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The Buzz in the Bay State

December 14, 2012

Earlier this week, Edspresso shared how Brockton, MA’s school super is “Trashing Charters on Company Time.” Now Matt Malone is poised to become Massachusetts’ next Ed Chief. Will his opposition to charters continue in his new role, or will he come to see the light as the former Brockton superintendent, Basan “Buzz” Nembirkow did – the man who led the charge against a strong charter application back in 2008? Check out Buzz’s change of heart on SABIS and for-profit EMOs from a recent Pioneer Institute panel:

“I think it’s [SABIS] an excellent model for all instruction. We use the word differentiated instruction today, but how can you differentiate instruction if you don’t know where the kids are?”

“Class size is a myth; an absolute myth.”

“When I looked at the SABIS model, the instructional model is sound.”

“It’s a whole lot easier [for districts] to what has always been done and blame somebody else.”

“SABIS has done a good job of taking what works best and putting it together, dealing with training teachers and administrators so there is a unified system.”

“From my perspective on schools, SABIS is a good model.”

Question from Jim Peyser, former Massachusetts Commissioner of Education: “Given the SABIS school in Springfield was a strong school, why wasn’t that good enough for you [Buzz] to support them coming to Brockton [in 2008]”?

Answer from Buzz: “My title was Superintendent of Brockton Public Schools, so right off the bat there’s an enlightened self-interest involved in that…. Basically, the issue was finance and politics. It had nothing to do, or very little to do with the quality of the [SABIS] program.”

“When SABIS came [to Brockton] we saw it as a financial threat. Simply as a financial threat. It took money away from us, which was about $4-5 million. Based upon that, our progress in BPS would have been substantially affected.”

“So my job defending the Brockton Public Schools, as the Superintendent, was to do whatever I could to stop that particular threat at that time, so we mounted a very good political campaign.”

“Almost 90% finances” was the reason Buzz cited for opposing the SABIS school application.

Peyser asked panelist: “So, for profit charter management: who cares or deal-breaker”? Buzz responded: “I have no issues with that.”

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