It seems the most liberal state in the country really gets it: the issue of public charter schools and putting the kids of the state first is a Democratic issue, as in, the Democratic Party. Doing everything possible to lift children out of failing traditional public schools is a Democratic issue. Giving students a chance at the best schools possible regardless of financial status is a Democratic issue.
Massachusetts gets it. A new Suffolk University/Boston Globe poll shows strong support for a proposed ballot referendum that would lift the state cap on public charter schools. Voters support lifting the cap 50 percent in favor, 33 percent against and 11 percent undecided.
Support for putting the kids first by allowing more charter schools was solid across all demographics. The results are meaningful in the sense that a Globe poll back in 2014 showed support at only 43 percent with 47 opposed. The new poll also shows that 49 percent of those surveyed agreed that public charter schools offer better options for students and parents. Thirty-two percent say charter schools drain resources from traditional public schools.
The thorny issue of more public charter schools is dominated in many states by the teachers’ unions and their blogging stooges—they don’t want them because they are seldom unionized and they demand more accountability. The unions want to protect the status quo and oppose any threat it.
There’s been a pitched battle in Connecticut over charters schools with legislators hesitating on the education reform efforts of Gov. Dannel Malloy. The reason is simple: teachers unions provide big time support for legislators come election time. Both financial and volunteer support pours in for those who are willing to tow the status quo line.
Parents are starting to push back against the stranglehold the unions have on the educational system that in many cases is underserving their children. With the traditional public school system in place, kids in failing schools—many of them from poorer and minority homes—are trapped there.
For sure, public charter schools are no panacea. Some have problems, lagging behind in performance or being used for fraud or abuse. Traditional public schools fare no better or worse particularly in number of cases of sexual abuse.
A recent Boston Globe Spotlight Team report published this past weekend, shines a light on problems of abuse in private schools across New England.
At least Massachusetts voters understand that an arbitrary cap on public charter schools will not help the children of the Bay State.