It really comes down to this: Who should be the number one priority for educators, school board members, mayors, the governor and parents? The answer is not the teachers’ union and is not the status quo. It’s the kids. Massachusetts voters should support students stuck in failing schools by supporting Question 2 this Tuesday. It would allow the opening of up to 12 public charter schools a year. The most fertile ground for these achieving schools are cities like Boston, New Bedford and Springfield.
The amount of deceitful information regurgitated by public charter school opponents is troubling. No, charters do not drain money from district schools. An in-depth study shows that per-pupil spending in traditional public school increases when a public charter school opens in their districts. No less a liberal bastion as the editorial page of the Boston Globe even gets this.
Public charter school opponents have saturated the airwaves with the fraudulent claims that traditional public schools will lose $400 million if Question 2 passes. They twist themselves into the pretzel logic that because when a student enrolls in a superior public charter school, the money follows him. If a district school gets X amount to educate 425 students, then it gets less to educate 410 students. Opponents see this as “drain” on traditional schools even as per-pupil spending increases.
Do public charter schools work? Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby scores on this point. “Massachusetts learned well. Its experiment with state-chartered public schools has proved a phenomenal success. More than two decades after the original charter law was passed, the state’s 69 charter schools (25 in Boston) are among the most effective urban public schools in America. As study after study has confirmed, the benefits of a Massachusetts charter school education are profound. They lead to improved math and language mastery, lower dropout rates, higher SAT scores, and greater college attendance.”
What lies beneath the surface of opposition is the reason many Democrats are OK with keeping underprivileged kids in failing schools and permitting only students from wealthier families to get a private-school quality education is because of the of the status quo in any way.
This is not to disparage individual teachers in any way. They are role models. My mom was a teacher for 35 years (grade 4). The impact she had on the lives of the hundreds of students who went through her classroom is immeasurable. And because of that commitment to her kids, he can’t stand the position of the unions on the issue of public charter schools.
Think parents don’t want their kids to have a shot at the highest quality education? There are 34,000 kids on the waiting list for a spot in a public charter. They get it, particularly minority and poor families.
The families trying to get their kids into a charter school are traditional constituents of the Democratic Party. Democrats are supposed to be all about leveling the playing field, lifting the underprivileged out of poverty and watching out for the most vulnerable among us.
That ethos goes out the window when the teachers’ unions are involved. Labor unions of all kinds get people elected to office. This is also a Democratic tradition. But there is a huge difference between supporting hard-working men and women fighting for a fair shake and supporting men and women whose only goal is the status quo.
We need to ask ourselves, what is the purpose of public schools? It’s to educate students and prepare for life after they complete school. Public charter schools do a better job of it.
A YES vote on Question 2 is a vote for the kids. A NO vote is a vote for the teachers’ unions and the status quo. The choice is clear.