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Calling UP Academy a ‘private firm’ is misleading

September 9, 2011

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RE “IN 1st, private firm opens Boston charter school’’ (Page A1, Aug. 29): It is encouraging to read about UP Academy, an in-district charter school that has grown out of a unique partnership between Boston Public Schools and Unlocking Potential, an organization founded specifically to work with the city and school district to help improve underperforming schools. The Globe’s coverage has been positive, and helps highlight an important component of the city’s reform strategy.

However, James Vaznis’s description of the organization as a “private firm’’ is a bit misleading. This description, which is repeated a number of times, leaves a reader to wonder whether there is a profit motive, and feeds concerns about privatization. Neither could be further off.

First, Unlocking Potential is a nonprofit organization. The organization’s mission is clear and compelling: to turn around underperforming schools and ensure that students are ready to succeed in college. Second, as an in-district charter, UP Academy is a Boston public school and its teachers and administrators are BPS employees.

In a number of cities across the country nonprofit charter organizations are turning around poor-performing schools and closing and even reversing the achievement gap. As UP Academy opens its doors to over 500 students, I hope we can celebrate the organization’s emergence in Boston, the city’s commendable efforts to collaborate, and the important role that this and other nonprofit charter organizations play in the improvement of public education in Boston.

Jordan Meranus
The writer is on the governing board of Unlocking Potential.