No evidence of "cherry picking" at Sturgis Charter Public School [Letter]

Editor's note: The following letter is in response to "Mashpee attacks Sturgis as school competition heats up" by Walter Brooks. For more on the subject read "Harwich High School AP government students compare Cape Cod high schools".

To the Editor:

There is just one problem with David Bloomfield’s claim that Sturgis Charter Public School engages in selective admissions by "cherry picking" the Cape’s best students for enrollment.

He has no evidence.

Instead, his absurd claim ignores the reality that every eighth-grader on Cape Cod is welcome to apply for admission and that enrollment is based entirely on the results of lottery conducted in public view.

How do I know?

I watched the lottery process in person two years ago. I know the good fortune of having two children attend Sturgis thanks only to the luck of the draw. I know the nerves I felt waiting for my child’s name to be read as index cards were pulled from a basket one by one. And I know the look of disappointment on the faces of parents whose children landed near the bottom of a long waiting list.

Where is Mr. Bloomfield’s evidence that this lottery is rigged? There is none.

But the possibility that above average students apply to Sturgis is not proof of cherry picking by the school. Instead, it says to me that motivated students and their parents are seeking out Sturgis based on results.

How does he suggest this conspiracy is executed? He can’t tell us.

For his evidence of "cherry picking by Charter Schools statewide," Mr. Bloomfield, a member of the Mashpee School Committee, relies on the statements from a registered lobbyist for the Massachusetts Association of School Committees.

Because the lobbyist says charter schools cherry pick, then it must be so?

I think not. Show us the documented proof or provide testimony from an eyewitness to these actions.

In support of his selective admissions claim, Mr. Bloomfield does cite MCAS test results from five Cape school districts that shows applicants to Sturgis score higher than average.

That may well be true. The Cape’s best students – and their parents -- are seeking out the best, public high school education around? Makes sense to me.

But the possibility that above average students apply to Sturgis is not proof of cherry picking by the school. Instead, it says to me that motivated students and their parents are seeking out Sturgis based on results.

They are seeking out the academic rigor offered by Sturgis through the International Baccalaureate curriculum and its “IB for All” philosophy.

To Mr. Bloomfield, I would suggest that rather relying on distorted statistical data and the claims of a paid lobbyist, next year he should attend the Sturgis admissions lottery and find out for himself how the process really works.

And while he is there, he might want to speak with the students, and their parents, about why they wish to enroll in what is consistently ranked the best high school on Cape Cod and in all of Massachusetts.

That information just might help Mashpee and other Cape school districts figure out a way to compete with Sturgis rather than make false claims.

David McPherson
Bourne, MA

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