No on Question Two

On school issues, I listen very closely to the feelings of parents. I get mixed signals from parents about charter schools, but I do oppose Question Two, which would lift the cap on charter schools, because it goes too far.

Charter schools get their “charter” from the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and are authorized to draw students from local public schools. They are public entities run by a board of trustees, but they may contract with for-profit organizations for services. If DESE is not satisfied with the performance of a charter school, DESE can revoke its charter. In that sense, charter schools are highly accountable for results.

While a student from a local school district attends a charter school, the local school district must pay tuition to the charter school. The tuition is set roughly equal to the sending district’s average per pupil expenditure. In theory, however, in the first year, the state covers the tuition and also pays a portion of the tuition in several following years to ease the school district’s transition to a lower student headcount. The state typically does not fully meet this obligation — it is not bound to do so at a 100% level — but usually comes fairly close.

Charter schools are typically non-unionized, although their employees can unionize just like other public employees. Their teachers, while required under federal law to be “highly qualified” are not required to be licensed by the state, and do not receive the same tenure protections that public school teachers receive. Their students are, however, required to pass the same tests that local district students must pass in order to graduate.

There are many conflicting assertions about the educational effectiveness of charter schools. My view, after listening to a lot of argument and reading some of the research, is this: at least in Massachusetts, on average, charter schools have achieved better results in high poverty urban districts, but have not achieved better results in suburban districts.

In many high poverty districts, charter schools offer choices for parents and students who don’t have the financial ability to choose suburban schools. I hear parents in those districts asking for options and I feel we should respect their wishes and authorize charter expansion. Typically, in those high-poverty districts, the state is providing most of the funds for local schools — the whole goal of the state aid formula is to bring up spending in high-poverty districts. When the state is providing most of the funding, it assures stronger accountability for the state to charter the schools.

In places like Belmont and Watertown, by contrast, many parents have chosen their homes with the school district very much in mind. They are likely to live close to their children’s school, to volunteer in the school and to be active in political efforts to assure adequate resources for the school. They may even donate money to enrich school programs through local education foundations. These relatively affluent districts receive little state aid, so to the extent a charter school draws resources from them, local taxpayers who may have voted for overrides to fund their local schools and who are motivated to hold them accountable, will instead be funding schools out of their control, an arrangement that will dilute accountability and weaken the local will to support schools.

Question Two would leave these communities open to the entry of charter schools which is one principal reason I cannot support it. The other reason I oppose Question Two is the way that it would make Boston the likely target of unreasonably rapid charter expansion.

Boston is relatively capable financially and also has relatively high per pupil spending. It also has some high poverty areas. That makes it very attractive to charter operators — Boston charters have relatively high budgets and can focus on high-need kids, which, to their credit, is typically their motivation. The long-term problem that Boston faces is school-system overcapacity. Its resources are spread too thin across too many buildings already and the ongoing transition to lower enrollments means painful decisions to close schools. Question Two places no community-level limit on the expansion of charter schools.  It would make possible a too-rapid expansion that would further destabilize the Boston schools.

The legislature has tried and failed to reach a viable compromise on charters. Unfortunately, the proposition that advocates have framed for the voters on November 8 does not provide a good solution either. It’s a deep issue and I welcome discussion here.

Details on the charter cap

Currently, the charter school law, Chapter 71, Section 89 imposes two main caps on the number of charter schools — these appear in subsection (i) of the law:

  • A statewide cap on the  total number of Commonwealth charter schools — 72
  • A community level cap on the total tuition due to enrollment from charter schools — 9% of net school spending

There are several additional rules:

  • No charter schools added within communities under 30,000 population unless they are regional.
  • Not more than one additional charter school per year shall be approved in communities in the top 10%.
  • In the lowest 10% of districts, the tuition cap goes up from 9% to 18%.

Question two, the charter school proposal (which appears in full text in the voter guide published by the Secretary of State), basically adds a catch-all override to all of these limits, allowing the creation 12 additional charter schools per year.  The 12 new charters authorized each year cannot add charter enrollment greater than 1% of the statewide enrollment in all public schools.   The law does state that if there are more than 12 qualified applicants priority shall be given to applicants serving communities in the bottom 25% of test scores.

As the proponents have chosen to write it, the proposition would affect smaller communities not in the lowest 10% of performance in two ways — it would eliminate the protection existing in current law against new non-regional charters in communities under 30,000 and the limit on charters in the top 10%; by lifting the statewide cap on charter schools it would increase the probability that a charter could be approved that affected them (either within their boundaries or as a regional).

For larger communities with lower performance numbers, it would create the risk that new charters would be approved within their boundaries without any limit on the total amount of tuition drawn away from local schools.

See this follow-on piece.

Published by Will Brownsberger

Will Brownsberger is State Senator from the Second Suffolk and Middlesex District.

76 replies on “No on Question Two”

  1. I understand your reasoning, Will, but because of the real problems with the Boston schools, I can’t support your position. I’ve been around since bussing, and watched the school system implode. While it seems to be improving now, progress is glacial. I’m not willing to see yet another generation suffer from poor teaching and intrenched methods if a ballot question can help.

    1. Thanks for your thoughtful comments. I am conflicted over this question because my granddaughter is teaching in a charter elementary school in East Boston. School began 2 weeks earlier and the students get out later. I theoretically believe in unions but would like to see public school teachers agree to a longer day. I however think I will vote no because of the automatic increase in charters that Question 2 states.A proposal could come later after more debate.

  2. Children are not commodities and should not be treated as such. We simply need to better fund our schools with taxes and qualified teachers. That seems to me the only solution.

  3. Will,
    As usual, you are ahead of the game, so to speak. I had just sat down to write you a note about the upcoming election and the question on charter schools.

    Dan Healey

  4. My concern is the impact on property taxes. I am having difficulty deciding until I get the straight information on short term and long term impacts. Most school committees have the turnover of a school bus at dismissal time and kick the can down the road so I cannot believe them.

  5. It is my understanding that the pubic entity charter schools do not offer nearly the same level of transparency with regard to their budgets compared to public schools. A public entity (or the controlling company) by law has to provide an annual report. A lot can happen in a year with very little view into the business.

  6. Initatives can be fixed as easily — you tell me what that means — as any other form of legislation. If the pace of charter school expansion turns out to impose unreasonable costs I hope I can count on the legislature to change the rate to a number that reflects our enlarged experience. On the other hand if you think this is unlikely, if you think the legislature is unlikely to entertain remedial measures for some reason, let me know. But I basically see initiatives as ways of communicating with the entire legislature as opposed to one at a time, and since I think this is a moment when I would like to do that I plan to vote yes.

    1. I wouldn’t assume that the legislature will fix a bad initiative. It can happen — it did happen on the 2000 tax cut. But legislators really don’t like to override “the will of the people”. Only vote for this if you think it really is better than the status quo.

  7. Senator Brownsberger,

    I agree with your position and will vote No on question 2. If we have problem with our schools, lets fix the problem. We should create solutions within the public school system. Expanding charter schools can lead us to issues down the road and ultimately to exactly where we are now:; trying to solve a problem with our children’s education.
    Thank you!

  8. Andrew and I are supporting no on question 2. Andrew, who went through Boston Public schools, is very opposed to question 2 and is actually volunteering his time on the issue. Your analysis was very interesting and I agree wholeheartedly. I really think that expanded charter schools will hurt public schools. I no longer have a student in the school system but I definitely think the focus should be improving the public schools in all neighborhoods.

  9. Thank you for your analysis. It supports exactly my perceptions on the Charter School expansion. My daughter worked in an Arizona charter school, the feeling I got from what she was telling me was big corporations running schools is not in the best interest of pupils and families. It was all about the bottom line.

  10. Thanks, as usual, Will, for your insight. Public school education has been the infrastructure upon which this democracy has been built. I sincerely believe that an expansion of charter schools will build one system up while we let another die. We know what the problems in our public schools are and we need to attack them head-on instead of creating an alternate system. I am sympathetic to one of the comments that the current student generation has to suffer while we figure out what to do. My children now have children in the public schools and every generation has had to suffer through the changes that everyone thought were essential at the time. Public education will continue to be a work in progress. I do not believe that charter schools are the answer.

  11. Excellent reasoning. I agree with you totally, Will. Keep up the good work! You’re an excellent senator and you do us all proud.

  12. Although the charter school system appears to give better results on the MCAS,it does so at the sacrifice of imaginative curricula and elimination students who do not do well on tests. This depletes the stock of students who do well in test situations thus lowering the average scores of public school attendees. This will tend to cause an even greater disparity in test scores, especially in urban areas. The rapid expansion of charter schools has effectively drained off the better students from public schools and has not proven to enhance the educational system overall.

  13. The fear that some may try to set up charter schools in the suburbs where they provide less of a benefit and are not perceived by the residents to be necessary is a weird and specious reason to reject Prop 2. There is a market function at work here to which Sen. Brownsberger gives no credit. Building, equipping and staffing a new charter school in a suburb with a reputation for good schools would be a very risky proposition. Any organization that wants to create a new charter school is going to look for areas where there is a strong appetite for an alternative to poorly performing public schools. Sen. Brownsberger recognizes that market force, but then creates the contradictory ‘concern’ that charter schools might spring up in the suburbs and take students away from schools that are doing well. Huh? In the city of Boston, the Senator notes that charter schools focus on high needs children and are therefore pulling those same high needs students from the public schools. He notes that the Boston Schools have too much capacity, due in part to the exodus of high needs students in poor communities to charter schools. Because Boston now has school buildings that are too big for the number of students remaining is certainly not a reason to hold back the development of services that the public schools were not providing or providing poorly. It is a reason to give more parents more choices. The elephants in the room here are the teachers unions. They are highly funded, well organized and as fiercely protective of their turf as the NRA. Much of the hundreds of thousands of dollars funding TV ads against Prop 2 are ultimately from unions and their scare tactics have been repudiated as “shameful”, even by the Boston Globe. Sen. Brownsberger’s alliance with the unions may make political sense, but does him no credit.

  14. My son is employed in the Newark public school system where they have had the painful decisions to close badly performing schools in order to effect school reform. To quote him, “While many charter schools are mediocre and even poor, the best have shown very impressive results in serving students living in high-poverty urban areas. The high-functioning charter networks (e.g., KIPP, Success, Uncommon) typically operate within a very well regulated system (e.g., Massachusetts and New York) as opposed to the Wild West of charters in places like Arizona where people can more easily start schools with minimal oversight.” He points out that the best charters are non-profit because they do not have the unhealthy pressures to cut corners, and the best ones in terms of student achievement are not-for-profit. Non-profit charters are required to have Board meetings open to the public and share all of their data in transparent ways, particularly in better run states like MA and NY. He concludes, “the pros seem to clearly outweigh the cons in districts where the traditional schools are doing poorly (e.g., mostly urban districts).”

  15. Thank you for your analysis on this. I agree with you, and appreciate the position you’ve taken.

  16. Dear Senator Brownsberger,
    Your comments are much appreciated as you educated me on some areas where I hadn’t any knowledge.

    My decision to vote No was made quite some time ago and you added some curing to solidify my choice.

    Sincerely, your fairly new constituent,

  17. We fked the Boston public school system 27 years ago. We have moved back to the city as our children are grown. Nothing has changed with the public schools. Charter is tge only choice for people who can’t flee. The city/teachers union has not been able to improve the system. They are under seize from the teachers union. I encourage all to vote yes on two!
    Norma Alekna

  18. While much of your approach seems well considered, Senator, I’d fault it in a few areas.

    “My view, after listening to a lot of argument and reading some of the research, is this: at least in Massachusetts, on average, charter schools have achieved better results in high poverty urban districts, but have not achieved better results in suburban districts.”

    That seems rather understated in respect to the magnitude of the results found in Boston. The Dynarski article in the New York Times that you had previously linked to stated:

    “My own research, conducted with colleagues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard, shows that charter schools in Boston produced huge gains in test scores. A majority of students at Boston’s charters are African-American and poor. Their score gains are large enough to reduce the black-white score gap in Boston’s middle schools by two-thirds.”

    “Boston’s charters also do a better job at preparing students for college. Charter students are twice as likely to take an Advanced Placement exam as similar students in Boston’s other public schools. Ten percent of charter students pass an A.P. calculus test, compared with just 1 percent of similar students in other public schools. This stronger preparation means that these charter students are far more likely than similar students in traditional public schools to attend a four-year college.”

    And, according to the Stanford CREDO, the results for the typical student in a Boston charter equated “to more than twelve months of additional learning per year in reading and thirteen months greater progress in math. At the school level, 83 percent of Boston charter schools have significantly more positive learning gains than their district school peers in reading and math, and no Boston charter schools were found to have significantly lower learning gains.”
    “Second, and more important, the Boston charter schools offer students from historically underserved backgrounds a real and sustained chance to close the achievement gap,” said Margaret Raymond, Director of CREDO at Stanford University.”

    In its editorial supporting Question 2, the Bay State Banner provides additional detail, such as: “One test result that should be of special interest to African Americans is that more black Brooke students topped the math test than the total number achieving that result in grades 3 through 8 in all Boston Public Schools. At Brooke, 109 black students attained Level 5 in math compared to only 75 in the whole BPS system.”

    However all that focus on test scores is best supplemented by intimate understandings like this from a parent of both charter and traditional public school children

    Brownsberger: “In many high poverty districts, charter schools offer choices for parents and students who don’t have the financial ability to choose suburban schools.”

    I think it’s helpful to expand that analysis to include focus on what options families in the highest poverty neighborhoods of our urban areas may have relative to others in wealthier areas of their same district.

    Are you familiar with former BPS middle school teacher (currently on HGSE faculty) Meira Levinson’s analysis: “The Ethics of Pandering in Boston Public Schools’ School Assignment Plan,”? She states with detailed substantion, “that BPS’ plan violates equal opportunity by giving middle-class families privileged access to existing high-quality schools.”

    I live in one of those areas of Boston where friends and neighbors have the fewest good options and hugely appreciate charter schools helping, to some degree, to fill in the gap. While Levinson is, in that particular article, briefly, dismissive of charter schools in neighborhoods such as mine as a solution, I think that’s in large part due to some mistaken understandings she held about them at that time, e.g., re: their attrition rates. They seem to be working better than anything else I see to effectively alleviate the disparity in opportunities that she so clearly details.

    Much of your analysis seems predicated on the possibility that the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, which includes parent and union representation, would proceed in hasty, ill-considered ways to situate charter schools in locations where they are not needed or wanted. Having observed some of BESE’s deliberations regarding charter schools, I have no reason to believe that would be true. And think you should very explicitly detail the reasons underlying your understanding in that respect, if I’ve understood you correctly.

    An earlier commenter advocated more accountability, e.g., via an annual report requirement. There’s more of that already in place now than she may realize, as she can see in this Charter School Administrative and Governance Guide

    And she may be able to type the name of a charter school and “annual report” into a search engine and find results like, for example, these materials from the Edward Brooke Charter schools in Boston . It’s well worth reading some such materials and/or these.

    1. Thank you for this extremely thoughtful and well assembled response. You do a service to all readers by sharing this information.

      You are right that for the scenarios that concern me to come to pass, the Board of Education would have to act on charter applications over the objections of communities affected. It is not disrespectful to observe that the Board is ultimately a political entity controlled by whomever happens to be Governor. I think this proposal gives them too much discretion.

      The referendum question authors could have written a proposal that put more reasonable bounds on their discretion, but chose not to.

  19. Charter schools also do not keep special needs children with high needs. They send them back to the public setting. So in a way they can hand pick their students. Everyone’s test scores would go up if we were all able to hand pick our students.
    These special needs students are then sent back to the public setting. Not fair for a child to have to keep moving schools, having to make new friends etc. There is also some funny business with the funding when the child returns to public school. It is my understanding that the charter school keeps a good portion of it.

  20. I am pleased to hear that you are opposing Ballot Question 2 for the very reasons I expected you to recognize. I especially appreciate your description of the impact they can have on suburban towns which most people don’t seem to realize. I believe charter schools would love to move into towns like Belmont and Wellesley where they would get cooperative students from well-resourced homes that come with large tuitions.
    Innovation and sharing with public schools is one of the responsibilities given to charter schools but the sharing has not happened. Why do some charters do better? If the strategies are allowed in public schools where no child can be turned away and finances as well as well as pedagogy are transparent, let’s try them in the public schools before expanding charters.
    I would first suggest funding public schools sufficiently to allow the elements that we know make good schools including smaller classes, clean and safe facilities, parent involvement, sufficient staff, resources and wrap-around services that mitigate poverty. If these common sense investments don’t improve a school’s performance, then let’s try some of the innovations charters might have to offer.

    1. There are no tuitions. Charters are publicly funded. But they are run like private schools — or really, like private businesses; they cherry-pick their students, and they are not accountable to the school committees nor to parents.

  21. Sen. Brownsberger,

    Are there any provisions in place for students whose charter school closes before the school year is finished? Is there any mechanism in place to prevent someone from opening up a charter, enrolling students, and then closing shop within months? What about permanent space for charters (I recall hearing of some charters, though I don’t remember where, getting kicked out of their space repeatedly, forcing kids to constantly go to a new building.)

    What specific concerns have been raised about Boston’s public schools, and what initiatives are under way to address those concerns?


  22. Thank you Senator Brownsberger for writing. I appreciate you perspective though I must challenge you on the assertion that Boston charters take the kids with high needs. While I don’t have the numbers at my fingertips, there have been a number of dedicated BPS parents who have mined the DESE data on this topic. Boston charters have smaller populations by percentage of ELL and SPED students than BOS and the SPED students tend to be those with much milder challenges. I know. I work with students with significantly complex needs and I know that charter schools don’t provide needed services for them – not commonwealth charters in any case.

    1. Thanks, Lisa, for correcting this. Indeed, charters are careful to first screen out, and then drive out, kids with high needs. (The couple of special charters for high-risk kids are exceptions that prove the rule.) This is the “secret sauce” of the high-performing charters, the “no excuses” charters, with the glowing MCAS scores. If the real public schools could throw out the low scorers, the misbehavers, the nonconformists, the special needs kids, they’d have even better scores, and far better graduation rates (see below).

      Charters don’t teach better — they sort better. They sort out good test-takers and drive out the rest — back to the real public schools, which have fewer resources due to the charter school drain. The push-out rate is about half in high school, and two-thirds if it starts in earlier grades. And even with that, the lower 4-year graduation rate in high school charters has been documented even by one of the studies constantly cited as a charter booster (

      That’s the real problem with charters — they are not so much educational institutions, as corporate opportunities to profit from public taxpayers. And so an underlying goal is to bust the teachers’ unions and de-professionalize teaching, using cheap labor — like untrained, inexperienced temps from Teach for America — delivering commercially prepackaged curricula to kids whose tenure is subject to draconian disciplinary regimes designed to drive out the test-score spoilers in ways that don’t outright violate the law. This includes constantly calling parents from their workplaces to pick up “misbehaving” kids, counseling parents to take their children to schools that would be a “better fit,” shaming kids for minor “infractions,” and threatening to make kids repeat grades. (And those are kids that weren’t screened out of even applying, by telling their parents that special needs can’t be accommodated or that their child won’t “fit” in the school community.)

      And as they drive kids out, charters don’t take new ones in to fill the empty seats; they are “culling” the class to retain only the test-score producers that will keep them in business. If they backfilled their seats when they threw kids out, the “waiting list” would disappear. But then their scores would mirror those of the real public schools, and they couldn’t justify their “model” of privatization and union-busting.

      Charters purport to be a “civil rights” issue — and they are, but in the wrong direction. They are not closing the achievement gap; they are graduating only handfuls of black kids (smaller handfuls of black boys than girls), and are resegregation urban schools.

      Of course suburban schools don’t want charters. They wouldn’t put up with that kind of humiliating treatment for their kids, and they want to keep community control over their schools and keep their taxes going to the schools that take, and serve, all their kids. But in the “inner cities” (that’s code, we all know, for communities of color and of poverty), politicians have so abandoned and abused the students and families over the course of decades that parents are desperate for a better choice. Charters leap to present themselves as the saviors, the better choice. But they are a hoax. Just interview ex-charter families and students to see their experience.

      The answer to bad public schools is not to siphon away their money to privatized profiteers (and hedge fund investors, yes, Google that) and to further victimize those kids, but to put all necessary resources into the communities and schools that need help to succeed. There’s never money for them, but there’s always money for the charter industry.

      It’s not about money, it’s about political will. And social justice.

      See and (and Ravitch’s books).

  23. Thank you. Charter schools are an interesting option, but they should not detract from the resources given to already under-resourced public schools.

  24. Thank you for explaining this so clearly. Now I understand what Question 2 is offering.

  25. Here’s the fundamental problem with all charter schools, in MA and nationwide:

    In district schools, 100% of funds are spent on education (using only licensed professional teachers), but charter schools (which use un-licensed amateur teachers) waste much of those funds on profiteers.

    Letting high-paid executives and corporate profits drain cash out of any school budget just hurts the students, and society.

  26. You’re right about Belmont and Watertown, but I am undecided on whether the good that more options in Boston, and their greater success in urban areas where there are more low-income people , outweighs this. I may vote yes on 2 for that reason. I have worked with low income people of all most of my life, and they really need a break.

  27. Will – Can you explain why/how the legislature failed to come to a compromise earlier this year ? This should (have been) resolved in the state house/ senate!!! How can we know this will not come back to a referendum Question in 2 years after another fail on Beacon Hill?

  28. I disagree with your stance and your analysis. I trust parents to choose what is best for their children, rather than rely on a government entity beholden to unions and on government representatives with an unfortunate planning mentality. Boston has too many schools? And the government cannot solve that problem? The problem is then government and unions, not charters. In fact, the real problem with charters is that they are public schools. I predict the government and unions will trap them more and more under the same rules as current public schools. I will vote yes on #2 in hopes that charters might save more kids, at least in the short run.

    1. I agree with your “yes” on 2. The problem is indeed government, specifically, the unwillingness of enough elected representatives to risk some votes to solve a fundamental problem.

  29. This is great information, so thank you for informing voters. I am not involved with schools, but feel strongly that funding should be directed to public school system, and I believe that is the case in other advanced nations.
    A serious policy of making all schools equally supportive of students and teachers –regardless of location– is really necessary at this time in history. Students all over the world need to acquire knowledge and skills for working –and participating– in a more complex global community. And nations like ours have no excuse for ducking the responsibility of providing a genuinely equal public educational system.

  30. We may need this proposition to force a real solution. If charters are doing a better job of educating our kids, their practices should be adopted by the public schools (and the unions have to get out of the way.) On the other hand, taking money from a public school for each transfer to a charter school, is not accompanied by a commensurate reduction in the public school’s cost, so something has to be done about public school costs and funding. If the legislature cannot buck the union for one set of solutions, and cannot make anything happen on the cost/revenue set of solutions, then this proposition may trigger the action we need.

  31. Thank you so much, Sen. Brownsberger! My kids attend Boston Public Schools and we need to support our public school systems!

  32. I am a Boston Public School Nurse. Charter Schools unfortunately DO NOT focus on high need students. Since parents do have to apply to the Charter Schools, those schools tend to have more involved, motivated families.
    I have seen students go to the Charter Schools and then students are returned to the public school when their academic or behavioral performance is not satisfactory to the charter.
    More charter schools will not help Boston Students. Please vote no on question 2.

  33. Charter Schools are right for some students. I believe that this is a urban problem and should be decided by an urban vote. Boston needs them more than Belmont. Why should Belmont (or any other suburb) decide on what is right for Boston?

  34. Very well put, we support your decision. One also has to ask where the dark money is coming from to fuel the other side, and, more importantly, what is their end game.

  35. Thank you for your very thoughtful analysis of the Charter School situation. We shall vote No.
    A healthy “free and public education” system is basic to maintaining a well-educated public in a democracy.
    To achieve an acceptable educational level in all schools may mean ‘riding hard’ on unacceptable, unequal educational practices in some of them — particularly in our lower achieving urban public schools. It also means providing strict limits on the expansion capacities of charter schools and their private entities. Anything less undermines a truly public education system by creating a two-tiered semi-public educational system.

  36. Don’t limit success–by limiting the number of charter schools you’re limiting access to some excellent education for thousands of students.

  37. Will,Here ae my two cts. Charter schools, I believe can fire students, which you don’t mention, and which facilitates skimming able, motivated students with similar parents. That tends to leave the public schools holding the bag.
    Public education is a core function of gummint. Granted that it may be failing, but outsourcing is not the answer, going back to Mr. Conant’s argument for how we must create good citizens who FEEL that they are in the same community.
    Full disclosure, we moved from Boston to Newton in 1969 – for good secure schools. So it’s not easy.
    John Merrifield

  38. Will,
    I disagree with your position on the Charter School and am embarrassed that suburban leaders and voters will continue to deny inner city families an out from failing schools and the oppressive guild like behavior on the part of teacher’s unions. Charter schools in Massachusetts help close the opportunity gap, don’t shut the door on our neighbors.
    Please read this and reconsider your no vote on Question 2.

    1. Jim, this narrative oversimplifies reality. Even in the cities, this is a split decision.

      60% of my district lies within the city of Boston. There are a lot of urban parents who contact me to express concerns about the impact of charters on their local district schools.

      I’ve listened very carefully to those voices to be sure that they weren’t being put up to the appeal as part of an anti-charter campaign — I’ve concluded that their concerns are genuine and I give them weight.

      1. Thank you Senator. We, BPS parents, appreciate that you respect our experiences as valid and that you take our concerns seriously.

  39. Will
    More on my comment of guild like union behavior.

    “Sa?ve Our Public Schools, the Massachusetts campaign fighting to retain the state’s cap on charter schools, describes itself as “a grassroots organization of families, parents, educators and students.”
    But a glance at its campaign finance disclosure shows it to be almost devoid of families, parents and students, and includes educators only to the extent that their dues money is being spent by the teachers union they belong to.
    Of the more than $7.2 million in cash and in-kind contributions received by Save Our Public Schools so far, 99.86 percent came from the nation’s two largest unions — the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teacher??s — and their affiliates.

    The Massachusetts Teachers Association is the largest single contributor, with almost $4.6 million in contributions so far. That is only half of what MTA has allocated for the campaign, and it is possible that the union’s representative bodies could authorize an even larger dip into MTA reserves. The state union’s net assets total about $8.4 million.” The 74 9/14/16

    Again, the families of Boston, Lowell, Springfield need help from us, the more fortunate. This bill isn’t perfect, no legislation is, but it is far better than the status quo that imprisons so many.

    Will, we disagree but I’m proud with who I am siding with.

  40. “Tuitions” are paid from public school funds for every student that enters a charter school. Parents do not pay, tax payers do.

  41. Two key points in your analysis:
    “Question Two would leave these communities open to the entry of charter schools which is one principal reason I cannot support it.”
    My understanding is that the statewide cap of 120 charters has not been hit, so raising the cap would have no impact on the ability of new charters to open. They could do so now. My understanding is that the cap is *only* currently impacting urban areas where there are already charters and a high demand (for example, there are over 10,000 kids on the waitlist for charters in Boston alone).

    “The other reason I oppose Question Two is the way that it would make Boston the likely target of unreasonably rapid charter expansion.”
    Shouldn’t the process of granting a charter to a given applicant include considerations to protect against this that would leave better flexibility than a cap?

  42. I am not sure what we are afraid of. The charter school concept is now mature. It seems that all agree that it provides superior education when compared to persistently low-performing public schooling. So why do we want to continue to go slow? What would we lose even if the majority of students in communities like, say, Boston were educated in Charter schools? The type of schools to whioh parents want to send their children seems to me to the most sincere way of choosing education systems. So shouldn’t we allocate our education dollars between public and charter schools in the proportion of this demand?

  43. Will,

    I’m not a parent and do not know much about this issue. However as a voter many of us are asked to vote on questions that do not impact us personally. I find that this discussion forum is helpful to hear input directly from parents rather than special interests. Thank you for creating this platform and keep up the good work. I love it that you encourage input from your constituents who are directly impacted by these issues.

  44. There are so many problems with the education system in the US it’s hard to know where to begin as we continue to lose ground to many other industrialized countries.
    Let me begin by saying that I feel the vast majority of teachers are excellent educators. They give an enormous amount of their personal time and money to their profession and the children. Society has placed an ever growing responsibility on teachers to educate, discipline and help raise students. This is not recognized as often as it should be. Education professionals are woefully underpaid for their critical role in a child’s development.
    I have witnessed many times, over the years a lack of support from management. Educators often know the children better than their parents do. Far too many educational managers, when an issue arises between a parent and a teacher, have the attitude of, go along to get along, and do not adequately support the teachers. This has a very detrimental impact on the morale of their educators and sends a very confusing message. I have also spoken with principals that have told me that it can take 2-3 years to remove a poorly performing teacher that is equally as bad.
    I believe that competition is healthy and the book written by Bill Gates offers a positive roadmap on how our educational system needs to be revamped to keep pace with the rest of the world. Any profession that allows a job for life, once a person has tenure is heading down a slippery slope. It encourages mediocrity, stagnation and bad behavior. Many young enthusiastic teachers quickly find that innovative ideas are not always warmly embraced, because it changes the status quo. When layoff notices come out, it’s based on longevity vs. the best candidate for the job, which is detrimental to the children and sends the wrong message to aspiring teachers.
    Public schools may think they are doing a child a favor, by not requiring homework or acknowledging/rewarding a child that works hard and gets an A for their efforts, but they aren’t. If someone works hard and receives an A, what is wrong with that? Some teachers have told me that acknowledging that someone excels at something makes other students feel bad. That may be so, but maybe they will work harder, pay more attention, ask for assistance or maybe even ask their parents for help. When these children get to higher grades they aren’t prepared. Bill Gates once said during a presentation, Life is unfair, get used to it and he’s right. We are supposed to be preparing a child to become an adult one day, not make them oblivious to what lies ahead and the work they must embrace, if they want to lead healthy productive lives.
    Adult’s need to have goals and guidance in their professional careers to make them feel the pleasure of success/attainment, students aren’t any different.
    I do feel that if state mandates are imposed on towns/schools i.e. special educational requirements or behavioral intersession, etc., it is incumbent on the state to share more of the burden to help offset the extraordinarily high costs of these programs to all the cities and towns. We made the rules now you figure out how to implement and pay for it is not being very responsible.
    Competition between public/charter schools is healthy and will work! A revamping of the educational system will reduce crime, incarceration and unemployment.
    I will be voting Yes on Question #2.
    Thank You

  45. State House leader Delio will be on TV today Sunday on WCVB Ch 5 at about 11:30 explaining his support for a YES vote on Charter Schools.

  46. I will be voting Yes for question 2 based on a very personal experience with our public school system.

    I found out starting from kinder garden, my daughter would only have 15 minutes for lunch. That includes the time to get into the cafeteria, waiting in line, sit down and eat. As a result of that, she rarely have enough time to get a proper meal and often come home hungry.

    I repetitively asked for a change to school master and super-intendant, even at Belmont Town meetings. But none can change the contract that the teachers union negotiated with the school department that stipulates that they must leave the school at a given time ( could be as early as 3:30PM, please help to verify ) As a result of that, all activities have to be squeezed together, including the allocation of 15 minutes for a 6-year-old to eat lunch.

    I am deeply concerned about the way our public school is running. And would support Charter school as a valid alternative and competitor.

    (I am very grateful to teachers and staffs at Belmont public schools. I think they are all wonderful. The teachers union is my main concern. Because their interest do not align with the best educational opportunity for our children.)

  47. I remain dismayed at your No vote on Question 2. I have always thought of you as thoughtful and principled. How you can deny something to these children in need that you have provided to your own kids, is beyond believe. Can you name one thing that the “system” has to offer that will ensure these kids get the same education as is received in Belmont? You can’t and have become part of the problem not the solution, which is sad and a huge disappointment.

    1. Consider the possibility, Chris, that you were just wrong on this.

      That yes, some charter schools have done well, but that there are also some very good public schools that were truly threatened by the overly broad language of this proposition.

      Ponder the fact that this proposition went down 60-40 in Boston itself, the very community proponents most wanted to change. That happened despite the fact that proponents of this proposition outspent opponents substantially and had the support of the highest and most popular elected official in the state — do not dismiss the wisdom of the voters by arguing that the campaign was lop-sided.

      There are a lot of parents that felt this went to too far and I share and represent their views.

      1. You are correct and as written the ballot question was imperfect and I believe never should have happened if the legislature had fulfilled its obligation to these kids.
        So what do you plan to do now? the MTA says they just need more money “for the children”, is that all it will take and where will you find it?
        Have you heard of one earnest solution to this problem since Tuesday? i’d love to hear it.

        1. This is one of the central debates of our time and there are no new ideas or easy solutions.

          Not to deny responsibility, but it will take some time for next steps to emerge.

          I don’t think that there is low-hanging fruit that the legislature is ignoring.

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