MTA opposes governor's proposal to lift the cap on charter schools

MTA President Barbara Madeloni issued the following statement on October 8, 2015, regarding Governor Charlie Baker's proposal to lift the charter school cap:

Governor Baker’s charter school proposal threatens to severely undermine our state’s public education system — a system that is foundational to our democracy. His plan would accelerate the dangerous direction in which we are already headed: toward being a state with a two-track education system, one truly public and the other private, but financed with public dollars. The truly public system will always welcome all students. The private system will continue to find ways to underserve those with the most needs and then use inflated claims of success to grab an ever-larger share of public education funding.

“Educators stand shoulder to shoulder with parents and local school officials in fighting this undemocratic charter system.”

As the NAACP has said, charter schools provide “separate and unequal” opportunities for success. Most charter schools serve a smaller percentage of English language learners, special education students and economically disadvantaged students than their sending districts. Most lose a significant number of students between the first year of a charter’s program and the last, driving out students who can’t meet their disciplinary demands or whose academic and social needs are significant. And most have very high teacher turnover rates that are disruptive for students and staff alike.

Educators stand shoulder to shoulder with parents and local school officials in fighting this undemocratic charter system. It is appalling that unelected state education officials are allowed to — and often do — approve opening charter schools against the will of a majority of the parents, voters, other taxpayers and elected officials in our communities. It is a disgrace that once a charter school is open, the local residents whose children are affected by that charter have no say over how the school is operated and no recourse to protect the interests of their own public schools from the charter’s actions and negative financial impact.

We call on the Legislature to reject the governor’s bill and all other efforts to lift the cap on charter schools. Now is the time to assess the many divisive effects they are having on communities, families and our commitment to the “common wealth” — and to recommit to supporting excellent, public, democratically controlled schools for all students.