Following up on my earlier post regarding severe budget cuts to Boston Public Schools, here is an issue that requires immediate attention from any residents of Massachusetts who read this blog. Currently there is legislation moving through the Massachusetts legislature that will decide if the cap on charter schools in the state will be lifted. This is a contentious issue as vocal groups of charter school supporters advocate lifting the cap with help from deep-pocketed investors. Meanwhile the parents and educators of children in Boston Public Schools are contending that the cap should remain until we have a greater understanding of the financial pressures that charter schools exert on traditional district schools and that the current charter schools in our state are held to greater accountability for serving all children.
The Boston Public Schools are facing a 60 million dollar deficit shortfall and most of the 128 schools are being asked to make cuts that would lose teaching staff, social workers, Playworks, supplies, and other resources. One reason for the shortfall is that traditional district schools are not being fully reimbursed for loses to charter schools. Whether or not you support the charter school movement, I think we can all agree that education at any school should have full-funding and resources. It will do no one any good to have a fight over limited funds.
Fortunately, my state senator Sonia Chang-Diaz from the Second Suffolk district is working on the Joint Committee of Education and is committed to making a compromise that will support all forms of public education in the Commonwealth. She, and by extension the children of Massachusetts, deserve our support. You can take action by following the steps below. A statement from Senator Chang-Diaz follows.
- Read this informative fact sheet from the Northeastern University School of Law: http://www.northeastern.edu/law/pdfs/academics/phrge/charter-school-cap-fact-sheet.pdf
- Sign this petition put forth by QUEST (Quality Education for Every Student)
- Write your elected leaders. Contact information available from this website: http://www.wheredoivotema.com/
Today the Joint Committee on Education voted on a one-week extension on bills dealing with turnaround and charter schools. Over the past few months, stakeholders from all sides of this issue have been hard at work coming to compromises on various aspects of a composite bill, and we have come to agreement on a number of issues. We are down to the final aspects.
I continue to fight to find a balanced third way that breaks from the us-versus-them mindset when it comes to district and charter schools. All are public schools and both are needful of our attention and advocacy. I have been on record in both words and actions that I am committed to getting a bill out of committee that continues to close the gap between populations served by charters and districts, mitigates the financial stresses that even the best charters present for district schools, and allows targeted expansion of good charters. To that end, I’ve offered multiple proposals for balanced compromises. These proposals have been met with consistent “no’s” from the charter advocate community, with no counter proposals that bring us toward a compromise. While I am disappointed that we must resort to a one-week extension today, I remain committed to forging a resolution. My door is wide open to anyone who has ideas about how we can move forward on a middle path that treats all kids with compassion and fairness.
I also want to be transparent that, should we be able to reach resolution and report a bill out of Committee, there are still key decisions about funding fairness that will be made over the coming months through the budget process, which occur outside the Education Committee. These decisions will impact the effects of any bill on the schools in which the majority of students remain and therefore will be large factors in my ultimate vote for or against a bill on the Senate floor.