The Parker School
A six-year public secondary school of choice, the Francis W. Parker Charter Essential School is open by lottery admissions to all residents of Massachusetts in grades seven through twelve.
Parker is a progressive school which emphasizes learning to use one's mind well and putting the student at the center of the educational process. Students are known well at Parker. School climate is built on trust, decency, and democracy.
One of Massachusetts' first charter schools, Parker was started in 1995 by area parents and teachers committed to the principles of the Coalition of Essential Schools. Nationally recognized progressive educators Ted and Nancy Sizer were among Parker's founders and the school is part of their legacy; Ted and Nancy served as co-principals at Parker in 1998-1999.
The school was named after Francis W. Parker, the 19th-century New England educator who is known as the father of American progressive education.
The Parker Student Body
Parker enrolls 400 students from 40 towns in north central Massachusetts; the socioeconomic, ethnic, and educational characteristics of the student body closely reflect the general population of the region. Like all public schools, Parker serves students with a range of needs, abilities, and disabilities.
The Parker School has a talented and dedicated faculty. Parker teachers work together every summer to develop the school's curriculum and its unique program. All teachers serve as advisers to students, nurturing their intellectual, emotional, social, and ethical development. Parker gives top priority to keeping teaching loads at a level where every student can be known well. As faculty members at Parker commit to the development and achievement of their students, they also commit to one another's professional growth through critical conversation and daily collaboration. Parker trains, credentials, and supports early career teachers through the New Teachers Collaborative.
Parker School Trustees include parents, teachers, educators, alumni, and community members who share a commitment to Parker's mission.
What is a Charter School?
Under the Massachusetts Education Reform Act of 1993, the state may grant groups of citizens the right (or "charter") to start new public schools, which report to the state Office of Education and to their independent Boards of Trustees. By freeing these charter schools from the constraints of district supervision, it aims to nurture bold ideas and innovation in existing schools state-wide. Charter schools follow all federal and state regulations about non-discrimination; their admission is open to all.
What is an Essential School?
Established in 1984 by Theodore R. Sizer at Brown University, the Coalition of Essential Schools is a national network of over 1,200 schools and Centers engaged in restructuring and redesigning schools to promote better student learning and achievement. Essential schools share a common set of ideas known as the Ten Common Principles, which call for schools to set clear and simple goals about the intellectual skills and knowledge to be mastered by all the school's students; to lower teacher-student loads, personalize teaching and curriculum, and make student work the center of classroom activity; to award diplomas based on students' "exhibition" of their mastery of the school's program; to create an atmosphere of trust and respect for the school, faculty, students and parents; and to model democratic practices and honor diversity.