The Massachusetts State Legislature is still coming to terms on the Senate Bill 235/House Bill 425 “An Act to Further Narrow the Achievement Gap.” There’s a lot of pressure on our elected leaders to lift the cap on charter schools without first getting a better understanding of how funding charter schools in the state negatively affects the funding and resources for district public schools. Whether or not you think charter schools are a good option for educating children, I think we can all agree that all schools should be fully funded to allow for equitable education for all students.
If you live in Massachusetts, here are a few things you can do to help:
- Write your elected leaders. Contact information available from this website: http://www.wheredoivotema.com/ The message I sent today to the chairs of the education committee Sonia Chang-Diaz (Sonia.Chang-Diaz@state.ma.us) and Alice Peisch (Alice.Peisch@mahouse.gov) as well as my representative Liz Malia are below (Chang-Diaz is also the senator for my district). Feel free to crib for your own message.
- Sign and share information about the QUEST petition with your friends and family. The petition can be found at http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/adequate-funding-for?mailing_id=21010&source=s.icn.em.cr&r_by=8757554. A Spanish translation can be found at http://tinyurl.com/mk6opsv.
- Join other parents and students at the State House in Boston at 4:30 today, Tuesday, March 25th. This protest is organized by Boston Public School parents from many schools who see the effects of charters on our schools and our children on a daily basis. (See: Facebook page for event)
I am a citizen of Boston residing in the Forest Hills/Woodbourne area of Jamaica Plain. My 6-year-old son Peter is a Kindergarten 2 scholar at the nearby BTU Pilot School, a neighborhood public school with excellent, hard-working teachers and staff and the heart of our neighborhood community. In recent months, we’ve learned that our school is facing severe budget cuts that will cause the school to lose teaching staff, social workers, Playworks, a school supplies budget, field trips, and other resources vital to equitable education. Our school is not alone as most schools in Boston are facing their own budget cuts, and other school systems in the Commonwealth are facing similar challenges with dwindling resources.I believe the Massachusetts Legislature can help address the inadequacies and inequality in funding and resources for public schools in Senate Bill 235/House Bill 425 “An Act to Further Narrow the Achievement Gap.” One issue is charter schools that are receiving a larger piece of the pie in state funding, while the state has neglected to reimburse public schools (see this chart created by a Boston Public School parent: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BjRzkXVCcAE1WEK.jpg:large). I’m not opposed to charter schools as an educational option for some children, but it seems grossly unfair that one type of school is fully funded while another has to beg for scraps. The legislature should make it a priority to fully fund all public schools.With that in mind, please consider the following steps:• Remove charter school language entirely from Senate Bill 235/House Bill 425 “An Act to Further Narrow the Achievement Gap;”
• Prior to any consideration of raising the charter school cap read the soon-to-be released audit from the State Auditor’s Office regarding charter school finances and practices;
• Work with constituents to draft a more comprehensive proposal regarding the charter school cap. This proposal must address the inequalities already identified, include clear and quantifiable accountability measures that are put into place prior to such legislation being proposed, and explore more equitable or separate funding methods that do not bankrupt our public schools.I understand that you are receiving a lot of attention from lobbyists of the charter school cause. These groups are backed by billionaires and corporations who have their own ends in supporting the charter school cap that may not be in the best interests of Massachusetts’ children. Please listen also to the voices of your constituents – the parents, students, and educators of some of the best public schools in the nation and do the right thing for all the state’s children.