Democrats are all about equality, lifting up the disadvantaged and helping them have the same opportunities as the wealthy, right? It’s true as long as unions aren’t involved. But when the interests of labor run up against the interests of the less fortunate, unions win every time.
The latest example of this is the Massachusetts Democratic Party officially voting to oppose a ballot question expanding public charter schools in the state. It’s the antithesis of what the Democratic Party is supposed to stand for. Rich kids can go to private school but poorer kids have to go to traditional public school even if those schools fail them.
Why would the party pitch its core values overboard and deny poorer kids a chance to go to a superior school? Because the teachers’ unions tell them to. It’s that simple. The unions don’t want change, don’t want more accountability, don’t want competition. They say jump, many Democrats say how high.
We can re-litigate the arguments over whether charter schools are good for students and overall education. But the facts, at least in Massachusetts, are clear*:
• Charters are superior. Statewide, 18 charter schools – many of them urban – finished first in all of Massachusetts on 2014 MCAS tests.
• Compared to their district school peers, a higher percentage of Massachusetts charter public school students are scoring proficient or advanced in all subject tests at every grade level.
• Parents want the chance to choose charters. Massachusetts has 81 charter schools. As of October 2015, 41,000 students attended charter schools across the state, while another 37,000 are currently on waiting list.
While the state Democratic Party voted to oppose the ballot question, there are many prominent an influential Massachusetts Democrats who disagree and aren’t afraid to say so.
One group supporting lift the charter school cap is the Alliance for Business Leadership—a group of progressive CEO, business leaders and investors. It’s dedicated to business development through a liberal lens.
The Alliance supports lifting the cap on charter schools (supports a “yes” vote on the ballot question). The group’s support was announced last month. “If our organization has one driving principle it is that everyone in Massachusetts must have access to growth and opportunity. Nothing will do more to ensure that we honor that commitment than providing every child in our state with a high quality public education, no matter where he or she attends school,” said Jeff Bussgang, Alliance Chair and General Partner at Flybridge Capital Partners in a news release.
“Lifting the cap on public charters is a social justice issue. Massachusetts may have one of the best public school systems in the nation, but for too long the achievement gap has prevented our kids from reaching their true potential. That’s unacceptable and progressive business leaders must help do something about it,” Bussgang said.
There are Democratic legislators who support the ballot question as well. And it may not matter what the party or lawmakers think. Voters, particularly parents, will decide the issue in November. You see, they don’t care about keeping the status quo for teachers. They care about their kids and getting them the best education possible.
In the most recent poll, 48 percent support lifting the cap on charters while 34 percent oppose it.
*Source: Mass Charters Now