at struggling schools in other cities.

” It is an exciting opportunity to try some things very different,” said Warwick. ” We are going to keep a tight eye on results to make sure things are going the right way for our kids.”

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