Public educators start off with five reasons to vote no on charter school ballot question
From Dan Monahan, president of the Cambridge Education Association, and Kathy Greeley, literacy coach at the Graham and Parks School, Oct. 26, 2016: As committed educators in the Cambridge Public Schools, we ask you to vote no on Question 2 on Nov. 8. Here are some of the many reasons.
Charter schools are not public schools; they are publicly funded but privately run. They are not accountable to parents, the school district, the local school committee or to the taxpayers who have to pay for them. If you are not happy with your charter school, you have one option: leave. Our public schools, on other hand, are overseen by publicly elected officials who, by law, operate in public view.
Charter schools take away millions of dollars from public schools. Supporters of Question 2 claim that “If you like your public school, Question 2 will not affect you.” This is not true. In Cambridge, $11.5 million is diverted from the city to charter schools. This means the public schools of Cambridge have $11.5 million less to spend on teachers, materials, professional development and other critical resources. The state reimburses the city for only a small portion of these lost dollars.
Charter schools do not serve the same population as public schools. Charter schools can and do encourage students who are not succeeding in that environment to find a more “appropriate” setting. These children come back to our public schools. We take every child who shows up. It is our promise to our community that we will educate any and every child.
Millions of dollars of out-of-state money has flowed into Massachusetts to support Question 2. Most of it is “dark money” – that is, from anonymous donors who hide behind innocent-sounding names such as “Strong Economy for Growth” and “Education Reform Now Advocacy.” While we may not know who actually wrote the checks for the millions of dollars being poured into TV ads supporting this initiative, we have seen similar funding undermine public schools in places such as New Orleans, Newark and Detroit, where charter schools are now nearly the only option for parents and children. On the other hand, the resources for the “No On 2” campaign come primarily from educators.
Question 2 would allow 12 new charter schools per year in perpetuity, whether or not residents or elected officials in a community approve of them. This question puts our public schools, a foundation of our democracy, in danger of privatization.
We don’t think our schools are perfect. We know there is a lot of work to do, particularly for our students of color. But we believe that this campaign to lift the cap on charter schools will only undermine our work to provide an excellent education to all our children.
This message has been endorsed by more than 80 Cambridge public school educators.